Olympus OM-D E-M5 Walks All Over Panasonic GH4 in Image Stabilization Test

by Hugh Brownstone1 Comment

planet5D readers, we need your help. In a Peter Hurley “sha-BANG” kind of moment, footage taken with the in-lens image stabilization of the Panasonic Lumix GH4 appears to be trounced by the 5-axis, in-body image stabilization of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It makes sense that it would, right? But what are we really seeing? And how about the Sony A7II?

It seems to be a very straightforward test: the cameras are mounted side by side; image stabilizers set to “on” for both; shooting mode set to “P” for both; full HD and 30p for both. Yes, they have two different lenses, but they should be pretty comparable, and we’re not really looking for ultimate sharpness anyway – we’re looking for stabilized footage.

And wow, what a difference: the Olympus footage looks like it was shot on a MoVI M5, while the Panasonic footage looks like it was shot on a bouncy castle.

Ooh, I gotta get me an Olympus!

Except…is the difference attributable to that 5-axis in-body image stabilization?

Maybe it is. That would be really, really cool.

Or is the difference in what we see attributable to something other than image stabilization?

Does anyone know what the significance is of the difference in bit rates to apparent shakiness (50M on the GH4, vs 30M on the Olympus)?

And what about what we see at minute marker 8:06 with the blue and white sign on the right side? It appears the shutter speed is slower on the Olympus. Would that make a difference? Or is that attributable to Warp Stabilizer, which still leaves the GH4 footage inferior to the Olympus’?

And how would footage from the Sony A7II look in comparison?

planet5D readers, what do you think? [bctt tweet=”Panasonic/Olympus Image Stabilization Walk-Off Looks Like ‘Walk-All-Over’”]

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II vs Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 Image Stabilization Video Test Comparison

Via Youtube description / panophoto.net:

Both cameras were mounted on an extension plate with 1/4 inch mounting screw and the plate was attached to the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod.

I only had few hours to shoot in the late Saturday afternoon and didn't have time to go to a nice location so the lighting condition wasn't ideal. All shots were handheld.

Lens and camera setting:

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II:
Lens: M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
Image Stabilizer: On (M-IS2)*
Shooting Mode: P
Recording Format: FHD/30M/30p

*M-IS1 is the All Direction Shake I.S that the camera uses both sensor shift (VCM) and electronic correction.
*M-IS2 is the All Direction Shake I.S that the camera uses sensor shift (VCM) correction only.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4:
Lens: Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH. POWER O.I.S.
Image Stabilizer: On (Normal)*
Shooting Mode: P
Recording Format: FHD/50M/30p

*Normal is the O.I.S that vertical and horizontal shake are compensated for.


This was my very first experience to use any Olympus digital camera and I was really impressed with how well the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II in-body image stabilization worked. It was just superb as if I was using one of those expensive brushless gimbals and I was very happy that I purchased one (for the short moment).

I really liked the size and build quality of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II – it was well fit in my hand and I could feel it's tough, solid and rugged.

Although Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II‘s function buttons are customizable I still prefer Panasonic LUMIX GH4‘s individual buttons and menus. Also, Image quality of the Panasonic LUMIX GH4 was better to my eyes and especially it was visible if I stopped playing the clip to see the still frame. I noticed there were many frames that were blur with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II while there were very little with the Panasonic LUMIX GH4. I have no idea why that was since the frame rate for both cameras was set to 30p. That said, I would guess sharpness / clarity would be more apparent if shot in 4K with higher bit-rate and down sampled to 1080p on the GH4.

Panasonic Lumix GH4 vs Olympus E-M5 Mark II

Big minus of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II for me was its battery life. I had used it for about little more than two hours (no more than three hours for sure) and it lasted just that. I do often time-lapse photography and longer battery life is suited for especially if it is a night time-lapse. I don't like to carry too many spare batteries as my photography subjects are mostly mountains and like to go hiking / traveling with minimum.

I was hoping that the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II could partially replace my Nikon D810 in certain occasions considering with E-M5 Mark II‘s ability to shoot in 40 Megapixels High Res shot and its unique feature – Live Composite to photograph star trails. But, I quickly realized the E-M5 Mark II’s High Res Shot was bit cumbersome as it always requires a tripod for a good steady shot while my Nikon D810 can shoot well at 36-Megapixels handheld.

I was hoping that the E-M5 Mark II could replace my Panasonic LUMIX LX100 when I travel overseas and shoot video, but I also realized while the E-M5 Mark II’s in-body stabilizer is superb I would still like the LUMIX LX100‘s ability to shoot in 4K and give me a choice of down-sampling / editing in post.

So finally, I had the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO for only two days. I purchased them on Friday evening for 199,670 JPY and sold them on Sunday afternoon for 148,030 JPY. Huge loss but I didn’t want to keep them knowing they would sit on my dry box and don’t see the sun light for a while… It was really stupid of me just purchasing them not thoroughly thinking of what it is and is not capable of / good at. I would consider it that was a very expensive lesson…

On the bright side, though, I now know that in-body stabilization really works! I haven’t tried other brand camera like Sony a7 II but if Sony a7S II will have in-body stabilization then I would definitely like to try, of course, before buying it 😀

Read this article at panophoto.net “Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II vs Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 Image Stabilization Video Test Comparison”

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. Yet more useless, un-scientific testing that confuses the issue, rather than clarifying it.
    I used to review audio equipment, and know how difficult it is to perform meaningful tests and come to rational decisions. It was the recognition that I could not reliably do this that drove me out of reviewing,
    Don’t test something unless you understand the need for controls. If you can’t properly control your testing, don’t test.

Leave a Comment