Olympus E-620 review: Olympus E-620

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The Good High-quality photos; solid performance; articulated LCD; some nice features, including savable custom settings, in-body image stabilization, Art Filters, and a wireless flash controller.

The Bad No video capture; more complex to operate than is necessary.

The Bottom Line While it's a solid budget dSLR with good photo quality and a host of advanced features, the Olympus E-620 still falls behind the competition on most counts.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Image quality 8

When going up against Canon and Nikon in dSLRs, you've got to offer something pretty compelling--awesome speed, fabulous photo quality, one-of-a-kind features, a great design, or a bargain price for the whole package--to draw attention to yourself. Unfortunately, the Olympus E-620, while a solid example of an inexpensive dSLR, doesn't really distinguish itself from the crowd, much less from its two biggest competitors.

In addition to the 2.7-inch flip-out-and-twist LCD, standard on most Olympus models, the E-620 has some nice touches, including a built-in wireless flash controller--lacking in competitors like the Canon EOS Rebel T1i and Nikon D5000--and in-body image stabilization. However, though it offers competitive photo quality, it lacks the (admittedly primitive) video capture capability that Canon and Nikon have brought down to this price segment, and it can't match their performance or comparatively streamlined interfaces.

Olympus offers three configurations of the E-620: body only, a kit with the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens, and a two-lens kit with that plus the 40-150mm f4-5.6 lens. Given the Four Thirds standard's 2x focal-length multiplier, those lenses cover the equivalent angle of view as 35mm-based 28-84mm and 80-300mm lenses.

At almost 1 pound, 3 ounces, with dimensions of 5.1 inches wide by 3.7 inches high by 2.4 inches deep, the E-620 is about the same size and weight as the T1i--though it looks smaller, they differ by only 0.1 inch in two dimensions--but is lighter and more compact than the D5000 and Sony Alpha DSLR-A380. It has Olympus' trademark grip, shallower than its competitors' grips, which I find less comfortable; definitely a reason for you to hold the camera and give it a feel before you buy. Though made of plastic, it nevertheless feels well built and solid.

Unlike a lot of the newer, simpler designs for entry-level models, the E-620 retains a lot of button-based direct-access controls; in fact, it has the same controls as the higher-end E-30, albeit laid out differently, because of the different body size. This may make the camera look intimidating for first-time dSLR buyers, though ultimately the controls operate in a pretty straightforward manner.

The mode dial sits to the left of the viewfinder, containing the usual array of modes: program, aperture/shutter-priority, and manual (PASM); the most frequently used scene program modes; full auto; and art/scene, in which you can select from the handful of Olympus Art Filters or an additional set of scene program modes. To the right of that is a dial for navigating menus and options, which operates in conjunction with the four-way navigation and OK buttons on the back. Those buttons bring up options for ISO sensitivity (100 through 3,200), white balance (presets, manual, and Kelvin), autofocus (single, continuous, and manual, plus AF and single with manual override), and metering (Digital ESP/evaluative, center-weighted, and shadow, highlight, and standard spot). A drive-mode button to the left of the viewfinder offers up single shot, high (4fps) and low (1-3fps) speed burst, 2- or 12-second self-timers, and remote/delayed remote operation. In a nice touch, the labels on the back buttons illuminate.

Pressing the OK button brings up the Super Control Panel on the LCD. You can access almost every setting through the display. Some not previously mentioned include face detection (in Live View Mode); image size and quality; sharpness, saturation, contrast, and gradation (normal, low key, and high key), plus the Picture Mode presets (and custom settings) that encompass those; white balance with preview, which includes manual tweaking along amber/blue and green/magenta sliders; and flash compensation and intensity.

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.

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