Nikon D70s vs Olympus E-520
The Nikon D70s and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2005 and May 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D70s) and a Four Thirds (E-520) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 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 D70s 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D70s and the Olympus E-520 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 width, height and depth measures 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-520 is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Nikon D70s. Moreover, the E-520 is markedly lighter (21 percent) than the D70s. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D70s 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 (D70s) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-520).
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.
|Nikon D70s||5.5 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||24.0 oz||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|Olympus E-520||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699|
|Canon Rebel||5.6 in||3.9 in||2.8 in||22.9 oz||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|Nikon D5500||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||14.8 oz||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D5300||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||16.9 oz||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D5100||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D5000||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D40||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|Nikon D80||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|Nikon D50||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||21.9 oz||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|Nikon D70||5.5 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||24.0 oz||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|Nikon D100||5.7 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||27.5 oz||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Olympus E-600||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-420||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|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|
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 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-520 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 22 percent) than the D70s, 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. 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 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D70s features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-520 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-520 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 D70s has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-520 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-520 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D70s. 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 4.74μm versus 7.85μm for the D70s). However, it should be noted that the E-520 is much more recent (by 3 years) than the D70s, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-520 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-520 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D70s are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D70s has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-520 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-520 has a markedly higher DXO score than the D70s (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional 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.
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|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|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D70s 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 D70s has a higher magnification than the one of the E-520 (0.50x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D70s, the Olympus E-520, and comparable cameras.
One feature that differentiates the E-520 and the D70s is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-520 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D70s offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The D70s writes its imaging data to Compact Flash 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 D70s 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 D70s and Olympus E-520 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
Both the D70s and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D70s was replaced by the Nikon D80, 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 there a clear favorite between the Nikon D70s and the Olympus E-520? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D70s:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.50x vs 0.46x).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-520:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (215k vs 130k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 140x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 144g or 21 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 500) 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 affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (22 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the D70s launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-520 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 3 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 D70s 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 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 D70s or the E-520 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.
|Nikon D70s||..||..||..||o||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|Olympus E-520||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|Canon Rebel||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2003||899|
|Nikon D5500||+||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|Nikon D5300||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|Nikon D5100||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D40||81/100||+ +||o||5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|Nikon D80||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Nikon D50||78/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|Nikon D70||..||+ +||..||o||..||Jan 2004||999|
|Nikon D100||..||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-420||85/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|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|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
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Specifications: Nikon D70s 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 D70s||Olympus E-520|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2005||May 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 899||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D70s||Olympus E-520|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||50||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.4||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||529||548|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D70s||Olympus E-520|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||130k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D70s||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||CF cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D70s||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 D70s||Olympus E-520|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
140 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
136 x 92 x 68 mm
(5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
|Camera Weight||679 g (24.0 oz)||535 g (18.9 oz)|
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