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
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