Olympus E-5 vs E-520
The Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2010 and May 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-5 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the E-520 provides 10 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-520? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-520 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-520 is notably smaller (25 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the E-520 is substantially lighter (39 percent) than the E-5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-5 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-520 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 compare the optics available in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|Olympus E-5||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.8 oz||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|Olympus E-520||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-PL1||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-600||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-P1||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|Olympus E-30||5.6 in||4.3 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|Olympus E-420||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-3||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.9 oz||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Olympus E-410||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|Olympus E-1||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||26.0 oz||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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-520 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 59 percent) than the E-5, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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.
In terms of chip-set technology, the E-5 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic V+) than the E-520 (TruePic III), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-5 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the E-520. This megapixels advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-5 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-520). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-5 is much more recent (by 2 years and 4 months) than the E-520, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-520 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-520 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
For many 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 imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-520 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-5 can use is 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-5 and the E-520 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 viewfinder in the E-5 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-520 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-5 has a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-5 and Olympus E-520 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that is present on the E-5, but is missing on the E-520 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The E-5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-520 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-5 and the E-520 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.
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 E-5 and Olympus E-520 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-5 (unlike the E-520) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the E-5 and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Olympus. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.
So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-5 better than the Olympus E-520 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Olympus E-5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic V+ vs TruePic III).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.46x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 215k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the E-520 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-520:
- More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 142x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 338g or 39 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (59 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2008).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-5 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 4 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 before making a camera decision. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-520 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 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 shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-5 or the E-520. 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 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.
|Olympus E-5||..||75/100||4/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|Olympus E-520||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-PL1||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-P1||+||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|Olympus E-30||..||71/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|Olympus E-420||85/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-3||88/100||+ +||o||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Olympus E-410||86/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|Olympus E-1||..||+||o||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-520
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 Model||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-520|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||May 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 1,699||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-520|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic V+||TruePic III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.6||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.5||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||519||548|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-520|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-520|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|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-5||Olympus E-520|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-5||Olympus E-520|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
142 x 117 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
136 x 92 x 68 mm
(5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
|Camera Weight||873 g (30.8 oz)||535 g (18.9 oz)|
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