Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent resolution, almost as good as the best five megapixel we've seen
- Good metering, good tonal balance, more 'flat' than most prosumer digital cameras
- Neutral colour balance which won't "blow out" but may need a push to give it some zing
- Very fast and sharp, 4x lens (F2.0 - F2.4) - though some chromatic aberrations
- Fast auto focus and almost nonexistent shutter release lag
- Good shot-to-shot times (but only four frames)
- Soft touch shutter release button (better 'squeeze')
- Excellent selection of manual controls, lots of well thought out features (but no 'fluff')
- Combined LCD 'live view' as well as TTL viewfinder (still not as good as a D-SLR viewfinder)
- Superb build quality, excellent "all metal" case, tactile feel to controls
- Mechanically linked zoom control
- Focus-by-wire manual focus ring works better than most
- Flexible and re-programmable JPEG size / quality settings
- Good low light performance (thanks to new noise reduction feature)
- Tilt-out LCD
- Flash hot-shoe and synch terminal for studio work
- One-touch white balance
- Optional battery pack & portrait grip
- RAW file format
- Control over some internal processing algorithms (contrast, sharpening) - although not enough
- Most camera controls / settings on exterior case of camera
- USB connectivity
- Well positioned tripod mount
Conclusion - Cons
- Slow startup time
- Slow image flush times (very poor, for a five megapixel "professional" digital camera)
- Inability to change certain settings until buffer has been fully written
- LCD live view does not return until buffer has been fully written
- Very limiting four image buffer, no matter what image size / quality
- Slow image display and magnification
- Chromatic aberrations
- Barrel distortion at full wide angle
- Poor LCD 'live view' frame coverage
- No flexible program AE
- No depth of field preview
- Shadow noise / noise visible at ISO 80
- Limited range of ISO sensitivities (nothing above ISO 320)
- Still limited to maximum shutter speed of 1/640 sec for high quality images
- Unreliable low light focus
- Bayer pattern artifacts
- Histogram not available in record review (though can be seen in quick view)
- No control over image saturation, no colourspace selection option
- Not enough steps in sharpening or contrast control (compared to lower-end Olympus digital cameras)
- Setup menu is in an obscure place
- Flash colour cast
Here's my rating of the Olympus E-20: (5 megapixel prosumer)
|Detail||Rating (out of 10)|
|Lens / CCD combination||8.5|
|Ease of use||8|
|Value for money||7.5|
Overall the E-20 is a camera of hot and cold. From an image quality point of view it's very balanced, with good resolution and a neutral approach to tonal and colour balance (which would better suit a professional or semiprofessional photographer). There's the superbly built and designed body, studio flash capability (which works well) a mechanically linked zoom control and a vast array of manual controls.
However, on the other side there are just too many things which I found frustrating about the E-10 which simply haven't been addressed. Many of them I consider to be fairly straightforward fixes or changes which, for a camera aimed at professional photographers, are essential.
Take for instance one of the most frustrating issues when using the E-20; storage write times. The E-20's write speeds (SmartMedia or Compact Flash) are no better (and in some cases worse than) the Nikon Coolpix 995. The difference? The Coolpix 995 is a a sub-$900 prosumer camera which only needs to write 1 MB or sub-1 MB images, the E-20 is aimed at professionals with JPEG images (SHQ) which range between 3.5 and 2.5 MB.
Waiting 9, 11 or 15 seconds for these five megapixel images to be written to the storage card is no joke. Especially when you consider that the E-20 only has a 4 image buffer; that it does not allow you to change certain settings, enter the menu system, display an image or return the LCD to live view mode until it has finished writing the buffer contents. It's not clear if this problem is down to the speed of the E-20's "dual format" storage interface or the speed at which it's generating the final image as it's written out.
Obviously if you shoot with the viewfinder you'll only face the 4 image limit combined with write speed, if you were to shoot four SHQ 1/4 images in the space of 12 seconds you'll be waiting at least 40 seconds (after the last shot) before you can shoot another batch of four. Olympus really needed to give the E-20 a larger buffer and higher performance storage interface.
The E-20 is the kind of camera which some will love and some would not be able to live with. If you're comfortable with the limitations in the cons list above and feel the that at $1900 it is good value for money (or you're an E-10 user looking for more resolution) then the E-20 could be for you.
Unfortunately I feel that it's a pity Olympus haven't addressed some of the E-10's limitations or developed the camera beyond the E-10's capabilities (their sub $800 digital cameras have more control over internal processing algorithms!). They also appear to have ignored competition at both ends of the market; the five megapixel Sony DSC-F707 is almost half the price ($900 - $1000) of the E-20 ($1800 - $1900) and Canon's EOS-D30 can readily be found for just $500 more ($2400 - $2800) - albeit without a lens.
It all makes you wonder what Olympus are really working on and what's just around the corner... I really wanted to give the E-20 a higher rating, especially considering I was relatively impressed by the E-10, but the market has changed so much since then. My rating must reflect the current state of the market and the ability of competitive cameras.
(but expensive at the list price)
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.
|Devil Rock (Stuttgart, Germany) by cornissimo|
from Neon Signs
|Carla... by lickity split|
from Beautiful caucasian female faces
|Lunar New Year Fireworks by Michael L NYC 99|
|Vatican Basilica by wam7|
from Street lights
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.
Adobe just released version 2015.12 of Lightroom CC, adding support for several new cameras and lenses, and baking in several important bug fixes while they were at it.
In this interview, Chiara Marinai, photo editor for VanityFair.com, explains exactly what she looks for in new photographers and photo submissions. Take notes.
Massive corporation P&G is being sued by a Cincinnati photographer for serious copyright violations. If the courts rules against P&G, the company could pay as much as $75 million in damages.
Snapchat's camera-equipped 'Spectacles' aren't so difficult to get anymore. You can now pick up a pair through Amazon for $130.
A group of thieves has made away with tens of thousands in camera gear through a carefully orchestrated scam through Venmo and Facebook Marketplace.