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Olympus E-300 vs E-500

The Olympus Evolt E-300 and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, 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 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-300   Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300 Olympus E-500
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-400 (100-1600) ISO 100-400 (100-1600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8" LCD, 134k dots 2.5" LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
147 x 85 x 64 mm, 624 g 130 x 95 x 66 mm, 479 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus Evolt E-300 and the Olympus Evolt E-500? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Olympus E-300 vs E-500

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-300 and the Olympus E-500. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Olympus E-300 vs Olympus E-500
Compare E-300 versus E-500 top
Comparison E-300 or E-500 rear

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 compare the optics available in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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)
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-300» 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
 
Olympus E-500« 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
 
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
 
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
 
Olympus E-620« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-520« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
 
Olympus E-410« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
 
Olympus E-510« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
 
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-1« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-300 vs E-500

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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.

Olympus E-300 and Olympus E-500 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 8 megapixels. 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.

The Olympus Evolt E-300 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 400, which can be extended to ISO 100-1600. The Olympus Evolt E-500 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

E-300 versus E-500 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-300» Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-300
 
Olympus E-500« Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-500
 
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
 
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Leica Digilux 3
 
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-520« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855Olympus E-520
 
Olympus E-410« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.110.049451Olympus E-410
 
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252Olympus E-510
 
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-----Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-1« » Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----Olympus E-1
Neither the E-300 nor the E-500 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: Olympus E-300 vs E-500

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the E-300 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-500 (0.5x vs 0.45x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. 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.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-300»optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Olympus E-300
 
Olympus E-500«optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Olympus E-500
 
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon XT
 
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
 
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-520« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y Olympus E-520
 
Olympus E-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Olympus E-410
 
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-510
 
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-1« »optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n Olympus E-1

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-300 and the E-500 write their files to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

 

Connectivity comparison: Olympus E-300 vs E-500

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus Evolt E-300 and Olympus Evolt E-500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-300»Y-----2.0---Olympus E-300
 
Olympus E-500«Y-----2.0---Olympus E-500
 
Canon XT« »Y-----2.0---Canon XT
 
Leica Digilux 3« »Ystereomono---2.0---Leica Digilux 3
 
Olympus E-620« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-520« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-520
 
Olympus E-410« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-410
 
Olympus E-510« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-510
 
Olympus E-330« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-1« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-1

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. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.


Review summary: Olympus E-300 vs E-500

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-300 and the Olympus E-500? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.5x vs 0.45x).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).


Arguments in favor 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 emerges as the winner of the match-up (5 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

E-300 02:05 E-500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-300 and the Olympus E-500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-300 or the E-500. 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.

Expert reviews: Olympus E-300 vs E-500

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-300»-+oo4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
 
Olympus E-500«76/100+ +--- Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
 
Canon XT« »80/100+ +oo- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
 
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
 
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-520« »87/100+ +4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
 
Olympus E-410« »86/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
 
Olympus E-510« »89/100+ +3.5/5o4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
 
Olympus E-330« »-+o3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
 
Olympus E-400« »85/100-4/5-4/5 Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
 
Olympus E-1« »-+oo- Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

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. 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Olympus E-300:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-500:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-300 vs Olympus E-500

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus E-300 Olympus E-500
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2004 September 2005
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-300 Olympus E-500
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3264 x 2448 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.30 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 3.55 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-400 ISO 100-400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-1600 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic TruePic
    Screen Specs Olympus E-300 Olympus E-500
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.5x 0.45x
    Rear LCD Size 1.8 inch 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 134k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-300 Olympus E-500
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XD cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-300 Olympus E-500
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-300 Olympus E-500
    Battery Type BLM-1 power pack BLM-1 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 147 x 85 x 64 mm
    (5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
    130 x 95 x 66 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 624 g (22.0 oz) 479 g (16.9 oz)

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