Olympus has today announced a new Four Thirds System digital SLR, the E-500 (to be know in North America as the 'Olympus EVOLT E-500'). The E-500 has a much more traditional SLR appearance than the E-300, it features the same eight megapixel 4/3 size CCD but has a range of improvements and new features including a new metering sensor, new high ISO noise filter, a 2.5" LCD monitor and better control system. From a features and flexibility point of view the E-500 is clearly a step above the competition. Better news still is that the E-500 appears to breaks new ground in terms of value, the E-500 + 14-45 mm lens kit has an estimated street price of just US$799.

Phil: We had planned (and wanted) to produce a detailed preview of a pre-production E-500, however we didn't receive a camera in time to do so. UPDATE: We have (post-announcement) received a camera and are working on a preview.

Olympus E-500 (EVOLT) previews around the web

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Olympus E-500 key points / new features

  • Same eight megapixel Kodak CCD as E-300
  • New 49 area metering sensor (a 7x7 matrix)
  • New highlight / shadow based spot metering (feature taken from OM cameras)
  • New High ISO noise filter (with user control)
  • ISO sensitivity selectable in 1/3 EV steps
  • 2.5" LCD monitor with wide viewing angle
  • Two level shooting information on LCD monitor (color selectable)
  • Fourteen times magnification in playback mode
  • Lightest D-SLR body at 435 g (no battery)
  • Electronic automatic release pop-up flash unit
  • AEL/AEF button moved to left to make way for function button
  • 21 scene modes
  • New programmable 'under your thumb' function button
  • Larger buffer for continuous shooting (unlimited in JPEG with fast card)
  • Test shooting mode accessed from button hold (doesn't write to storage card)
  • Programmable 'My Mode'
  • Black and White image mode with selectable color filters
  • Pentaprism viewfinder
  • Clip-fit viewfinder eyecup
  • Lithium-Ion rechargeable or 3xCL123 Lithium battery power
  • InfraRed remote control option
  • No vertical grip option

Press Release:

Classic design with a futuristic edge
Olympus announce the E-500

London, 26 September 2005, Digital SLR photography is gaining in popularity as more and more people become hooked on the higher quality and flexibility that only an SLR camera can offer. Olympus today announces the E-500 - its impressive new addition to the E-System SLR range.

The Olympus E-500 will be available by the end of October. Delivering the versatility and power that are the hallmarks of a performance SLR the E-500’s impressive range of features include:

  • A compact, lightweight and easy to handle body in a classic penta-prism design
  • A professionally approved, user-friendly controls layout
  • An 8 megapixel Full Frame Transfer CCD
  • Olympus’ unique Supersonic Wave Filter to eliminate problems with dust when changing lenses
  • A shot preview function to provide easy viewing of images before they are saved onto the memory card
  • A high resolution 2½″ HyperCrystal LCD with 215,250 pixels
  • Improved metering from a 49 area sensor
  • A special filter to minimise image noise at high ISO levels
  • Two memory card slots for Compact Flash and xD media cards
  • Full manual control or a choice of 21 pre-defined scene modes

Available to buy alone, or as part of a range of kits, The E-500 will suit every photographers needs. Full pricing to be confirmed in October:

  • BODY KIT includes E-500 body, BLM-1 rechargeable battery pack with BCM-2 charger
  • SE KIT includes E-500 body, 17.5-45mm (35-90mm) 1:3.5-5.6, LBH-1 battery holder, 3x CR-123 batteries
     
  • STANDARD KIT includes E-500 body, 14-45mm (28-90mm) 1:3.5-5.6, BLM-1 rechargeable battery pack with BCM-2 charger estimated price around £600
     
  • DOUBLE ZOOM KIT includes E-500 body, 14-45mm (28-90mm) 1:3.5-5.6, 40-150mm (80-300mm) 1:3.5-4.5, BLM-1 rechargeable battery pack with BCM-2 charger estimated price around £650

Classic Design

The Olympus E-500 has been designed with the user in mind. This means menus that make sense and buttons on the body that are easy to understand and operate, adding automatic settings for every imaginable situation and making the LCD big and bright enough so users can easily review all their shots.

A traditional penta-prism shape gives the camera an authentic and professional look and feel, the user-friendly controls and functions are easy to operate and the handgrip has been positioned so that the camera can easily be kept stable when shooting. The E-500 is ideal for numerous photographic situations, from capturing landscape vistas whilst mountaineering to documenting a city’s hustle and bustle.

