Olympus E-P1 versus Olympus E-510
The Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Olympus E-510 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2009 and March 2007. The E-P1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the E-510 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-P1 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the E-510 provides 10 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-P1 vs Olympus E-510
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus E-510. 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).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-510 is considerably larger (48 percent) than the Olympus E-P1. Moreover, the E-510 is substantially heavier (52 percent) than the E-P1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P1 nor the E-510 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-510). 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.
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-P1»||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-510«||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||n||Mar 2007||799||-|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||-|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599||-|
|Olympus E-P3« »||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799||-|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599||-|
|Olympus E-P2« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-620« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699||-|
|Olympus E-520« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699||-|
|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-400« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Sep 2006||699||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.6 in||16.9 oz||750||n||Sep 2005||599||-|
|Panasonic GF1« »||4.7 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||13.6 oz||380||n||Sep 2009||749||-|
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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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-510
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 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 more expensive and 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-P1 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the E-510. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-P1 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-510). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-P1 is much more recent (by 2 years and 3 months) than the E-510, 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-P1»||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-510«||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|Olympus E-P3« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Olympus E-620« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-520« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|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-400« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||-||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic GF1« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-P1 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-510 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P1 can use is 720/30p.
Feature comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-510
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-510 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-510 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.
|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-520« »||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||Y|
|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-400« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Olympus E-500« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||4000||2.5||Y||n|
|Panasonic GF1« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
Both the E-P1 and the E-510 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-510 was replaced by the Olympus E-520, while the E-P1 was followed by the Olympus E-P2.
Review summary: Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-510
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus E-510? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-P1:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More compact: Is smaller (121x70mm vs 136x92mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 183g or 34 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-510 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-510:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
- 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 around for much longer (launched in March 2007).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-P1 emerges as the winner of the contest (7 : 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 before making a camera decision.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the E-P1 and the E-510 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 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.
|Olympus E-P1»||Rec||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-510«||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||-|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||HiRec||72/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||Jun 2011||599||-|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||-|
|Olympus E-P3« »||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||-|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599||-|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Rec||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||-|
|Olympus E-620« »||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||rev||5/5||Feb 2009||699||-|
|Olympus E-520« »||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||-|
|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-400« »||85/100||-||4/5||-||4/5||Sep 2006||699||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||76/100||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2005||599||-|
|Panasonic GF1« »||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749||-|
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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