Leica M8 vs Olympus E-500
The Leica M8 and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2005. The M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the E-500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a Four Thirds (E-500) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 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.
|Leica M8||Olympus E-500|
|Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Leica M mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor||8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||no Video|
|ISO 160-2,500||ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.5 LCD, 230k dots||2.5 LCD, 215k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|2 shutter flaps per second||2.5 shutter flaps per second|
|139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g||130 x 95 x 66 mm, 479 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M8 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica M8 and the Olympus E-500. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-500 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-500 is notably larger (11 percent) than the Leica M8. However, the E-500 is markedly lighter (19 percent) than the M8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M8 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 Leica M Lens Catalog (M8) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-500).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
|Leica M8||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|Olympus E-500||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.6 in||16.9 oz||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|Canon T3||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon XTi||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|Leica M10||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica M Typ 262||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|Leica M9||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Nikon D3000||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D40X||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D80||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|Olympus E-410||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|Olympus E-330||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|Olympus E-400||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|Olympus E-300||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|Panasonic L10||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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-500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 percent) than the M8, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 Leica M8 features an APS-H sensor and the Olympus E-500 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-500 is 54 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 2.0. The sensor in the M8 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-500 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors.
With 10.4MP, the M8 offers a higher resolution than the E-500 (8MP), but the M8 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.84μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M8 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica M8 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M8 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 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 Leica M8 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 2500. 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.
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. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M8 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica M8 and Olympus E-500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-500 has one, while the M8 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-500 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The M8 writes its imaging data to SDXC 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 M8 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 Leica M8 and Olympus Evolt E-500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Leica M Typ 262||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the M8 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 M8 was followed by the Leica M9. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M8 and the Olympus E-500? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Leica M8:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (10.4 vs 8MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the E-500).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-500:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2.5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 112g or 19 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- 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 (89 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2005).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M8 emerges as the winner of the contest (9 : 7 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.
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 M8 or the E-500 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Leica M8||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|Olympus E-500||76/100||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|Canon T3||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon XTi||+ +||+ +||o||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|Leica M9||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D80||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Olympus E-410||86/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|Olympus E-330||..||+||o||3.5/5||..||Jan 2006||999|
|Olympus E-400||85/100||..||4/5||..||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|Olympus E-300||..||+||o||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|Panasonic L10||85/100||+||3.5/5||o||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Olympus E-500
- Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-500
- Canon S120 vs Leica M8
- Canon SX620 vs Olympus E-500
- Canon SX740 vs Leica M8
- Fujifilm GFX 50R vs Olympus E-500
- Leica M8 vs Leica S Typ 007
- Leica M8 vs Leica S-E Typ 006
- Leica M8 vs Leica X-U Typ 113
- Leica M8 vs Olympus E-510
- Leica M8 vs Sony HX95
- Leica M8 vs Sony NEX-5R
Specifications: Leica M8 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 Model||Leica M8||Olympus E-500|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||September 2005|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-500|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||3264 x 2448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||3.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 2,500 ISO||100 - 400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||..|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-500|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Olympus E-500|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
130 x 95 x 66 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||479 g (16.9 oz)|
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