Olympus E-620 DSLR Review

Olympus E-620 DSLR Review


Claims. Claims. Claims. This time Olympus promotes the E-620 as the “world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR to incorporate an image stabilizing mechanism.”

Olympus E-620

The camera’s Four Thirds system offers not only a small and light camera but means that extras like additional system lenses, battery holder and underwater housings are also smaller and lighter. The camera weighs just 475 grams (without battery). Light.

In the company’s current five model array the Olympus E-620 sits squarely in the middle.

Autumn Leaves 1

Olympus E-620 Features

Using an internal stabilizer, the camera promises image compensation for up to 4EV steps – or four halving levels of shutter speed. There are four modes: off or on, plus correction of horizontal and vertical instability.

Lcd Status

Supporting the turret-mounted optical viewfinder the rear Live View 6.9 cm LCD screen swivels 180 degrees laterally and 270 degrees vertically.

The Live View MOS sensor has 12.3 megapixels, while the maximum image size of 4032×3024 pixels gives a 34x26cm print, Images can be saved in RAW, JPEG or RAW+JPEG.

The seven point AF system can be monitored both in the optical finder and the LCD screen. It’s active for single shots or continuous shooting. Plus manual focus.

49 zone exposure ESP metering is backed up by center-weighted and spot modes. The latter can be varied to accommodate highlight or shadow readings – a useful hangover from the company’s film SLRs.

Exposure modes include auto, Program AE, shutter or aperture priority plus manual. You can shoot in continuous mode at 4 fps and for as long as the shutter button is pressed. Shutter speed range runs from 60 seconds to 1/4000 second plus Bulb. Flash sync is set at 1/180 second or 1/4000 with an Olympus Super FP flash unit.

Face detection: the camera can detect up to eight faces, optimizing focus and exposure; this can even be applied post-exposure during image playback.

The E-620’s dust reduction system operates when the camera is switched on and at the moment you operate Live View and pixel mapping functions.

On board flash covers any lens up to 14mm (28mm SLR equivalent) and can sync with first and second shutter firing for streak effects. Intensity is variable by three f stops up or down. The system can also be synchronized with Olympus’ external wireless control flash units.

ISO range runs from 100 to 3200. In tests I found the top sensitivity level with surprisingly little noise in the image. The examples shown here were shot (top to bottom) at ISO 200, 800 and 3200.

Iso 200 Test Original

Iso 800 Test Original

Iso 3200 Test Original

If you’re into multiple exposures the E-620 can line up a second shot to match the previous one, then lets you save the pair as one image. You can choose from half or full exposure for each while up to three stored RAW format images can be merged into one.

A useful function and one that will appeal to dedicated photographers is the lightbox function: it gives you an LCD display of two images side by side.

Another nicety: the replay and erase buttons are illuminated for night work. However, in an otherwise well-featured camera you could wonder why there is no movie capture.

Yachts 2 Grainy Film

Like many other Olympus models the E-620’s Art Filters selection is very useful if you want to push the envelope in rendering unusual versions of otherwise staid subjects. Serious photographers may avoid them while fiddlers will love the collection. The array: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale Light & Color, Light , Grainy Film (pictured above), Pin Hole.

The camera provides a slot for CompactFlash, xD-Picture Card and Microdrive media.

I found the camera very easy to use but it may be a little too basic for the more experienced. Picture quality was accurate with excellent colour saturation and resolution.

Olympus E-620 Specifications

  • Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels.
  • Metering: ESP multi-pattern; centre-weighted; spot.
  • Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.00mm.
  • Memory: xD-Picture Card, CompactFlash cards and Microdrive.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 4032×3024, 3200×2400, 2560×1920, 1600×1200, 1280×960, 1024×768, 640×480.
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
  • Flash: Auto, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction slow sync, first and second curtain sync, forced on and off, manual.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC.
  • Dimensions: 130.5x94x60 WHDmm.
  • Weight: Approx. 475 g (minus battery).
  • Price: At Amazon the Olympus E-620 comes in a variet of options including: Body only $539.99Single lens kit (14-42mm) $699.99Twin lens kit (14-42mm + 40-150mm Lens) $799.
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      Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

      Some Older Comments

      • erythrocyte January 26, 2010 09:31 pm

        One of the biggest downsides to a 4/3 format system is that the crop factor becomes something like 2X. You need extremely wide angled lenses to shoot wide angle shots and in the Olympus system these lenses cost a fortune. On the other hand, a 2X system would be great for wildlife shooting. The only reason Olympus and Panasonic, etc. have gone for a 4/3 system is that it's cheaper to manufacture sensor chips that way. A smaller sensor chip often has a higher pixel density (no. of pixel sensitive microsensors per unit area on the CMOS/CCD chip). And this can translate into a limited ISO range in order to get quality photographs.

