Canon have just announced the G11, the next in their line of well respected compact digital cameras, and given that it is almost identical in size and weight of the Olympus PEN E-P1 Micro Four Thirds camera, I thought it would be handy to do a quick comparison of the two.
Interestingly, Canon has quite wisely reduced the number of pixels from the silly 14.7 mpixels in the G10 to a much more sensible 10mp in the G11 – see my posts in Sept and Nov 2008 regarding the G10.
They both have flash hot-shoes with system-dedicated TTL capability, have 2 or 10-12 sec self-timers, optional wireless remote controls, contrast detect AF including face detection AF, mono-aural video, a multitude of scene modes, shoot in RAW or jpeg, and use SD/SDHC memory cards, have USB 2.0 and HDMI outputs.
But there are some VERY important differences.
The Canon G11‘s 5x zoom lens is a touch more compact and has macro to 1cm, and has the nice flip out LCD screen (and thus it may be better to compare it with the forthcoming rumoured Panasonic GF-1 in this regard), an optical viewfinder that zooms with the lens, and for outdoor flash in sunlight, it has a flash sync to 1/2000th sec presumably at full flash output which can be very handy. It has a small built-in flash (the GF-1 will have this but not the E-P1). Although no tests have been published as yet, it would be reasonable to expect that the AF on the G-11 may be faster than the E-P1 but perhaps not as fast or equivalent to the Panasonic GF-1 when it is released (assuming it uses similar AF technology as the very fast AF in the Panasonic GH-1)
The Olympus E-P1 (and Panasonic GF-1 when it comes), can be expected to have more dynamic range and much better image quality at higher ISO given its photosites are some 5x bigger, greater image detail as less diffraction limitation issues, and allows far more versatility in terms of much better ability to control depth of field, and ability to use almost any lens ever made and have them all image stabilised including very fast f/1.4 lenses, tilt-shift lenses, dedicated macro lenses, ultra-wide lenses such as 14-28mm zoom lenses, and super-telephotos. It has HD video not just VGA video, and can shoot at 3fps not just 1.1 fps.
In contrast, the G11 having a fixed lens limits you to a very useful 28-140mm focal length range at f/2.8-4.5 image stabilised which can be extended to some extent by attaching conversion lenses but these generally decrease image quality.
The G11 may better suit a significant niche of the market consisting of those who are happy to carry around a marginally smaller camera and with a more useful optical viewfinder, with built-in 5x zoom and macro and who do not need the higher image quality or versatility of the E-P1. Canon users in particular, can leverage their Canon speedlights in TTL mode on the G-11, while Olympus dSLR users can use their Olympus flash units in TTL mode on the E-P1 or GF-1.
Personally, the few areas where the G11 beats the E-P1 are not enough for me to recommend the G11 over the E-P1 or the GF-1 or the E-P2 which are more likely to be a G11 killer (or GH-1 if you don’t mind a bulkier camera), as image quality and ability to create shallow depth of field for pleasing portraits is important to me, particularly when you can combine that with the sheer fun of using almost any lens ever made.
|Olympus E-P1|| Canon G11
|dimensions||121mm (W) x 70mm (H) x 36mm (D) (excluding lens)||112 x 76 x 48 mm|
|weight w/o battery||335g||355g|
|sensor size||18.00 x 13.50 mm, 2.43 cm² (ie. almost 6x larger!)||7.60 x 5.70 mm, 0.43 cm²|
|pixel density (smaller is better)||5.1 mpixels/cm² (ie. almost 5x better)||23 mpixels/cm²|
|pixels||12.3 million||10.0 million|
|shutter||1/4000th sec – 60 sec + BULB||1/4000th sec – 15 sec + BULB|
|flash modes||Auto, Slow sync, rear curtain, 2nd curtain, manual levels, red-eye reduction, flash sync to 1/180th sec but in SuperFP/HSS mode to 1/4000th sec with FL-36R or FL-50R flash.
Panasonic do not currently support superFP/HSS mode and flash sync on GH-1 is 1/160th sec.
|Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Red-eye reduction, Slow sync 2nd curtain, manual, face detection FE compensation, +/- 2EV
flash sync to 1/2000 sec with full output flash possible (not just HSS mode)
|exposure compensation||-3 to +3 EV in 1/3, 1/2, 1EV steps||-2 to +2 EV in 1/3 EV steps|
|continuous shot burst rate||3 fps||1.1 fps|
|movie video modes||1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)||640 x 480 @ 30 fps, 320 x 240 @ 30 fps|
|LCD||3″ 230,000 dots fixed
GF-1 also has a fixed LCD
|2.8″ 461,000 swivel|
|viewfinder||optional optical fixed focal length for 17mm lens – slide onto hot shoe
GF-1 has an optional EVF which attaches to the hotshoe
|in-built optical zoom|
|lens||kit lenses – 28-84mm f/3.5-5.6 and 34mm f/2.8 pancake (all in 35mm terms – divide by 2 for actual focal length)
Micro Four Thirds (including the awesome Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake) PLUS almost any lens ever made via adapters, with most of the Four Thirds lenses having AF capability albeit slowly.
Olympus has introduced another Micro Four Thirds body, the E-P2 which is similar to the E-P1 but adds the ability to use a removable electronic viewfinder placed in the hotshoe which is said to be better than the Panasonic GF-1 EVF, and the accessory port also allows for an external mic to be used. It also adds subject tracking AF in still and movie mode (but not as fast as on the Panasonic GH-1), and some image processing enhancements such as i-enhance that tweaks color, and 2 new art filter modes. These enhancements will mean that for many people, the E-P2 will be the camera to get over the E-P1, as you can now bring the camera to the eye which gives you steadier shots and also removes the problem of bright sunlight on the LCD screen. It also has leveling indicators which can be very handy.