Comparison of J5 and E-M1 Mark II Images

This article shares a selection of images captured hand-held with a Nikon 1 J5 and an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The creative spark for this article came from Anders, one of our regular readers. The primary objective of the article is to do a brief comparison of J5 and E-M1 Mark II straight out of camera (SOOC) jpeg images.  We have also included some corresponding samples of images created from RAW files after some post processing was done to them.

In an attempt to keep the comparison on an equal as possible footing, we used a 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm zoom and an Olympus 12-100 mm zoom. Both of these zooms are often used as ‘walk around’ lenses. ISO values were kept at the same level and we tried to frame images in a similar fashion. Each camera’s default jpeg settings were used.

As you progress through the article you will see four images of each scene that was photographed. Each group of images follows the same order: Nikon 1 J5 SOOC jpeg, Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II SOOC jpeg, Nikon 1 J5 processed RAW file, and finally an Olympus processed RAW file.

Readers can make their own evaluations of the various images displayed in the article.

For readers who are interested in DxO Mark test data here’s how the Nikon 1 J5 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II scored:

Overall Score: Nikon 1 J5: 65, E-M1 Mark II: 80
Colour Depth: Nikon 1 J5: 22.1 bits, E-M1 Mark II: 23.7 bits
Dynamic Range: Nikon 1 J5: 12 Evs, E-M1 Mark II: 12.8 Evs
Low Light ISO: Nikon 1 J5: 479 ISO, E-M1 Mark II: 1312 ISO

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Image 1: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200. SOOC jpeg
Image 2: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 15 mm, efov 30 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 3: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200. RAW file processed in post
Image 4: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 15 mm, efov 30 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 5: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 6: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 15 mm, efov 30 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 7: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 8: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 15 mm, efov 30 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 9: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 10: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 15 mm, efov 30 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 11: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 12: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 15 mm, efov 30 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 13: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 14: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 15: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 16: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 17: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 18: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 13 mm, efov 26 mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 19: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 20: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 13 mm, efov 26 mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 21: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 22: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 23: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 24: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 14 mm, efov 28 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 25: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 26: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 13mm, efov 26 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200, SOOC jpeg
Image 27: Nikon J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post
Image 28: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II + M.Zuiko 12-100 f/4 @ 13 mm, efov 26 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-200, RAW file processed in post

My main consideration in potentially adding Olympus gear to our kit is video focused. Should I eventually decide to move forward with some Olympus gear, I will definitely need to spend a lot more time examining their RAW files. They respond quite differently in post (as could be expected based on DxO Mark lab testing) and will require their own set of custom presets in DxO PhotoLab.

The E-M1 Mark II images in this article that were processed from RAW files, were my first attempts with this type of file.

Technical Note:
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Many of the photographs displayed in this article are straight-out-of-camera jpegs without any cropping, or adjustments in post, done to them. They were resized to 1200 pixels for web use. Other images were created from RAW files using my standard approach.

Use of Olympus Loaner Equipment
Some of the photographs in this article were captured using Olympus Loaner Gear which was supplied by Olympus Americas Inc. on a no-charge basis. We are under no obligation what-so-ever to Olympus Americas Inc. in terms of our use of this loaner Olympus camera equipment. There is no expectation or agreement of any kind with Olympus Americas Inc. that we will create and share with readers any images, articles or videos, or on what that content may be.

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16 thoughts on “Comparison of J5 and E-M1 Mark II Images”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I’m not familiar with either of those cameras (except that Nikon 1 J5 uses similar 1″ sensor to my Sony RX10 ii) …

    T’would seem to me, tho (looking at images on my monitor, as presented on your site – ie. not downloaded), that Nikon captures have a lot more clarity and drama in the sky & clouds … I prefer these versions.

    Regards, John – TKA

    1. Hi TKA,

      The jpegs of the J5 do a better job with details and colours in the sky… at least with what I was able to demonstrate with the sample images in the article. As noted in the article default jpeg settings were used. It was also my first attempt working with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II RAW files and I have much to learn. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      Tom

  2. Interesting

    It’s a pity that you did not publish the comparison with M4/3 equipment at about the same price range and spec as the J5 as everyone can say about the current comparison that you are not comparing apples with apples.

    How about doing it with a J5 and an Oly EM-10 iii and 14-150 lens? (28-300 FF equivalent FOV, much like the 10-100 and both Olympus body and lens are more ‘consumer’ standard.

