Nikon D3000 vs Olympus E-P3
The Nikon D3000 and the Olympus PEN E-P3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2009 and June 2011. The D3000 is a DSLR, while the E-P3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3000) and a Four Thirds (E-P3) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 10 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.
|Nikon D3000||Olympus E-P3|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|10 MP, APS-C Sensor||12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-1600 (100-3200)||ISO 200-12800|
|Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 614k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed touchscreen|
|3 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|500 shots per battery charge||330 shots per battery charge|
|126 x 97 x 64 mm, 536 g||122 x 69 x 34 mm, 369 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3000 and the Olympus PEN E-P3? 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 D3000 and the Olympus E-P3 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the D3000 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-P3 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Nikon D3000. Moreover, the E-P3 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the D3000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3000 nor the E-P3 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 (D3000) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-P3, 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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Nikon D3000»||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Olympus E-P3«||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||Olympus E-P3|
|Nikon D5600« »||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400« »||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3100« »||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D5000« »||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D60« »||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90« »||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D40X« »||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D40« »||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499||Nikon D40|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-450« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-P1« »||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799||Olympus E-P2|
|Olympus E-420« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599||Olympus E-420|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D3000 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the E-P3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3000 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-P3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P3 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 D3000 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-P3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-P3 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the D3000. 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 6.11μm for the D3000). However, it should be noted that the E-P3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the D3000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-P3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-P3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inch or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inch or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inch or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3000 are 19.4 x 13 inch or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inch or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inch or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3000 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-P3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (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. Of the two cameras under review, the D3000 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-P3, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 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.
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51||Olympus E-P3|
|Nikon D5600||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3100||APS-C||14.2||4608||3072||1080/24p||22.5||11.3||919||67||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D5000||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D60||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.5||11.4||562||65||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D40X||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D40||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||none||21.0||11.0||561||56||Nikon D40|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56||Olympus E-P2|
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56||Olympus E-420|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-P3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D3000 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P3 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3000 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-P3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D3000, the Olympus E-P3, and comparable cameras.
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0||614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P3|
|Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7||230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D40||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Nikon D40|
|Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P2|
|Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-420|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-P3 has a touchscreen, while the D3000 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The D3000 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-P3 uses SDXC cards. The E-P3 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D3000 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 D3000 and Olympus PEN E-P3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Nikon D5600||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3100||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D5000||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D60||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D60|
|Nikon D90||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D40X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D40||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40|
|Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-450||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Olympus E-420||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-420|
Both the D3000 and the E-P3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3000 was replaced by the Nikon D3100, while the E-P3 was followed by the Olympus E-P5. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D3000 or the Olympus E-P3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3000:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-P3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 126x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 167g or 31 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 buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 11 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-P3 emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 7 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 D3000 and the Olympus E-P3 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 D3000 or the E-P3 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. 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? 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.
- Canon 40D vs Olympus E-P3
- Canon SX520 vs Olympus E-P3
- Epson R-D1 vs Nikon D3000
- Kodak S-1 vs Olympus E-P3
- Leica V-LUX 2 vs Olympus E-P3
- Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-P3
- Nikon D3000 vs Nikon D5100
- Nikon D3000 vs Panasonic FZ200
- Nikon D3000 vs Sony NEX-C3
- Nikon D5300 vs Olympus E-P3
- Nikon P1000 vs Olympus E-P3
- Olympus E-M10 II vs Olympus E-P3
Specifications: Nikon D3000 vs Olympus E-P3
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 D3000||Olympus E-P3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2009||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3000||Olympus E-P3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3872 x 2592 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.11 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.69 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||200-12800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-3200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||51|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.3||20.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||10.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||563||536|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3000||Olympus E-P3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||614k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3000||Olympus E-P3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3000||Olympus E-P3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3000||Olympus E-P3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
126 x 97 x 64 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
122 x 69 x 34 mm
(4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||536 g (18.9 oz)||369 g (13.0 oz)|
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