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Canon 6D versus Olympus E-1

The Canon EOS 6D and the Olympus E-1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and June 2003. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (6D) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 6D vs Olympus E-1

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 6D and the Olympus E-1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 6D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 6D vs Olympus E-1
Compare 6D versus E-1 top
Compare 6D and 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 notably smaller (9 percent) than the Canon 6D. Moreover, the E-1 is slightly lighter (4 percent) than the 6D. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (6D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-1).

Concerning battery life, the 6D gets 1090 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the E-1 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 6D» 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Olympus E-1« 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« » 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D600« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i
Olympus E-5« » 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.8 oz 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699- i
Olympus E-3« » 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699- i
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 19 percent) than the 6D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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: Canon 6D vs Olympus E-1

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 6D features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the 6D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon 6D and Olympus E-1 sensor measures

With 20MP, the 6D offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the 6D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.57μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). However, the 6D is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 years and 2 months) than the E-1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

6D versus E-1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 6D» Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
Olympus E-1« Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381
Canon 1D C« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Nikon D600« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
Olympus E-5« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
Olympus E-3« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.610.557156
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 6D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-1 does not. The highest resolution format that the 6D can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 6D vs Olympus E-1

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 6D 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 6D and Olympus E-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 6D»optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n
Olympus E-1«optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n
Canon 1D C« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D600« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 Y n
Olympus E-5« »optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y
Olympus E-3« »optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n

Both the 6D 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 6D was followed by the Canon 6D Mark II.

Review summary: Canon 6D vs Olympus E-1

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 6D or the Olympus E-1 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 6D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 4.9MP) with a 106% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 134k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1090 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 9 years and 2 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-1:

  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (19 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2003).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 6D is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 2 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.

6D 08:02 E-1

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 6D or the E-1. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 6D»HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Olympus E-1«-Recrevrev- Jun 2003 1,699- i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 5D Mark III« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i
Canon 1D C« »----- Apr 2012 14,999- i
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon D600« »HiRec87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i
Olympus E-5« »-75/1004/5-4.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699- i
Olympus E-3« »88/100HiRecrevrev4/5 Oct 2007 1,699- i
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-300« »-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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