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.

100
ISO 100

200
ISO 200

400
ISO 400

800
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.