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Olympus E-400 versus Olympus E-300

The Olympus E-400 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-400 has a resolution of 10 megapixel, whereas the E-300 provides 8 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-400 vs Olympus E-300

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-400 and the Olympus E-300 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 – the E-400 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-300
Compare E-400 versus E-300 top
Compare E-400 and E-300 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-300 is notably larger (6 percent) than the Olympus E-400. Moreover, the E-300 is substantially heavier (43 percent) than the E-400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-400 nor the E-300 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.

Concerning battery life, the E-400 gets 500 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the E-300 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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-400» 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
Olympus E-300« 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Canon 350D« » 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon 350D
Nikon D40X« » 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Olympus E-620« » 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-450« » 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499- i Olympus E-450
Olympus E-420« » 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599- i Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« » 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« » 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Olympus E-330« » 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« » 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« » 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« » 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« » 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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-400 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-300

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Olympus E-400 and Olympus E-300 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-400 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixel, compared with 8 MP of the E-300. This megapixel advantage translates into a 12 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-400 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.74μm versus 5.30μm for the E-300). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-400 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the E-300, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

E-400 versus E-300 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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-400» Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-----Olympus E-400
Olympus E-300« Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-300
Canon 350D« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon 350D
Nikon D40X« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.411.451663Nikon D40X
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
Olympus E-450« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.551256Olympus E-450
Olympus E-420« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.452756Olympus E-420
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-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« » Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Panasonic L1
Neither the E-400 nor the E-300 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-400 vs Olympus E-300

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-400 and the E-300 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-400 and Olympus E-300 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Olympus E-400»optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-400
Olympus E-300«optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-300
Canon 350D« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 350D
Nikon D40X« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
Olympus E-450« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n Olympus E-450
Olympus E-420« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-510
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« »optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L1

Both the E-400 and the E-300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, while the E-400 was followed by the Olympus E-410.

Review summary: Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-300

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-400 and the Olympus E-300? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-400:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 8MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
  • 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).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 189g or 30 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 11 months after the E-300).


Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-400 is the clear winner of the match-up (7 : 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.

E-400 07:02 E-300

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-400 or the E-300. 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 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.

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-400»85/100-4/5-4/5 Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
Olympus E-300«-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Canon 350D« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon 350D
Nikon D40X« »79/100HiRec4/5rev4/5 Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5rev5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-450« »--4/5-4/5 Mar 2009 499- i Olympus E-450
Olympus E-420« »85/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2008 599- i Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« »86/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-1« »-Recrevrev- Jun 2003 1,699- i Olympus E-1
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1

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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. 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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