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Olympus E-500 versus Olympus E-300

The Olympus Evolt E-500 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2005 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 8 megapixel.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-500 and the Olympus E-300 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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. You can also use the toggle button 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 side – the E-500 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Olympus E-500 vs Olympus E-300 front
E-500 versus E-300 top view
E-500 and E-300 rear side
Body view (E-500 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-300 is somewhat larger (1 percent) than the Olympus E-500. Moreover, the E-300 is markedly heavier (30 percent) than the E-500. Cameras intended for semi-professional or professional use tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary ruggedness. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-500 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.

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-500 (⇒ rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 no 2005 599discont. check
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 no 2004 799discont. check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 no 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 no 2009 499discont. check
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 no 2008 599discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 no 2007 799discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 no 2006 999discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2006 699discont. check
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 YES 2003 1,699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 no 2007 599discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 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-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

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. 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-500 and Olympus E-300 sensor measures
Sensor size

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-500 and the E-300 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.

E-500 versus E-300 MP
Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-500 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.5 10.5 512 56
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.5 10.4 527 56
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 L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.3 10.8 429 55
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Neither the E-500 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

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-500 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-500 and Olympus E-300 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-500 (⇒ rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 2.5 13 no
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) optical no 1.8 134 fixed no 4000 2.5 11 no
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 no
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 no
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 L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 swivel no 4000 3.0 11 no
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no

Both the E-500 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-500 was followed by the Olympus E-510.

Summary

So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-500 better than the Olympus E-300 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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: Is lighter (by 145g or 23 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the E-300).

Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2005).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-500 is the clear winner of the match-up (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.

E-500 05:01 E-300

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the E-500 and the E-300 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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-500 (⇒ rgt) 76/100 HiRec - - - 2005 599discont. check
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) - Rec reviewed reviewed 4.5/5 2004 799discont. check
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2009 499discont. check
Olympus E-420 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 HiRec 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2008 599discont. 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-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-1 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec reviewed reviewed - 2003 1,699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec 3.5/5 reviewed 4/5 2007 599discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec - reviewed 3.5/5 2006 999discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 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 comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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