Olympus E-3 versus Olympus E-600
The Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-600 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2007 and August 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-3 has a resolution of 10 megapixel, whereas the E-600 provides 12.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Olympus E-3 vs Olympus E-600
The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-600 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 side – the E-3 – represents the basis for the calculations 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-600 is notably smaller (26 percent) than the Olympus E-3. Moreover, the E-600 is substantially lighter (39 percent) than the E-3. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-3 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-600 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 camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Olympus E-3»||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.9 oz||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||-|
|Olympus E-600«||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Aug 2009||449||-|
|Nikon D300« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||2.9 in||32.6 oz||1000||Y||Aug 2007||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-620« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699||-|
|Olympus E-450« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2009||499||-|
|Olympus E-420« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2008||599||-|
|Olympus E-520« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699||-|
|Olympus E-30« »||5.6 in||4.3 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299||-|
|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||-|
|Olympus E-1« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||26.0 oz||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||-|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-600 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 74 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.
Sensor comparison: Olympus E-3 vs Olympus E-600
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-600 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the E-3. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-600 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 4.74μm for the E-3). However, it should be noted that the E-600 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the E-3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. 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-3»||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-600«||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Nikon D300« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||-||22.1||12.0||679||67|
|Olympus E-5« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Olympus E-620« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-450« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-420« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Olympus E-520« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-30« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Olympus E-410« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-510« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-1« »||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||-||-||-||-||-|
Feature comparison: Olympus E-3 vs Olympus E-600
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-3 and the E-600 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-3, the Olympus E-600, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Nikon D300« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||6.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-5« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||swivel||n||8000||5.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-620« »||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||4000||4.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-450« »||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Olympus E-420« »||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Olympus E-520« »||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-30« »||optical||Y||2.7||230||swivel||n||8000||5.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-410« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-510« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-1« »||optical||Y||1.8||134||fixed||n||4000||3.0||n||n|
Both the E-3 and the E-600 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-3 was replaced by the Olympus E-5, while the E-600 does not have a direct successor.
Review summary: Olympus E-3 vs Olympus E-600
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-3 and the Olympus E-600? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-3:
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-600:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More compact: Is smaller (130x94mm vs 142x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 341g or 39 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (74 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 10 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (6 points each). 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-3 or the E-600 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Olympus E-3»||88/100||HiRec||rev||rev||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699||-|
|Olympus E-600«||-||-||-||-||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449||-|
|Nikon D300« »||HiRec||HiRec||5/5||rev||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799||-|
|Olympus E-5« »||-||75/100||4/5||-||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699||-|
|Olympus E-620« »||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||rev||5/5||Feb 2009||699||-|
|Olympus E-450« »||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||Mar 2009||499||-|
|Olympus E-420« »||85/100||HiRec||4/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599||-|
|Olympus E-520« »||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||-|
|Olympus E-30« »||-||71/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299||-|
|Olympus E-410« »||86/100||HiRec||4/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||-|
|Olympus E-510« »||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||-|
|Olympus E-1« »||-||Rec||rev||rev||-||Jun 2003||1,699||-|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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