    I don’t think the results will be very different, but it is a more valid test

    1. Hi Tom,

      The article was only done because of a specific request that I had from one of my readers. Since I had the gear available in my office, it made sense for me to respond to the request.

      I agree that comparing the OM-D E-M10 with a J5 would be a more ‘apples to apples’ match-up. If we look at DxO Mark sensor test scores here’s how the J5 and E-M10 compare:

      Total score: J5 = 65, E-M10 = 73
      Dynamic range: J5 = 12.0 EV, E-M10 = 12.5 EV (according to DxO Mark a difference of 0.5 EV is needed to start to be noticeable)
      Colour Depth: J5 = 22.1 bits, E-M10 = 23.1 bits (according to DxO Mark a difference of 1.0 bits is needed to start to be noticeable)

      So, based on DxO Mark sensor testing there would only be a modest difference in sensor performance between a J5 and an E-M10. It is likely a reasonable assumption that the lens performance of the Olympus 14-150 would be similar to the performance of 1 Nikkor lenses as they are both targeted at consumers. So, if an image comparison between a Nikon 1 J5 fitted with a 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4.5.6, and an Olympus OM-D E-M10 fitted with a 14-150 mm lens was done, the results would logically have been much closer.

      The editorial on the vast majority of photography sites focuses on gear reviews and gear comparisons. So, there already is a wealth of gear review information available for readers should they have an interest in this type of content.

      My website has never focused on gear reviews, and quite frankly never will. I have no fundamental interest in this type of editorial focus.

      Cameras and lenses to me are just tools with which we create images. I would much rather be out with one of my cameras experimenting with images, and experiencing the joy of photography, and sharing my experiences with my readers.

      I think I would make a terrible gear reviewer anyway… I just don’t have any interest in the topic.

      Tom

      1. Tom

        I probably read more than my share of reviews in trying to spend my money wisely. Frankly most of them are worth very little, for their convenience they concentrate on measurements which can be done in the lab, rather than real use, and frequently they miss out on tests of obviously competing products…almost as if they have been asked not to. Most of the ‘comparison’ sites are trivial, and look as though they have been written by people who are not photographers

        I find ‘mirrorlessons.com’ is useful for real life comparisons. Your article was another very useful one (albeit with my concerns above)

        Please let us have more views of competing equipment…from the perspective of a photographer who knows how to get the best out of the kit, and with real life photos (not test charts)

        Even though it is not you prime objective, you would still be doing us a service and help us buy the right kit.

        (I still have a V2+ lenses, as well as M4/3 kit)

        Tom

        1. Hi Tom,

          I agree that Heather and Mat at Mirrorlessons.com do a great job with their real life camera reviews. Much of their efforts are shifting to another website that they run called Mirrorless Comparisons: https://mirrorlesscomparison.com.

          If you are looking for some solid mirrorless camera gear comparison articles I would certainly recommend that you visit their site regularly. Mat and Heather stay abreast of all of the latest developments in mirrorless camera gear technology. They have developed and maintain an excellent knowledge base, and have a wealth of practical experience using a wide range of different brands and equipment. I think these factors are critical to provide readers with meaningful gear reviews and comparisons.

          Tom

  3. Tom,

    The Oly EM-1x has an impressive dynamic range and color depth though of course, the Olympus has the benefit of a pro-spec lens and more recent tech. To be fair to the Nikon J5, its output isn’t too shabby a result especially when viewing the pictures on mobile phones. I guess you’re just getting ahead of the game at this point, looking into ways to see how other non-full frame bodies and lenses (non-Nikon) can help in your business. Thinking out aloud, it’s too bad that Nikon had to abandon the 1″ sensor segment but I guess that’s the nature of business. I would’ve gladly stayed on the Nikon platform myself but I somehow don’t see Nikon going back to the 1″ segment. Heck, I don’t even know if Nikon will ever remain committed to a shrinking APS-C line. As you’ve responded in an earlier post, the thrust to go full-frame (or bigger, in the case of Fuji for its MFT GFX camera) is just logical in terms of business sensibility (little to no difference in manufacturing costs of APS-C and FF lenses for example). While I understand the point, I personally don’t see the need to go full frame now and in the future, expense-wise, investment-wise, weight-wise.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Hi Oggie,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion! I agree that the Olympus images benefit from a larger sensor and a pro-spec lens. We need to remember that the Nikon 1 kit when purchased new was about $1,100 to $,200 CDN compared to $5,500 CDN for an OM-D EM1X with an M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 IS PRO zoom. Given the cost and sensor size difference, the Nikon 1 J5 does a very good job. It is a shame that the Nikon 1 system was discontinued, but Nikon likely saw the writing on the wall with the continued contraction of the camera market.

