Nikon 1 J5 vs Olympus E-PM2
The Nikon 1 J5 and the Olympus PEN E-PM2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2015 and September 2012. Both the J5 and the E-PM2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an one-inch (J5) and a Four Thirds (E-PM2) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon 1 J5 and the Olympus PEN E-PM2? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon 1 J5 and the Olympus E-PM2 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The J5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the E-PM2 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, red, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PM2 is notably larger (20 percent) than the Nikon 1 J5. Moreover, the E-PM2 is markedly heavier (16 percent) than the J5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the J5 nor the E-PM2 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Nikon 1 J5||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||8.1 oz||250||n||Apr 2015||399|
|Olympus E-PM2||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||3.9 in||2.3 in||1.2 in||7.3 oz||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|Canon G9 X||3.9 in||2.3 in||1.2 in||7.4 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||529|
|Canon G7 X||4.1 in||2.4 in||1.6 in||10.7 oz||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|Nikon 1 V3||4.4 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||13.4 oz||310||n||Mar 2014||799|
|Nikon 1 J4||3.9 in||2.4 in||1.1 in||8.2 oz||300||n||Apr 2014||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-P5||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL6||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||May 2013||599|
|Olympus E-PL5||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|Panasonic FZ1000||5.4 in||3.9 in||5.2 in||29.3 oz||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|Sony RX100 V||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||220||n||Oct 2016||999|
|Sony RX100 IV||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|Sony A5000||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||420||n||Jan 2014||449|
|Sony RX100 III||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.2 oz||320||n||May 2014||799|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The J5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the E-PM2, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon 1 J5 features an one-inch sensor and the Olympus E-PM2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PM2 is 94 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 2.0. The sensor in the J5 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PM2 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon 1 J5 offers a higher resolution of 20.7 megapixels, compared with 15.9 MP of the Olympus E-PM2. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.37μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PM2). However, it should be noted that the J5 is much more recent (by 2 years and 6 months) than the E-PM2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the J5 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon 1 J5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the J5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PM2 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The J5 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon 1 J5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PM2 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-PM2 has a markedly higher DXO score than the J5 (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|Nikon 1 V3||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||384||52|
|Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|Sony RX100 V||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the J5 provides a higher video resolution than the E-PM2. It can shoot video footage at 4K/15p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The J5 and the E-PM2 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the E-PM2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon 1 J5 and Olympus E-PM2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|Nikon 1 V3||optional||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0||1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 V||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The J5 has one, while the E-PM2 does not. While the built-in flash of the J5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The J5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-PM2 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the J5 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon 1 J5 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the J5 and the E-PM2 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon 1 J5 and Olympus PEN E-PM2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Nikon 1 V3||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Sony RX100 V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX100 III||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the J5 offers wifi support, while the E-PM2 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the J5 and the E-PM2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Nikon and Olympus. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon 1 J5 better than the Olympus E-PM2 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon 1 J5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.7 vs 15.9MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/15p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (98x60mm vs 110x64mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 38g or 14 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the E-PM2 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM2:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (360 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2012).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the J5 is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 9 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon 1 J5 and the Olympus E-PM2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the J5 and the E-PM2 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Nikon 1 J5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399|
|Olympus E-PM2||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|Canon G9 X Mark II||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|Canon G9 X||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529|
|Canon G7 X||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|Nikon 1 V3||..||76/100||4.5/5||3/5||4/5||Mar 2014||799|
|Nikon 1 J4||..||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Apr 2014||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|Olympus E-PL5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-PM1||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|Panasonic FZ1000||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|Sony RX100 V||+ +||83/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||999|
|Sony RX100 IV||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|Sony A5000||+||..||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449|
|Sony RX100 III||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D vs Olympus E-PM2
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Nikon 1 J5
- Canon T6 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Nikon 1 V1
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Nikon B700
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Panasonic LX100 II
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Sony A6000
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Zeiss ZX1
- Nikon P1000 vs Olympus E-PM2
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Panasonic G3
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Sigma fp
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Sony A6100
Specifications: Nikon 1 J5 vs Olympus E-PM2
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon 1 J5||Olympus E-PM2|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon 1 mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2015||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 399||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Olympus E-PM2|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.37 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.79 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/15p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||479||932|
|Screen Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Olympus E-PM2|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Olympus E-PM2|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||60 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Olympus E-PM2|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Nikon 1 J5||Olympus E-PM2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
98 x 60 x 32 mm
(3.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||231 g (8.1 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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