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Design

As mentioned earlier the E-500 has a much more traditional SLR appearance, in fact it's a neat compact design which doesn't sacrifice ergonomics and in use it works well. From the front the large rubberized hand grip dominates with the lens aligned almost to the edge of the right side. The viewfinder prism completes the look. Around the back the layout is logical enough with a column of buttons down the left side of the new large 2.5" LCD monitor, the four-way controller to the right bottom and two buttons directly 'under your thumb'.

The camera itself appears to be constructed from very heavy duty plastic with a metal sub- structure, it in now way feels any less robust than the E-300, if anything I'd say it feels better put together than Canon's EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT).

Side by side

In the photograph below the Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) looks narrower than the E-500 but it's a bit of an optical illusion, because the E-500's lens/prism is set further to the right the left side looks larger. In reality there's only 3 mm difference in width between the two. Weight wise the E-500 has the lightest D-SLR body (no lens or battery), however the 14 - 45 mm lens alone adds 287 g which brings the total 'kit ready to shoot weight' up to 814 g (1.8 lb) which is roughly the same as the Nikon D50.

Camera
+ Lens equiv. FOV (kit)
Dimensions
(W x H x D)
Shooting weight
(battery, card, kit lens)
Canon EOS 350D
  28.8 - 88 mm equiv. (3x)
127 x 94 x 64 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
724 g (1.6 lb)
Olympus E-500 EVOLT
  28 - 90 mm equiv. (3.2x)
130 x 95 x 66 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
814 g (1.8 lb)
Nikon D50
  27 - 82.5 mm equiv. (3x)
133 x 102 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
828 g (1.8 lb)
Olympus E-300
  28 - 90 mm equiv. (3.2x)
147 x 85 x 64 mm
(5.8 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
911 g (2.0 lb)
Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D
  27 - 105 mm equiv. (3.8x)
131 x 93 x 67 mm
(5.2 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
918 g (2.0 lb)
Sony DSC-R1
  24 - 120 mm equiv. (5x)
139 x 97 x 168 mm
(5.5 x 3.8 x 6.6 in)
995 g (2.2 lb)

In your hand

By shifting the lens further over to the left side (from the back) there's more space for the hand grip, top mounted controls and 'under your thumb' buttons on the rear of the camera. This works well for the E-500 which has a comfortable thick rubber hand grip and well shaped rear thumb 'hook'.

LCD Monitor

The E-500 features one of the new generation of large wide viewing angle LCD monitors. The monitor measures 2.5" diagonally and has 215,250 pixels. In use it proved to be bright and detailed with excellent viewing angles. Despite the lack of an anti-reflective coating the monitor worked well even in direct sunlight thanks to a trans-reflective backing.

Control panel display

Because of its lack of a separate status LCD the E-500 provides two levels of information on the main LCD monitor ('control panel' displays). These are accessed simply by pressing the INFO button. The first mode displays brief information, the second more detailed. You can press the OK button to change settings as they appear on the display.

Viewfinder

The E-500 has a fairly straightforward prism style viewfinder with a dioptre adjustment and removable rubber eyecup (for eyecup accessories). The eyepiece glass itself appears to have an anti-reflective coating. Looking through the viewfinder is unfortunately like looking down a tunnel, the actual focusing screen is very small. I found it difficult to check the focus distance (when focusing manually for instance) and also to even make out smaller detail, it's the smallest viewfinder I've seen on any recent digital SLR and is a bit of a disappointment.

Viewfinder view

Through the viewfinder (the layout is the same as the E-300) you will see the center metering circle and three AF areas indicated. The center AF area is sensitive to both horizontal and vertical detail, the two outer areas to horizontal detail only. The selected / in-use AF area is indicated on a half-press of the shutter release by a red circle (LED-like). To the right of the focusing screen is an LCD status column with various items of information including metering mode, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation etc.

Battery Compartment

The E-500's battery compartment is accessed from the base of the hand grip, the compartment door opening by sliding a small latch. Inside you will find the BLM-1 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery as used in the E-300, E-1 and C-8080. The BLM-1 has a rated capacity of 1500 mAh at 7.2V (10.8 Wh) and is charged on the supplied BCM-2 charger (approx. 1.5 hours for a full charge from flat).

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