Live View

The E-620 features the same Live View functionality as all the other current Olympus DSLRs. To activate live view you simply press the dedicated button on the rear of the camera (to the right of the LCD). 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.

One of these views (with the green rectangle) is the magnified live view screen that allows precision manual focus. Pressing the OK button zooms in to a 7x magnification of the selected area while rolling the command dial zooms out to 5x magnification or in to 10x. This does, however, mean that the Super Control Panel isn't available in this particular display and that you can't use the command dial to change camera settings when you're zoomed in (which you can in all other live view display modes).

Magnified live view mode During magnification

The E-620 allows you to choose which method it uses to autofocus when in live view. 'AF Sensor' mode uses the camera's phase-detection AF sensor, just as it does when you're not using live view. This limits you to the 7 conventional AF points and means that your live view preview won't be in focus (until you press the AEL/AFL button to flip the mirror down and focus the camera).

Alternatively you can select 'Imager AF,' which uses the imaging sensor to perform contrast-detection AF, which is a little slower to achieve a lock but means that you can grab the shot as soon as it's focused (rather than having to wait for the mirror to drop, AF be achieved and the mirror rise again, as is the case in AF Sensor mode). There's also a hybrid mode that attempts to make the best of both systems. Even so, whichever mode you use will introduce the kinds of delays that you simply won't be used to encountering either on compact cameras or when using a DSLR through the viewfinder.

Ultimately, these drawbacks (and there are drawbacks to all DSLR live view systems) restrict the usefulness of live view. There are some specific applications in which it can be useful (such as tripod work and Macro shooting), but if you want seamless compact-camera-style live view, you need a compact camera or a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, such as the Panasonic G1 or Olympus E-P1, which have been designed specifically to use live view as their primary interface.


Changing settings in Live View

In live view mode pressing the OK button displays a semi-transparent version of the Super Control Panel, allowing you to navigate and change any setting you wish (just as you can in conventional shooting mode). The Super Control Panel isn't available in the magnified live view display mode (because the OK button toggles between magnified and fullscreen view).

Live view AF video clips

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

AF Mode: Imager AF (shutter release half-press)

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

AF Mode: AF Sensor (AF started with AFL button)

The video below shows live view with the 'AF Sensor' (phase detection) AF mode. The image does not focus unless you fully press the shutter or press the AEL/AFL button, at which point the mirror flips down to allow the use of the phase detection sensor (When the screen goes gray).

Overall handling and operation comments

The Olympus E-620 is initially a slightly daunting camera considering its position in the market; the array of direct-control buttons, labels, and menu options is significantly more extensive than any of its peers. But this apparent complexity is quickly overcome and that level of control and direct access becomes desirable, rather than off-putting.

The Super Control Panel makes it easy to check and change all the camera's key settings, meaning you don't have to worry about the direct access buttons until you're familiar enough with the camera to want that quick, direct access. This combination of direct access and the Super Control Panel means that it's easy to use the E-620 to its full extent without having to delve into the menu too often.

Which is a good thing because the E-620's high degree of customizability and under-differentiated menu design combine to mean that the menus are the only aspect of its operation that we have a problem with. Olympus now allows you to hide the super-detailed settings menus, which is a good thing because they're mainly populated with settings you'll want to configure once and never look back to. The whole experience would be improved if it was clearer just how deep into the menus you've got but overall, it's a small price to pay for the high level of control you get over the camera's behavior.

In terms of physical handling, the E-620 is a very pleasant camera to use. It's comfortable to hold and all the key controls are in the right place (though I always found the INFO button's position slightly awkward, probably because the LCD's hinge pushes it into an odd corner of the camera). It's small by DSLR standards and doesn't have the kind of large handgrip that has become convention. But then film SLRs were often this small while remaining easy to handle, without sticking a huge lump on the front. You'd have to shoot with a heavy lens for an extended period for the E-620 to ever feel awkward - and that's a problem for all but the best in this class.