Nikon D3S vs Olympus E-500
The Nikon D3S and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2009 and September 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D3S) and a Four Thirds (E-500) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.1 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3S 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 Nikon D3S and the Olympus E-500. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
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 considerably smaller (51 percent) than the Nikon D3S. Moreover, the E-500 is substantially lighter (61 percent) than the D3S. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D3S is splash and dust resistant, while the E-500 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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D3S) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-500).
Concerning battery life, the D3S gets 4200 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the E-500 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3S has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Nikon D3S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|Olympus E-500||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.6 in||16.9 oz||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|Canon 1D Mark III||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|Nikon D5||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D4S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D4||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Nikon D300S||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||33.1 oz||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D3X||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||44.4 oz||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Nikon D700||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Nikon D3||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Nikon D2Xs||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|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|
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.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 88 percent) than the D3S, 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3S features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-500 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-500 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 D3S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-500 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 12.1MP, the D3S offers a higher resolution than the E-500 (8MP), but the D3S nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.43μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D3S is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the E-500, 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 Nikon D3S implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3S for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.3 x 14.2 inches or 54.1 x 36 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.2 x 28.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.2 x 9.4 inches or 36 x 24 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 Nikon D3S has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-102400. 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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
|Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|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||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D3S indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-500 does not. The highest resolution format that the D3S can use is 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3S 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 viewfinder in the D3S offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-500 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D3S has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.45x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3S and Olympus E-500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the D3S, but is missing on the E-500 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 Nikon D3S has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D3S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-500 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 D3S and Olympus Evolt E-500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D3S (unlike the E-500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D3S 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 D3S was followed by the Nikon D4. 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 there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3S and the Olympus E-500? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3S:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.1 vs 8MP) with a 25% 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 720/24p movies.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.45x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- 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 215k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (4200 versus 750) 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 modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the E-500 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-500:
- More compact: Is smaller (130x95mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 761g or 61 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (88 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2005).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3S is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 5 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3S 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3S or the E-500. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|Nikon D3S||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|Olympus E-500||76/100||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||..||89/100||..||5/5||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||o||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|Nikon D5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D4S||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D4||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Nikon D300S||+ +||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D3X||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Nikon D700||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Nikon D3||..||+ +||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||o||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|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|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D Mark II vs Olympus E-500
- Canon 1D vs Nikon D3S
- Canon 5D vs Nikon D3S
- Fujifilm X-T100 vs Olympus E-500
- Fujifilm X30 vs Nikon D3S
- Leica M-E Typ 240 vs Olympus E-500
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Olympus E-500
- Leica X2 vs Olympus E-500
- Nikon D3S vs Nikon D40
- Nikon D3S vs Panasonic GF3
- Nikon D3S vs Sony A5100
- Olympus E-500 vs Sony WX800
Specifications: Nikon D3S 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||Nikon D3S||Olympus E-500|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2009||September 2005|
|Launch Price||USD 5,199||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3S||Olympus E-500|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.1 Megapixels||8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4256 x 2832 pixels||3264 x 2448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.43 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.40 MP/cm2||3.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/24p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3253||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3S||Olympus E-500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3S||Olympus E-500|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3S||Olympus E-500|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3S||Olympus E-500|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||4200 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
130 x 95 x 66 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
|Camera Weight||1240 g (43.7 oz)||479 g (16.9 oz)|
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