      My experimentation with Olympus camera gear is really being driven by the needs of my client video business. Not being able to shoot video in 4K is finally catching up to us. Unlike many folks, the work that we do really revolves around getting as much depth-of-field as possible at any given aperture. Full frame cameras simply are the wrong format for what we do and are of no interest whatsoever to us.

      We have an extended video test arranged with our best client. We anticipate that the test will confirm that the Olympus OM-D E-M1X will allow us to shoot our client video projects completely hand-held without the need for tripods, stabilizers, sliders etc. This will represent a tremendous improvement in project efficiency and flexibility. It would also reduce the amount of gear we would need to bring onsite to a single camera and probably three zoom lenses. That gear would all fit into one medium sized shoulder bag. The OM-D E-M1X would also provide us with some photographic capabilities not offered in any other current camera body, regardless of price. These features would serve to open up additional marketing opportunities.

      Tom

  4. Olympus provided surprisingly sharper, brighter images – pre- and post-processing. The Olympus output appeared more accurate, too.
    Was certain Nikon 1 would uphold its spot, especially with your uncanny gift for processing raw output into breathtaking clarity.
    Alas. Wasn’t the case. Never thought I’d say this, but it’s time to abandon the Nikon 1 for something better. Suggest comparing Olympus with a few other systems before committing to one.

    1. Hi Liz,

      If defense of my beloved little NIkon 1 J5… the images were captured with very different lenses. The M.Zuiko 12-100 mm f/4 is a professional grade lens with a price to match… almost three times the cost of the 1 Nikon 10-100 mm f/4-5.6.

      I have been enjoying using the Olympus Loaner Gear quite a bit. In terms of looking at other systems… we already spent quite a bit of time to tightly define our needs. We have already determined that if the Olympus E-M1X does what we think it is capable of doing for our video work, there isn’t anything else on the market that will fit our needs better. After I complete some extended video testing we will be in a much better position to make a ‘no or no go’ decision regarding the Olympus E-M1X and a selection of M.Zuiko pro lenses.

      My wife and I still love using our Nikon 1 kit and we plan on keeping it for many years to come. For some of the things that we do, our Nikon 1 gear will remain as our system of choice.

      Tom

  5. As I scrolled down the ones I liked the best were the ones taken with the Olympus – raw, processed. But all of them look good so either camera seems to do a good job.

    1. Hi Joni,

      The sensor in the Nikon 1 J5 is very good for its size and the camera can ‘punch above its weight class’ as a result. It is my favourite Nikon 1 model for general photography. Too bad the system was discontinued about a year ago.

      The increased dynamic range and colour depth of the M4/3 sensor in the E-M1 Mark II is noticeable… and as you pointed out with your comment… especially when using RAW files. I have been enjoying using both of the Olympus cameras for the past couple of days. From a business standpoint the E-M1X is much better to our needs. Time will tell if we take the plunge or not!

      Tom

  6. Hi!
    Mr Tom, from where i’m looking at the photographs (a 7″ tablet), could not tell the diference.
    The other posts on the subject i saw it in a regular monitor and i enjoy it very much. But again i couldn’t tell the diference. (No, i’m not blind?)
    My point is i still enjoy a lot those pictures and your reflexions on the blog.
    Its bit of a shame that todays trend is more megapixels and “big” sensors and not better images produced.
    All the best to you and yourfamily

    1. Hi Antonio,

      Your comment raises a good point… depending on what someone is using to view a photograph the differences can be negligible. I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people use their cell phones for their photography needs. That technology is perfect for their needs.

      Full frame cameras and high density sensors certainly have their purpose and many photographers are well served with that type of equipment. for many photographers it is essential for the work they produce.

      My needs are more than adequately met my Nikon 1 system and potentially by M4/3 gear. I don’t need full frame equipment for the work I do. Everyone has their unique needs. One system isn’t necessarily ‘better’ than another… just different because needs are different.

      Tom

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