Olympus E-620 review: Olympus E-620


The Super Control panel is very busy, with lots of settings most users will probably never touch, like gradation and white balance sliders. Manufacturers like Sony have started to offer simplified versions of these panels.

At the bottom, beneath the nav buttons, sits the IS button, which controls the sensor-shift stabilizer mode. Like the E-30, in addition to a mode for horizontal panning, the E-620 also has a mode for vertical panning. As with most interfaces for IS, it's very annoying that you have to go to the manual to figure out whether you want IS Mode 1, 2, or 3; usually, you don't have it with you when you're trying to remember what Mode 2 is. The AF Target button and programmable Fn button lie beneath your right thumb. You can select one or all of the seven AF points. Options for Fn include face detect, live preview, set manual white balance, return AF point to its default position, enable manual focus, raw+JPEG override, and Olympus' MyMode custom settings.

The camera supports exposure, flash and ISO bracketing of three frames in 1/3, 2/3, and full stop increments, as well as 3 frame bracketing of white balance in two, four, or six "steps." Bracketing isn't very convenient with the E-620, since you've got to delve into the menu system to enable it. And speaking of the menu system: oddly, Olympus hides its custom menu tab. You've got to enable it first in the menu system to make the tab appear. Hiding the custom menu doesn't save space or make the camera itself less intimidating; in fact, since you've got to read the manual to find it so you can program the Fn button and set up MyMode, it will probably cause more confusion than it saves. However, there's plenty to customize here, such as default and high-ISO sensitivity for Auto ISO, dial function when used in conjunction with the PASM exposure modes (you can swap traditional settings for exposure compensation), and disabling the blinking focus lights in the viewfinder. You can also choose the focus method to use in Live View: the dSLR's AF sensor (phase difference), image AF (contrast AF) or "Hybrid," a combination of the two. The latter uses the contrast AF to approximate focus, then invokes the phase difference AF to lock when shooting.

Because Olympus (along with co-developer Fujifilm) is wedded to its slow, proprietary xD-Picture card investments, there's an xD card slot in the E-620; like Sony, with its similarly proprietary Memory Stick Duo, Olympus rectifies that by adding a second slot. However, Olympus includes a CompactFlash slot where Sony and the rest of the manufacturers include SD/HC. SD/HC makes more sense for people in this market than CompactFlash, since they're moving up from point-and-shoots and probably already have a few of the cards. (For best burst-shooting results, the company recommends a SanDisk Extreme IV.)

Though not the fleetest shooter in the pack, the E-620 is generally fast enough that you won't notice any lags except for fast action. It powers on and shoots in 1.4 seconds, which does rank on the slow side for its class. However, it focuses and shoots in a respectable 0.4 second in good light and 0.8 second in dim--better than the old Nikon D90, though slower than this year's competitors. It typically takes about 0.5 second to shoot two consecutive photos, which rises just a bit to 0.8 second with flash. And its 3.1fps for full quality and resolution JPEGs is OK, but can't keep up with the D5000's 4fps. (Olympus' 4fps continuous-shooting rating is for Normal quality, not Fine.) In practice, the AF system feels fast enough to keep up with kids and pets.

The E-620's photo quality is probably its strongest suit. Incorporating the same 12-megapixel Live MOS sensor and TruePic III+ image processor as the E-30, photo quality does look fairly similar. It delivers consistent, accurate, and pleasing colors, although outdoor auto white balance is a tad cool. Photos show relatively dependable metering, solid exposures, and a dynamic range that rarely clips shadows or blows out highlights. However, there doesn't seem to be any completely noise-free ISO sensitivity--even at ISO 100 you can see stippling in some shadows--and while there's little sharpness dropoff by ISO 400, a bit of contouring begins to appear in dark areas and the color noise becomes more pronounced. Still, for its class, photos remain generally acceptable through ISO 800 and usable through ISO 3,200 depending upon scene content.

Though it's a solid, serviceable dSLR, if you're looking for an easy-to-learn, entry-level camera, I'd steer clear of the Olympus E-620. It's got a lot of semiadvanced features that most beginning dSLR users don't need or want, and a more complex design and user interface than necessary. Factor in the lack of video capture, and good, but not best-in-class, performance and it just can't measure up to models like the D5000 and T1i. But for the more advanced user simply looking for an inexpensive, compact Four Thirds body, it delivers high-quality photos in a budget-friendly package.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim light)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon EOS Rebel T1i
0.2 
0.4 
0.6 
0.3 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A350
0.6 
0.9 
0.6 
0.3 
Nikon D5000
0.2 
0.5 
0.7 
0.3 
Olympus E-620
1.4 
0.5 
0.8 
0.4 
Nikon D90
0.2 
0.6 
0.9 
0.4 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (fps)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Olympus E-620
3.1 

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Where to Buy See all prices

Olympus E-620 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm lenses)

Part Number: 262162 Released: May. 1, 2009
MSRP: $1,009.99 Low Price: $1,499.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May. 1, 2009
  • Digital camera type SLR
  • Optical Zoom 3 x
  • Optical Sensor Type High speed Live MOS
  • Sensor Resolution 12.3 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (image sensor shift mechanism)
  • Lens 28 - 84mm F/3.5
  • Optical Sensor Size 13.0 x 17.3mm