Live View off: Shooting information /settings changes

Probably the highlight of the Olympus control system is its 'Super control panel', which gives direct access to just about every shooting setting you might want to change. This means that delving into the main menus is a rare occurrence (which is something of a blessing as they're a little unwieldy). In a slightly peculiar implementation, you can use all the directions of the four-way controller to select which setting you wish to change but can only use left and right (or, more usefully, the command wheel), to navigate the choices within that setting. It's something you get used to quickly enough though, making the E-520 a camera that encourages you to change settings and experiment.

An example of the detailed information display which provides a summary of current camera settings and exposure. Press the OK button to access any displayed setting, move around using the 4-way controller and OK again to change.
Changing White Balance. Changing IS mode

Live View on

Like the other recent Olympus DSLRs (and the majority of such systems), the E-520 uses its primary imaging sensor to give a live view preview. To activate it you simply press the Live view button on the rear of the camera. You can change the image overlay in live view mode by pressing the INFO button. Below you can see the four default views followed by the three optional grid overlay views and the new comparison screen for exposure compensation and white balance preview.

This works generally very well though the sudden re-dedication of the 'OK' button in live view magnification mode (it's the only time it doesn't bring up the Super Control Panel), is an annoyance. Occasional users of live view for fine focusing could find it frustrating, but it's only a niggle, really. (Screenshots from E-420).

Changing settings in Live View

In most of the live view mode screens, pressing the OK button displays a semi-transparent settings overlay as shown on the left below, this not only provides a summary of current camera settings but allows you to navigate and change any setting you wish.

Live view AF video clips

The E-520 offers three AF modes in Live View mode. In 'AF Sensor' mode it focuses by closing the shutter and dropping the mirror so that the conventional AF sensor can be used. During AF the Live View is darkened and frozen and returns when the camera has achieved a focus lock or has given up trying, this can take between 0.7 seconds (good light easy subject) and 4.0 seconds (to give up when it can't lock).

in the new 'Imager AF' mode the camera focuses by using contrast detection on the imaging sensor (just like a digital compact camera). You can choose one of eleven AF areas (as opposed to only three when using the camera's AF sensor). Please note that only a limited number of lenses is currently compatible with this AF mode.

Your third option is the also new 'Hybrid AF' mode. This mode combines the two AF methods described above. When you half-press the shutter button the camera focuses approximately using contrast detection. If you now press the shutter button down all the way the camera fine tunes the focus using the AF sensors. This mode is useful if you want to use the Imager AF mode with a lens that is not compatible with this mode.

Below you will find four short video clips demonstrating the various ways of using Auto Focus in Live View.

AF Mode: AF Sensor (shutter release press)

The video below shows live view with the 'AF Sensor' (passive) AF mode, the shutter release is half-pressed and shortly after fully depressed. Note that in this mode the camera does not auto-focus with a shutter release half-press (see next video).

AF Mode: AF Sensor (AF/AE button then shutter release press)

This video is using the same AF mode as above but instead of just a half-press of the shutter release button we are pressing the AF/AE button first (which causes the camera to auto focus) followed by a shutter release depression.

AF Mode: Hybrid AF (shutter release press)

The video below shows live view with the 'Hybrid AF' (contrast detect + passive) AF mode. Here the half-press of the shutter release triggers auto-focus using the imaging sensor (contrast detect) which can be useful for previewing the focus position however the final shutter release 'full press' still uses the normal AF sensor (passive) to focus just before the exposure.

AF Mode: Imager AF (shutter release press)

The video below shows live view with the 'Imager AF' (contrast detect) AF mode. Here, as above, a half-press of the shutter release triggers auto-focus using the imaging sensor (contrast detect) but the final full press does not use the AF sensor but instead simply triggers shutter release (as per a typical compact digital camera).

Live View magnification

The E-520 features magnified live view in all focus modes, simply press the INFO button until the magnify loupe appears. You can reposition the loupe anywhere in the scene then press OK to magnify. Select between 7x and 10x view by turning the main dial. It allows an astonishing degree of focus accuracy and is one of the most useful aspects of Live view, we feel.

During magnification Returned to full frame view

Live View: Low Light performance

The E-520's low light performance is fairly good and dark scenes are perfectly viewable. However, pushing things to their extreme (a dark scene plus very small aperture DOF preview) will cause the image to turn monochrome and slightly noisy.

Dark scene Dark scene + F22 DOF preview

Live View: Depth of Field preview

One advantage of Live View is that you can get an exact representation of focus point and depth of field on the LCD screen. In the example below the image on the left is at F5.6, on the right at F22 with the DOF preview button held (this is a custom option). As you can see our scene was not lit brightly enough and the image turned monochrome when using DOF preview at a small aperture.