Direct Button operation enables E-500 users to get to the settings they want without wading through endless menus or pushing arrow buttons excessively. Instead, most custom settings can be set by pressing one of the cameras eight direct key buttons for White Balance, Exposure Compensation, ISO, Flash Mode, Metering Mode, Auto Focus Mode, Auto Focus Frame and Recording Mode, and then turning a dial by  thumb to customise the setting as desired. All settings are viewable at once on the camera’s  control panel displayed on the LCD.   

Skills Development

The E-500 includes 21 pre-defined scene modes, ranging from landscape to sunset to portrait, meaning it can be picked up and used straight away. However, as a photographer’s skills develop, the manual controls come into their own, enabling experimentation only limited by the photographer’s imagination. P/A/S/M modes come as standard.

To radically improve the metering capability a new 49 area AE sensor providing accurate exposure values for ESP metering is included. This uses a newly-developed evaluation algorithm. Conventional centre-weighted average and spot metering, high light and shadow basis spot metering and AE Lock functioning are also available too making the E-500 the ideal choice for any ambitious amateur or creative semi-pro wishing to develop their individual technique and style over time.

Image Quality

The E-500 provides outstanding image quality. An eight megapixel, Full Frame Transfer CCD offers a larger pixel area than an ordinary Interline Transfer CCD and as a result delivers images with a greater exposure latitude, more detail and less noise.

Dust is all around us and when swapping a lens on a digital single-lens reflex camera there’s a chance that a camera’s electro-statically charged image sensor will attract micro dust that can ruin photos. Olympus has developed a way for photographers to enjoy the freedom of using all the lenses of the Olympus E-System in the most challenging, dusty environments without compromising image quality.  Every time the camera is turned on Olympus’ Supersonic Wave Filter, a patented ultrasonic technology that shakes at 35,000 vibrations a second to remove dust from in front of the camera sensor is activated. The spot-free photos that are produced liberate users from hours spent retouching photographs at the computer.

The camera is also equipped with a noise filter that can be turned on and off, as the photographer desires to minimise image noise at high ISO values.

Powerful Processor

The E-500 incorporates Olympus’ TruePic TURBO image processor to ensure images pack a punch with lifelike colour, resolution and contrast. TruePic TURBO also adds speed to picture taking. For fast burst rates, the processor uses the dedicated 64MB image buffer for up to 4 TIFF or RAW images at 2.5 frames-per-second.  However, when using HQ JPEG images and extreme speed Compact Flash cards the number of frames a user is able to take is only lmited by the card size.  For example, when using a SanDisk Extreme III CF card the camera can take around 4 minutes of continuous photography at 2 frames per second !

To further enhance the camera’s capabilities, two memory card slots, one for a CompactFlash and another for an xD memory card, are included.

Viewing The Results
Results can be viewed on the E-500’s 2½ inch, 215,250 pixel HyperCrystal LCD screen that offers many times the contrast of conventional LCD monitors. Views of recorded shots can be enlarged up to 14x to facilitate easy reviewing and the LCD also doubles as the camera’s easy-to-read status panel, giving clear and detailed information of the current settings in use.

Four Thirds

As the only completely digital system, based on the TIPA Award winning Four Thirds Standard, the Olympus E-System series of camera bodies, interchangeable lenses, external flash systems and other accessories provides professionals and serious amateurs alike with the excellence they demand. The new Olympus E-500 offers an affordable entry into the exciting world of SLR photography.

The Olympus E-500 digital SLR – main features
(
n.b. Specifications are subject to change without notice):

  • 8.0 million pixels with Full Frame Transfer CCD
  • 6.4cm/2.5” HyperCrystal LCD (215,250 pixels)
  • Supersonic Wave Filter for dust protection
  • Light and compact penta type design (for classic SLR look)
  • 49 area AE sensor & high light basis, shadow light basis spot metering
  • Single AF, continuous AF and manual focusing
  • Digital ESP, centre-weighted average and spot exposure metering
  • AE lock functionality
  • Sequential shooting at 2.5fps in HQ (1/8) and SQ JPEG format up to the full memory card capacity when using high-speed media, such as SanDisk SDCFX (Extreme III)
  • IR Hybrid Type Cut Filter for equalisation with human eyes
  • 1/3 EV ISO steps
  • TruePic TURBO image processor
  • 21 scene programme modes plus full manual operation
  • Dual slot for CompactFlash/Microdrives and xD-Picture Cards
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • User-friendly menu with detailed and simplified display modes
  • Weight: 435g, size: 129.5 x 94.5 x 66mm
  • Compatible with the complete range of Olympus E-System lenses and many accessories

