Olympus E-1 vs E-3
The Olympus E-1 and the Olympus E-3 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2003 and October 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-1 has a resolution of 4.9 megapixels, whereas the E-3 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 Olympus E-1 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 Olympus E-1 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.
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 notably larger (12 percent) than the Olympus E-1. Moreover, the E-3 is markedly heavier (19 percent) than the E-1. 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|2.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|5.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|6.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|7.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|8.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|10.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|11.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|12.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|13.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|14.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||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.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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. 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. 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Technology-wise, the E-3 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic III) than the E-1 (TruePic), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-3 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 4.9 MP of the E-1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 43 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.74μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). However, it should be noted that the E-3 is much more recent (by 4 years and 3 months) than the E-1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-3 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 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 Olympus E-1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-3 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|5.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|9.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|10.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|11.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|12.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|13.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-1 and the E-3 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 E-3 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-1 (0.58x vs 0.48x), 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 Olympus E-1 and Olympus E-3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|5.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
One feature that differentiates the E-3 and the E-1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-3 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the E-1 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.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 E-1 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-1 and the E-3 write their files to 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 Olympus E-1 and Olympus E-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the E-1 and the E-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, while the E-3 was followed by the Olympus E-5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-1 or the Olympus E-3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-1:
- More compact: Is smaller (141x104mm vs 142x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 138g or 16 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2003).
Advantages of the Olympus E-3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 4.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic III vs TruePic).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.48x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 134k dots).
- 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.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-3 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 3 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 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 Olympus E-1 and the Olympus E-3 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 E-1 or the E-3 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 why expert reviews 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.||Olympus E-1||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|2.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|5.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|6.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|7.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|8.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|10.||Olympus E-30||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|11.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|12.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|13.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|14.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||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 ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Olympus E-1 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||Olympus E-1||Olympus E-3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2003||October 2007|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-1||Olympus E-3|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||4.9 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2560 x 1920 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.78 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.19 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 800 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic||TruePic III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||21.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||571|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-1||Olympus E-3|
|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||1.8inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||134k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-1||Olympus E-3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-1||Olympus E-3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-1||Olympus E-3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
141 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
142 x 116 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||738 g (26.0 oz)||876 g (30.9 oz)|
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