PW

Olympus E-P2 versus Olympus E-520

The Olympus PEN E-P2 and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2009 and May 2008. The E-P2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the E-520 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-P2 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the E-520 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-P2 vs Olympus E-520

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P2 and the Olympus E-520 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions 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-P2 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Olympus E-P2 vs Olympus E-520
Compare E-P2 versus E-520 top
Compare E-P2 and E-520 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-520 is considerably larger (48 percent) than the Olympus E-P2. Moreover, the E-520 is substantially heavier (51 percent) than the E-P2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P2 nor the E-520 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-P2) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-520). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Olympus E-P2, 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-P2 gets 300 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the E-520 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)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-P2» 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-520« 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Olympus E-PL3« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PL2« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 12.8 oz 280 n Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-P3« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.0 oz 330 n Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL1« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P1« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-620« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599- i Olympus E-420
Olympus E-30« » 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-410« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 n Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Panasonic GF1« » 4.7 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 13.6 oz 380 n Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

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-P2, 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-P2 vs Olympus E-520

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.

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-P2 and Olympus E-520 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-P2 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the E-520. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-P2 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-520). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-P2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the E-520, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

E-P2 versus E-520 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Olympus E-P2» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-520« Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855Olympus E-520
Olympus E-PL3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PL2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-P3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.452756Olympus E-420
Olympus E-30« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055Olympus E-30
Olympus E-410« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.110.049451Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.210.044252Olympus E-510
Panasonic GF1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354Panasonic GF1
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-P2 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-520 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P2 can use is 720/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-P2 vs Olympus E-520

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 E-P2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-P2 and Olympus E-520 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Olympus E-P2»- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-520«optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y Y Olympus E-520
Olympus E-PL3« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PL2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-P3« »- n 3.0 614 fixed Y 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P1« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n Olympus E-420
Olympus E-30« »optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-30
Olympus E-410« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-510
Panasonic GF1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic GF1
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10

Both the E-P2 and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P2 was replaced by the Olympus E-P3, while the E-520 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Olympus E-P2 vs Olympus E-520

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus E-P2 better than the Olympus E-520 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-P2:

  • 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 2.7") 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 180g 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: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 5 months after the E-520).


Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-520:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 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 affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2008).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-P2 comes out slightly ahead of the E-520 (7 : 6 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-P2 07:06 E-520

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-P2 and the E-520 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-P2»Rec69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-520«87/100HiRec4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
Olympus E-PL3« »HiRec72/1004.5/5-4/5 Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PL2« »83/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-P3« »83/10074/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL1« »86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P1« »Rec66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5rev5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-420« »85/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2008 599- i Olympus E-420
Olympus E-30« »-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-410« »86/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 699- i Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« »89/100HiRec3.5/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2007 799- i Olympus E-510
Panasonic GF1« »85/10069/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

The review scores listed above should be treated 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 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

vs

    You are here  »   »