Olympus E-500 (EVOLT) specifications

Kit Prices • E-500 + 14-45 mm lens
      US: $ 799
      UK: £ 600 (inc VAT)
• E-500 + 14-45 mm + 18-180 mm lenses
      US: $ 899
Body material Plastic
Sensor • 4/3 type CCD (Kodak Full Frame Transfer)
• 17.3 x 13.0 mm active area
• 8.9 million total pixels
• 8.0 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
• Fixed low pass filter (anti-alias filter)
• Supersonic Wave Filter (dust protection)
Image processor TruePic Turbo
Image sizes • 3264 x 2448
• 3200 x 2400
• 2560 x 1920
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480
File formats • RAW
• RAW + JPEG
• TIFF
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2) - three levels
JPEG compression • SHQ (1/2.7)
• HQ (1/4)
• SQ (1/8 or 1/12)
File sizes
(examples,
approximate)
• 3264 x 2448 RAW: 13.6 MB
• 3264 x 2448 TIFF: 24.5 MB
• 3264 x 2448 JPEG SHQ: 6.4 MB
• 3264 x 2448 JPEG HQ: 4.5 MB
• 3200 x 2400 JPEG HQ: 4.4 MB
• 2560 x 1920 JPEG HQ: 2.5 MB
• 1600 x 1200 JPEG HQ: 1.0 MB
Lenses • 4/3 standard lens mount
• Range of ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses available
• Multiply focal length by 2 for 35 mm equiv. FOV
Auto focus • 3-point TTL Phase Difference Detection
• Automatic or manual point selection
• EV 0 to 19 (ISO 100) detection range
Focus area selection • Automatic
• Manual
Focus modes • Single shot AF
• Continuous AF
• Manual focus
Manual focus Focus by wire
AF assist lamp Yes, flash strobe (flash must be raised)
Exposure modes • Program AE (with shift)
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual
• Scene
Scene modes • Portrait
• Landscape
• Macro
• Sports
• Night Scene & Portrait
Other scene modes • Portrait
• Landscape
• Landscape & Portrait
• Night Scene
• Night Scene & Portrait
• Firework
• Sunset
• Macro
• Sports
• High Key
• Low key
• Document
• Beach & Snow
• Candle
• Children
Sensitivity

• Auto (ISO 100 - 400)
• ISO 100
• ISO 125
• ISO 160
• ISO 200
• ISO 250
• ISO 320
• ISO 400
• ISO 500
• ISO 640
• ISO 800 (expanded range option)
• ISO 1000
• ISO 1250
• ISO 1600 (expanded range option)

