Nikon D100 vs Olympus E-PL3
The Nikon D100 and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2002 and June 2011. The D100 is a DSLR, while the E-PL3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D100) and a Four Thirds (E-PL3) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 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 D100 and the Olympus PEN E-PL3? 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 D100 and the Olympus E-PL3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL3 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the D100 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL3 is considerably smaller (58 percent) than the Nikon D100. Moreover, the E-PL3 is substantially lighter (60 percent) than the D100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D100 nor the E-PL3 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D100) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL3, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|4.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|5.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|6.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|8.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|9.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|11.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|12.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PL3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the D100, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D100 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL3 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 D100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL3 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D100. 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 4.29μm versus 7.85μm for the D100). However, it should be noted that the E-PL3 is much more recent (by 9 years and 4 months) than the D100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PL3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D100 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 200-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-PL3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D100 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL3 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D100 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D100 and Olympus E-PL3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D100 has one, while the E-PL3 does not. While the built-in flash of the D100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-PL3 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 D100 does not have a selfie-screen.
The D100 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-PL3 uses SDXC 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 D100 and Olympus PEN E-PL3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
Both the D100 and the E-PL3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D100 was replaced by the Nikon D200, while the E-PL3 was followed by the Olympus E-PL5. 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 D100 better than the Olympus E-PL3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D100:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (370 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 40%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 118k 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 (5.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 144x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 467g or 60 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D100 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL3 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 D100 and the Olympus E-PL3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D100 or the E-PL3 perform in practice. 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 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 D100||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon 10D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|4.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|5.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|6.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|8.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|9.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|11.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|12.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D100 vs Olympus E-PL3
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 D100||Olympus E-PL3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2002||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D100||Olympus E-PL3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 800 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 1,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||499|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D100||Olympus E-PL3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||118k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D100||Olympus E-PL3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D100||Olympus E-PL3|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D100||Olympus E-PL3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
144 x 116 x 81 mm
(5.7 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||780 g (27.5 oz)||313 g (11.0 oz)|
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