Nikon D500 vs Olympus E-1
The Nikon D500 and the Olympus E-1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and June 2003. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D500) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon D500||Olympus E-1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|20.7 MP, APS-C Sensor||4.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 1,640,000)||ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.2 LCD, 2359k dots||1.8 LCD, 134k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|10 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|1240 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|147 x 115 x 81 mm, 860 g||141 x 104 x 81 mm, 738 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D500 and the Olympus E-1? 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 D500 and the Olympus E-1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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-1 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Nikon D500. Moreover, the E-1 is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the D500. 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D500) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-1).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Nikon D500||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-1||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||26.0 oz||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|Leica Digilux 3||5.7 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|Nikon D7500||5.4 in||4.1 in||2.9 in||25.4 oz||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D5600||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||16.4 oz||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D3400||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.7 oz||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D5500||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||14.8 oz||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D7200||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D750||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||26.5 oz||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D7100||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D610||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D600||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Nikon D300S||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||33.1 oz||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Olympus E-5||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.8 oz||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|Olympus E-3||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.9 oz||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Olympus E-330||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|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.
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-1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the D500, 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.
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 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 D500 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 is 39 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 D500 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 20.7MP, the D500 offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the D500 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.22μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). However, the D500 is a much more recent model (by 12 years and 6 months) than the E-1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inches or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inches or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inches or 21.7 x 16.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-1640000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D500 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-1 does not. The highest resolution format that the D500 can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D500 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D500 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-1 (0.67x vs 0.48x), 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 D500 and Olympus E-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The D500 has a touchscreen, while the E-1 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Nikon D500 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 D500 writes its imaging data to SDHC or XQD cards, while the E-1 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 D500 and Olympus E-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D500 offers wifi support, while the E-1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The D500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the E-1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-1 was succeeded by the Olympus E-3. 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 is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D500 or the Olympus E-1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon D500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.7 vs 4.9MP) with a 109% 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.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.67x vs 0.48x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 134k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1240 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- 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 modern: Reflects 12 years and 6 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More compact: Is smaller (141x104mm vs 147x115mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 122g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2003).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D500 is the clear winner of the match-up (21 : 5 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 D500 and the Olympus E-1 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D500 or the E-1 perform in practice. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 D500||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-1||..||+||o||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|Nikon D7500||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D5600||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|Nikon D3400||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|Nikon D5500||+||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D7200||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D750||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D7100||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D610||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D600||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Nikon D300S||+ +||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Olympus E-5||..||75/100||4/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|Olympus E-3||88/100||+ +||o||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Olympus E-330||..||+||o||3.5/5||..||Jan 2006||999|
|Olympus E-300||..||+||o||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 77D vs Olympus E-1
- Canon T6s vs Olympus E-1
- Fujifilm GFX 100 vs Nikon D500
- Nikon D3000 vs Olympus E-1
- Nikon D500 vs Olympus XZ-2
- Nikon D500 vs Panasonic FZ330
- Nikon D500 vs Panasonic LF1
- Nikon D500 vs Panasonic LX5
- Nikon D500 vs Sony A7S II
- Nikon D800E vs Olympus E-1
- Olympus E-1 vs Olympus E-M1 III
- Olympus E-1 vs Olympus XZ-2
Specifications: Nikon D500 vs Olympus E-1
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 D500||Olympus E-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016||June 2003|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D500||Olympus E-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.7 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||368.95 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||4.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||2560 x 1920 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.22 μm||6.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.60 MP/cm2||2.19 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 1,640,000 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||TruePic|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||83||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1324||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D500||Olympus E-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||1.8inch|
|LCD Resolution||2359k dots||134k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D500||Olympus E-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC or XQD cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D500||Olympus E-1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|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 D500||Olympus E-1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1240 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
147 x 115 x 81 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
141 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||860 g (30.3 oz)||738 g (26.0 oz)|
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