Olympus E-P3 vs E-520
The Olympus PEN E-P3 and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2011 and May 2008. The E-P3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the E-520 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-P3 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the E-520 provides 10 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
|Olympus E-P3||Olympus E-520|
|Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||no Video|
|ISO 200-12800||ISO 100-1600|
|Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 614k dots||2.7" LCD, 215k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||3.5 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|330 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|122 x 69 x 34 mm, 369 g||136 x 92 x 68 mm, 535 g|
Body comparison: Olympus E-P3 vs E-520
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P3 and the Olympus E-520. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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-P3 – 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-520 is considerably larger (49 percent) than the Olympus E-P3. Moreover, the E-520 is substantially heavier (45 percent) than the E-P3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P3 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P3) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-520). 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Olympus E-P3»||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-520«||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||18.9 oz||750||n||May 2008||699||-||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-P5« »||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||14.8 oz||330||n||May 2013||999||-||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.5 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.3 in||9.3 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||499||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||11.8 oz||290||n||Feb 2010||599||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-600« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Aug 2009||449||-||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.4 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2009||699||-||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-P1« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Olympus E-420« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.5 oz||500||n||Mar 2008||599||-||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-410« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Mar 2007||699||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||n||Mar 2007||799||-||Olympus E-510|
|Panasonic GX1« »||4.6 in||2.7 in||1.5 in||11.2 oz||320||n||Nov 2011||949||-||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||13.7 oz||380||n||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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-P3, 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-P3 vs E-520
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 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.
In terms of chip-set technology, the E-P3 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic VI) than the E-520 (TruePic III), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-P3 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the E-520. This megapixels 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-520). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-P3 is much more recent (by 3 years and 1 month) than the E-520, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Olympus PEN E-P3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800 The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-520 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-520 has a markedly higher DXO score than the E-P3 (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and -0 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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»||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-520«||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.4||10.4||548||55||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-P5« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-600« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.5||10.3||541||55||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.3||10.3||536||55||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-P1« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56||Olympus E-P2|
|Olympus E-420« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.5||10.4||527||56||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-410« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.1||10.0||494||51||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.2||10.0||442||52||Olympus E-510|
|Panasonic GX1« »||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52||Panasonic G10|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-P3 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-520 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P3 can use is 1080/60i.
Feature comparison: Olympus E-P3 vs 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-P3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-P3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-P3, the Olympus E-520, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-P3»||-||n||3.0||614||fixed||Y||4000||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-520«||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||Y||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-P5« »||-||n||3.0||1037||tilting||Y||8000||9.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||-||n||3.0||460||tilting||Y||4000||8.0||n||Y||Olympus E-PL5|
|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-P2« »||-||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||4000||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P2|
|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 GX1« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||4000||4.2||Y||n||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10« »||202||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||4000||2.6||Y||n||Panasonic G10|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-P3 has a touchscreen, while the E-520 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The E-P3 writes its imaging data to SDXC 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-P3 only has one slot.
Connectivity comparison: Olympus E-P3 vs E-520
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus PEN E-P3 and Olympus E-520 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-P3»||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-520«||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-P5« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-600« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-P1« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P2|
|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 GX1« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10« »||Y||mono||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic G10|
Both the E-P3 and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, while the E-520 does not have a direct successor.
Review summary: Olympus E-P3 vs E-520
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-P3 better than the Olympus E-520 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-P3:
- 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 VI vs TruePic III).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60i movies.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") 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 166g 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 3 years and 1 month of technical progress since the E-520 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-520:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- 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 330) out of a single battery charge.
- 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 around for much longer (launched in May 2008).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-P3 emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-P3 or the E-520 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.
Expert reviews: Olympus E-P3 vs E-520
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Olympus E-P3»||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-520«||87/100||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699||-||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-P5« »||HiRec||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||-||Olympus E-P5|
|Olympus E-PL5« »||HiRec||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||-||Olympus E-PL5|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||HiRec||72/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||Jun 2011||599||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-PM1« »||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499||-||Olympus E-PM1|
|Olympus E-PL1« »||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599||-||Olympus E-PL1|
|Olympus E-600« »||-||-||-||-||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449||-||Olympus E-600|
|Olympus E-620« »||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||rev||5/5||Feb 2009||699||-||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-P1« »||Rec||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Olympus E-P2« »||Rec||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Olympus E-420« »||85/100||HiRec||4/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599||-||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-410« »||86/100||HiRec||4/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||89/100||HiRec||3.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||-||Olympus E-510|
|Panasonic GX1« »||Rec||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||949||-||Panasonic GX1|
|Panasonic G10« »||-||70/100||4/5||-||4/5||Mar 2010||499||-||Panasonic G10|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, 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.
Specifications: Olympus E-P3 vs Olympus E-520
|Camera Model||Olympus E-P3||Olympus E-520|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2011||May 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 699|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||3648 x 2736 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||4.74 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||4.44 MP/cm2|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200-12800 ISO||100-1600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VI||TruePic III|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.7 inch|
|LCD Resolution||614k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||3.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XD cards|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Battery Type||BLS-5 power pack||BLM-1 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
122 x 69 x 34 mm
(4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
136 x 92 x 68 mm
(5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
|Camera Weight||369 g (13.0 oz)||535 g (18.9 oz)|
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