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Canon 1D Mark IV versus Olympus E-520

The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2009 and May 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark IV) and a Four Thirds (E-520) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Olympus E-520

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Olympus E-520. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1D Mark IV – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1D Mark IV vs Olympus E-520
Compare 1D Mark IV versus E-520 top
Compare 1D Mark IV and E-520 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-520 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark IV. Moreover, the E-520 is substantially lighter (57 percent) than the 1D Mark IV. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1D Mark IV is splash and dust resistant, while the E-520 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark IV) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-520).

Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark IV gets 1500 shots out of its LP-E4 battery, while the E-520 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark IV has a battery grip build in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and contributes to its long-lasting power supply.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark IV» 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Olympus E-520« 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« » 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« » 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 7D« » 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 5D Mark II« » 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« » 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 1D Mark III« » 156 mm 156.6 mm 80 mm 1155 g 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 156 mm 157.6 mm 80 mm 1215 g 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D4« » 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D3S« » 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Olympus E-600« » 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449- i Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« » 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« » 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599- i Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« » 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« » 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-520 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 86 percent) than the 1D Mark IV, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Olympus E-520

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark IV features an APS-H sensor and the Olympus E-520 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-520 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 2.0. The sensor in the 1D Mark IV has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-520 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 1D Mark IV and Olympus E-520 sensor measures

With 16MP, the 1D Mark IV offers a higher resolution than the E-520 (10MP), but the 1D Mark IV nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.70μm versus 4.74μm for the E-520) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the 1D Mark IV is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the E-520, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

1D Mark IV versus E-520 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the 1D Mark IV provides substantially higher image quality than the E-520, with an overall score that is 19 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark IV» APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Olympus E-520« Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855Olympus E-520
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366Canon 60D
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663Canon 50D
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Olympus E-600« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.510.354155Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.452756Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.110.049451Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252Olympus E-510

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 1D Mark IV indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-520 does not. The highest resolution format that the 1D Mark IV can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Olympus E-520

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D Mark IV and the E-520 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D Mark IV, the Olympus E-520, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark IV»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Olympus E-520«optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y Y Olympus E-520
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Olympus E-600« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-510

One feature that is present on the 1D Mark IV, but is missing on the E-520 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

Both the 1D Mark IV and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Canon and Olympus.

Review summary: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Olympus E-520

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1D Mark IV better than the Olympus E-520 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16 vs 10MP) with a 29% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (19 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 215k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1500 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 5 months after the E-520).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-520:

  • More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 156x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 695g or 57 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (86 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2008).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1D Mark IV is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

1D Mark IV 15:06 E-520

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1D Mark IV or the E-520 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark IV»-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Olympus E-520«87/100HiRec4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Olympus E-600« »----4.5/5 Aug 2009 449- i Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5rev5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« »85/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2008 599- i Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« »86/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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