The storage compartment is located on the right side of the camera (from the back) and makes up part of the hand grip. The door hinge isn't spring loaded until you get it past the 90 degree point where it has a positive 'click' to hold it open. Inside you will find an xD-Picture card slot and a Compact Flash Type II card slot. The E-500 supports the FAT32 file system for cards greater than 2 GB. Note that the E-300 only supported CF cards.
The E-500 has just one multi-function connector on the right side of the body, this serves to provide both USB and Video-Out connectivity depending on which of the supplied cables is connected. The E-500 still only provides USB 1.1 transfer, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Base / Tripod Mount
On the bottom of the camera you'll find the metal tripod socket which is aligned exactly with the center line of the lens. The mount also appears to be in line with the focal plane (position of the imager).
Thanks to the height of the viewfinder prism and a nice long arm the E-500's pop-up flash sits a better than most 53 mm (2.1 in) above the top of the lens, this is about the same as the Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT). This additional height will be very useful when using lenses with their hoods attached and should also help avoid red-eye. The pop-up flash is now released electronically (either via a push-button or automatically if in the right mode), it has a guide number of 13 and an X-sync speed of 1/180 sec. In a low light situation with the flash raised the camera will strobe the flash to act as an assist lamp for the AF system (it must be raised manually to perform this function).
The E-300 has an 'E System' flash hot-shoe designed specifically for Olympus dedicated flash units, however it can also accept third party units (but sync contact only). Olympus 'E System' flash units communicate directly with the camera and support various features including zoom control, red-eye reduction and slow sync flash.
The E-500 has a Four Thirds System, this that as well as accepting Olympus 4/3 lenses it can also accept third party lenses (such as Sigma 4/3 lenses). Visually the mirror looks larger than that of the E-300 but that hasn't really made very much difference to the viewfinder view which is very small compared to most digital SLR's.
"Supersonic Wave Filter"
The "Supersonic Wave Filter" is a method of cleaning the CCD sensor which involves making it vibrate at a very high frequency, this vibration causes any dust or dirt to literally drop off the sensor surface and on to a sticky tape material (which apparently has been used in conventional SLR's for some time now). This built-in CCD cleaning takes place every time you power up the camera and can also be invoked from the camera menu. It's reassuring to see at least one manufacturer taking dust seriously and attempting to solve instead of avoiding the issue.
|SSWF filter is mounted in front of the CCD||Click for a video explanation (15 MB)|
Shutter Release Sound
In some of our digital SLR reviews we now provide a sound recording of a continuous burst of shots. Below you can see waveforms of a recording made of the Olympus E-500 and Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) shooting continuously for 30 seconds in JPEG at full resolution. The CF card used was a SanDisk Extreme III 1 GB (Type I).
With fast card like the Extreme III the E-500 can shoot continuously as long as you use HQ set to 1/8 compression (quality), this equated to JPEG files of around 1,830 KB (in this test). The difficulty comparing this performance to the Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT) was that its Fine quality produced considerably larger files and its Standard mode produced smaller files. To be fair to both cameras we tested all four combinations (obviously on the E-500 there's also SHQ which would simply shoot a maximum of four frames before stopping.
The other difference between the E-500 and 350D is what happens when the buffer fills, in the case of the E-500 the camera simply stops shooting and you have to release and re-press the shutter release button (this had to be done in the HQ 1/4 test), in the case of the 350D it keeps shooting as long as you hold the shutter release and will take a shot as soon as there is space in the cameras buffer to do so.
JPEG continuous, 30 seconds
As you can see with the E-500 set to HQ 1/8 it's not far behind the EOS 350D for the number of frames shot in 30 seconds, however switch up to a higher quality setting (HQ 1/4) and the performance isn't so good, and you have to keep releasing and re-pressing the shutter release.
|Olympus E-500, HQ (1/8); 1,830 KB per image - 80 frames|
|Canon EOS 350D, Standard; 1,200 KB per image - 87 frames|
|Olympus E-500, HQ (1/4); 3,900 KB per image - 29 frames|
|Canon EOS 350D, Fine; 2,400 KB per image - 71 frames|
Box Contents (Kit)
• Olympus E-500 digital SLR body