Olympus E-500 vs Sony NEX-6
The Olympus Evolt E-500 and the Sony Alpha NEX-6 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2005 and September 2012. The E-500 is a DSLR, while the NEX-6 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-500) and an APS-C (NEX-6) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 8 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 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 Sony Alpha NEX-6? 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-500 and the Sony NEX-6 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. 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 Sony NEX-6 is considerably smaller (35 percent) than the Olympus E-500. Moreover, the NEX-6 is markedly lighter (28 percent) than the E-500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-500 nor the NEX-6 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-500) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-6). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-6, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|2.||Sony NEX-6||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||345 g||360||n||Sep 2012||999|
|3.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|4.||Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|5.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|6.||Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|7.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|8.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|9.||Olympus E-400||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699|
|10.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|11.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|12.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999|
|13.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|14.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|15.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|16.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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-500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the NEX-6, 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.
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 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-500 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony NEX-6 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-6 is 62 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-500 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-6 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16MP, the NEX-6 offers a higher resolution than the E-500 (8MP), but the NEX-6 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500). Yet, the NEX-6 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 11 months) than the E-500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-6 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-6 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 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 Sony Alpha NEX-6 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.7||10.3||45||51|
|3.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|4.||Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|5.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|6.||Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|7.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|8.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||73||52|
|9.||Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|10.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.4||10.1||-40||48|
|11.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|12.||Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||80||52|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-6 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-500 does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-6 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the NEX-6 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the E-500 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the NEX-6 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-500 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the NEX-6 has a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.45x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-500 and Sony NEX-6 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony NEX-6||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|4.||Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|5.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|11.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Panasonic L1||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|15.||Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The E-500 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the NEX-6 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The E-500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-6 only has one slot.
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 Sony Alpha NEX-6 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.||Sony NEX-6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-450||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-420||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Olympus E-410||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Olympus E-510||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Olympus E-330||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-400||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-300||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic L1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony A6000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the NEX-6 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-500 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the E-500 and the NEX-6 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, while the NEX-6 was followed by the Sony A6000. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-500 or the Sony NEX-6 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-500:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2005).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-6:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 45%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (0.73x vs 0.45x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 215k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 130x95mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 134g or 28 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the E-500 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-6 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 5 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 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 Sony NEX-6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 NEX-6 perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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|
|2.||Sony NEX-6||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999|
|3.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|4.||Olympus E-420||..||85/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|5.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|6.||Olympus E-410||..||86/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|7.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|8.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|9.||Olympus E-400||..||85/100||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2006||699|
|10.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|11.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|12.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||..||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999|
|13.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||4.5/5||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|14.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|15.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|16.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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 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 1300D vs Sony NEX-6
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Olympus E-500
- Canon 2000D vs Olympus E-500
- Canon 7D II vs Olympus E-500
- Contax N Digital vs Olympus E-500
- Fujifilm X-A5 vs Sony NEX-6
- Fujifilm X-T3 vs Olympus E-500
- Nikon D300S vs Sony NEX-6
- Olympus E-400 vs Sony NEX-6
- Olympus E-500 vs Samsung NX30
- Panasonic GF3 vs Sony NEX-6
- Sony HX400V vs Sony NEX-6
Specifications: Olympus E-500 vs Sony NEX-6
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||Sony NEX-6|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2005||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-500||Sony NEX-6|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3264 x 2448 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.30 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.55 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 1,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1018|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-500||Sony NEX-6|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-500||Sony NEX-6|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-500||Sony NEX-6|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-500||Sony NEX-6|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
130 x 95 x 66 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||479 g (16.9 oz)||345 g (12.2 oz)|
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