Olympus E-3 versus Olympus E-510
The Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-510 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2007 and March 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 10 megapixel.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-510 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the E-3 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-510 is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Olympus E-3. Moreover, the E-510 is substantially lighter (39 percent) than the E-3. Cameras that are intended for semi-professional or professional use are sometimes a bit bulkier in order to provide them with the necessary ruggedness. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-3 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-510 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 find an overview of suitable optics in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.9 oz||750||YES||2007||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||no||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.8 in||4.5 in||2.9 in||32.6 oz||1000||YES||2007||1,799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.8 oz||750||YES||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||no||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||no||2009||449||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||no||2008||599||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||no||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.6 in||4.3 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||750||no||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||no||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||no||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.6 in||16.9 oz||750||no||2005||599||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||26.0 oz||750||YES||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-510 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 more expensive and 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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 10 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-3 and the E-510 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the E-510, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 E-3 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-3 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||no||22.1||12.0||679||67|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||no||-||-||-||-|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-3 and the E-510 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-3 and Olympus E-510 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||12||YES|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||no|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||YES|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.7||230||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||2.5||13||no|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||1.8||134||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
Both the E-3 and the E-510 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-510 was replaced by the Olympus E-520, while the E-3 was followed by the Olympus E-5.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-3 or the Olympus E-510 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-3:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the E-510).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-510:
- More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 142x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 338g or 39 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 on the market for longer (launched in October 2007).
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 (8 : 4 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points.
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 E-3 or the E-510 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Olympus E-3 (⇒ rgt)||88/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||4/5||2007||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||1,799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||75/100||4/5||-||4.5/5||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100||72/100 HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||5/5||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||4.5/5||2009||449||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2008||599||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||71/100 HiRec||4.5/5||-||4/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||-||4/5||-||4/5||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||76/100||HiRec||-||-||-||2005||599||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||Rec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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