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Olympus E-20 Review

October 2001 | By Phil Askey



Preview based on a production E-20P, Firmware Version 29-1102

Introduction

The E-20 is a progression from last years 4 megapixel E-10. The E-20 has all the same basic functionality, control layout, body design and lens. The lens remains the same as the E-20's 5 megapixel sensor is the same size as the 4 megapixel of last year. The E-20 now takes the place of Olympus's flagship digital camera, it has: a fixed ultra-bright F2.0 - F2.4 4x lens with a mechanically linked zoom ring, 5 megapixels of resolution, a professional 'locked control' system, a wide variety of manual control and a robust metal case. Competition this year however is a little tougher with Minolta's DiMAGE 7, Sony's DSC-F707 and the upcoming Nikon Coolpix 5000 entering the 5 megapixel fray.

Obviously with the E-20 being so similar to the E-10 I have used parts of the E-10 review as a template for producing this review, users who have previously read the E-10 review should still pay attention to the entire review as their are several subtle differences between the two cmeras.

Also note that with the introduction of the E-20 Olympus appear to have decided to name the NTSC and PAL output cameras specifically as E-20N and E-20P, these two camera models are IDENTICAL other than their video output.

January 2002 Update

Now we've got our hands on a full production E-20 it's time to go back through the review and update the relevant areas. This review now reflects results from a full production camera. Items updated:

  • Checked: Timing, Low Light AF, Image Quality
  • Re-shot: Size / Quality, Sharp / Contrast, White Balance, Chromatics Test
  • Re-shot: Resolution Chart, Colour Patches
  • Re-written: ISO / Noise comparison
  • New page: Software
  • New page: Compared To (Sony DSC-F707, Nikon Coolpix 5000)
  • Updated: Compared To (Sony DSC-F707, Nikon Coolpix 5000, Minolta DiMAGE 7)
  • Confirmed: Conclusion
  • New Gallery

Olympus E-20 vs. E-10

The detailed list below is a combination of a comparison we found in an Olympus Japan FAQ and our own findings.

  Olympus E-20 (N/P) Olympus E-10
Image formats JPEG, TIFF, RAW
SmartMedia support 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128 MB (3/3.3 V only)
Compact Flash support Up to 320 MB for Type I / II *1
Microdrive support Yes, newer 1 GB model No
Sensor 2/3" CCD, Interlaced, Primary colour CFA 2/3" CCD, Interlaced, Primary colour CFA
Sensor pixels 5.2 megapixel 4.0 megapixel
Output pixels 4.9 megapixel 3.8 megapixel
Image sizes 2560 x 1920, 1792 x 1344 (PS), 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480 2240 x 1680, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480
JPEG levels 1/2.7, 1/4, 1/8
Uncompressed TIFF, RAW
Metering Digital ESP, Center weighted average, Spot
Exposure Modes P, A, S, M
Exposure compen. +/-3 EV in 0.3 EV steps
Shutter speeds (IS) P/A/S: 2 - 1/640 sec
M: Bulb, 60 - 1/640 sec
P/A/S: 2 - 1/640 sec
M: Bulb, 8 - 1/640 sec
Shutter speeds (PS) P/A/S: 2 - 1/4000 sec or 1/18000 sec
M: Bulb, 60 - 1/640 sec
n/a
White balance Auto, 7 presets, manual 'one touch' button
Lens Olympus 4x, 35 - 140 mm (equiv.) F2.0 - F2.4
14 pieces in 11 groups
Normal focus range 0.6 m - Infinity
Macro focus range 0.2 m - 0.6 m
Manual focus range 0.2 m - Infinity
Continuous mode IS: 2.5 fps max 4 images
PS: 4.5 fps max 7 images
3 fps max 4 images
Viewfinder Optical TTL, 95% frame view *2,-3 to +1 dioptre adjustment
Playback magnification 3x, 4x 1.5x, 2x, 2.5x, 3x, 4x
LCD Monitor Flip-out and angle up or down, 95% frame cover *2 100% frame cover
Noise reduction Yes (dark frame subtraction) No
Progressive scan Yes, selectable mode No
Pixel mapping Yes No

*1 Larger capacities worked but we had some compatibility problems with a 512 MB SanDisk card
*2 Olympus specification, our measurements showed less frame cover than this


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the author.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (normally 960 x 720 or smaller if cropped) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2001 Phil Askey and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey.

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