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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|2.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|3.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|4.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|5.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|6.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|8.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|9.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|11.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|12.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|14.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|15.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|16.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|17.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|15.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|16.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
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.
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||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.
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.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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], 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.
|1.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|2.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|3.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|4.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|5.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|6.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|8.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|9.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 20D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|11.||Canon 10D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|12.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|13.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|14.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|15.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|16.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|17.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|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.
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.
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 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 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|
|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%|
|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 Expectancy||100 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Build-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|
|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 Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
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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