        Not sure about this but I've heard that the E-620 and it's congeners don't autofocus very well in low light. You might need to carry a flash-light along with the camera.

      • amthysthrt January 21, 2010 03:09 pm

        I just bought the slightly scaled down version of this camera, the E-600. Not sure of everything they took out of it for the 600, I only know for sure it is shy just a couple of the art scene features, and it has a lower price point (I believe it's $749, though I spent $699 for body plus 2 lenses). But it's definitely an awesome camera! I'd been wanting to get back into SLR, but didn't want to go back to 35mm film, so kept my old Pentax K-1000 in the closet and bought the E-600. And though there's a much bigger learning curve to figure out how all of my old SLR skills translate into the DSLR world than I anticipated, I'm LOVING what I'm able to do with it! And the optics are awesome, something I've always been disappointed with in even the best digital point & shoot cameras.

      • Aprile Patton September 25, 2009 01:32 am

        What's your opinion on the Sony DSC-H9? Is it a DSLR? By the way I LOOOOOOOVE your website. It is beyond perfection. I am a wife/student/mother-of-three/emplyoee.. Needless to say I have no extra money to spend on expensive books. You website is precisely what I need and love. Thank you so much.

      • DM|ZE September 24, 2009 06:23 am

        I am considering buy either the e-620 or a Canon XSI in the next few months. Under the advice of Jeff Kontur (above) I recently went on a hunt to find and hold an e-620. It has a similar grip to the e-420 from what I understand and Jeff mentioned to me before that he felt the e-420 grip was too small. I must say that when I finally found a local store (about an hour away) that carried the e-620 I was surprised at how small the grip really is. I kind of felt like I could drop it. I have fairly small hands so I didn't think it would be a huge issue, but it is more noticeable than I thought. I'm not saying this will stop me from buying this model but it does go in the con list. I am surprised how many reviews never mention this.

      • jeux 3d September 22, 2009 04:23 pm

        This Handycam looks amazing in photos. I was looking a new camera having best picture quality. I am very impressed by design of E-620 announced by Olympus. I am very happy to know features like, broad feature set, strong photo capabilities, smooth automatic operation and easiest to use when running automatically.

      • Don Charles Nebeker September 14, 2009 08:00 pm

        The camera (Olympus E-620) weighs just 475 grams (without battery). Light.

        Rather useless is it not? Heavy enough for a paperweight, not for a door stop. Definitely useless as a photographic instrument! Unless it also operates on built in photovoltaic cells or external power, which may bring in the question of low light photography. Seems it is not a camera, just the wonderful technological corpse of one; it is only a latent camera. With out power it is an expensive paperweight, And the type and number of batteries varies so much! So, why not list the weight with the recommended battery. That would come closer to truth in advertising. It would give a useful and honest weight to the instrument.

        Why ever list the weight of a digital camera without batteries? Or the weight of external power source. It is a dead chunk of glass, plastics and metals plus a few other things that is totally incapable of taking a picture. At least my old PRAKTICA SUPER TL would still be able to take a picture without a battery. Yes, just the pressure of a thumb to wind it and it was ready to go clunk and take a picture. The meter did not work of course, but it would work! It still does after 40 years. Will the Olympus, Canon, Nikon etc of today still be operational in 40 years without surgery to supply battery power, or will the batteries still be available then? Perhaps it will not matter. Progress may make them worth $2.00 - $10.00 in a Salvation Army thrift store like the last few generations of great expensive 35MM and other film cameras of the recent past are.

      • Karen Muska September 13, 2009 09:47 am

        I've had a E-330 , the first camera with live view (and my first dslr) since it came out. I loved it, but it was time to finally get something newer as there were certain situations, such as low light or sports that I could not easily get the shots I wanted. I just bought the 620 a few weeks ago. The first few days the camera felt odd in my hands, considerably lighter than the 330 and with a smaller (almost too small) grip; however after a bit of getting used to the design and "feel" I can say it is well thought-out and packed with features. The auto-focus is much faster, the noise is much improved, and the IS has really come in handy. The camera is very customizable and gives the user a lot of control over settings. I am still playing around and experimenting, but I am satisfied with my purchase. I will eventually upgrade to a semi-pro camera, but for now this camera gives a lot of bang for the buck.- good image quality and a lot of features that are usually found on more expensive cameras.

      • summaries September 12, 2009 03:27 am

        I also wondered about this line in the review above:
        " found the camera very easy to use but it may be a little too basic for the more experienced."

        There are a whole bunch of fine tuning features, that do no appear in the menu by default,
        until you turn that option on to display in menu. When you add them to the menu, I would say that the
        camera is not too basic.

