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Nikon D50 vs Olympus E-PM1

The Nikon D50 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2005 and June 2011. The D50 is a DSLR, while the E-PM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D50) and a Four Thirds (E-PM1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 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.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D50
versus
Olympus E-PM1
Nikon D50   Olympus E-PM1
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
6 MP – APS-C sensor 12.2 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-12,800
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0" LCD – 130k dots 2.0" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
400 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
133 x 102 x 76 mm, 620 g 110 x 64 x 34 mm, 265 g
Nikon D50:
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Olympus E-PM1:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D50 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D50 and the Olympus E-PM1. 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-PM1 can be obtained in six different colors (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white), while the D50 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D50 vs Olympus E-PM1
Compare D50 versus E-PM1 top
Comparison D50 or E-PM1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PM1 is considerably smaller (48 percent) than the Nikon D50. Moreover, the E-PM1 is substantially lighter (57 percent) than the D50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D50 nor the E-PM1 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 (D50) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PM1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PM1, 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 D50 gets 400 shots out of its EN-EL3 battery, while the E-PM1 can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 power pack.

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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
3.
 
Nikon D5200 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 n Nov 2012 749i
4.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749i
5.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
6.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
7.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
8.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
9.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
10.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
11.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
12.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
13.
 
Olympus E-PM2 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 269 g 360 n Sep 2012 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
17.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 E-PM1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the D50, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. 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 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 D50 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PM1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PM1 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 D50 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PM1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D50 and Olympus E-PM1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PM1 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D50. 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 7.85μm for the D50). However, it should be noted that the E-PM1 is much more recent (by 6 years and 2 months) than the D50, 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-PM1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PM1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D50 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 D50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

D50 versus E-PM1 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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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
1.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
3.
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484
4.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
5.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
6.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
7.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
8.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
9.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
10.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
11.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
12.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
13.
 
Olympus E-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
14.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
17.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PM1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D50 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PM1 can use is 1080/60i.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D50 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D50 and Olympus E-PM1 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
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
3.
 
Nikon D5200optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
4.
 
Nikon D5100optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
5.
 
Nikon D3000optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D5000optical n2.7 / 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D60optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-PM2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0/s n Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D50 has one, while the E-PM1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D50 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The D50 writes its imaging data to SD cards, while the E-PM1 uses SDXC cards.

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 D50 and Olympus PEN E-PM1 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D5200Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D3000Y- / ----2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D5000Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D60Y- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-PM2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

Both the D50 and the E-PM1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D50 was replaced by the Nikon D40, while the E-PM1 was followed by the Olympus E-PM2. 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 D50 and the Olympus E-PM1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Nikon D50:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 40%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 130k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 133x102mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 355g or 57 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.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D50 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PM1 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 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 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.

D50 04:11 E-PM1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D50 and the Olympus E-PM1 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D50 or the E-PM1 perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
3.
 
Nikon D52004/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749i
4.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
5.
 
Nikon D3000..+..72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
6.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
7.
 
Nikon D60..80/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
8.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
9.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
10.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
11.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
12.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
13.
 
Olympus E-PM23/5....77/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
17.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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 D50:
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Olympus E-PM1:
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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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D50 vs Olympus E-PM1

    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 D50 Olympus E-PM1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date April 2005 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Nikon D50 Olympus E-PM1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 52
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.9 21.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 560 499
    Screen Specs Nikon D50 Olympus E-PM1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D50 Olympus E-PM1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SD cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D50 Olympus E-PM1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D50 Olympus E-PM1
    Battery Type EN-EL3 BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 102 x 76 mm
    (5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
    110 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 265 g (9.3 oz)
    Nikon D50:
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    Olympus E-PM1:
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