Nikon D40X vs Olympus E-520
The Nikon D40X and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2007 and May 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D40X) and a Four Thirds (E-520) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 10 megapixels.
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 D40X and the Olympus E-520? 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 Nikon D40X and the Olympus E-520 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D40X can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-520 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-520 is notably larger (7 percent) than the Nikon D40X. Moreover, the E-520 is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the D40X. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D40X nor the E-520 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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D40X) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-520).
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|2.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|3.||Canon 450D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|4.||Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|5.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|6.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|7.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|8.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|9.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|11.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|12.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|13.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|14.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|15.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|16.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||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.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-520 was somewhat cheaper (by 4 percent) than the D40X at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D40X features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-520 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-520 is 40 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D40X has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-520 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Even though the D40X has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 10 megapixels. This implies that the D40X has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 6.11μm versus 4.74μm for the E-520), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the E-520 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the D40X, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Nikon D40X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-520 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D40X has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-520 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|11.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|12.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|13.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|14.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|15.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|16.||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 variety of features. The D40X and the E-520 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D40X has a higher magnification than the one of the E-520 (0.53x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D40X and Olympus E-520 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
One feature that differentiates the E-520 and the D40X is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-520 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D40X offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The D40X writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-520 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-520 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D40X 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 D40X and Olympus E-520 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
Both the D40X and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40X was replaced by the Nikon D60 , while the E-520 does not have a direct successor. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D40X better than the Olympus E-520 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D40X:
- 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 EV of extra DR).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.46x).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-520:
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 520) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 2 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-520 emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 4 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D40X and the Olympus E-520 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D40X and the E-520 in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|2.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|3.||Canon 450D||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|4.||Canon 400D||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|5.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|6.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|7.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|8.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|9.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|11.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|12.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|13.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|14.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|15.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|16.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||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 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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.
Specifications: Nikon D40X vs Olympus E-520
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 D40X||Olympus E-520|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2007||May 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 729||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D40X||Olympus E-520|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3872 x 2592 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.11 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.69 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||TruePic III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.4||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.4||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||516||548|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D40X||Olympus E-520|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D40X||Olympus E-520|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D40X||Olympus E-520|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D40X||Olympus E-520|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||520 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
124 x 94 x 64 mm
(4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
136 x 92 x 68 mm
(5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
|Camera Weight||522 g (18.4 oz)||535 g (18.9 oz)|
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