Updated (January 2011): Compare the Nikon D3100 vs Olympus PEN E-PL2

Nikon D3100 vs Olympus PEN E-PL1

Winner
Nikon D3100

42

Olympus PEN E-PL1

30

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-PL1

Size
Really small
Mid size (115×72×42 mm)
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
Thickness
Thin
1.7"
Weight
Light-weight
334 g

Items often bought with the Nikon D3100 or Olympus PEN E-PL1

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-PL1.

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D3100

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Shutter lag
Much less shutter lag
279 ms vs 820 ms
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2.9x less delay when taking photos
Startup delay
Much less startup delay
400 ms vs 2200 ms
Help
5.5x less delay when turning on
Overall image quality
Better image quality
67.0 vs 54.0
Help
More than 20% better image quality
Autofocus
Faster autofocus
Phase detection vs Contrast detection
Help
Catch candid moments easily
Screen size
Significantly larger screen
3" vs 2.7"
Help
More than 10% larger screen
Supports 24p
Supports 24p
Yes vs No
Help
Get that real film feel
Movie continuous focus
Continuous video focus
Yes vs No
Help
Record movies without worrying about focus
Lens availability
Significantly more lenses available
230 lenses vs 108 lenses
Help
More than 2x more lenses available
Movie format
Higher resolution movies
1080p @ 24fps vs 720p @ 30fps
Help
Shoots higher resolution Full HD (1080p) video but at a lower frame rate
Dynamic range
More dynamic range
11.3 EV vs 10.1 EV
Help
2.4 f-stops more dynamic range
Color depth
Better color depth
22.5 bits vs 21.5 bits
Help
Distinguishes 1 more bits of color
Battery life
Longer battery life
550 shots vs 290 shots
Help
Around 90% 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 487 ISO
Help
The D3100 has a slight edge (0.9 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
Fastest shutter speed
Significantly faster max shutter speed
1/4000s vs 1/2000s
Help
2x faster max shutter speed
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
Nikon D3100 Learn more about
the Nikon D3100

Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL1

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Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
vs None
Help
Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
Size
Smaller
115×72×42 mm vs 124×97×74 mm
Help
2.5x smaller
Thickness
Thinner
1.7" vs 2.9"
Help
More than 40% thinner
Weight
Lighter
334 g vs 505 g
Help
More than 30% lighter
Longest exposure
Longer exposures
60s vs 30s
Help
2x longer exposures
Olympus PEN E-PL1 Learn more about
the Olympus PEN E-PL1
vs

recommendations

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

Snapsort Recommends
Nikon D3100 Nikon D3100 42
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        30 Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus PEN E-PL1
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              similarities

              Compared to recent digital cameras

              Common Strengths
              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-PL110.1 EV
              Panorama Neither camera stitches together panoramas Help
              You could stitch photos in post
              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-PL10
              Screen flips out No flip-out screens Help
              Less flexible
              Screen resolution Low resolution screens Help
              230k dots
              Focus points Few focus points Help
              11
              External mic jack Neither has an external mic jack Help
              Limited to the in-camera mic
              Weather sealed Neither is weather sealed Help
              Need to shelter it from weather
              Continuous shooting Slow continuous shooting Help
              3 fps
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              Overall image quality Low image quality Help
              D310067.0
              PEN E-PL154.0

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3300

              Nikon D3300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $430 - $497 with 18-55mm lens

              Overall image quality Has slightly better image quality
              Screen resolution Has a significantly higher resolution screen
              Thickness Is thicker
              Size Is significantly larger
              Sony Alpha ILC-3000

              Sony Alpha ILC-3000

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              Overall image quality Has slightly better image quality
              Image stabilization Has better image stabilization
              Sensor cleaning Lacks a self cleaning sensor
              Lens availability Slightly fewer lenses available

              Nikon D3100 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $289 body only

              $349 - $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

              $325 body only

              $360 - $399 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

              $332 body only

              $399 with 18-55mm lens

              Battery life Longer battery life
              Startup delay Slightly less startup delay
              Autofocus Lacks video autofocus
              Screen size Significantly smaller screen
              Nikon D5100

              Nikon D5100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $368 body only

              $640 with 18-55mm lens

              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              Overall image quality Better image quality
              Size Slightly larger
              Startup delay Slightly more startup delay
              Canon Kiss X5

              Canon Kiss X5

              Entry-level DSLR

              $1,299 body only

              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              External mic jack Has an external mic jack
              Startup delay Significantly more startup delay
              Size Larger

              Olympus PEN E-PL1 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Olympus PEN E-PL7

              Olympus PEN E-PL7

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $449 body only

              $549 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Screen resolution Much higher resolution screen
              Sensor type Has a CCD-family sensor
              Built-in flash No built-in flash
              Olympus PEN E-PL2

              Olympus PEN E-PL2

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $394 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              Screen size Significantly larger screen
              Color depth Worse color depth
              Weight Slightly heavier
              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Olympus PEN E-PM1

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $199 body only

              $270 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              3D Takes 3D photos
              Color depth Worse color depth
              Built-in flash No built-in flash
              Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3

              Olympus PEN E-PL3

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $591 body only

              $230 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              3D Takes 3D photos
              Color depth Worse color depth
              Built-in flash No built-in flash
              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Olympus PEN E-PL5

              Mirrorless interchangeable-lens

              $490 with 14-42mm lens

              Shutter lag Much less shutter lag
              3D Takes 3D photos
              Sensor type Has a CCD-family sensor
              Built-in flash No built-in flash

              appearance

              Nikon D3100 Olympus PEN E-PL1
              Nikon D3100 Olympus PEN E-PL1
              Nikon D3100 Olympus PEN E-PL1

              discussion

              Nikon D3100
              D3100
              Nikon

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              Olympus PEN E-PL1
              PEN E-PL1
              Olympus

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