Nikon D4S vs Olympus E-P5
The Nikon D4S and the Olympus PEN E-P5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2014 and May 2013. The D4S is a DSLR, while the E-P5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (D4S) and a Four Thirds (E-P5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.2 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 D4S and the Olympus PEN E-P5? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D4S and the Olympus E-P5. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the D4S 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-P5 is considerably smaller (66 percent) than the Nikon D4S. Moreover, the E-P5 is substantially lighter (69 percent) than the D4S. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D4S is splash and dust resistant, while the E-P5 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 (D4S) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-P5, 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 D4S gets 3020 shots out of its EN-EL18a battery, while the E-P5 can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLN-1 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4S has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D4S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|2.||Olympus E-P5||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999|
|3.||Canon 1D X||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Nikon D6||6.3 in||6.4 in||3.6 in||44.8 oz||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D5||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D750||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|7.||Nikon D810||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|8.||Nikon Df||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.6 in||26.8 oz||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D4||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|10.||Nikon D3S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|11.||Nikon D3X||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||44.4 oz||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|12.||Nikon D3||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||4.7 in||3.2 in||1.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||17.5 oz||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||4.8 in||2.8 in||2.2 in||14.2 oz||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.|
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 E-P5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 85 percent) than the D4S, 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 D4S features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-P5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P5 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the D4S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-P5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 16.2MP, the D4S offers a slightly higher resolution than the E-P5 (15.9MP), but the D4S nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 3.76μm for the E-P5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D4S is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the E-P5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Nikon D4S has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-409600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-P5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 D4S provides substantially higher image quality than the E-P5, with an overall score that is 17 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|2.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|3.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|4.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|6.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|7.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|8.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|9.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|10.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|11.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|12.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|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 also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D4S provides a higher frame rate than the E-P5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D4S has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-P5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D4S and Olympus E-P5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the D4S, but is missing on the E-P5 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 Nikon D4S and the Olympus E-P5 both have 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 D4S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the E-P5 uses SDXC cards. The D4S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-P5 only has one slot.
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 D4S and Olympus PEN E-P5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the D4S has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-P5. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D4S (unlike the E-P5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D4S and the E-P5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D4S was replaced by the Nikon D5, while the E-P5 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D4S better than the Olympus E-P5 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D4S:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- 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.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 9 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 (3020 versus 330) 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.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 9 months after the E-P5).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P5:
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 921k 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 compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 930g or 69 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (85 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2013).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4S is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 11 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 D4S and the Olympus E-P5 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D4S and the E-P5 in practical situations. 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 (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 D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|2.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|3.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|7.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|8.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|10.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|11.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|12.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|16.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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, 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.
Specifications: Nikon D4S vs Olympus E-P5
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 D4S||Olympus E-P5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2014||May 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D4S||Olympus E-P5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.2 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3280 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.29 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.88 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 409,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||89||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.4||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.3||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3074||895|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D4S||Olympus E-P5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D4S||Olympus E-P5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D4S||Olympus E-P5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D4S||Olympus E-P5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3020 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
122 x 69 x 37 mm
(4.8 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||1350 g (47.6 oz)||420 g (14.8 oz)|
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