Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-PL1
The Nikon D2Xs and the Olympus PEN E-PL1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2006 and February 2010. The D2Xs is a DSLR, while the E-PL1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D2Xs) and a Four Thirds (E-PL1) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.
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 D2Xs and the Olympus PEN E-PL1? 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 D2Xs and the Olympus E-PL1 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 E-PL1 can be obtained in four different colors (black, blue, yellow, white), while the D2Xs 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-PL1 is considerably smaller (65 percent) than the Nikon D2Xs. Moreover, the E-PL1 is substantially lighter (73 percent) than the D2Xs. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D2Xs is splash and dust resistant, while the E-PL1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 (D2Xs) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL1, 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.
Concerning battery life, the D2Xs gets 3800 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the E-PL1 can take 290 images on a single charge of its BLS-1 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D2Xs has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|2.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|6.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|7.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|8.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|9.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|10.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|11.||Nikon D1H||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499|
|12.||Nikon D1||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||..||Y||Jun 1999||5,499|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|17.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|Note: 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. The E-PL1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 87 percent) than the D2Xs, 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 D2Xs features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL1 is 40 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 D2Xs has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Even though the D2Xs has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This implies that the D2Xs has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.52μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL1), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the E-PL1 is much more recent (by 3 years and 8 months) than the D2Xs, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Nikon D2Xs has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 800-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL1 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200 (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 D2Xs has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-PL1 (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0 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.
|2.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|5.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|16.||Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|17.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PL1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D2Xs does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL1 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D2Xs has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D2Xs and Olympus E-PL1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D1H||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D1||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the D2Xs, but is missing on the E-PL1 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 D2Xs writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-PL1 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 D2Xs and Olympus PEN E-PL1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D2X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D1H||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D2Xs (unlike the E-PL1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D2Xs and the E-PL1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2Xs was replaced by the Nikon D3X, while the E-PL1 was followed by the Olympus E-PL2. 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 there a clear favorite between the Nikon D2Xs and the Olympus E-PL1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D2Xs:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3800 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- 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 June 2006).
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL1:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More compact: Is smaller (115x72mm vs 158x150mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 918g or 73 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.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (87 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 8 months of technical progress since the D2Xs launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D2Xs emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 9 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 D2Xs and the Olympus E-PL1 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 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 D2Xs and the E-PL1 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|2.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|5.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|6.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|7.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|8.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|9.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|10.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|11.||Nikon D1H||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||4,499|
|12.||Nikon D1||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jun 1999||5,499|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|14.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|15.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-P1||..||+||..||66/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|17.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||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, 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon SL2 vs Nikon D2Xs
- Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-PL1
- Canon SX740 vs Olympus E-PL1
- Fujifilm X-A7 vs Nikon D2Xs
- Fujifilm XP140 vs Nikon D2Xs
- Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-M5 II
- Nikon D2Xs vs Panasonic GM1
- Nikon D2Xs vs Sony RX100 VI
- Nikon D3X vs Olympus E-PL1
- Nikon D80 vs Olympus E-PL1
- Olympus E-PL1 vs Olympus E-PL10
- Olympus E-PL1 vs Sony A7S II
Specifications: Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-PL1
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 D2Xs||Olympus E-PL1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2006||February 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 4,699||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Olympus E-PL1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.7 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.09 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.52 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 800 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||800 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||54|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.2||21.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.9||10.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||489||487|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Olympus E-PL1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Olympus E-PL1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D2Xs||Olympus E-PL1|
|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 D2Xs||Olympus E-PL1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3800 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
158 x 150 x 86 mm
(6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
115 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||1252 g (44.2 oz)||334 g (11.8 oz)|
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