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Nikon D5500 versus Olympus E-PL8

The Nikon D5500 and the Olympus PEN E-PL8 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2015 and September 2016. The D5500 is a DSLR, while the E-PL8 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D5500) and a Four Thirds (E-PL8) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-PL8

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5500 and the Olympus E-PL8. 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. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D5500 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-PL8
Compare D5500 versus E-PL8 top
Compare D5500 and E-PL8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL8 is considerably smaller (36 percent) than the Nikon D5500. Moreover, the E-PL8 is markedly lighter (15 percent) than the D5500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5500 nor the E-PL8 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5500) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL8). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL8, 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 D5500 gets 820 shots out of its EN-EL14a battery, while the E-PL8 can take 350 images on a single charge of its BLS-50 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D5500» 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 n Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Olympus E-PL8« 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Sep 2016 549- i Olympus E-PL8
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Nikon D3500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 12.9 oz 1550 n Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D3300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599- i Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
Olympus E-PL9« » 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 13.4 oz 350 n Feb 2018 549 i i Olympus E-PL9
Olympus E-M10 III« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.0 in 14.5 oz 330 n Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-PL7« » 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
Panasonic G7« » 4.9 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 14.5 oz 350 n May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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-PL8 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 39 percent) than the D5500, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-PL8

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D5500 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL8 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL8 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 D5500 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL8 offers a 4:3 aspect.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Nikon D5500 and Olympus E-PL8 sensor measures

With 24MP, the D5500 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL8 (15.9MP), but the D5500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL8) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-PL8 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the D5500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D5500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

D5500 versus E-PL8 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Nikon D5500» APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884Nikon D5500
Olympus E-PL8« Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p----Olympus E-PL8
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277Canon M5
Nikon D3500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
Nikon D3300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484Nikon D5200
Olympus E-PL9« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----Olympus E-PL9
Olympus E-M10 III« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-PL7« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372Olympus E-PL7
Panasonic G7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p----Panasonic G7
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300

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 D5500 provides a higher frame rate than the E-PL8. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-PL8

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D5500 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL8 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D5500 and Olympus E-PL8 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D5500»optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5500
Olympus E-PL8«- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL8
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M5
Nikon D3500« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
Nikon D3300« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5200
Olympus E-PL9« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.6 Y Y Olympus E-PL9
Olympus E-M10 III« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.6 Y Y Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-PL7« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL7
Panasonic G7« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G7
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D5500 has one, while the E-PL8 does not. While the build-in flash of the D5500 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both the D5500 and the E-PL8 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Nikon D5500»YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5500
Olympus E-PL8«Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-PL8
Canon M5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M5
Nikon D3500« »Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3500
Nikon D5600« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
Nikon D500« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Nikon D3400« »Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3400
Nikon D3300« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5200
Olympus E-PL9« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y-YOlympus E-PL9
Olympus E-M10 III« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M10 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-PL7« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-PL7
Panasonic G7« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Panasonic G7
Sony A6300« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6300

Both the D5500 and the E-PL8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5500 was replaced by the Nikon D5600, while the E-PL8 was followed by the Olympus E-PL9.

Review summary: Nikon D5500 vs Olympus E-PL8

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D5500 better than the Olympus E-PL8 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Nikon D5500:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: Larger pixels generate images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (820 versus 350) 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 on the market for longer (launched in January 2015).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL8:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (115x67mm vs 124x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 63g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-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 (39 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 8 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D5500 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 8 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.

D5500 14:08 E-PL8

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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D5500 or the E-PL8. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D5500»Rec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Olympus E-PL8«--4.5/5-4/5 Sep 2016 549- i Olympus E-PL8
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Nikon D3500« »--4/5-4.5/5 Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D3300« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
Nikon D5300« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Nikon D3200« »HiRec73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599- i Nikon D3200
Nikon D5200« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
Olympus E-PL9« »Rec-4.5/5-4/5 Feb 2018 549 i i Olympus E-PL9
Olympus E-M10 III« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-M10 II« »HiRec80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-PL7« »Rec-5/54.5/54/5 Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
Panasonic G7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/54.5/5 May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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 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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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