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Olympus E-3 vs E-300

The Olympus E-3 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2007 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-3 has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the E-300 provides 8 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-3
versus
Olympus E-300
Olympus E-3   Olympus E-300
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
10 MP – Four Thirds sensor 8 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD – 230k dots 2.5" LCD – 134k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
142 x 116 x 75 mm, 876 g 147 x 85 x 64 mm, 624 g
Olympus E-3:
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Olympus E-300:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus Evolt E-300? 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-300 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.

Size Olympus E-3 vs Olympus E-300
Compare E-3 versus E-300 top
Comparison E-3 or E-300 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-300 is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Olympus E-3. Moreover, the E-300 is markedly lighter (29 percent) than the E-3. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-3 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-300 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. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699i
2.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
4.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
5.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699i
6.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449i
7.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
8.
 
Olympus E-30 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
9.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
10.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
11.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
12.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
14.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
Note: 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 E-300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 53 percent) than the E-3, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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.

In terms of chip-set technology, the E-3 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic III) than the E-300 (TruePic), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-3 and Olympus E-300 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-3 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 8 MP of the E-300. This megapixels advantage translates into a 12 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 5.30μm for the E-300). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-3 is much more recent (by 3 years) than the E-300, 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-300 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 Olympus E-3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Evolt E-300 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.

E-3 versus E-300 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
2.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.410.1-4048
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none21.010.612753
4.
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
5.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
6.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
7.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
8.
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
9.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
10.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
11.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
12.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
13.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
14.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.010.612753
15.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.710.34551
16.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none20.09.7-14544
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The E-3 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The E-300 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-3 and the E-300 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 E-3 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-300 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-3 has a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.5x), 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 Olympus E-3 and Olympus E-300 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y2.5 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
2.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Nikon D300optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s Y n
5.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y3.0 / 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-600optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
7.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-30optical Y2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
10.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-400optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
15.
 
Olympus E-500optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that is present on the E-3, but is missing on the E-300 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 E-3 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-300 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-3 and the E-300 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.

Connectivity comparison

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-3 and Olympus Evolt E-300 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Olympus E-3Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereo / mono---2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D300Y- / ---mini2.0---
5.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
6.
 
Olympus E-600Y- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-30Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-400Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-500Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-1Y- / ----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-3 (unlike the E-300) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the E-3 and the E-300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, 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.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-300? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Olympus E-3:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 8MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic III vs TruePic).
  • 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 (0.58x vs 0.5x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • 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 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the E-300 launch.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • More compact: Is smaller (147x85mm vs 142x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 252g or 29 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (53 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2004).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-3 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 4 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.

E-3 15:04 E-300

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-300 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-3 or the E-300. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts 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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100..+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699i
2.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3............ Sep 2006 1,499i
4.
 
Nikon D300..+ +..+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
5.
 
Olympus E-54/5....75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699i
6.
 
Olympus E-600..........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
7.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
8.
 
Olympus E-30......71/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
9.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
10.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
11.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
12.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999i
14.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100....4/54/5 Sep 2006 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100..+ +.... Sep 2005 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-1......+o.. Jun 2003 1,699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 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.

Olympus E-3:
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Olympus E-300:
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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.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-3 vs Olympus E-300

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus E-3 Olympus E-300
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date October 2007 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 1,699 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-3 Olympus E-300
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.74 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 4.44 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic III TruePic
    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-3 Olympus E-300
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.58x 0.5x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-3 Olympus E-300
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
    Fill Flash Built-in 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-3 Olympus E-300
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-3 Olympus E-300
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BLM-1 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 142 x 116 x 75 mm
    (5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    147 x 85 x 64 mm
    (5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 876 g (30.9 oz) 624 g (22.0 oz)
    Olympus E-3:
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    Olympus E-300:
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