Hands-On Autofocus Battle Between the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Canon EOS M

The Canon EOS M is quickly becoming the laughingstock of the mirrorless party due to its autofocus system, which leaves much to be desired in terms of speed. To show just how sluggish the system really is, Tomek Kulas over at did this very simple yet informative “hands-on test” that pits the EOS M against one of its archrivals: the Olympus OM-D EM-5.

The OM-D EM-5 is well-regarded for its spectacularly fast (and quiet) autofocus system. Both cameras offer touchscreens and touch-to-shoot features, so doing the non-scientific test is as easy as pointing the cameras at the same object and then tapping the screens at the same time.

As you can see from the results above, there really is no contest between the two cameras — at least in terms of AF speed. The EM-5 does have a smaller sensor than the EOS M, though. It’s a Four Thirds sensor versus a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor.

A couple of days ago we featured a funny little stop-motion animation that poked fun at the EOS M’s AF system. It was mixed into a camera review at the time, but has since been turned into a dedicated video. Here it is in case you missed it (the test above explains some of the jokes in the video below):

  • typosismythang

    canon eom m?

  • Rob

    The sensor size really doesn’t matter at all. The OM-D destroys the eos-m in every way.

  • Arnold Newman

    Sensor size certainly matters when it comes to high-ISO noise and bokeh.

  • brandon

    sensor size would also dictate depth of field and that would require the canon here to be much more accurate with it’s focusing- leading to more time to acquire focus. but still, that’s a beat down. i’m a canon shooter mostly, and i’ve no interest in the “m” system.

  • Mike Aubrey

    Sensor size doesn’t matter here. It *might* matter if this were someone else’s APS-C or if it were FF, but it isn’t. It’s Canon’s 1.6 crop. What’s the crop factor between four thirds and Canon’s APS-C? 1.25. That’s right Canon is 25% larger. Or to put it another way, Olympus is 20% small. Which also means that if you put the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 on the E-M5 vs. the 22mm f/2 on the Canon M, the OM-D is going to have narrow DOF.

    Canon is behind in high-ISO noise compared to everyone else, too. DxO puts the E-M5’s noise and DR abilities roughly on par with Sony’s APS-C cameras…which are better than Canon’s.

    I’m not saying the OM-D is the end all (your point about aspect ratio is well taken). I’m saying Canon has gotten lazy.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    They should include a certificate for every EOS-M shipped.
    “Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a prototype mirrorless camera by Canon. Thank you for taking part in our outsourced/open beta test of the EOS-M system, and you can look forward to future improvements based on your feedback for this version. We hope that you would also be interested in the final product to be released sometime next year.”

    Seriously though, look at the camera’s external design the and promo ads released so far for the EOS-M. It’s evident that they’re only after the same people who were interested in the IXUS series. Solid overall performance is not the camera’s primary selling point.

  • Mike Aubrey

    You mean, “slightly more accurate.” The 1.25x crop difference that dictates DOF for μ43 and Canon APS-C is negligible.

  • Roy

    You are dismissing a camera solely based on the fact that its aspect ratio matches that of “cheap compact cameras”?

    I personally prefer the 3×2 over 4×3 and could even understand if someone chose to pass on the E-M5 based on that preference. But how is the equivalence to a cheap compact relevant to that decision?

  • Prabawa

    Actually lately I’ve been leaning towards 4×3 proportion in my pictures. It’s better for modelling (less horizontal space to fill in landscape orientation and not so tall and lanky in portrait orientation), and somehow my eyes just move more freely in a 4×3 compared to a 3×2 (and not only for modelling, either).

    I’m not trolling or telling you’re wrong or anything. Just letting people know that there’s differing opinions on aspect ratios :D

  • Prabawa

    I’m dreaming of the day Canon decides to buy sensors from Sony. Man, the thought of having Sony sensors (unhindered by that pesky translucent mirror) with Canon ease of use and array of lenses………

  • Ivan


  • Arnold Newman

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

  • Arnold Newman

    Not solely. If you read my comment you will see that I object to both the aspect ratio and the small sensor relative to APS-C.

    It sounds like you think it’s OK to prefer the 3:2 aspect ratio as long as it’s not because you associate it with cheap compacts or standard def TV. Cool. How about this? I tend to prefer wider image formats or perfect squares. The 4:3 ratio is not wide enough to be wide and obviously not square.

  • Arnold Newman

    If you are arguing that the OM-D’s Sony-built sensor is inherently higher quality than Canon’s APS-C sensor I don’t disagree. The time when Canon was pushing forward the state of the art in sensor design has long past. Sony is lapping Canon with each new generation of sensor design. But if you take two Sony sensors of the same resolution and generation, the APS-C sized sensor should yield a higher quality image with lower noise which is one reason why an APS-C appeals to me over a 4/3 alternative.

    As for your lens comparison, yes it is possible to take a larger aperture 4/3 lens and get a narrower DOF than a smaller aperture APS-C lens.

  • Arnold Newman

    Certainly. I work in professional video and you’ve touched on the one thing I missed as I transitioned to the 16:9 aspect ratio of HD.

  • Arnold Newman

    I’m certainly not interested in *this* EOS-M. If Canon would take the features of the 5D3, design it with a Sony APS-C sensor and a high end EVF, and release *that* into the market I’d be first in line. I find the idea of small and light extraordinarily attractive—in a competently and competitively designed product.

  • Willie Ha

    You know you can crop stuff in camera if it really bothers you. Yes, I think the Eos M is abysmal by all accounts since it’s using an old ass sensor which should have been improved upon by now, but you can’t dismiss something on aspect ratio. 3:2 is dslr photography standard.

  • Frank Urquhart.

    Did any of you brainboxes check the lenses on both of these cameras????

    Almost certainly the Canon will have a STM lens. The STM is a slow focusing lens designed for video use and does away with the sudden ‘snap’ into focus. This will obviously slow down AF speed, Dah!