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Canon 500D vs Olympus E-500

The Canon EOS 500D (called Canon T1i in some regions) and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2009 and September 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (500D) and a Four Thirds (E-500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 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 500D versus Olympus E-500
Canon 500D Olympus E-500
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/20p Video no Video
ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 2.5 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.4 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 520 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 500D 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 500D and the Olympus E-500 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 500D vs Olympus E-500
Compare 500D versus E-500 top
Comparison 500D 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 somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Canon 500D. Moreover, the E-500 is markedly lighter (8 percent) than the 500D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 500D 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 (500D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-500).

Concerning battery life, the 500D gets 400 shots out of its LP-E5 battery, while the E-500 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

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 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
2.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Canon 750D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon 1200D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon 650D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
9.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
10.
 
Canon 600D 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599i
11.
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
12.
 
Canon 450D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
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.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 E-500 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the 500D, 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.

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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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 500D 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 500D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-500 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 500D and Olympus E-500 sensor measures

With 15.1MP, the 500D offers a higher resolution than the E-500 (8MP), but the 500D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500). However, the 500D is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 5 months) than the E-500, 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 500D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 500D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 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 500D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. 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.

500D versus E-500 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
2.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
3.
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
4.
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Canon 1200D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
7.
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
8.
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
9.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
10.
 
Canon 600D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
11.
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
12.
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
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 2352none........
16.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none........
17.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 500D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-500 does not. The highest resolution format that the 500D can use is 1080/20p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 500D 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 500D has a higher magnification than the one of the E-500 (0.54x 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 500D 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
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(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 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-500optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
3.
 
Canon 750Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 760Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 1200Doptical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon 700Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon 650Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
10.
 
Canon 600Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
11.
 
Canon 550Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
12.
 
Canon 450Doptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-410optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-510optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-400optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n

The 500D writes its imaging data to SDHC 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 500D only has one slot.

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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 500D 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-500Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 750DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 760DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 1200DYmonomono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon 700DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 650DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 600DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon 550DYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon 450DY----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---

Both the 500D 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 500D was followed by the Canon 550D. 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.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 500D and the Olympus E-500? Which camera is better? 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 500D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 8MP) with a 40% 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.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/20p movies.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.45x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 215k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.4 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the E-500 launch.

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Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-500:

  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2005).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 500D is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 4 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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.

500D 11:04 E-500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 500D 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 500D or the E-500 perform in practice. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 500D..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
2.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100+ +.... Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Canon 750D5/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D5/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon 1200D3/5+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
7.
 
Canon 700D....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
9.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
10.
 
Canon 600D3/5o77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
11.
 
Canon 550D..+ +77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
12.
 
Canon 450D..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

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

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 500D 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 500D Olympus E-500
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date March 2009 September 2005
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon 500D 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 15.1 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/20p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 TruePic
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 663 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 500D Olympus E-500
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x 0.45x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 500D Olympus E-500
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.4 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 500D Olympus E-500
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 500D Olympus E-500
    Battery Type LP-E5 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    130 x 95 x 66 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 520 g (18.3 oz) 479 g (16.9 oz)

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