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HolidayBuyer's Guide

To launch the new E-620, Olympus held a hands-on event at The Rocks in Sydney's CBD yesterday. We each got a camera, a memory card, and were set a series of challenges to make creative use of the new Art Filter feature.

Though we felt a bit like tourists in our own city, using the Art Filters — which first saw the light of day on the E-30 — gave a whole new perspective on our photography. They add a range of effects to your images, from Pop Art through to Pinhole, all applied in-camera without the need for post-processing.

Click through for our initial impressions on using the E-620 and, of course, some shots taken with the camera and the filters.

The E-620 has the flip-out LCD screen, which is great for taking photos in tricky situations. It does take a while to get used to it though, as we frequently found ourselves holding the camera awkwardly, trying to peer into the viewfinder, until we remembered the camera had a rotating screen. Pardon the smudges, too.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

The Pinhole filter adds a dreamy, otherworldly effect to this shot of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It certainly gives a different view on an oft-photographed architectural pair. We had a sharp, wide-angle 14-42mm lens attached to the body.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

We thought we'd be a little bit sneaky and try to exacerbate the effect of the vignetted corners by putting the lens hood over the wide-angle lens, which naturally cast shadows around the corners as well. Don't mind the lens flare, either.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

Using the Grainy Film filter, this shot looks like it could have (almost) come from another era. This setting adds a layer of grain over the image to replicate the feel of black and white, fast ISO-rated film.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

We managed to catch a wedding by the water as a young couple posed for other shots. Using the Soft Focus filter gave her dress a dreamy look — wedding and beauty photography is where we see this filter being the most popular.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

With each Art Filter, you can tweak settings such as exposure and ISO values, and to some extent the shutter and aperture combination just like in Program mode. Using the Grainy Film filter again (our favourite), we dialled down the exposure just a little bit by about 1/3 of a stop to preserve the highlights and capture the shadow detail too.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

Again, the Pinhole filter gives an effect that looks like something straight out of a toy camera. We did, however, really dislike the length of time the E-620 took to apply the filter — we were using xD cards though, which goes some way to explaining the delay.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

The black and white Grainy Film filter brings out the striking lines in this shot, though it's not without its quirks. Depending on the amount of light falling on your subject, the camera will produce a different effect each time, sometimes showing up levels of grain, and other times not. Here, the shot looks almost like it could have come from a slower rated black and white film, maybe ISO 400.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

The E-620 can capture a wide dynamic range in shadows and highlights. Even the most mundane of subjects suddenly become interesting with a bit of in-camera trickery, like using the pinhole filter to take a picture of crunchy autumn leaves.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

Another fun setting was Pop Art, which brought out the intense colours by upping the saturation and increasing the brightness.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi

Finally, we took an unaltered shot to test how the camera (and lens) coped in a dark room with just ambient light. As you can see the image stabilisation performed admirably, with a sharp result even at 1/25.

Caption by / Photo by Alexandra Savvides/CBSi
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