Olympus E-620 review
I came to own an Olympus E-620 by a rather roundabout route. I wasn't looking to update/upgrade any of my equipment until my much loved "Old Faithful" Fujifilm FinePix S9600 failed. This DSLR-like super-zoom bridge camera has served me well for many years, and produced excellent images, but one day it simply failed to boot-up. Puzzled, I tried new batteries, and even an external mains adaptor, but all to no avail. Further diagnostic work in my electronics lab revealed a catastrophic failure of its DC-DC convertor. Although repairable, the costs were prohibitive as I could replace the camera for only a little more and benefit from more modern technology. I would have replaced it with another Fuji but my local dealer didn't stock them, but he did have a special offer on an E-620 with two kit lens. As I already owned an EP-1, and this camera used the same batteries, charger, flash, wired remote and wireless remote the choice was obvious.
As it uses essentially the same sensor as the EP-1, I had expected the images to be comparable, but what really surprised was the quality of the kit lens. Although they are all-plastic, even the bayonet mounting, I was not expecting much - other camera's kit lens have been something of a disappointment, but these are really good. The edge to edge sharpness of both the 14-42mm and 40-150mm lens is excellent. True, an f3.5 lens cannot be described as "fast", but with the ability to use higher ISO speeds to make up for this, the results are very good. Certainly there are better lens, but, I suspect that what you are really getting is better, more rugged build quality as well as a faster lens, but not a huge improvement in sharpness. Perhaps someone might like to comment on that. The viewfinder is a little on the small size, but perfectly adequate, even when wearing spectacles such as myself. The live view feature is welcome, although this does significantly impact battery life. The ergonomics are fine for me as I have somewhat small hands, but the diminutive size of this camera does mean that there is not a lot of real-estate for the buttons - those with larger hands may find it a little cramped. I particularly like the small size, compared to my Canon DSLR let alone my Sigma it is positively tiny.
The next surprise was the fact that there is very little incentive to use RAW mode. The internal image processing engine does an excellent job such that JPEG fine images are virtually the same as their RAW equivalents especially with the minimal RAW processing capabilities of the Olympus Master software. It is possible to extract just a slight amount of extra detail from the RAW images with third-party software, but this is only apparent to pixel-peepers - printed images side-by-side show no real difference.
The Super Control Panel feature allows one a very quick and intuitive way of changing the major parameters such that the direct action buttons are seldom needed. The enormous amount of camera customisation is amazing, and I suspect that most users will have little need for it, but should you wish, it is there. My only suggestion would be that in some cases it might be an idea to permit these low-level customisation adjustments to be performed via the camera's USB port and a computer.
So, reasonably fast and responsive; excellent build quality; excellent overall image quality especially from the kit lens; small and compact; very useful multi-way LCD, so what about the downside?
Battery life is only average. Not surprising considering the small battery size. It helps to avoid using live view, flash, and art filters. The latter feature I regard as a waste of time, I much prefer to edit my images on a computer rather than in-camera. I am also somewhat annoyed that the panoramic stitch assist mode only works if an Olympus xD memory card is inserted - come on, Olympus, there's no need for this card, it was never popular.
Overall, I'm very happy, if you are in the market for a small, light DSLR whose lens you will probably not have to upgrade, whose image quality is on a par with almost anything else, and whose feature set should keep you happy for several years, then this certainly should be high on your list.
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