Olympus E-M5 III vs Samsung NX500
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III and the Samsung NX500 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2019 and February 2015. Both the E-M5 III and the NX500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-M5 III) and an APS-C (NX500) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Samsung provides 28 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 OM-D E-M5 Mark III and the Samsung NX500? 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-M5 III and the Samsung NX500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M5 III can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the NX500 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Samsung NX500 is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Olympus E-M5 III. Moreover, the NX500 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the E-M5 III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-M5 III is splash and dust resistant, while the NX500 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|2.||Samsung NX500||120 mm||64 mm||43 mm||287 g||370||n||Feb 2015||799|
|3.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|4.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|5.||Olympus E-M1 III||134 mm||91 mm||69 mm||580 g||420||Y||Feb 2020||1,799|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 IV||122 mm||84 mm||49 mm||383 g||360||n||Aug 2020||699|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||144 mm||147 mm||75 mm||997 g||870||Y||Jan 2019||2,999|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|9.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|11.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|12.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|13.||Panasonic G95||130 mm||94 mm||77 mm||536 g||290||Y||Apr 2019||999|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|15.||Ricoh GR II||117 mm||63 mm||35 mm||251 g||320||n||Jun 2015||699|
|16.||Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|17.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|Notes: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NX500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the E-M5 III, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-M5 III features a Four Thirds sensor and the Samsung NX500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NX500 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-M5 III has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NX500 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 28MP, the NX500 offers a higher resolution than the E-M5 III (20.2MP), but the NX500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.63μm versus 3.34μm for the E-M5 III) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-M5 III is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 8 months) than the NX500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Samsung NX500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NX500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 32.4 x 21.6 inches or 82.3 x 54.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 21.6 x 14.4 inches or 54.9 x 36.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-M5 III are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the NX500, the E-M5 III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (80MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 64-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Samsung NX500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
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. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Olympus E-M1 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|9.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|11.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|12.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|13.||Panasonic G95||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|15.||Ricoh GR II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.6||13.7||1078||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the NX500 provides a faster frame rate than the E-M5 III. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M5 III has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NX500 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M5 III and Samsung NX500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M1 III||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 IV||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||15.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Ricoh GR II||optional||n||3.0||1230||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
One feature that differentiates the E-M5 III and the NX500 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-M5 III reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the NX500 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the E-M5 III is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Olympus E-M5 III and the Samsung NX500 both have 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-M5 III and the NX500 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-M5 III supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the NX500 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 OM-D E-M5 Mark III and Samsung NX500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Olympus E-M1 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Ricoh GR II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the E-M5 III has a microphone port, which is missing on the NX500. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The E-M5 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the NX500 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the NX500 from Samsung. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Samsung websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-M5 III or the Samsung NX500 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 8 months of technical progress since the NX500 launch.
Advantages of the Samsung NX500:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (28 vs 20.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 20%.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/30p versus 4K/30p).
- More compact: Is smaller (120x64mm vs 125x85mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 127g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (370 versus 310) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2015).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M5 III comes out slightly ahead of the NX500 (10 : 9 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M5 III and the Samsung NX500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-M5 III and the NX500 in practical situations. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|2.||Samsung NX500||4.5/5||..||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||799|
|3.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|4.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|5.||Olympus E-M1 III||5/5||..||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2020||1,799|
|6.||Olympus E-M10 IV||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2020||699|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||4.5/5||o||..||4.5/5||..||Jan 2019||2,999|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|9.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|10.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|11.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|12.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|13.||Panasonic G95||4.5/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2019||999|
|14.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|15.||Ricoh GR II||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||699|
|16.||Sony A5100||4.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|17.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Olympus E-M5 III vs Samsung NX500
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-M5 III||Samsung NX500|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Samsung NX mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2019||February 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-M5 III||Samsung NX500|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.5 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||368.95 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels||28 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3888 pixels||6480 x 4320 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.34 μm||3.63 μm|
|Pixel Density||8.96 MP/cm2||7.59 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||64 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VIII||DRIMe Vs|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||87|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1379|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-M5 III||Samsung NX500|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1036k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-M5 III||Samsung NX500|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/32000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-M5 III||Samsung NX500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Olympus E-M5 III||Samsung NX500|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||310 shots per charge||370 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
125 x 85 x 50 mm
(4.9 x 3.3 x 2.0 in)
120 x 64 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.5 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||414 g (14.6 oz)||287 g (10.1 oz)|
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