Nikon D40 vs Olympus E-PL9
The Nikon D40 and the Olympus PEN E-PL9 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2006 and February 2018. The D40 is a DSLR, while the E-PL9 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D40) and a Four Thirds (E-PL9) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 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 D40 and the Olympus PEN E-PL9? 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 D40 and the Olympus E-PL9 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-PL9 can be obtained in four different colors (black, brown, blue, white), while the D40 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-PL9 is considerably smaller (32 percent) than the Nikon D40. Moreover, the E-PL9 is markedly lighter (27 percent) than the D40. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D40 nor the E-PL9 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 (D40) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL9). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL9, 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|2.||Olympus E-PL9||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|3.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|4.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|5.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|6.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|7.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|8.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|9.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||117 mm||68 mm||39 mm||380 g||350||n||Oct 2019||599|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|15.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|17.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|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 D40 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the E-PL9, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D40 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL9 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL9 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 D40 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL9 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL9 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D40. 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 7.85μm for the D40). However, it should be noted that the E-PL9 is much more recent (by 11 years and 2 months) than the D40, 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-PL9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL9 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 D40 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 D40 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL9 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|17.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-PL9 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D40 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL9 can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D40 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL9 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D40 and Olympus E-PL9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon D40||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PL9||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|3.||Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D50||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D70s||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D70||optical||n||1.8 / 130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-PL8||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-M10||1440||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PL9 has a touchscreen, while the D40 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The E-PL9 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 D40 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the E-PL9 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-PL9 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D40 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-PL9 uses SDXC cards. The E-PL9 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D40 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 D40 and Olympus PEN E-PL9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D40||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-PL9||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Nikon D3400||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|4.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D50||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D70s||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D70||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-M10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-PL9 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D40 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the D40 and the E-PL9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, while the E-PL9 was followed by the Olympus E-PL10. 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 D40 or the Olympus E-PL9 – 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.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D40:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (470 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in November 2006).
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL9:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 59%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- 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 (1040k vs 230k 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.6 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x68mm vs 124x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 142g or 27 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 file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 11 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D40 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL9 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 4 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 D40 and the Olympus E-PL9 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 D40 or the E-PL9. 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 D40||..||81/100||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|2.||Olympus E-PL9||..||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|3.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||4/5||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|4.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|5.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|6.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|7.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|8.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|9.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Nikon D70||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Olympus E-PL10||..||..||4/5||77/100||..||4/5||Oct 2019||599|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 III||..||+||5/5||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|15.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|16.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|17.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.
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 your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Nikon D40
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Nikon D40
- Canon SL1 vs Olympus E-PL9
- Fujifilm X-H1 vs Nikon D40
- Fujifilm X100F vs Olympus E-PL9
- Hasselblad X1D vs Nikon D40
- Nikon D40 vs Nikon D5
- Nikon D40 vs Sony A99
- Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-PL9
- Olympus E-PL9 vs Panasonic GM5
- Olympus E-PL9 vs Pentax K-1
- Olympus E-PL9 vs Sony A77 II
Specifications: Nikon D40 vs Olympus E-PL9
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 D40||Olympus E-PL9|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2006||February 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D40||Olympus E-PL9|
|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||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||561||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D40||Olympus E-PL9|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D40||Olympus E-PL9|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||8.6 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-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 D40||Olympus E-PL9|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D40||Olympus E-PL9|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||470 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
124 x 94 x 64 mm
(4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
117 x 68 x 39 mm
(4.6 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||522 g (18.4 oz)||380 g (13.4 oz)|
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