Nikon B500 vs Olympus E-PL2
The Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and January 2011. The B500 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (B500) and a Four Thirds (E-PL2) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 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 Coolpix B500 and the Olympus PEN E-PL2? 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 B500 and the Olympus E-PL2 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-PL2 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-PL2 is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Nikon B500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the B500 nor the E-PL2 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the B500 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL2 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-PL2 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon B500||114 mm||78 mm||95 mm||541 g||600||n||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|3.||Fujifilm X100F||127 mm||75 mm||52 mm||469 g||390||n||Jan 2017||1,299|
|4.||Fujifilm X70||113 mm||64 mm||44 mm||340 g||330||n||Jan 2016||799|
|5.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|6.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon B700||125 mm||85 mm||107 mm||565 g||350||n||Feb 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon P900||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|9.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|10.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|12.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|14.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|15.||Panasonic FZ82||130 mm||94 mm||119 mm||616 g||330||n||Jan 2017||399|
|16.||Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|17.||Sony H200||123 mm||83 mm||87 mm||530 g||240||n||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The B500 was launched at a lower price than the E-PL2, despite having a lens built in. 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. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 B500 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Olympus E-PL2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL2 is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon B500 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the Olympus E-PL2. 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 1.33μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL2). However, it should be noted that the B500 is much more recent (by 5 years) than the E-PL2, 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 B500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon B500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the B500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL2 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon Coolpix B500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|12.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|13.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|14.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
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 B500 provides a higher video resolution than the E-PL2. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The B500 and the E-PL2 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-PL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon B500, the Olympus E-PL2, and comparable cameras.
The B500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-PL2 uses SDHC cards.
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 Coolpix B500 and Olympus PEN E-PL2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the B500 offers wifi support, while the E-PL2 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the B500 and the E-PL2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL2 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL3, while the B500 was followed by the Nikon B600. 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 B500 better than the Olympus E-PL2 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Coolpix B500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 12.2MP) with a 14% 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 (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-PL2 requires a separate lens.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 280) on a single battery charge.
- 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.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the E-PL2 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL2:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- 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 January 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the B500 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 B500 and the Olympus E-PL2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the B500 or the E-PL2. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Nikon B500||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|3.||Fujifilm X100F||5/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,299|
|4.||Fujifilm X70||4.5/5||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2016||799|
|5.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|6.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon B700||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon P900||..||..||77/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|9.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|10.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|11.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|12.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|14.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|15.||Panasonic FZ82||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||399|
|16.||Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|17.||Sony H200||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon B500 vs Olympus E-PL2
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 B500||Olympus E-PL2|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||January 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-PL2|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||573|
|Screen Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-PL2|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-PL2|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||7.4 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-PL2|
|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|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-PL2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||280 shots per charge|
114 x 78 x 95 mm
(4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
114 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||541 g (19.1 oz)||362 g (12.8 oz)|
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