Compared to...

For our studio scene comparisons we have selected the Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) as the obvious competition and the only other brand with an eight megapixel sensor as well as the Nikon D50 and Olympus's own E-300 EVOLT.

Camera Kit Price Sensor
Olympus E-500 $799 8 mp CCD
Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) $899 8 mp CMOS
Olympus E-300 $699 8 mp CCD
Nikon D50 $799 6 mp CCD

Aspect ratio advantage, aperture used

The E-500's aspect ratio difference (4:3 vs. the film normal 3:2) it gets an added vertical resolution advantage over other cameras, because as with all of our comparisons the scene is framed vertically. Note that we selected F6.3 on the Olympus as we have found this to be the optimum aperture for lens sharpness.

Studio scene comparison (vs. Canon EOS 350D)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position within minutes of each other. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F). Camera settings:

  • Olympus E-500: Olympus ED 50 mm F2.0 Macro, Aperture Priority (F6.3),
    ISO 100, JPEG SHQ, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Vivid), Self-Timer
  • Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT): Canon EF 50 mm F1.4, Aperture Priority (F9),
    ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Parameter 1), Self-Timer
Olympus E-500
Canon EOS 350D
ISO 100, 1/60 sec, F6.3
ISO 100, 1/40 sec, F9
5,474 KB JPEG (3264 x 2448)
2,882 KB JPEG (3456 x 2304)

From a resolution and detail point of view there's really very little to choose between the two (the E-500 has only a vertical 144 pixel advantage), the EOS 350D does appear to deliver a cleaner (less processed looking image) with better per-pixel sharpness (crispness) than the E-500. One other difference is how each camera handles the 'roll off' from highlights, the EOS 350D looks more natural, the E-500 a harder clip. Color and tonal responses are fairly similar.

(Footnote: We could have framed the scene horizontally which would have handed the EOS 350D a 7% horizontal resolution advantage, however in all our scene comparisons where there is a mismatch of aspect ratio are framed vertically).