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Olympus E-620 Review

July 2009 | By Richard Butler, Lars Rehm


Review based on a production E-620

Olympus has established a tradition of offering very well specified cameras at the entry-level, and was one of the first to offer two cameras in this bracket - the little E-410 and its image-stabilized big brother, the E-510 (later upgraded to the 420 and 520 respectively). Now it has introduced the E-620, a model that will 'sell alongside' the E-420 and E-520 (in the sense that we suspect it will eventually replace the E-520) as the company's attempt at a '500D-killer'.

And, even by Olympus's standards of entry-level generosity, it's not short on toys - including an articulated screen to make full use of its live view system, which itself is one of the better implementations of this feature (from the company that got there first). It's also got 'Art' modes and the ability to shoot in four different aspect ratios - adapted from the features of the more expensive E-30. There's also in-body Image Stabilization and a level of configurability that is unparalleled in this class. In fact it's astonishing how much Olympus has crammed into its small dimensions - it's nearer to the size of the E-4X0 than the E-5X0 series (due in part to use of the small BLS-1 battery), and the E-420 was famously the smallest DSLR in the world.

Of course, since the E-620 was announced, Olympus has launched the E-P1 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, which shares many features with the E-620 and is still smaller. However, the through-the-lens optical viewfinder and fast, phase-detection autofocus system mean that the E-620 shouldn't face too much of a threat from its more compact sibling (despite the degree of shared componentry, they're different cameras that fulfil rather different needs).

More importantly, perhaps, the E-620 seems to address some of the main shortcomings of the E-520 - the viewfinder is slightly larger and has been reworked so that the information panel appears below the view screen, rather than tucked-away off to the right. It also moves on from the old three-point AF system with the introduction of a seven-point version, which includes five cross-type sensors. In fact, the specification of the E-620 is so high that it makes as much sense for us to compare it to Olympus's semi-pro body, the E-30, as to the company's existing entry-level models.

Compared to E-30 - key differences

When the E-30 was launched, we commented that it sailed remarkably close to E-3 territory, and with a smaller viewfinder and less grand claims made about environmental sealing and image stabilization. The E-620 comes close to pulling the same trick on the E-30; again the size of the viewfinder is smaller, but the cameras share the same 12 megapixel sensor, Truepix III+ processing and a great many other features. The differences between the two cameras are easier to list than the similarities:

  • E-620 is smaller (by around 1cm in each dimension) and around 180g lighter (body only)
  • Slightly smaller viewfinder with reduced frame coverage (0.96x, 95%, vs. 1.02x, 98%)
  • 7-point AF (5 cross-type) vs. 11-point (all cross-type)
  • Improved LCD (Hypercrystal III, vs. E-30s' version II unit)
  • Only one control dial (vs. E-30's two)
  • Slower continuous shooting rate (4fps for 5 RAW frames, vs. 5fps for 12)
  • Fewer aspect ratio crops (3 vs. 8)
  • No built-in digital level gauge
  • Only allows two exposures to be overlaid in multi-exposure mode (vs. 4)
  • No PC flash sync or DC-in sockets
  • Slower x-sync (1/180 sec vs. 1/250 sec) and max shutter speed (1/4000 sec vs. 1/8000 sec)
  • Lower capacity BLS-1 battery (7.2V 1150 mAh) vs. BLM-1 (7.2V 1500 mAh)

Key feature comparison (vs E-30 and E-520)

We were sceptical when Olympus told us that the E-620 was supposed to sell alongside the E-520, despite the E-620 clearly out-gunning its smaller siblings by a fair margin without distinguishing itself particularly well. Despite this cynicism, Olympus lineup currently contains the E-420, E-450, E-520 and E-620.

The E-620 is, overall, smaller than the E-520 that sits below it in the E-system hierarchy, while offering a slightly larger viewfinder plus a selection of the features we first saw in the considerably more expensive E-30. The chart below shows the key spec differences between the three cameras that now span the middle of the Olympus DSLR range.

