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Olympus E-520 versus Olympus E-30

The Olympus E-520 and the Olympus E-30 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2008 and November 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-520 has a resolution of 10 megapixel, whereas the E-30 provides 12.2 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-520 and the Olympus E-30 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 side – the E-520 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Olympus E-520 vs Olympus E-30 front
E-520 versus E-30 top view
E-520 and E-30 rear side
Body view (E-520 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-30 is notably larger (23 percent) than the Olympus E-520. Moreover, the E-30 is markedly heavier (31 percent) than the E-520. Cameras that are intended for semi-professional or professional use are sometimes a bit bulkier in order to provide them with the necessary ruggedness. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-520 nor the E-30 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-520 (⇒ rgt) 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 no 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft) 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 no 2008 1,299discont. check
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 no 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 no 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 no 2009 699discont. 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-600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 no 2009 449discont. 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-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 YES 2007 1,699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 no 2007 599discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-520 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 46 percent) than the E-30, 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.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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-520 and Olympus E-30 sensor measures
Sensor size

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-30 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the E-520. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-30 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). However, it should be noted that the E-30 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the E-520, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

E-520 versus E-30 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-520 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.4 10.4 548 55
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 no 21.3 10.4 530 55
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.5 10.4 505 56
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 720/30p 21.4 10.4 536 55
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 no 21.3 10.3 536 55
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.5 10.5 512 56
Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024 no 21.5 10.3 541 55
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-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.6 10.5 571 56
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.3 10.8 429 55
Both the E-520 and the E-30 offer Live View, so that they make it possible to use the rear screen for framing. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-520 and the E-30 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-520 and Olympus E-30 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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-520 (⇒ rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 YES
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft) optical YES 2.7 230 swivel no 8000 5.0 13 YES
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 no YES
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 no YES
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 swivel no 4000 4.0 12 YES
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 215 fixed no 4000 3.5 12 no
Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 swivel no 4000 4.0 12 YES
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-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 swivel no 8000 5.0 13 YES
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 swivel no 4000 3.0 11 no

Both the E-520 and the E-30 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.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-520 better than the Olympus E-30 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-520:

  • More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 142x108mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 166g or 24 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (46 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2008).

Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-30:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-30 emerges as the winner of the match-up (6 : 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.

E-520 04:06 E-30

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-520 or the E-30. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at 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-520 (⇒ rgt) 87/100 HiRec 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2008 699discont. check
Olympus E-30 (⇒ lft) - 71/100 HiRec 4.5/5 - 4/5 2008 1,299discont. check
Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 83/100 Rec 69/100 Silver 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 83/100 Rec 66/100 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2009 799discont. check
Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 72/100 HiRec 4.5/5 reviewed 5/5 2009 699discont. check
Olympus E-450 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2009 499discont. check
Olympus E-600 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - 4.5/5 2009 449discont. 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-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed 4/5 2007 1,699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec 3.5/5 reviewed 4/5 2007 599discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Other comparisons

If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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