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Nikon D3100 vs Olympus E-450

The Nikon D3100 and the Olympus E-450 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2010 and March 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D3100) and a Four Thirds (E-450) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 14.2 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D3100 versus Olympus E-450
Nikon D3100 Olympus E-450
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/24p Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 2.7 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
550 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g 130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3100 and the Olympus E-450? 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3100 and the Olympus E-450 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-450 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D3100 vs Olympus E-450
Compare D3100 versus E-450 top
Comparison D3100 or E-450 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3100 and the Olympus E-450 are of equal size. However, the E-450 is markedly lighter (13 percent) than the D3100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3100 nor the E-450 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 (D3100) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-450).

Concerning battery life, the D3100 gets 550 shots out of its EN-EL14 battery, while the E-450 can take 500 images on a single charge of its BLS-1 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D3100 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-450 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499i
 
Nikon D3200 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599i
 
Nikon D5100 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D7000 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3000 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D60 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D40 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499i
 
Olympus E-600 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 n Aug 2009 449i
 
Olympus E-620 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699i
 
Olympus E-420 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599i
 
Olympus E-520 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699i
 
Olympus E-410 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699i
 
Sony NEX-5N 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 7.9 oz 400 n Jun 2011 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-450 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the D3100, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3100 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-450 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-450 is 37 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 D3100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-450 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D3100 and Olympus E-450 sensor measures

With 14.2MP, the D3100 offers a higher resolution than the E-450 (10MP), but the D3100 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.01μm versus 4.74μm for the E-450) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D3100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the E-450, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-450 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D3100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-450 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

D3100 versus E-450 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 review, the D3100 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-450, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 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.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D3100 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-450 does not. The highest resolution format that the D3100 can use is 1080/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3100 and the E-450 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D3100 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-450 (0.53x vs 0.46x), 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 D3100 and Olympus E-450 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-600optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-420optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
 
Olympus E-410optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n

The D3100 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-450 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-450 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D3100 only has one slot.

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Connectivity comparison

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 D3100 and Olympus E-450 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-600Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-420Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-410Y-----2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the D3100 and the E-450 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the E-450 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.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3100 and the Olympus E-450? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3100:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (14.2 vs 10MP) with a 21% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/24p movies.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.46x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the E-450).

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-450:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 65g or 13 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2009).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3100 emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 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 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.

D3100 08:05 E-450

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3100 and the Olympus E-450 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3100 or the E-450. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-450....4/5..4/5 Mar 2009 499i
 
Nikon D3200+ +73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599i
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
 
Olympus E-600........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
 
Olympus E-62088/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699i
 
Olympus E-42085/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
 
Olympus E-52087/100+ +4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
 
Olympus E-41086/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
 
Sony NEX-5N+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3+ +74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon D3100:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-450:
Check Ebay offers

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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon D3100 vs Olympus E-450

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D3100 Olympus E-450
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2010 March 2009
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-450
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.1 x 15.4 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 355.74 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.8 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 14.2 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3072 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.01 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 3.98 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor EXPEED 2 TruePic III+
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 67 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.5 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 10.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 919 512
    Screen Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-450
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-450
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-450
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-450
    Battery Type EN-EL14 BLS-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)550 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 96 x 75 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
    130 x 91 x 53 mm
    (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
    Camera Weight 505 g (17.8 oz) 440 g (15.5 oz)

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