 
Olympus E-620

Olympus E-30

Olympus E-520
Sensor

• 4/3 type Hi-Speed Live MOS
• 13.1 million total pixels
• 12.3 million effective pixels

• 4/3 type Hi-Speed Live MOS
• 13.1 million total pixels
• 12.3 million effective pixels

• 4/3 type Live MOS
• 10.9 million total pixels
• 10.0 million effective pixels
Body Material Glass fibre reinforced plastic Glass fibre reinforced plastic Glass fibre reinforced plastic
Weatherproof? No No No
Continuous • 4.0 fps
• RAW: 5 frames maximum
• 5.0 fps
• RAW: 12 frames maximum
• 3.5 fps
• RAW: 8 frames maximum
Max Shutter Speed 1/4000 sec 1/8000 sec 1/4000 sec
Sensitivity • ISO 100-3200
• 0.3 or 1.0 EV steps
• ISO 100-3200
• 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV steps
• ISO 100-1600
Auto Focus • 7-point TTL Phase Detection (5 cross-type)
• EV -1 to 19 (ISO 100) detection range
• 11-point TTL Phase Detection (all cross-type)
• EV -2 to 19 (ISO 100) detection range
• 3-point TTL Phase Difference Detection
• EV 0 to 19 (ISO 100) detection range
Live View AF • Three mode AF (Imager, AF sensor, Hybrid)
• Face Detection
• Three mode AF (Imager, AF sensor, Hybrid)
• Face Detection
• Three mode AF (Imager, AF sensor, Hybrid)
• Face Detection
Flash • Auto Electronic pop-up
• x-sync speed 1/180 sec
• Guide no. 12
• Auto Electronic pop-up
• x-sync speed 1/250 sec
• Guide no. 13
• Auto electronic pop-up
• x-sync speed 1/180 sec
• Guide no. 12
Scene modes etc

16 Scene modes

16 Scene modes

18 scene modes
Vertical grip option? Yes (HLD-5) Yes (HLD-4) No
Viewfinder

• Eye-level TTL Optical Pentamirror
• Field of view approx. 95%
• Magnification 0.96x with a 50mm lens and -1 dioptre
• Dioptre adjustment -3 to +1 dioptre
• Clip-fit eyecup
• Focusing screen: Interchangeable type

• Eye-level TTL Optical Pentaprism
• Field of view approx. 98%
• Magnification 1.02x with a 50mm lens and -1 dioptre
• Dioptre adjustment -3 to +1 dioptre
• Clip-fit eyecup
• Focusing screen: Interchangeable type

• Eye-level TTL Optical Pentamirror
• Field of view 95%
• Magnification 0.92x with a 50mm lens and -1 dioptre
• Clip-fit eyecup

LCD monitor • 2.7" HyperCrystal III TFT LCD monitor (wide viewing angle, transmissive)
• Vari-angle (swing and tilt)
• 230,000 pixels
• 2.7" HyperCrystal II TFT LCD monitor (wide viewing angle, semi-transmissive)
• Vari-angle (swing and tilt)
• 230,000 pixels
• 2.7" TFT LCD monitor (wide viewing angle, semi-transmissive)
• 230,000 pixels
Top panel info LCD? No Yes No
Connectivity • USB 2.0 (Hi Speed)
• Video Out (NTSC / PAL)
• IR Remote control (optional)
• USB 2.0 (Hi Speed)
• Video Out (NTSC / PAL)
• IR Remote control (optional)
• DC-IN
• PC Sync flash terminal
• USB 2.0 (Hi Speed)
• Video Out (NTSC / PAL)
• IR Remote control (optional)
Other features • Six 'Art Filters'
• 4 Aspect Ratios
• Multi Exposure Mode (2 frames)
• Electronic 'spirit level'
• Six 'Art Filters'
• 9 Aspect Ratios
• Multi Exposure Mode (up to 4 frames)
 
Dimensions 130 x 94 x 60 mm (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in) 142 x 108 x 75 mm (5.6 x 4.3 x 2.9 in) 136 x 92 x 68 mm (5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
Weight (inc batt) 521 g (1.1 lb) 768 g (1.7 lb) 552 g (1.2 lbs)


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 reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2009 dpreview.com 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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