Nikon D2H vs Olympus E-M5
The Nikon D2H and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2003 and February 2012. The D2H is a DSLR, while the E-M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D2H) and a Four Thirds (E-M5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 4 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 D2H and the Olympus OM-D E-M5? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D2H and the Olympus E-M5 is provided 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 E-M5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D2H 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-M5 is considerably smaller (54 percent) than the Nikon D2H. Moreover, the E-M5 is substantially lighter (60 percent) than the D2H. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 (D2H) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-M5, 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.
As can be seen in the images above, the D2H has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the E-M5, Olympus provides the HLD-6 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D2H||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1070 g||2900||Y||Jul 2003||3,499|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|4.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|6.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|7.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|8.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|9.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|10.||Nikon D1H||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499|
|11.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999|
|12.||Nikon D1||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||..||Y||Jun 1999||5,499|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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-M5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 63 percent) than the D2H, 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 D2H features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-M5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 is 38 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 D2H has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-M5 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 4 MP of the D2H. 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 3.76μm versus 9.50μm for the D2H). However, it should be noted that the E-M5 is much more recent (by 8 years and 6 months) than the D2H, 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-M5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M5 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 Nikon D2H are 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.3 x 20.7 cm for good quality, 9.9 x 6.5 inches or 25 x 16.6 cm for very good quality, and 8.2 x 5.4 inches or 20.9 x 13.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D2H has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-M5 offers substantially better image quality than the D2H (overall score 31 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.9 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|3.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|5.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-M5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D2H does not. The highest resolution format that the E-M5 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M5 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the D2H has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the E-M5 has a higher magnification than the one of the D2H (0.58x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D2H and Olympus E-M5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the D2H, but is missing on the E-M5 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The D2H writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-M5 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 D2H and Olympus OM-D E-M5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D2H (unlike the E-M5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D2H and the E-M5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2H was replaced by the Nikon D2Hs, while the E-M5 was followed by the Olympus E-M5 II. 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 D2H better than the Olympus E-M5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D2H:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (2900 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2003).
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 95%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (31 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.9 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.57x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (610k vs 211k dots).
- 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.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x89mm vs 158x150mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 645g 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (63 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D2H launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M5 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 7 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 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 D2H and the Olympus E-M5 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D2H or the E-M5. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
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 D2H||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jul 2003||3,499|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|3.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|4.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|6.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|7.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|8.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|9.||Nikon D2X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|10.||Nikon D1H||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||4,499|
|11.||Nikon D1X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|12.||Nikon D1||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jun 1999||5,499|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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? 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 D2H vs Olympus E-M5
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 D2H||Olympus E-M5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2003||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 3,499||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D2H||Olympus E-M5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.3 x 15.5 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||361.15 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||4 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2464 x 1632 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||9.50 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.11 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||40||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||18.9||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.0||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||352||826|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D2H||Olympus E-M5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||211k dots||610k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D2H||Olympus E-M5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D2H||Olympus E-M5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D2H||Olympus E-M5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||2900 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
158 x 150 x 86 mm
(6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||1070 g (37.7 oz)||425 g (15.0 oz)|
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