Updated (March, 2012): Compare the Nikon D3200 vs Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

Nikon D3100 vs Olympus PEN E-PL2

Winner
Nikon D3100

52

Olympus PEN E-PL2

34

Runner-up

Reasons to buy the Nikon D3100

Movie continuous focus
Movie continuous focus
Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
Autofocuses shooting video
Badge
Contrast detection
 

Reasons to buy the Olympus PEN E-PL2

Size
Really small
Mid size 115x72x42 mm
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
Sensor shift
Panorama
In-camera panoramas
Stitches together multiple photos into a panorama
Thickness
Thin
1.7"

galleries

Explore our gallery of 49 sample photos taken by the Nikon D3100. Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Olympus PEN E-PL2.

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D3100

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Autofocus
Faster autofocus
Phase detection vs Contrast detection
Help
Catch candid moments easily
Overall image quality
Better image quality
67.0 vs 55.0
Help
More than 20% better image quality
Lens availability
Much more lenses available
205 lenses vs 40 lenses
Help
More than 5x more lenses available
Supports 24p
Supports 24p
Yes vs No
Help
Get that real film feel
Movie format
Higher resolution movies
1080p @ 24fps vs 720p @ 30fps
Help
Shoots higher resolution Full HD (1080p) video but at a lower frame rate
Shutter lag
Significantly less shutter lag
279 ms vs 434 ms
Help
Around 40% less delay when taking photos
Color depth
Better color depth
22.5 bits vs 21.4 bits
Help
Distinguishes 1.1 more bits of color
Dynamic range
More dynamic range
11.3 EV vs 10.2 EV
Help
1.1 f-stops more dynamic range
Startup delay
Less startup delay
400 ms vs 1300 ms
Help
3.2x less delay when turning on
Battery life
Longer battery life
550 shots vs 280 shots
Help
Around 2x more shots per battery charge
Viewfinder
Has a viewfinder
Pentamirror vs None
Help
A viewfinder can help save battery life by keeping the screen turned off
Low light performance
Lower noise at high ISO
919 ISO vs 573 ISO
Help
The D3100 has a slight edge (0.7 f-stops) in low noise, high ISO performance
True resolution
Slightly higher true resolution
14.2 MP vs 12.2 MP
Help
Capture around 20% more detail in your photos
Light sensitivity (boost)
Has boost ISO
12,800 ISO vs None
Help
Allows taking photos in darker situations, often at the cost of additional noise in the image
Lowest price
Slightly cheaper
$262.19 vs $423.25
Help
The best price we've seen is $161 cheaper (around 40% less)
Nikon D3100 Learn more about
the Nikon D3100

Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL2

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Image stabilization
Image stabilization
Sensor shift vs None
Help
Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
Size
Significantly smaller
115x72x42 mm vs 124x96x73 mm
Help
2.5x smaller
Panorama
Can create panoramas in-camera
Yes vs No
Help
Stitches together multiple photos for a wide perspective
Screen resolution
Higher resolution screen
460k dots vs 230k dots
Help
2x higher resolution screen
Thickness
Thinner
1.7" vs 2.9"
Help
More than 40% thinner
Weight
Lighter
362 g vs 505 g
Help
Around 30% lighter
Light sensitivity
Better maximum light sensitivity
6,400 ISO vs 3,200 ISO
Help
The PEN E-PL2's maximum light sensitivity is 1 f-stop better
Longest exposure
Longer exposures
60s vs 30s
Help
2x longer exposures
Olympus PEN E-PL2 Learn more about
the Olympus PEN E-PL2
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent digital cameras, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Nikon D3100 Nikon D3100 52
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        34 Olympus PEN E-PL2 Olympus PEN E-PL2
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              similarities

              Compared to recent digital cameras

              Common Strengths
              Movie continuous focus Focus continuously recording movies Help
              Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
              Interchangeable lenses Both support interchangeable lenses, which is uncommon in cameras similar to these Help
              Many lenses to choose from
              Supports RAW Supports RAW Help
              Better editing
              External flash Each supports an external flash Help
              Better lighting
              Sensor cleaning Self cleaning sensors Help
              Avoids dust in your photos
              Common Weaknesses
              Dynamic range Poor dynamic range Help
              D310011.3 EV
              PEN E-PL210.2 EV
              HDR Neither has in-camera HDR Help
              You could do HDR manually
              Cross type focus points Few cross-type focus points Help
              D31001
              PEN E-PL20
              Screen flips out No flip-out screens Help
              Less flexible
              Focus points Few focus points Help
              11
              External mic jack Neither has an external mic jack Help
              Limited to the in-camera mic
              Continuous shooting Slow continuous shooting Help
              3 fps
              Weather sealed Neither is weather sealed Help
              Need to shelter it from weather
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              Screen resolution Low resolution screens Help
              D3100230k dots
              PEN E-PL2460k dots

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              No significant shared competitors found.

              Nikon D3100 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $289 - $547 body only

              $447 with 18-55mm lens

              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              Canon EOS Rebel T5

              Canon EOS Rebel T5

              Entry-level DSLR

              $499 body only

              $399 - $400 with 18-55mm lens

              Screen resolution Higher resolution screen
              True resolution Higher true resolution
              Overall image quality Slightly worse image quality
              Sensor cleaning Lacks a self cleaning sensor
              Canon Rebel T3

              Canon Rebel T3

              Entry-level DSLR

              $325 body only

              $399 with 18-55mm lens

              Battery life Longer battery life
              Startup delay Slightly less startup delay
              Autofocus Lacks video autofocus
              Supports 24p No 24p support
              Nikon D5100

              Nikon D5100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $354 body only

              $591 with 18-55mm, 55-200mm lenses

              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              Size Slightly larger
              Startup delay Slightly more startup delay
              Nikon D3300

              Nikon D3300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $627 body only

              $480 - $497 with 18-55mm lens

              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              Lowest price Slightly more expensive

              Olympus PEN E-PL2 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Olympus PEN E-PL1

              Olympus PEN E-PL1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $260 with 14-42mm lens

              Color depth Better color depth
              Weight Slightly lighter
              Shutter lag Much more shutter lag
              Screen size Smaller screen
              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

              Olympus PEN E-PL3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $219 with 14-42mm lens

              3D Takes 3D photos
              Movie format Higher resolution movies
              Startup delay More startup delay
              Color depth Worse color depth
              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $466 with 14-42mm lens

              3D Takes 3D photos
              Overall image quality Significantly better image quality
              Sensor type Has a CCD-family sensor
              Built-in flash No built-in flash
              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $199 body only

              3D Takes 3D photos
              Movie format Higher resolution movies
              Startup delay More startup delay
              Overall image quality Slightly worse image quality
              Olympus PEN E-PM2

              Olympus PEN E-PM2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $492 with 14-42mm lens

              Overall image quality Significantly better image quality
              Dynamic range More dynamic range
              Built-in flash No built-in flash

              appearance

              Nikon D3100 Olympus PEN E-PL2
              Nikon D3100 Olympus PEN E-PL2
              Nikon D3100 Olympus PEN E-PL2

              discussion

              Nikon D3100
              D3100
              Nikon

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              Olympus PEN E-PL2
              PEN E-PL2
              Olympus

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