Olympus Evolt E-620 Review
The Olympus E-620 is among the smallest DSLRs. At the same time, it is designed to be more flexible and advanced than most entry-level models.
The promise of the Four-Thirds system, on which the E-620 is based is to deliver quality images in a smaller package by using a smaller 2X crop sensor and mounting lenses exclusively designed for that sensor size. The Olympus E-620 is built around a sensor with 12 megapixels and sensitivity up to ISO 3200. It features built-in image stabilization and dust-reduction, which was pioneered by Olympus. Despite its smaller size, this digital camera has a wealth of features and a large number of direct controls for efficient operation.
Ergonomics - How easy is it to use?
The Olympus E-620 is built as a diminutive camera with all the components of a traditional DSLR. The short grip provides a comfortable hold on the camera which is well secured by a finger indentation on the grip and an outward curve on the back. On the top of the grip one finds in very close proximity the shutter-release and EC button. Both are comfortable to reach and switching between them is quick. The camera's short height also means that in will rest on the lower palm of your hand.
This DSLR is littered with buttons, the only thing missing compared to a high-end model is a second control-dial. it only leaves a small but comfortable space for the thumb on its back. The camera itself as more angles than most modern cameras do. This helps access buttons easily.
The top of the camera has the usual prism bump with a standard hot-shoe. To the left is the flash-release button which also serves to select the flash-mode and apply FC when used with the EC button. Just behind it is the drive-mode button which includes continuous, self-timers and remote-trigger options. Bracketing is controlled separately which is a great thing, particularly to allow it to be used in conjunction with the self-timer. Speaking of bracketing, the E-620 supports exposure and flash bracketing, as well as virtual bracketing of WB and ISO. A virtual bracket is made from a single exposure with the file being saved 3 times with different parameters. This is similar to converting a RAW image multiple times in different ways. Strangely this form of bracketing works in RAW mode as well.
To the other side of the viewfinder chamber, which also has the E-620's built-in flash, is the mode-dial which is on top of the power-switch. Next to the mode-dial, we find the only control-wheel. The dials and power-switch have nice clicks to prevent accidental changes. They move well and firmly. The shutter-release is pretty standard with a distinct half-way point and short travel to full-press from there.
The back of the camera is where most of the buttons are. It also, as usual, has the viewfinder and LCD display. If you are considering the E-620 it is important to know that the viewfinder is tiny and dark, something which can be a deal breaker. This may depend on your vision but I found it very hard to verify focus through the viewfinder, so much that I kept thinking I must have bumped the diopter-correction dial. This is the only serious ergonomic issue found with this DSLR.
The LCD screen is hinged to make it movable. The hinge is solid enough that this does not seem affect the solidity of the camera. The position of the hinge is such that the LCD has to move sideways before tilting. This is rather a poor choice as far as movable LCDs go because seeing the screen from a high or low angle requires protruding the LCD completely to the left of the camera. It does work well for self-portraits though. The screen is dated in terms of brightness and sharpness but still quite usable. In live-view the LCD exposure-priority except in S and A mode. So one does not see under-exposure in these modes.
Above and to the left of the LCD there is a menu and info button. The info button toggles a status display on the rear LCD when using the viewfinder and goes through various display modes in live-view. The menu button does what is expected.
To the other side of the viewfinder, there is a customizable AE-L/AF-L button, a customizable Fn button and a focus-point selection button. The remaining buttons on the back are: playback, live-view, delete, stabilization and the 5-way controller which is made of 5 separate buttons. Each of these is assigned a function: up is white-balance, right is autofocus, down is ISO and left is metering. It would have been better if the ISO button was the highest, in place of the playback button and the metering mode button be just below it, in place of the live-view button. This would make operation more efficient as the most used functions while shooting would be accessible without shifting your grip. It would be an improvement but the current arrangement is pretty usable.
The Olympus E-620 has a choice of 5 metering patterns. The usual multi-segment, center-weighed and spot are there plus two modes unique to Olympus: highlight and shadow based spot metering. These extremely useful metering modes work like spot metering except that they meter for highlights or shadows, instead of mid-town. The reasons these are worth it is that it is easy to determine the brightest or darkest area where details are needed.
Further functions of the camera are setable via a tabbed menu system or an interactive status screen. The central OK button activates the status screen which is quite easy to use. The menu system is easy to navigate but it a mess in terms of organization. Luckily there are external buttons for most common operations. The most common deeply hidden function is WB fine-tuning.
The settings menu has a whopping 69 items. This camera is extremely customizable, from minor details such as dial rotation to important camera customization. The most useful options include: AE-L/AF-L options per focus-mode, choice of AE-L metering pattern, info screen choices, one-touch custom white-balance assignable to the Fn button, WB fine-tuning and control over noise-reduction. The first two letters of filenames can be changed but sadly not the numbering convention with is based on the date, day of month first. This causes files to sort out-of-order when a images cross a month boundary.
Olympus E-620 Highlights
Sensor-Size: 17 x 13mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|12 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 100-3200|
|2-Axis Built-in Stabilization, 4-Stop Improvement||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Spot-Metering|
|4 FPS Drive, Unlimited Images||Hot-Shoe|
|2.7" LCD 230K Pixels||Lithium-Ion Battery|
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