Canon 50D vs Olympus E-PL2
The Canon EOS 50D and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2008 and January 2011. The 50D is a DSLR, while the E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (50D) and a Four Thirds (E-PL2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 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 50D and the Olympus PEN E-PL2? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Olympus E-PL2 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the 50D is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL2 is considerably smaller (48 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the E-PL2 is substantially lighter (56 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the E-PL2 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 (50D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL2, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
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 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|2.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|3.||Canon 90D||141 mm||105 mm||77 mm||701 g||1300||Y||Aug 2019||1,199|
|4.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|6.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|7.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|8.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|9.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|10.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|11.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|12.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|14.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|17.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|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 E-PL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 54 percent) than the 50D, 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.
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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 50D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL2 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 50D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL2 offers a 4:3 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 15.1MP, the 50D offers a higher resolution than the E-PL2 (12.2MP), but the 50D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL2) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-PL2 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 4 months) than the 50D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 50D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 50D 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-PL2 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 50D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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. Of the two cameras under review, the 50D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-PL2 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|5.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|14.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|17.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 50D does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL2 can use is 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the 50D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 50D and Olympus E-PL2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|5.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
One feature that is present on the 50D, but is missing on the E-PL2 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 50D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-PL2 uses SDHC cards.
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 50D and Olympus PEN E-PL2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the E-PL2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 50D and the E-PL2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, while the E-PL2 was followed by the Olympus E-PL3. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 50D or the Olympus E-PL2 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 50D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 12.2MP) with a 13% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 280) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL2:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x72mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 460g or 56 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 50D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 50D and the Olympus E-PL2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 50D or the E-PL2. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews 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.
|1.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|2.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|3.||Canon 90D||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2019||1,199|
|4.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|6.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|7.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|8.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|9.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|10.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|11.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|12.||Canon 20D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|13.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|14.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Olympus E-P2||3/5||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|17.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon 50D vs Olympus E-PL2
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 50D||Olympus E-PL2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2008||January 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 50D||Olympus E-PL2|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||15.1 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4752 x 3168 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.69 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.53 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||Truepic V|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.4||10.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||696||573|
|Screen Specs||Canon 50D||Olympus E-PL2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 50D||Olympus E-PL2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6.3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 50D||Olympus E-PL2|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 50D||Olympus E-PL2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||800 shots per charge||280 shots per charge|
146 x 108 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
114 x 72 x 42 mm
(4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||822 g (29.0 oz)||362 g (12.8 oz)|
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