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Olympus E-520 vs Ricoh GR

The Olympus E-520 and the Ricoh GR are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2008 and April 2013. The E-520 is a DSLR, while the GR is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-520) and an APS-C (GR) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Ricoh provides 16.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-520 versus Ricoh GR
Olympus E-520 Ricoh GR
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Four Thirds lenses 28mm f/2.8
10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-25,600
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.7 LCD, 215k dots 3.0 LCD, 1230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.5 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationno shake reduction
750 shots per battery charge290 shots per battery charge
136 x 92 x 68 mm, 535 g 117 x 61 x 35 mm, 245 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-520 and the Ricoh GR? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-520 and the Ricoh GR. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.

Size Olympus E-520 vs Ricoh GR
Compare E-520 versus GR top
Comparison E-520 or GR rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Ricoh GR is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Olympus E-520. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-520 nor the GR are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the GR has a lens built in, whereas the E-520 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-520 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the E-520 gets 750 shots out of its BLM-1 battery, while the GR can take 290 images on a single charge of its DB65 power pack. The power pack in the GR can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Olympus E-520 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699i
 
Ricoh GR 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799i
 
Nikon Coolpix A 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 230 n Mar 2013 1,099i
 
Olympus E-450 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499i
 
Olympus E-600 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 n Aug 2009 449i
 
Olympus E-620 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699i
 
Olympus E-P1 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799i
 
Olympus E-P2 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799i
 
Olympus E-30 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
 
Olympus E-420 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599i
 
Olympus E-410 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699i
 
Olympus E-510 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799i
 
Panasonic GM1 3.9 in 2.2 in 1.2 in 7.2 oz 230 n Oct 2013 749i
 
Panasonic L10 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599i
 
Ricoh GR II 4.6 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 8.9 oz 320 n Jun 2015 699 i
 
Sony NEX-5T 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2013 699i
 
Sony NEX-5R 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-520 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Ricoh GR an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the GR is 64 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-520 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the GR offers a 3:2 aspect.

Olympus E-520 and Ricoh GR sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the GR offers a higher resolution than the E-520 (10MP), but the GR nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 4.74μm for the E-520) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the GR is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 11 months) than the E-520, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GR has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Ricoh GR implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GR for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-520 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Olympus E-520 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Ricoh GR are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

E-520 versus GR MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the GR offers substantially better image quality than the E-520 (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 3.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
 
Ricoh GR APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
 
Panasonic GM1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
 
Ricoh GR II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880
 
Sony NEX-5T APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The GR indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-520 does not. The highest resolution format that the GR can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-520 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GR relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GR can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the GV-1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-520, the Ricoh GR, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
 
Ricoh GRoptional n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-600optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-P1none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-P2optional n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-30optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-420optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-410optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-510optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic GM1none n 3.0 1036 fixed Y 1/500s 5.0 Y n
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Ricoh GR IIoptional n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5Toptional n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n

The Ricoh GR has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The E-520 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the GR uses SDXC cards. The E-520 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the GR only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

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 E-520 and Ricoh GR and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
 
Ricoh GRYmonomono--micro2.0---
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereomono---2.0---
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-600Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-30Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-420Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-410Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-510Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic GM1-stereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---
 
Ricoh GR IIYstereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony NEX-5TYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereomono--mini2.0Y--

Both the E-520 and the GR have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GR was replaced by the Ricoh GR II, while the E-520 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Ricoh websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Olympus E-520 better than the Ricoh GR or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-520:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in May 2008).

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Arguments in favor of the Ricoh GR:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 215k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the E-520 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x61mm vs 136x92mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the E-520).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 11 months of technical progress since the E-520 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GR is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 7 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

E-520 07:15 GR

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-520 and the Ricoh GR place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-520 or the GR. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Olympus E-52087/100+ +4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
 
Ricoh GR..79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799i
 
Nikon Coolpix A+75/1004/54.5/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099i
 
Olympus E-450....4/5..4/5 Mar 2009 499i
 
Olympus E-600........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
 
Olympus E-62088/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699i
 
Olympus E-P1+66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799i
 
Olympus E-P2+69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799i
 
Olympus E-30..71/1004.5/5..4/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
 
Olympus E-42085/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
 
Olympus E-41086/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
 
Olympus E-51089/100+ +3.5/5o4.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
 
Panasonic GM1+78/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749i
 
Panasonic L1085/100+3.5/5o4/5 Aug 2007 599i
 
Ricoh GR II....4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699 i
 
Sony NEX-5T....4.5/5..4.5/5 Aug 2013 699i
 
Sony NEX-5R....4.5/5..4.5/5 Aug 2012 749i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Olympus E-520:
Check Ebay offers
Ricoh GR:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-520 vs Ricoh GR

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus E-520 Ricoh GR
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses 28mm f/2.8
    Launch Date May 2008 April 2013
    Launch Price USD 699 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-520 Ricoh GR
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.74 μm 4.79 μm
    Pixel Density 4.44 MP/cm2 4.35 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 78
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.4 23.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.4 13.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 548 972
    Screen Specs Olympus E-520 Ricoh GR
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 215k dots 1230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-520 Ricoh GR
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.5 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationno handshake reduction
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XD cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-520 Ricoh GR
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-520 Ricoh GR
    Battery Type BLM-1 DB65
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge290 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 136 x 92 x 68 mm
    (5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
    117 x 61 x 35 mm
    (4.6 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 535 g (18.9 oz) 245 g (8.6 oz)

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