Olympus Evolt E-510 review: Olympus Evolt E-510

Outside of Live View mode, the Evolt E-510 performed well in our lab tests. The camera took 1.3 seconds to start and capture its first JPEG. Subsequent JPEGs took about 0.6 second between shots with the flash turned off and 0.9 second with the flash turned on. It took about 0.8 second between RAW images with the flash turned off. Shutter lag measured 0.4 second in our high-contrast test and 1.3 seconds in our low-contrast test, which mimic bright and dim shooting conditions, respectively. In our continuous shooting test, the E-510 lived up to Olympus' claim of 3 frames per second. We were able to capture 3.1fps at the camera's smallest JPEG setting, and 2.9fps at full resolution.

While you can achieve very nice image quality with the Evolt E-510, out of the box I saw the same issues with the E-510 that Lori Grunin saw with the Evolt E-410. In its default settings, and with Firmware version 1.0, the E-510 underexposes and overblurs photos. Switching the Noise Filter to Low or Off will fix the blurring problem, and using a shooting mode other than Program can help overcome the exposure issues. Also, when faced with incandescent lighting, the E-510's automatic white balance tends to produce overly warm images, you're better off with the camera's tungsten preset in this situation, or better yet a custom white balance. This is somewhat strange, given that Olympus' significantly less expensive FE series cameras usually do an excellent job of automatically setting white balance.

To its credit, the E-510 does a good job of keeping noise under control across its sensitivity range. While noise becomes noticeable at ISO 800 and is clearly apparent at the top setting of ISO 1,600, you should still be able to get acceptable prints throughout the camera's sensitivity range. I just wish that the camera went beyond ISO 1,600. Even an entry-level SLR should reach at least ISO 3,200 at this point.

While the exposure quirks mentioned above might sound bad, you really can create very good photos with the Evolt E-510, though it can be a bit frustrating when compared to competitors, such as Canon's EOS Rebel XTi or Nikon's D40x. However, if you like the idea of this Evolt's Live View mode or built-in Image Stabilization (something neither of the aforementioned competitors have), then you should give the E-510 a look.

Shooting time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim light)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Olympus Evolt E-510
1.3 
0.8 
0.9 
0.4 
Nikon D40x
0.2 
0.8 
0.9 
0.4 
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
0.3 
0.6 
1.1 
0.4 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A100K
1 
0.5 
1.6 
0.4 
Olympus Evolt E-330
1.7 
0.8 
0.7 
0.5 
Pentax K10D
0.5 
0.5 
1.6 
0.5 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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