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Olympus E-P2 versus Olympus E-520

The Olympus PEN E-P2 and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P2 and the Olympus E-520. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size 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-P2 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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-P3« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.0 oz 330 n Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
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-PL3« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PM1« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 330 n Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
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-600« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.9 oz 500 n Aug 2009 449- i Olympus E-600
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-P1« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
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-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 G10« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
Panasonic GF1« » 4.7 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 13.6 oz 380 n Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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.

 

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

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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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.

In terms of chip-set technology, the E-P2 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic V) than the E-520 (TruePic III), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

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

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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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-P3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PL3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PM1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.510.354155Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-420« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.452756Olympus E-420
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 G10« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152Panasonic G10
Panasonic GF1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354Panasonic GF1

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. 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 range 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. That said, the E-P2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-P2 and Olympus E-520 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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-P3« »- n 3.0 614 fixed Y 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PL3« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PM1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-420« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n Olympus E-420
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 G10« »202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 2.6 Y n Panasonic G10
Panasonic GF1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic GF1

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-520 has one, while the E-P2 does not. While the build-in flash of the E-520 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The E-P2 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-520 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-520 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-P2 only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Olympus E-P2»Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P2
Olympus E-520«Y-----2.0---Olympus E-520
Olympus E-P3« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PL3« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PM1« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-420« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-420
Olympus E-410« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-410
Olympus E-510« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-510
Panasonic G10« »Ymono---mini2.0---Panasonic G10
Panasonic GF1« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF1

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.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic V vs TruePic III).
  • 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).


Reasons to prefer 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.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • 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 (8 : 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.

E-P2 08:07 E-520

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-P2 or the E-520 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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-P3« »83/10074/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2« »83/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PL3« »HiRec72/1004.5/5-4/5 Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PM1« »86/10071/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PL1« »86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-600« »----4.5/5 Aug 2009 449- i Olympus E-600
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5rev5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
Olympus E-P1« »Rec66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
Olympus E-420« »85/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Mar 2008 599- i Olympus E-420
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 G10« »-70/1004/5-4/5 Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
Panasonic GF1« »85/10069/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.

 

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.

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