Nikon Coolpix A vs Olympus E-PL5
The Nikon Coolpix A and the Olympus PEN E-PL5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2013 and September 2012. The Coolpix A is a fixed lens compact, while the E-PL5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (Coolpix A) and a Four Thirds (E-PL5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.1 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 Coolpix A and the Olympus PEN E-PL5? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon Coolpix A and the Olympus E-PL5. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The Coolpix A can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-PL5 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, white).
In this particular case, the Nikon Coolpix A and the Olympus E-PL5 have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Coolpix A nor the E-PL5 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the Coolpix A has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL5 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-PL5 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon Coolpix A||111 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||230||n||Mar 2013||1,099|
|2.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|3.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|4.||Fujifilm X100T||127 mm||74 mm||52 mm||440 g||330||n||Sep 2014||1,299|
|5.||Nikon P1000||146 mm||119 mm||181 mm||1415 g||250||n||Jul 2018||999|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|9.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499|
|10.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|11.||Ricoh GR II||117 mm||63 mm||35 mm||251 g||320||n||Jun 2015||699|
|12.||Ricoh GR||117 mm||61 mm||35 mm||245 g||290||n||Apr 2013||799|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||299 g||220||n||Oct 2016||999|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799|
|16.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|17.||Sony NEX-6||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||345 g||360||n||Sep 2012||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon Coolpix A features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL5 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the Coolpix A has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 16.1MP, the Coolpix A offers a slightly higher resolution than the E-PL5 (15.9MP), but the Coolpix A nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Coolpix A is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the E-PL5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the Coolpix A has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Nikon Coolpix A has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the Coolpix A has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-PL5 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon Coolpix A||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.4||13.8||1164||80|
|2.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|3.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|8.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|10.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|11.||Ricoh GR II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.6||13.7||1078||80|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|15.||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 also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The Coolpix A and the E-PL5 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. However, optional viewfinders – the DF-CP1 for the Coolpix A and the VF-3 for the E-PL5 – are available as accessories. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon Coolpix A and Olympus E-PL5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon Coolpix A||optional||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/2000s||4.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|11.||Ricoh GR II||optional||n||3.0||1230||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
|15.||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 Coolpix A has one, while the E-PL5 does not. While the built-in flash of the Coolpix A is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-PL5 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the Coolpix A does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon Coolpix A 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 Coolpix A and the E-PL5 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PL5 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the Coolpix A cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 A and Olympus PEN E-PL5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Nikon Coolpix A||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Ricoh GR II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Both the Coolpix A and the E-PL5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL5 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL6, while the Coolpix A does not have a direct successor. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon Coolpix A better than the Olympus E-PL5 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon Coolpix A:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-PL5 requires a separate lens.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-PL5).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 5 months after the E-PL5).
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (360 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL5 comes out slightly ahead of the Coolpix A (11 : 10 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 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 Coolpix A and the Olympus E-PL5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Prime Lens Compact Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 Coolpix A and the E-PL5 in practical situations. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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 Coolpix A||4/5||+||75/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||1,099|
|2.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|3.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|4.||Fujifilm X100T||5/5||+||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2014||1,299|
|5.||Nikon P1000||..||+||73/100||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2018||999|
|6.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|7.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|8.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|9.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|10.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|11.||Ricoh GR II||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||699|
|12.||Ricoh GR||5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||799|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||4.5/5||+ +||83/100||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||999|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|16.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|17.||Sony NEX-6||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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.
Specifications: Nikon Coolpix A vs Olympus E-PL5
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 Coolpix A||Olympus E-PL5|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||28mm f/2.8||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2013||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 1,099||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Coolpix A||Olympus E-PL5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||368.16 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.78 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.37 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.4||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.8||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1164||889|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Coolpix A||Olympus E-PL5|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Coolpix A||Olympus E-PL5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||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||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Coolpix A||Olympus E-PL5|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon Coolpix A||Olympus E-PL5|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
111 x 64 x 40 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.6 in)
111 x 64 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||299 g (10.5 oz)||325 g (11.5 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.