Metering system • 49-zone multi-pattern
• Range (Digital ESP): 1 to 20 EV (50 mm F2, ISO 100)
• Range (Spot): 3 to 17 EV (50 mm F2, ISO 100)
Metering modes • Digital ESP
• Center-Weighted Average
• Spot (2%)
• Highlight based spot
• Shadow based spot
AE Lock • AE/AF lock button
• With shutter release half-press
AE Bracketing • 3 frames
• 1/3, 1/2, 0.7 or 1.0 EV steps
Exposure steps 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV
Exposure compen. • -5.0 to +5.0 EV
• 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
Shutter speed • Program AE mode: 1 - 1/4000 sec
• Aperture, Shutter Priority mode: 60 - 1/4000 sec
• Manual mode: 60 - 1/4000 sec, Bulb (up to 8 mins)
Flash X-sync speed • 1/180 sec (1/60 - 1/180 sec selectable in P or A mode)
• 1/4000 sec (Super FP mode)
Aperture values Depends on lens: 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
White balance • Auto
• 3000 K (Incandescent)
• 4000 K (Fluorescent 1)
• 4500 K (Fluorescent 2)
• 5300 K (Daylight)
• 6000 K (Cloudy)
• 6600 K (Fluorescent 3)
• 7500 K (Shade)
• Kelvin (2000 - 10000 K)
• Custom
WB fine tuning • Red - Blue: +/- 7 steps (2 mired each)
• Green - Magenta: +/- 7 steps (2 mired each)
WB Bracketing • 3 frames
• 4, 8 or 12 mired steps
Color space • sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Image parameters • Color mode (Natural, Vivid, Muted)
• Saturation (5 levels)
• Contrast (5 levels)
• Sharpness (5 levels)
• Monochrome (B&W, Sepia, Red, Green, Blue) - filter (Ye, Or, Re, Gr)
• Graduation (High Key, Normal, Low Key)
Drive modes • Single
• Continuous
Continuous • 2.5 fps
• RAW/TIFF: 4 frames maximum
• JPEG: Up to card capacity (with high speed media)
Self-timer • 2 sec
• 12 sec
Flash • Auto electronic pop-up
• TTL auto / manual
• Guide no. 13
• Sync modes: Auto, Red-eye reduction, Slow syncro with red-eye reduction,
Slow syncro, 2nd curtain slow syncro, Fill-in, Off
• Flash power: Up to +/- 2EV in 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV steps
External flash • Hot shoe
• TTL Auto FP / TTL auto for Olympus dedicated flash (FL-20, FL-36, FL-50)
• Modes:Auto, Manual, Red-eye reduction, Slow syncro with red-eye reduction, Slow syncro, 2nd curtain slow syncro, Fill-in for exclusive flash.
• Flash power: Up to +/- 2EV in 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV steps
Viewfinder • Eye-level TTL Optical Porro Finder
• Field of view 95%
• Magnification 0.9x with a 50mm lens and -1 dioptre
• Eye point 10 mm at -1 dioptre
• Dioptre adjustment -3 to +1 dioptre
• Focusing screen: Fixed type
• Mirror: Quick return mirror
Viewfinder info • AF frame (super imposed)
• AE lock
• AF confirmation mark
• Metering mode
• Exposure mode
• Shutter speed
• Aperture value
• White balance
• Exposure compensation value indicator
• Flash
• Battery check
• Record mode
• Number of storable still pictures
Control panel display • Metering mode
• Exposure mode
• Aperture value
• Shutter speed
• Exposure level indicator
• Exposure compensation value
• Exposure compensation indicator
• AE bracket
• ISO
• Colour space
• Picture mode
• Gradation
• Colour saturation compensation value
• Sharpness compensation value
• Contrast compensation value
• White balance
• White balance compensation value
• Noise reduction mode
• AE lock
• Flash mode
• Flash compensation value
• Focus mode
• AF frame
• Drive mode
• Record mode
• Number of storable still pictures
• Selected memory card
• Battery check
Orientation sensor Yes
LCD monitor • 2.5" TFT LCD monitor (wide viewing angle)
• 215,250 pixels
• 100% frame coverage
Playback functions • Single
• Magnify (2 - 14x)
• Index (4, 9, 16, 25 frames)
• Calendar view
• Rotation
• Light box view
• Slide show
• Histogram (Lum / RGB)
• Highlight & Shadow point warning
Editing • RAW development
• JPEG editing (B&W, Sepia, Red eye reduction, Color saturation, Resize)
Storage • Compact Flash (Type I and II) / Microdrive
• xD-Picture card
Connectivity • USB 2.0 (Only USB 1.1 speed)
• Video Out (NTSC / PAL)
• IR Remote control (optional)
Vertical / portrait grip None
Power • BLM-1 1500 mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (supplied & charger)
• Optional AC adapter AC-1
Dimensions 130 x 95 x 66 mm (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
Weight (no batt) 435 g (1.0 lb)
Weight (inc batt) 479 g (1.1 lb)
Box contents E-500 body, USB cable, video cable, Li-Ion battery pack (BLM-1) and Li-Ion battery charger (BCM-2) or CR123A battery holder (LHD-1) and 3xCR123A, shoulder strap, Olympus Master CD-ROM, instruction manual, warranty card.

Full Olympus E-System lens line-up
(specifications are subject to change without notice)

  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm (14-28mm) 1:4.0
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm (22-44mm) 1:2.8-3.5
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-35mm (28-70mm) 1:2.0 (available from 2006)
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-45mm (28-90mm) 1:3.5-5.6
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-54mm (28-108mm) 1:2.8-3.5
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL 17.5-45mm (35-90mm*) 1:3.5-5.6 (for E-500 SE Kit exclusively) NEW!
  • ZUIKO DIGTAL ED 18-180mm (36-360mm) 1:3.5-6.3 (available from spring 2006) NEW!
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 35-100mm (70-200mm) 1:2.0 (available from October 2005)
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL 40-150mm (80-300mm) 1:3.5-4.5
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50-200mm (100-400mm) 1:2.8-3.5
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 90-250mm (180-500mm) 1:2.8 (available from November 2005)
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm 1:3.5 Fisheye (available from January 2006)
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL 35mm Macro (70mm) 1:3.5 (available from December 2005) NEW!
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50mm (100mm) 1:2.0 Macro
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 150mm (300mm) 1:2.0
  • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm (600mm) 1:2.8

* Focal length equivalent on a 35mm camera

Additional images