Nikon D5100 vs Olympus XZ-1
The Nikon D5100 and the Olympus XZ-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2011 and January 2011. The D5100 is a DSLR, while the XZ-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D5100) and a 1/1.7-inch (XZ-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10.1 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 D5100 and the Olympus XZ-1? 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 D5100 and the Olympus XZ-1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The XZ-1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D5100 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 XZ-1 is considerably smaller (42 percent) than the Nikon D5100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5100 nor the XZ-1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the XZ-1 has a lens built in, whereas the D5100 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D5100 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|2.||Olympus XZ-1||111 mm||65 mm||42 mm||275 g||320||n||Jan 2011||499|
|3.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|4.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|5.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|6.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|7.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|8.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|10.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|11.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|12.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|14.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|15.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499|
|16.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Notes: 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 XZ-1 was launched at a lower price than the D5100, despite having a lens built in. 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 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. 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 D5100 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus XZ-1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the XZ-1 is 88 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 4.4. The sensor in the D5100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the XZ-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 16.1MP, the D5100 offers a higher resolution than the XZ-1 (10.1MP), but the D5100 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 2.13μm for the XZ-1) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus XZ-1 are 18.3 x 13.8 inches or 46.5 x 35 cm for good quality, 14.7 x 11 inches or 37.2 x 28 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.2 inches or 31 x 23.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D5100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus XZ-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (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 D5100 provides substantially higher image quality than the XZ-1, with an overall score that is 46 points higher. This advantage is based on 4.7 bits higher color depth, 3.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 3.3 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 |
|12.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|13.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|14.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
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 D5100 provides a higher video resolution than the XZ-1. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D5100 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the XZ-1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the XZ-1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D5100 and Olympus XZ-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
The Nikon D5100 and the Olympus XZ-1 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D5100 and the XZ-1 write their files to SDXC cards. The D5100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the XZ-1 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 D5100 and Olympus XZ-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D5100 has a microphone port, which is missing on the XZ-1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Both the D5100 and the XZ-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XZ-1 was replaced by the Olympus XZ-2, while the D5100 was followed by the Nikon D5200. 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D5100 and the Olympus XZ-1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5100:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 10.1MP) with a 29% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (46 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (4.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (3.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (3.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 614k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (660 versus 320) on a single battery charge.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
Advantages of the Olympus XZ-1:
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D5100 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x65mm vs 128x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D5100).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D5100 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 5 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5100 and the Olympus XZ-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D5100 or the XZ-1 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.
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], 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 D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|2.||Olympus XZ-1||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||499|
|3.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|4.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|5.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|6.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|7.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|8.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|10.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|11.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|12.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|14.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|15.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|16.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Nikon D5100 vs Olympus XZ-1
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 D5100||Olympus XZ-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|Launch Date||April 2011||January 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5100||Olympus XZ-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||7.85 x 5.89 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||46.2365 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||9.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||10.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||3664 x 2752 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||2.13 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2||21.81 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 2||TruePic V|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||34|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||18.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.6||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1183||117|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5100||Olympus XZ-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||614k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5100||Olympus XZ-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||2 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D5100||Olympus XZ-1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5100||Olympus XZ-1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||660 shots per charge||320 shots per charge|
128 x 97 x 79 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
111 x 65 x 42 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||560 g (19.8 oz)||275 g (9.7 oz)|
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