Olympus E-P3 versus Olympus E-510
The Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Olympus E-510 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2011 and March 2007. The E-P3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the E-510 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-P3 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the E-510 provides 10 MP.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P3 and the Olympus E-510 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 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 side – the E-P3 – represents the basis for the calculations 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 (49 percent) than the Olympus E-P3. Moreover, the E-510 is substantially heavier (46 percent) than the E-P3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P3 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-P3) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-510). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Olympus E-P3, 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ rgt)||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||no||2011||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||no||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||no||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||no||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||no||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||no||2005||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||no||2011||949||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||no||2010||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||no||2010||499||discont.||check|
The listed 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.
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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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-P3 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-P3 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-P3 is much more recent (by 4 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 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.
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||no||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||no||-||-||-||-|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-P3 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-510 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P3 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond 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-P3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-P3 and Olympus E-510 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ rgt)||no||no||3.0||614||fixed||YES||4000||3.0||10||YES|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||7||YES|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||swivel||no||4000||4.0||12||YES|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||215||fixed||no||4000||3.5||12||YES|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||3.0||10||no|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||215||fixed||no||4000||2.5||13||no|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||YES||4000||4.2||7.6||no|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||YES||4000||2.6||11||no|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||202||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||2.6||11||no|
Both the E-P3 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-P3 was followed by the Olympus E-P5.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-P3 better than the Olympus E-510 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P3:
- 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 1080/60i movies.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 215k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x69mm vs 136x92mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 169g or 31 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 4 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-510 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus E-510:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
- 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-P3 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 3 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.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-P3 or the E-510 handle or perform in practice. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Olympus E-P3 (⇒ rgt)||83/100||74/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2011||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft)||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||83/100 Rec||69/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||83/100 Rec||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-620 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100||72/100 HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||5/5||2009||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-520 (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2008||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100||-||4/5||-||4/5||2006||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||76/100||HiRec||-||-||-||2005||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100 Rec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2011||949||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||72/100 Silver||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||2010||599||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||70/100||4/5||-||4/5||2010||499||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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