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Olympus E-30 versus Olympus E-510

The Olympus E-30 and the Olympus E-510 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2008 and March 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-30 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the E-510 provides 10 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-30 vs Olympus E-510

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-30 and the Olympus E-510. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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-30 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-30 vs Olympus E-510
Compare E-30 versus E-510 top
Compare E-30 and E-510 rear

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 (18 percent) than the Olympus E-30. Moreover, the E-510 is markedly lighter (23 percent) than the E-30. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-30 nor the E-510 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. 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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-30» 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i
Olympus E-510« 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i
Olympus E-P2« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-P1« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799- i
Olympus E-620« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699- i
Olympus E-450« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499- i
Olympus E-600« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 n Aug 2009 449- i
Olympus E-420« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599- i
Olympus E-520« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i
Olympus E-410« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699- i
Olympus E-3« » 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699- i
Olympus E-400« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Sep 2006 699- i
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i

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-510 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the E-30, 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-30 vs Olympus E-510

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. 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 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.

Olympus E-30 and Olympus E-510 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-30 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the E-510. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-30 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-510). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-30 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the E-510, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

E-30 versus E-510 MP

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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-30» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055
Olympus E-510« Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
Olympus E-P1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655
Olympus E-450« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.551256
Olympus E-600« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.510.354155
Olympus E-420« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.452756
Olympus E-520« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855
Olympus E-410« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.110.049451
Olympus E-3« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.610.557156
Olympus E-400« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-----
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Both the E-30 and the E-510 offer Live View, so that they make it possible to use the rear screen for framing. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-30 vs Olympus E-510

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-30 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-30, the Olympus E-510, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus E-30»optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y
Olympus E-510«optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n
Olympus E-P2« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y
Olympus E-P1« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n 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-600« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y
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-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-3« »optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y
Olympus E-400« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n

Both the E-30 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-30 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Olympus E-30 vs Olympus E-510

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-30 and the Olympus E-510? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-30:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has 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.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the E-510).


Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-510:

  • More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 142x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 163g or 23 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2007).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-30 emerges as the winner of the contest (7 : 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 when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

E-30 07:04 E-510

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the E-30 and the E-510 in practical situations. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-30»-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i
Olympus E-510«89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i
Canon 40D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i
Olympus E-P2« »Rec69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-P1« »Rec66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5rev5/5 Feb 2009 699- i
Olympus E-450« »--4/5-4/5 Mar 2009 499- i
Olympus E-600« »----4.5/5 Aug 2009 449- i
Olympus E-420« »85/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2008 599- i
Olympus E-520« »87/100HiRec4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i
Olympus E-410« »86/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i
Olympus E-3« »88/100HiRecrevrev4/5 Oct 2007 1,699- i
Olympus E-400« »85/100-4/5-4/5 Sep 2006 699- i
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.

 

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 use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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