Nikon B500 vs Olympus E-3
The Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Olympus E-3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and October 2007. The B500 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (B500) and a Four Thirds (E-3) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 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 Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Olympus E-3? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon B500 and the Olympus E-3 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-3 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-3 is considerably larger (85 percent) than the Nikon B500. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-3 is splash and dust-proof, while the B500 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the B500 has a lens built in, whereas the E-3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-3 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon B500||114 mm||78 mm||95 mm||541 g||600||n||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|3.||Nikon B600||122 mm||82 mm||99 mm||500 g||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|4.||Nikon A1000||114 mm||72 mm||41 mm||330 g||250||n||Jan 2019||429|
|5.||Nikon P1000||146 mm||119 mm||181 mm||1415 g||250||n||Jul 2018||999|
|6.||Nikon W300||112 mm||66 mm||29 mm||231 g||280||Y||May 2017||389|
|7.||Nikon B700||125 mm||85 mm||107 mm||565 g||350||n||Feb 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon P900||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|9.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|10.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|11.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|12.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|13.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|14.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|15.||Panasonic FZ80||130 mm||94 mm||119 mm||616 g||330||n||Jan 2017||399|
|16.||Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|17.||Sony H200||123 mm||83 mm||87 mm||530 g||240||n||Jan 2013||249|
|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 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 B500 was launched at a lower price than the E-3, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 Nikon B500 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Olympus E-3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-3 is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon B500 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the Olympus E-3. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.33μm versus 4.74μm for the E-3). However, it should be noted that the B500 is much more recent (by 8 years and 3 months) than the E-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the B500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon B500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the B500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-3 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon Coolpix B500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-3 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|10.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|11.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|12.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|13.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|14.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The B500 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-3 does not. The highest resolution format that the B500 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the B500 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon B500 and Olympus E-3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that is present on the E-3, but is missing on the B500 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 E-3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the B500 does not have a selfie-screen.
The B500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-3 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the B500 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 Nikon Coolpix B500 and Olympus E-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the B500 offers wifi support, while the E-3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-3 (unlike the B500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the B500 and the E-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-3 was replaced by the Olympus E-5, while the B500 was followed by the Nikon B600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon B500 better than the Olympus E-3 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix B500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 10MP) with a 26% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60i movies.
- 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 (921k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the E-3 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (114x78mm vs 142x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-3).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-3 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 600) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2007).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-3 emerges as the winner of the match-up (17 : 14 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon B500 and the Olympus E-3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
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 shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the B500 or the E-3. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.||Nikon B500||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2016||299|
|2.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|3.||Nikon B600||..||+||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|4.||Nikon A1000||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||3/5||Jan 2019||429|
|5.||Nikon P1000||..||+||73/100||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2018||999|
|6.||Nikon W300||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||May 2017||389|
|7.||Nikon B700||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon P900||..||..||77/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|9.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|10.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|11.||Olympus E-30||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|12.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|13.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|14.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|15.||Panasonic FZ80||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||399|
|16.||Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|17.||Sony H200||..||..||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. 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.
Specifications: Nikon B500 vs Olympus E-3
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||Nikon B500||Olympus E-3|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||22.5-900mm f/3.0-6.5||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||October 2007|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-3|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||21.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||571|
|Screen Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-3|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||7.4 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-3|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon B500||Olympus E-3|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
114 x 78 x 95 mm
(4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
142 x 116 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||541 g (19.1 oz)||876 g (30.9 oz)|
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