Olympus E-520 versus Olympus E-300
The Olympus E-520 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2008 and September 2004. 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-300 provides 8 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-520 vs Olympus E-300
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-520 and the Olympus E-300 is provided 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 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 – the E-520 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-520 and the Olympus E-300are of equal size. However, the E-300 is markedly heavier (17 percent) than the E-520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-520 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 camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Olympus E-520»||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699||-|
|Olympus E-300«||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799||-|
|Canon XT« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899||-|
|Olympus E-P2« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-P1« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-620« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699||-|
|Olympus E-450« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2009||499||-|
|Olympus E-600« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Aug 2009||449||-|
|Olympus E-420« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2008||599||-|
|Olympus E-30« »||5.6 in||4.3 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299||-|
|Olympus E-410« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Mar 2007||699||-|
|Olympus E-510« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||n||Mar 2007||799||-|
|Olympus E-330« »||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.6 in||16.9 oz||750||n||Sep 2005||599||-|
|Olympus E-1« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||26.0 oz||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||-|
|Panasonic L1« »||5.7 in||3.4 in||2.5 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||999||-|
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-520 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 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: Olympus E-520 vs Olympus E-300
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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-520 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixel, compared with 8 MP of the E-300. This megapixel 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-300). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-520 is much more recent (by 3 years and 7 months) than the E-300, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Olympus E-520»||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-300«||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||-||-||-||-||-|
|Canon XT« »||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||-||21.8||10.8||637||60|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Olympus E-P1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-620« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-450« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-600« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-420« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Olympus E-30« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Olympus E-410« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-510« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-330« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||-||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-1« »||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||-||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|Panasonic L1« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
Feature comparison: Olympus E-520 vs Olympus E-300
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-520 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-520 and Olympus E-300 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon XT« »||optical||n||1.8||115||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-P2« »||-||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||4000||3.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-P1« »||-||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||4000||3.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-620« »||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||4000||4.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-450« »||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Olympus E-600« »||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||4000||4.0||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-420« »||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Olympus E-30« »||optical||Y||2.7||230||swivel||n||8000||5.0||Y||Y|
|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-500« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||4000||2.5||Y||n|
|Olympus E-1« »||optical||Y||1.8||134||fixed||n||4000||3.0||n||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-520 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-520 does not have a direct successor.
Review summary: Olympus E-520 vs Olympus E-300
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus E-520 better than the Olympus E-300 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Olympus E-520:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 8MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (215k vs 134k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 89g or 14 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-300 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-300:
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2004).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-520 is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 1 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-520 or the E-300. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|Olympus E-520»||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||-|
|Olympus E-300«||-||Rec||rev||rev||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||-|
|Canon XT« »||80/100||HiRec||rev||rev||-||Feb 2005||899||-|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Rec||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-P1« »||Rec||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-620« »||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||rev||5/5||Feb 2009||699||-|
|Olympus E-450« »||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||Mar 2009||499||-|
|Olympus E-600« »||-||-||-||-||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449||-|
|Olympus E-420« »||85/100||HiRec||4/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599||-|
|Olympus E-30« »||-||71/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299||-|
|Olympus E-410« »||86/100||HiRec||4/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||-|
|Olympus E-510« »||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||-|
|Olympus E-330« »||-||Rec||rev||3.5/5||-||Jan 2006||999||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||76/100||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2005||599||-|
|Olympus E-1« »||-||Rec||rev||rev||-||Jun 2003||1,699||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||85/100||Rec||3.5/5||rev||4/5||Aug 2007||599||-|
|Panasonic L1« »||85/100||Rec||-||rev||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999||-|
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. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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