        Perhaps the camera was reviewed without turning these features on in the display menu ?

      • Dave September 11, 2009 10:31 pm

        Maybe it is "too basic for the more experienced" because the menus are easy and intuitive?

        Still don't understand the conclusion to the review.

      • Eric Bouler September 11, 2009 12:48 pm

        I have had mine for about 2 months. The only issue I have is I cannot get the right light in overcast conditions shooting in auto mode. Great camera so far. Use it in real estate everyday.

      • JoeMade September 11, 2009 06:06 am

        I disagree with the author.

        The E-620 has too many features. It's been months and I'm still playing with the presets and standard features. I have not even started on the manual features. I shoot about 200 shots a day.

      • summaries September 9, 2009 07:14 pm

        oly seems to have a new E-450 so I think possibly it is just the E-5xx they might phase out.

        Firmware on the E520 is 1.0
        Firmware on the E620 is 1.0

      • summaries September 9, 2009 07:10 pm

        I bought the E-520 1 week ago and have already upgraded it to the E-620. The E-620 has
        arrived now, It was only 100.00 more and I could see alot of difference.

        1. The control panel is now swivel and pulls out. So this would be nice for live view, plus
        you can rotate it and store the window siide facing in for protection.

        2. The ISO range goes alot higher than the E520, up to 3200 on the E620 ( E-520 is up to 1600 )

        3. The E-620 does NOT include a setting for just NIGHT mode while the E-520 has night only mode.

        4. In the viewfinder, there is 7 focus points on the E620 - while the E520 only has 3

        5. In the viewfinder, the information bar is along the bottom now on the E620 ( on e520 it is on the right )

        6. In the viewfinder, the information data is a different color than the e520

        7. On the E620 some of the buttons illuminate for low light.

        8. The megapixel is higher on the E620 - over 12 megapixel ( E520 is 10 )

        9 . The finger grip is smaller on the E620 than the E520, and the whole camera feels smaller
        in your hand.

        10. There are the new art filters on the E620 ( which someone already mentioned )

        11. Battery on the E620 is a smaller capacity than the E520 ( battery on E620 is same as E420 )

      • Jeff Kontur September 8, 2009 11:39 am

        Tethered shooting is possible. At least using Olympus Master 2.0 (included with the camera) but it's really not a feature very many people use. I shoot multiple different Olympus models. They have some of the sharpest glass around. A great resource for anyone really curious would be http://www.flickr.com/groups/olympusesystem/

      • Alex September 8, 2009 11:15 am

        AFAIK (correct me if I'm wrong), the E-620 v. the E-520 is smaller, has tilt LCD display, newer sensor, slightly larger OVF and updated firmware. Can't confirm, but I think you could do tethered shooting in Olympus Studio, but maybe not 3rd party apps. Oly seems to be phasing out their E4xx and E-5xx lines in favour of a couple of new E6xx models.

      • Christoph September 8, 2009 09:52 am

        The biggest difference in my experience (I had the E-520, now I use the E-620) the improvement in dynamic range and the swivel display (which gained a lot readability in sunlight, too).

      • Danferno September 8, 2009 12:38 am

        The only reason this camera is supposedly not for the experienced is the lack of tethered shooting. At least, that's the only thing I can come up with.

      • Christoph September 8, 2009 12:11 am

        Here are some of my best shots made with the E-620, with new to come soon (I'm traveling Japan again right now and will upload more once I'm back home):

        A shrine in southern Japan
        A classic bee-on-flower macro
        A 180°-night-panorama

        All images made with the E-620 are also tagged as such on my flickr photo-stream:

      • Dave September 7, 2009 10:30 pm

        Janne - the big difference is the size, they put the features of the 520 and some of the e-30, in a e-420 body.
        I'd prefer to do some of the processing in the camera if it was available, turns into too much extra work loading photos into gimp/photoshop and doing it.

      • janne September 7, 2009 08:41 pm

        I'm surprised that none of these 620 reviews compare against the E-520. It looks to me like the only big difference between the predecessor is the addition of art filters, which seems like an almost worthless thing to have in a camera when you can do the same easier while postprocessing on the computer.

      • Dave September 7, 2009 01:10 pm

        Alex - my thoughts exactly....from my experience with Olympus cameras, every manual control you could want is available

      • DM|ZE September 7, 2009 09:51 am

        Thanks for this, I'm looking into buying a DSLR in the next few months and I'm honestly torn between the camera and the Canon XSI. All the good reviews and feedback tell me Olympus is still a valid contender.

      • Alex September 7, 2009 09:46 am

        "I found the camera very easy to use but it may be a little too basic for the more experienced."

        Wondering what this means? Is it missing some extra manual controls?