Compared to...

As with the majority of our studio image quality comparisons we selected the nearest competition by category, specification, price and feature-set. In this case the Olympus E-520 goes up against the Pentax K200D, Canon 450D and Sony A350. The E520 has only just been released so its current price appears artificially high. Once it has spent a few more weeks on the market, we'd expect it to drop nearer to the price of these other cameras. In headline specification terms, they're all pretty similar, with live view and image stabilization either included in-camera or kit lens (which, of course, won't always be available, depending on lens choice, on the Canon).

Lenses used

For direct comparisons we always use sharp prime lenses stopped down, typically to F9 for APS-C lenses and F6.3 for Four Thirds lenses. Here we have used the Pentax FA 50mm F1.4, Olympus 50 mm F2.0 Macro, Minolta 50mm F1.4 and Canon EF 50 mm F1.4.

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Olympus E-520 vs. Pentax K200D

Camera settings:

  • Olympus E-520: Olympus 50 mm F2.0 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/SHQ, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer
  • Pentax K200D: Pentax FA 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer
Olympus E-520
Pentax K200D
5.9 MB (3648 x 2736)
4.0 MB JPEG (3872 x 2592)

The E520 has the same number of photosites as the K200D, but arranges them in a different aspect ratio (4:3, rather than 3:2). Because we frame our scene within vertical targets, the scene uses the Olympus's greater number of vertical pixels and its images appear slightly more magnified. The K200D is producing extremely sharp images, albeit with some sharpening artefacts, it also has the traditional Pentax fondness for the color green. The Olympus does just as well, producing more conservative color rendition and a good balance between sharpness and sharpening artefacts.