Announced in September 2005, the E-500 (known as the Evolt 500 in some markets) is an 8 megapixel digital SLR conforming to the Four-Thirds standard.

On it's release, it was the third interchangeable lens DSLR Olympus had released for the Four-Thirds system, and was the first to offer premium features, picture quality and performance at such a low price and in such a traditional SLR-style shape (unlike its sister cameras the E-300 and E-330 which used the freedom allowed by the smaller sensor to inhabit radically different designs).

The E-500 was the lightest and smallest DSLR at the time of its release, meaning it represented for Olympus all the expected, highly publicised advantages the 4/3rds format offered: compact, lightweight, smaller lenses - and above average picture quality. It also features one-button access to most of its features from the rear panel, including a 'One-Touch WB' function that allows a photographer to target a white object and thereby immediately set the correct white balance for the shooting environment.

The E-500 inherits many operations and features from Olympus' earlier success with the OM system - notably the highlight and shadow-based spot functions found on the OM-4, and Olympus have released an adaptor for the Four-Thirds system that allows the use of OM lenses on all 4/3rds bodies. The camera features many functions other manufacturers reserve for their higher end DSLR bodies (such as spot metering at only 2%, or exposure compensation up to +/-5 EV), and for two years the E-500 has been the only entry-level digital body available for the 4/3rds system. The E-500's successor, the E-510, was announced in March 2007.

The E-500 was released in a choice of kits:

  • Body only (which includes a rechargeable battery pack with charger)
  • Standard Kit - with an Olympus made 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (with an equivalent F.O.V. to 29-90mm on a 35mm body).
  • Dual lens kit - with the Olympus 14-45mm as above, and a 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 lens (with an equivalent F.O.V. to 80-300mm on a 35mm body)

Some brief Specifications:

  • 8 Megapixel CCD sensor - image dimensions up to 3264 x 2448 pixels
  • 2.5” rear LCD panel (215,250 pixels; also used in place of the traditional SLR LCD settings display)
  • Olympus' patented 'Supersonic Wave Filter' anti-dust system
  • Metering: 49 area ESP, Centre-weighted average, Spot (2%), Highlight and shadow-based Spot
  • Single AF, continuous AF and manual focusing with all Four-Thirds lenses
  • Sequential shooting at 2.5fps (4 images in RAW; until the card is full in medium quality jpeg)
  • ISO range 100 - 1600.
  • 21 scene programme modes
  • Dual slots for CompactFlash (Type I/II or MD) and xD-Picture Cards
  • Built-in pop-up flash (GN 13; full TTL operation)
  • Weight: 435g
  • Size: 129.5 x 94.5 x 66mm