The E-520 can almost be seen as an E-510 mk II. The body is almost identical to its predecessor, with a slightly larger screen and differently-colored button markings being the only thing to distinguish between the two. This is no bad thing, as the handling was something we really liked about the E-510. The E-520 does nothing to spoil this. It retains what is probably the most convincing build-quality in its class, thanks to excellent choice of materials - it feels rugged and impressive in a price bracket dominated by crude-feeling plastics.

Side by side

The E-520 doesn't share the E-420's slight and slender dimensions, meaning it loses some of its size advantage over its competitors. The small kit lens means the E-520 is still the most compact camera in its sector, but there's not a great deal in it and we wouldn't recommend it as a reason to chose the camera.

Camera Dimensions
(W x H x D)
Body weight
(inc. battery & card)
Olympus E-520 136 x 92 x 68 mm (5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in) 568 g (1.3 lb)
Canon EOS 450D 129 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in) 526 g (1.2 lb)
Sony DSLR-A350 131 x 98.5 x 71 mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in) 624 g (1.4 lb)
Pentax K200D 134 x 95 x 74mm (5.3 x 3.7 x 2.9 in) 690 g (1.5 lb)

The photo below properly demonstrates the difference in depth between the E-520 and its little brother- the E-420. The E-520 is substantially deeper because of that larger grip. Note that the depth of the E-520 was measured using a digital caliper (the quoted depth appears to include the viewfinder eyepiece).

In your hand

Unlike the smaller E-420, the 520 has a fairly conventional DSLR grip. And it's amongst the better grips in cameras of this class (it also means there's room for one of the larger batteries that are disappearing from entry-level DSLRS). It does mean the E-520 loses the E-420's compact sizing, taking it much closer to the dimensions of its APS-C peers.

LCD Monitor

Screen size and has been increased on the new model. The LCD now measures 2.7" but has a slightly lower resolution because it features the same number of dots as the E-510's 2.5" screen. The viewing angle of 176° is very good but the image could be a tad brighter for live view outdoor shooting. The plastic cover is also a little prone to smearing and reflections.

Control panel display

Olympus is another manufacturer that has done away with the top-of-camera status LCD (at least on its consumer-level models). Instead the rear screen is used to display the current camera settings on its 'Super Control Panel.' This is reached (almost without exception), by pressing the 'OK' button. And, sensibly, you can scroll around it, select and change settings at will. (Screen shots from the identical E-420)


The E-520 uses the same pentamirror viewfinder used in the E-420, 510 and 410. It's pretty small by contemporary standards (the smaller sensor in the Olympus means a smaller mirror, making it difficult/expensive to offer a large viewfinder).

Viewfinder view

Through the viewfinder (the layout is the same as previous Olympus 4/3 SLRs) you will see the center metering circle and three AF areas indicated. The center AF area is sensitive to both horizontal and vertical detail, the two outer areas to horizontal detail only. The selected/in-use AF area is indicated on a half-press of the shutter release by a red circle (LED-like). To the right of the focusing screen is an LCD status column with various items of information including metering mode, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation etc.

The viewfinder information panel is located off to the right of the view screen, which some users in the office found slightly too far offset and awkward to see. It's certainly worth checking before you buy.

Battery Compartment

The E-520 features the sort of well-sized Lithium-Ion battery that is disappearing from many cameras in the segment. The PS-BLM1 has a capacity of 1500 mAh at 7.2V (10.8 Wh). This fits into the base of the camera on the hand grip side behind a locked door. The battery takes approximately 5 hours for a full charge and is said to offer around 500 shots per charge.