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Olympus E-500 versus Olympus E-400

The Olympus Evolt E-500 and the Olympus E-400 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2005 and September 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-500 has a resolution of 8 megapixel, whereas the E-400 provides 10 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-500 vs Olympus E-400

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-500 and the Olympus E-400 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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 – the E-500 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-500 vs Olympus E-400
Compare E-500 versus E-400 top
Compare E-500 and E-400 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-400 is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Olympus E-500. Moreover, the E-400 is markedly lighter (9 percent) than the E-500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-500 nor the E-400 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-500 gets 750 shots out of its BLM-1 battery, while the E-400 can take 500 images on a single charge of its BLS-1 power pack.

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 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)
Olympus E-500» 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i
Olympus E-400« 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Sep 2006 699- i
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i
Olympus E-450« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499- i
Olympus E-420« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599- i
Olympus E-410« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699- i
Olympus E-510« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i
Panasonic L1« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch 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 14 percent) than the E-400, 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-500 vs Olympus E-400

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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.

Olympus E-500 and Olympus E-400 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-500. 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-500). However, it should be noted that the E-400 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the E-500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

E-500 versus E-400 MP

For most 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 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
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-500» Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Olympus E-400« Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-----
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Olympus E-450« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.551256
Olympus E-420« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.452756
Olympus E-410« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.110.049451
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955
Panasonic L1« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Neither the E-500 nor the E-400 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-500 vs Olympus E-400

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-500 and the E-400 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-400 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
(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
Olympus E-500»optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Olympus E-400«optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-450« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n
Olympus E-420« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n
Olympus E-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n
Panasonic L1« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n

Both the E-500 and the E-400 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, while the E-400 was followed by the Olympus E-410.

Review summary: Olympus E-500 vs Olympus E-400

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-500 or the Olympus E-400 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-500:

  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2005).


Advantages of the Olympus E-400:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 12%.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (3 points each). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

E-500 03:03 E-400

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-500 or the E-400 handle or perform in practice. 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 detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-500»76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i
Olympus E-400«85/100-4/5-4/5 Sep 2006 699- i
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i
Olympus E-450« »--4/5-4/5 Mar 2009 499- i
Olympus E-420« »85/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2008 599- i
Olympus E-410« »86/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-300« »-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i
Panasonic L1« »85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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. 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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