Nikon D5100 and Olympus E-PL1 image quality comparison

A comparison of files from a Nikon D5100 plus 55-300mm zoom and an Olympus E-PL1 plus Zeiss 50mm f/2 T* Planar.

The lenses were chosen to see how 12MP m4/3 with a very good lens would compare to 16MP APS-C with a good, but not great lens.

The shots were taken on a tripod, all identically processed in Adobe Camera Raw. I chose f/11 as an aperture which would do both lenses justice, and shot the samples at ISO 100, 200, 400 & 800.

Click on the results to go to flickr, choose Actions > view all sizes and the full-resolution files are available.

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

As you can see the Olympus shots are warmer. In terms of sharpness they are very similar. I was surprised at how well the Olympus shots compared at ISO 800. I was expecting the Nikon shots to look much better. 

Overall it shows once again just how good m4/3 is, if a good lens is used. A top-quality Nikon prime up against the Olympus kit zoom would probably show different results and I may give that a try at some point.

So, an "entry-level" DSLR (with the obvious qualification that this is the same sensor as much higher specified cameras) compared to a m/43 camera with what is now probably the old m4/3 sensor.

My point here is that, with very few exceptions, many cameras now give similar results. Its pretty much a given now that the majority of the cameras we use from 12MP > are all capable of of excellent results, and the choices we make are probably determined by other factors.