Olympus E-500 EVOLT Review
Identical to the E-300 the E-500 is provided with with two software CD-ROMs containing (Windows & Mac versions):
- CD 1: Olympus Master (version 1.32 used here, free upgrade download)
- CD 2: Advanced Camera Manual (PDF)
Optionally you can also purchase Olympus Studio (now at version 1.3) which provides for more advanced workflow and RAW conversion facilities.
Olympus Master 1.32
Gone is the Camedia Master of old now replaced with new Olympus Master (although much of the functionality is the same). The version supplied on the CD-ROM is 1.1, selecting the Internet update function updated to 1.11 which includes a few minor bug fixes.
- Transfer Images (From Camera, From Media)
- Browse Images (Calendar, Folder, Find)
- Print Images (Photo, Index, Calendar, Postcard, Album)
- Backup Images (To HDD, To CD/DVD)
- Create and Share (E-mail, Auto Panorama, Slide Show, Wallpaper, Camera Album)
Olympus Master Plus
The 'Upgrade' option available from the main menu allows you to upgrade Master to 'Master Plus' which extends the application to support movie editing, album printing, contact sheet printing, HTML album, CD/DVD writing and more. The cost for the upgrade in Europe is €20 (+VAT).
When starting Olympus Master you are presented with this simple menu (which can be disabled if you prefer). It allows you to access the main functions of Master without having to use the drop-down menu system (all the features below and more are also accessible from the drop-down menus).
Obviously one of the first things any supplied software should be able to do is transfer images from the camera or a card reader. Olympus Master does this from the 'Transfer Images' option, it can transfer directly from the camera via USB or from an existing folder or card reader. If the images already reside on the computer's hard disk they can simply be 'linked' in Master's database otherwise images are copied to a preset destination folder and separated by dated folders. Upon transferring you can also automatically assign Keywords to the images.
Olympus Master's main Browse screen can display images in a variety of modes, firstly you can browse the computer's hard disk as you would with any other image organization tool (as shown below). Secondly you can view your database of images, these must be 'registered' into Olympus Master, this occurs automatically if you use Master to transfer images. The Master database can be shown by Day, Month, Year or All in a Calendar view or a Thumbnail view.
Select an image and click on 'View' (or double-click on an image) and it will be displayed to fit the window, the left side pane of the window switches to a thumbnail list of images from the last browse mode (day in the example below). You can also enable the properties display pane which contains a histogram, general shooting and detailed EXIF shooting information. It's worth noting that some of the 'Shooting Information' available here is from custom metadata which won't be visible in other applications. In this mode you can change the view zoom and pan around the image (as shown below). The input box below the image is for comments.
In Edit mode you can apply a fairly wide range of adjustments including rotation, cropping, area selection and movement, instant fix (automatic levels / brightness), red-eye removal, color balance, hue & saturation, tone, gamma, sharpness and distortion correction. The edited image can then be written back over the original or saved as a copy.
Select a RAW image and select the 'Raw' toolbar option to display the RAW Development window which allows you to apply various adjustments (see below). Images can be saved as JPEG (three levels), TIFF (8-bit per channel) or BMP.
- Digital Exposure Compensation (+/-2.0 EV in 0.1 EV steps)
- White Balance (shooting, Kelvin 2000 - 10000 K, Gray Point and Fine Tune)
- Contrast (-5 to +5)
- Sharpness (-5 to +5)
- Saturation (-5 to +5)
I had two gripes about RAW Development, firstly that it doesn't recognize or support the camera's "Picture Mode" setting (Vivid, Natural etc.) or allow you to select these as presets. Secondly that it does not memorize development settings.
One big story Olympus promoted as part of their 'E system' was easy upgrading of firmware for both camera body and lenses. This can be done through Olympus Master, simply select the 'Update Camera' option with the camera connected and click on 'Check for latest version', you can then download newer firmware and apply it directly to the camera or lens. It works well, is easy to understand and Olympus should be commended for that. There's also an Update Software option (click here for an example).
Other features available in Olympus Master include:
- Backup - allows you to make a backup of images in your 'Calendar' (those registered to Master) you can select all images, a particular date range (for instance a year) or those with certain keywords. The images can then be stored on media (local hard disk, network drive, external storage) or CD/DVD (Plus version only).
- Print - you can print single images (either full size or tiled on a single page), index (contact sheet), postcard or calendar. Each option provides a variety of templates and settings. These printing options should work with any attached printer.
- E-mail - allows you to select one or more images and have them automatically resized and attached to a blank e-mail message ready for sending.