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Canon 40D vs Olympus E-500

The Canon EOS 40D and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (40D) and a Four Thirds (E-500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 40D
versus
Olympus E-500
Canon 40D   Olympus E-500
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.5 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 130 x 95 x 66 mm, 479 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D and the Olympus Evolt E-500? 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

The physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Olympus E-500 are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 40D vs Olympus E-500
Compare 40D versus E-500 top
Comparison 40D or E-500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-500 is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the E-500 is substantially lighter (42 percent) than the 40D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 40D nor the E-500 are weather-sealed.

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 (40D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-500).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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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 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
6.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
7.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
8.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
9.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
10.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
13.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
15.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
16.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699i
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.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 54 percent) than the 40D, 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

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 40D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-500 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-500 is 32 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 40D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-500 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 40D and Olympus E-500 sensor measures

With 10.1MP, the 40D offers a higher resolution than the E-500 (8MP), but the 40D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.73μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the 40D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the E-500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 40D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 40D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-500 are 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for good quality, 13.1 x 9.8 inches or 33.2 x 24.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.9 x 8.2 inches or 27.6 x 20.7 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 40D 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 Evolt E-500 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.

40D versus E-500 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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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 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
2.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.710.34551
3.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
4.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
5.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
6.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.478364
7.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
8.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
9.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
10.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
11.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
12.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
13.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
14.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
15.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
16.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.010.612753
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.
The 40D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The E-500 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 40D and the E-500 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the 40D has a higher magnification than the one of the E-500 (0.59x vs 0.45x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 40D and Olympus E-500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-500optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
3.
 
Canon T3optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
5.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
6.
 
Canon XSoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
8.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-400optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n

One feature that is present on the 40D, but is missing on the E-500 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.

The 40D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-500 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 40D 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 40D and Olympus Evolt E-500 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 40DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-500Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon T3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon XSY- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
12.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-400Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 40D (unlike the E-500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 40D and the E-500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, while the 40D was followed by the Canon 50D. 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 40D and the Olympus E-500? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 40D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (10.1 vs 8MP) with a 15% 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 (0.59x vs 0.45x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 10 months after the E-500).

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-500:

  • More compact: Is smaller (130x95mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 343g or 42 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2005).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 40D is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

40D 12:05 E-500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 40D and the Olympus E-500 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 40D or the E-500. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100..+ +.... Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Canon T3..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
6.
 
Canon XS..82/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
7.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
8.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
9.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
10.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
13.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
15.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999i
16.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100....4/54/5 Sep 2006 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 40D:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-500:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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 40D vs Olympus E-500

    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 40D Olympus E-500
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2007 September 2005
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon 40D Olympus E-500
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.73 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 3.03 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 3 TruePic
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 64 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 703 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 40D Olympus E-500
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.45x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 40D Olympus E-500
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.5 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 40D Olympus E-500
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 40D Olympus E-500
    Battery Type BP-511A BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    130 x 95 x 66 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 479 g (16.9 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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