Nikon Z7 vs Olympus E-PL9
The Nikon Z7 and the Olympus PEN E-PL9 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2018 and February 2018. Both the Z7 and the E-PL9 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (Z7) and a Four Thirds (E-PL9) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 45.4 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 Z7 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon Z7 and the Olympus E-PL9. 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 E-PL9 can be obtained in four different colors (black, brown, blue, white), while the Z7 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 (41 percent) than the Nikon Z7. Moreover, the E-PL9 is substantially lighter (44 percent) than the Z7. It is worth mentioning in this context that the Z7 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-PL9 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the Z7 gets 330 shots out of its EN-EL15b battery, while the E-PL9 can take 350 images on a single charge of its BLS-50 power pack. The power pack in the Z7 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
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.
|Nikon Z7||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|Olympus E-PL9||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||13.4 oz||350||n||Feb 2018||599|
|Canon R5||5.4 in||3.9 in||3.5 in||26.0 oz||320||Y||Jul 2020||3,899|
|Nikon Z7 II||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.8 in||24.9 oz||420||Y||Oct 2020||2,999|
|Nikon Z6||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|Nikon D850||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Olympus E-PL10||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||13.4 oz||350||n||Oct 2019||599|
|Olympus E-M10 III||4.8 in||3.3 in||2.0 in||14.5 oz||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-PL8||4.5 in||2.6 in||1.5 in||12.6 oz||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||4.7 in||3.3 in||1.9 in||13.8 oz||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||4.7 in||3.2 in||1.8 in||14.0 oz||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|Panasonic S1R||5.9 in||4.3 in||3.8 in||35.8 oz||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Sony A7R IV||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||23.5 oz||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|Sony A7R III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A9||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A7R II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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-PL9 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 82 percent) than the Z7, 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.
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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon Z7 features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-PL9 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL9 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 Z7 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL9 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 45.4MP, the Z7 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL9 (15.9MP), but the Z7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL9) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Z7 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the E-PL9, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the Z7 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon Z7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Z7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 27.5 inches or 104.9 x 69.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 22 inches or 83.9 x 55.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 18.3 inches or 69.9 x 46.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL9 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Z7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon Z7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 64 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 32-102400. 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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|Olympus E-PL9||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon R5||Full Frame||44.8||8192||5464||8k/30p||25.3||14.6||3042||95|
|Nikon Z7 II||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Olympus E-PL10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the Z7 has an electronic viewfinder (3690k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL9 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon Z7, the Olympus E-PL9, and comparable cameras.
|Nikon Z7 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the Z7, but is missing on the E-PL9 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 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 Z7 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, both cameras under consideration feature an 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 Nikon Z7 and the Olympus E-PL9 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 Z7 writes its imaging data to XQD cards, while the E-PL9 uses SDXC 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 Z7 and Olympus PEN E-PL9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Nikon Z7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the Z7 has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-PL9. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The E-PL9 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the Z7 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the Z7 was succeeded by the Nikon Z7 II. 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 the Nikon Z7 better than the Olympus E-PL9 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon Z7:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (45.4 vs 15.9MP) with a 72% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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 electronic 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the E-PL9).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL9:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x68mm vs 134x101mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 295g or 44 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (82 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2018).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z7 is the clear winner of the match-up (18 : 7 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 Z7 and the Olympus E-PL9 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 Z7 or the E-PL9 perform in practice. 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 summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Nikon Z7||+||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|Olympus E-PL9||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2018||599|
|Canon R5||..||91/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jul 2020||3,899|
|Nikon Z7 II||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Oct 2020||2,999|
|Nikon Z6||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|Nikon D850||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Olympus E-PL10||..||77/100||..||..||4/5||Oct 2019||599|
|Olympus E-M10 III||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-PL8||..||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|Panasonic S1R||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Sony A7R IV||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A9||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon Z7 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 Z7||Olympus E-PL9|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon Z mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2018||February 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 3,399||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z7||Olympus E-PL9|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||45.4 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8256 x 5504 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.35 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.30 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||64 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||32 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||TruePic VIII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||99||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||26.3||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.6||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2668||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z7||Olympus E-PL9|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z7||Olympus E-PL9|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||8.6 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z7||Olympus E-PL9|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z7||Olympus E-PL9|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 101 x 67 mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
117 x 68 x 39 mm
(4.6 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||675 g (23.8 oz)||380 g (13.4 oz)|
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