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Canon 30D vs Olympus E-1

The Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus E-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2006 and June 2003. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (30D) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 30D
versus
Olympus E-1
Canon 30D   Olympus E-1
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
8.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 4.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 1.8 LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
144 x 106 x 74 mm, 785 g 141 x 104 x 81 mm, 738 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus E-1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Olympus E-1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 30D vs Olympus E-1
Compare 30D versus E-1 top
Comparison 30D or E-1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-1 is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the E-1 is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the 30D. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-1 is splash and dust-proof, while the 30D 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (30D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-1).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
2.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
6.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon 350D 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
10.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
12.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
13.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
14.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699i
15.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699i
16.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
17.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 30D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the E-1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 30D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 30D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 30D and Olympus E-1 sensor measures

With 8.2MP, the 30D offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the 30D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.42μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). However, the 30D is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 7 months) than the E-1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 30D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 30D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inches or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inches or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inches or 21.7 x 16.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 30D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

30D versus E-1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
2.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none20.09.7-14544
3.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
4.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
5.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
6.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
7.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
8.
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
9.
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
10.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
11.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none21.010.612753
12.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
13.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
14.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
15.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
16.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
17.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.410.1-4048
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
Neither the 30D nor the E-1 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 30D and the E-1 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 viewfinder in the E-1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 30D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the 30D has a higher magnification (0.56x vs 0.48x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 30D, the Olympus E-1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
5.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
7.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
8.
 
Canon 400Doptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 350Doptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D200optical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y3.0 / 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y2.5 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 30D has one, while the E-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the 30D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The 30D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-1 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 30D only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 30D and Olympus E-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-1Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 70DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 7DYmono / -Y-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Canon 400DY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Canon 350DY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereo / mono---2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D200Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-3Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 30D and the E-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, while the 30D was followed by the Canon 40D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 30D better than the Olympus E-1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 30D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (8.2 vs 4.9MP) with a 32% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.56x vs 0.48x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 134k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-1:

  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2003).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 30D is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 4 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

30D 13:04 E-1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 30D and the Olympus E-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 30D or the E-1. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
2.
 
Olympus E-1......+o.. Jun 2003 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
6.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon 400D..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon 350D..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
10.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Leica Digilux 3............ Sep 2006 1,499i
12.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
13.
 
Nikon D200..+ +..+ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
14.
 
Olympus E-54/5....75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699i
15.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100..+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699i
16.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999i
17.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 30D:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-1:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 30D vs Olympus E-1

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 30D Olympus E-1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2006 June 2003
    Launch Price USD 1,399 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.5 x 15.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 337.5 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 8.2 Megapixels 4.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3504 x 2336 pixels 2560 x 1920 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.42 μm 6.78 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2 2.19 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 800 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 2 TruePic
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 59 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 736 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.56x 0.48x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-1
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 144 x 106 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
    141 x 104 x 81 mm
    (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 785 g (27.7 oz) 738 g (26.0 oz)

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