To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with using the Olympus E-500 and a Canon EOS-350D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings. The Olympus was fitted with the Zuiko Digital 14-45mm while the Canon was fitted with the 18-55mm EF-S, both set to an aperture of f8 in Aperture Priority mode. The image below was taken with the Olympus E-500 using the 14-45mm Zuiko Digital lens at 32mm f8 (64mm equivalent); the original JPEG measured 5.69MB.
Viewed at 100%, the crops show very similar levels of actual detail, although the Olympus metered a slightly longer exposure with the result of some highlights being washed-out.
Olympus E-500 with Zuiko Digital 14-45mm - 1/200, f8, 100 ISO
Canon EOS-350D with 18-55mm EF-S - 1/250, f8, 100 ISO
For further, in-depth tests covering the test camera's resolution, CCD noise levels, chromatic aberration, purple fringing, corner sharpness, wideangle and telephoto geometry, wideangle and telephoto uniformity, and macro performance, visit Camera Labs here.
The following images were taken with the Olympus E-500, all using the Zuiko Digital 14-45mm f3.5~5.6 lens. The recording mode was set to SHQ, configured to capture the full eight megapixel resolution with the lowest compression ratio of 1/2.7. The Picture Mode (tone/colour/sharpness) was set to Natural. Unless otherwise stated, the pictures were taken in Program mode with the default settings. The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100 per cent and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset.
Market: 5.41MB, Program, 1/60, f4.5, ISO 400, 14-45mm at 14mm (equivalent to 28mm)
This photo of a market stall was taken under dim lighting conditions, so we increased the ISO to 400 to achieve a reasonable shutter speed and aperture. The crops are sharp and detailed, while an aperture of f4.5 at 14mm has ensured the depth of field is sufficient to cover the range of the composition. The crops reveal noise creeping in, although you're unlikely to notice in a print.
For many more sample images, visit Camera Labs here.