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Olympus E-P1 versus Olympus E-30

The Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Olympus E-30 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2009 and November 2008. The E-P1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the E-30 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixel. 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-P1 vs Olympus E-30

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus E-30. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions 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 – the E-P1 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-30
Compare E-P1 versus E-30 top
Compare E-P1 and E-30 rear

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 considerably larger (81 percent) than the Olympus E-P1. Moreover, the E-30 is substantially heavier (97 percent) than the E-P1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P1 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P1) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-30). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Olympus E-P1, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the E-P1 gets 300 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the E-30 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-P1» 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799- i
Olympus E-30« 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i
Olympus E-PL3« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599- i
Olympus E-PL2« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 12.8 oz 280 n Jan 2011 599- i
Olympus E-P3« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.0 oz 330 n Jun 2011 799- i
Olympus E-PL1« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599- i
Olympus E-P2« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-620« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699- i
Olympus E-600« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 n Aug 2009 449- i
Olympus E-420« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599- i
Olympus E-520« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i
Olympus E-510« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i
Olympus E-3« » 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699- i
Panasonic GF1« » 4.7 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 13.6 oz 380 n Sep 2009 749- i

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-P1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 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: Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-30

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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.

Olympus E-P1 and Olympus E-30 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12.2 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-P1 and the E-30 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-P1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the E-30, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

E-P1 versus E-30 MP

For most 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Olympus E-P1» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
Olympus E-30« Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055
Olympus E-PL3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
Olympus E-PL2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
Olympus E-P3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
Olympus E-PL1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655
Olympus E-600« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.510.354155
Olympus E-420« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.452756
Olympus E-520« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252
Olympus E-3« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.610.557156
Panasonic GF1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-P1 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-30 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P1 can use is 720/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-30

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-30 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-P1 and Olympus E-30 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Olympus E-P1»- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y
Olympus E-30«optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y
Olympus E-PL3« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 5.5 n Y
Olympus E-PL2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-P3« »- n 3.0 614 fixed Y 4000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-PL1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-P2« »- 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-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-520« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y Y
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y
Olympus E-3« »optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y
Panasonic GF1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n

Both the E-P1 and the E-30 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P1 was replaced by the Olympus E-P2, while the E-30 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-30

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus E-P1 better than the Olympus E-30 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P1:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More compact: Is smaller (121x70mm vs 142x108mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 346g or 49 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the E-30).


Advantages of the Olympus E-30:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in November 2008).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-30 comes out slightly ahead of the E-P1 (8 : 7 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.

E-P1 07:08 E-30

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-P1 or the E-30. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Olympus E-P1»Rec66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i
Olympus E-30«-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i
Olympus E-PL3« »HiRec72/1004.5/5-4/5 Jun 2011 599- i
Olympus E-PL2« »83/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599- i
Olympus E-P3« »83/10074/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799- i
Olympus E-PL1« »86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i
Olympus E-P2« »Rec69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5rev5/5 Feb 2009 699- i
Olympus E-600« »----4.5/5 Aug 2009 449- i
Olympus E-420« »85/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2008 599- i
Olympus E-520« »87/100HiRec4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i
Olympus E-3« »88/100HiRecrevrev4/5 Oct 2007 1,699- i
Panasonic GF1« »85/10069/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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