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Olympus E-300 versus Olympus E-1

The Olympus Evolt E-300 and the Olympus E-1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2004 and June 2003. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-300 has a resolution of 8 megapixel, whereas the E-1 provides 4.9 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-300 and the Olympus E-1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions 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 – the E-300 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Olympus E-300 vs Olympus E-1 front
E-300 versus E-1 top view
E-300 and E-1 rear side
Body view (E-300 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-1 is notably larger (17 percent) than the Olympus E-300. Moreover, the E-1 is markedly heavier (18 percent) than the E-300. 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 noteworthy in this context that the E-1 is splash and dust-proof, 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 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
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt) 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 no 2004 799discont. check
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 YES 2003 1,699discont. check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 no 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 YES 2010 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 no 2009 699discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 no 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 no 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 no 2007 799discont. check
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 YES 2007 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 no 2006 999discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 no 2006 699discont. check
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 no 2005 599discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 no 2006 999discont. check

The listed 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-1, 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

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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tent 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.

Olympus E-300 and Olympus E-1 sensor measures
Sensor size

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-300 offers a higher resolution of 8 megapixel, compared with 4.9 MP of the E-1. This megapixel advantage translates into a 28 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-300 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 6.76μm for the E-1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-300 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the E-1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

E-300 versus E-1 MP
Sensor resolution

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 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
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920 no - - - -
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
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-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.4 10.4 548 55
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.1 10.0 494 51
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.2 10.0 442 52
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.6 10.5 571 56
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no - - - -
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Neither the E-300 nor the E-1 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-300 and the E-1 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-300 and Olympus E-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt) optical no 1.8 134 fixed no 4000 2.5 11 no
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) optical YES 1.8 134 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 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-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 YES
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 10 no
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 YES
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 swivel no 8000 5.0 13 YES
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 tilting no 4000 3.0 13 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
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no

Both the E-300 and the E-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, while the E-300 was followed by the Olympus E-330.

Summary

So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-300 better than the Olympus E-1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (8 vs 4.9MP) with a 28% higher linear resolution.
  • More compact: Is smaller (147x85mm vs 141x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 114g or 15 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (53 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 3 months after the E-1).

Advantages of the Olympus E-1:

  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-300 emerges as the winner of the contest (6 : 3 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.

E-300 06:03 E-1

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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-300 or the E-1. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt) - Rec reviewed reviewed 4.5/5 2004 799discont. check
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft) - Rec reviewed reviewed - 2003 1,699discont. check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 75/100 4/5 - 4.5/5 2010 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 72/100 HiRec 4.5/5 reviewed 5/5 2009 699discont. check
Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 HiRec 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 HiRec 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 89/100 HiRec 3.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 799discont. check
Olympus E-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed 4/5 2007 1,699discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec reviewed 3.5/5 - 2006 999discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 - 4/5 - 4/5 2006 699discont. check
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 76/100 HiRec - - - 2005 599discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec - reviewed 3.5/5 2006 999discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Other comparisons

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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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