Olympus E-300 versus Olympus E-500
The Olympus Evolt E-300 and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2004 and September 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 8 megapixel.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-300 and the Olympus E-500. 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. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the E-300 – 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-500 is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Olympus E-300. Moreover, the E-500 is markedly lighter (23 percent) than the E-300. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-300 nor the E-500 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt)||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||no||2004||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft)||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||no||2005||599||discont.||check|
|Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||no||2005||899||discont.||check|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||no||2006||1,499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||no||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||no||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt)||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||no||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||YES||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||no||2006||999||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-500 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the E-300, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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 8 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-300 and the E-500 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the E-300, 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 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.
|Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||no||-||-||-||-|
|Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||no||21.8||10.8||637||60|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||no||-||-||-||-|
|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-330 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||no||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||no||-||-||-||-|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-300 and the E-500 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-500 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.
|Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt)||optical||no||1.8||134||fixed||no||4000||2.5||11||no|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||2.5||13||no|
|Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||1.8||115||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||207||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
|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-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-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||1.8||134||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||207||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
Both the E-300 and the E-500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, while the E-500 was followed by the Olympus E-510.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-300 or the Olympus E-500 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-300:
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).
Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-500:
- 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 (215k vs 134k dots).
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 145g or 23 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-500 is the clear winner of the contest (5 : 1 points). 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.
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-300 and the E-500 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|Olympus E-300 (⇒ rgt)||-||Rec||reviewed||reviewed||4.5/5||2004||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft)||76/100||HiRec||-||-||-||2005||599||discont.||check|
|Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt)||80/100||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2005||899||discont.||check|
|Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2006||1,499||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||Rec||reviewed||3.5/5||-||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||-||4/5||-||4/5||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||Rec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2003||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||Rec||-||reviewed||3.5/5||2006||999||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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