Olympus E-500 vs E-520
The Olympus Evolt E-500 and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2005 and May 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-500 has a resolution of 8 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 Evolt E-500 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-500 and the Olympus E-520. 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.
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 somewhat larger (1 percent) than the Olympus E-500. Moreover, the E-520 is markedly heavier (12 percent) than the E-500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-500 nor the E-520 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 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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 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-520, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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.
Technology-wise, the E-520 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic III) than the E-500 (TruePic), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-520 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 8 MP of the E-500. This megapixels advantage translates into a 12 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-520 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-520 is much more recent (by 2 years and 7 months) than the E-500, 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-520 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-520 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-500 are 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for good quality, 13.1 x 9.8 inches or 33.2 x 24.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.9 x 8.2 inches or 27.6 x 20.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus Evolt E-500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 400, which can be extended to ISO 100-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-520 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the E-500 is build around a CCD sensor, while the E-520 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
|1.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.7||10.3||45||51|
|2.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|3.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|4.||Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|5.||Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|6.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|7.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|8.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|9.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||73||52|
|10.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|11.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.4||10.1||-40||48|
|12.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-500 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the E-520 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-500 (0.46x vs 0.45x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-500, the Olympus E-520, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|4.||Olympus E-600||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|7.||Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that differentiates the E-520 and the E-500 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-520 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the E-500 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-500 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 Evolt E-500 and Olympus E-520 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Olympus E-500||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-450||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-600||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-620||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-420||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-410||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-510||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-330||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-400||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-300||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the E-500 and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, while the E-520 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the E-500 and E-520 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-500 Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-520 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-500 better than the Olympus E-520 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-500:
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 56g or 10 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2005).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-520:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 12%.
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic III vs TruePic).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.46x vs 0.45x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-500 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-520 is the clear winner of the contest (7 : 3 points). 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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-500 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-500 or the E-520 perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449||ebay.com|
|5.||Olympus E-620||3/5||88/100||..||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2009||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599||ebay.com|
|7.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon SX720 vs Olympus E-520
- Canon T100 vs Olympus E-500
- Canon T1i vs Olympus E-500
- Nikon B700 vs Olympus E-520
- Nikon D300S vs Olympus E-500
- Nikon D610 vs Olympus E-520
- Olympus E-400 vs Olympus E-520
- Olympus E-500 vs Pentax K-70
- Olympus E-500 vs Sony HX99
- Olympus E-500 vs Sony NEX-3
- Olympus E-520 vs Olympus E-M1 II
- Olympus E-520 vs Sony A6400
Specifications: Olympus E-500 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-500||Olympus E-520|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2005||May 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-500||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||8 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3264 x 2448 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.30 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.55 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 400 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 1,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic||TruePic III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||548|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-500||Olympus E-520|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||2.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-500||Olympus E-520|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||3.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||CF or XD cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-500||Olympus E-520|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-500||Olympus E-520|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
130 x 95 x 66 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
136 x 92 x 68 mm
(5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
|Camera Weight||479 g (16.9 oz)||535 g (18.9 oz)|
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