Olympus E-620 Review

by Enche Tjin on October 10, 2009

The pancake lens is so small that it seems to be the part of the camera

The pancake lens is so small that it seems to be the part of the camera

Olympus E-620 is positioned between Olympus beginner and advanced DSLR camera. Currently, Olympus has E-420/450 and E-520 in the lower level class, and E-30 and E-3 in the higher end class. Compared to other popular DSLR cameras, Olympus employs smaller image sensor called 4/3 live MOS sensor. 4/3 means that the native image has 4 : 3 ratio instead of 3 : 2 ratio. This could be plus and minus. The plus is 4 : 3 ratio is widely used in TV screen size and monitors. It is also squarer.  In my opinion, it is better for portrait. However, you can adjust the ratio to 3:2, 16:9 or other as you like at the expense of maximum image resolution.

The negative side of this type of sensor is the noise in high ISO. There is appearance of noise in lower ISO level such as ISO 640 or 400 as well. Fortunately, I found the noise is rendered very fine and more pleasing to look at than noise generated from other DSLR or compact cameras. It has the film like feel to it.

WHAT IS NEW COMPARED TO E-420 and E-520?

Compared to Olympus E-420, the E620 is just a tad bigger, but it is now has Image Stabilization that works with Olympus or third party lenses. Compared to both cameras, E-620 has 7 AF points instead of 3. A slightly bigger viewfinder, improved 2.7″ swivel LCD screen, wireless flash commander and six art scenes mode.

Olympus E-620 Main Specs

  • 12 MP Live MOS sensor
  • 7 AF points
  • 2.7 Hypercrystal III Swivel LCD Screen
  • ISO range 100-3200 (default Auto ISO 200-800)
  • 4 fps continuous shooting burst
  • Art Scene Mode
  • Wireless flash commander

BODY & HANDLING

Olympus is not the lightest camera around. It weights 521g, which is almost the same as best seller Canon XSi / 450D, but measured 130 x 94 x 60 mm, 2mm shorter and thinner than Canon XSi. The E-620 noticeably smaller than Olympus E-520.

Despite the size, Olympus E-620 is very solid to hold. Thanks to the weight and ergonomic design. The built quality is  also a step up from entry level DSLR cameras. It has a nice rubberized texture in the hand and thumb rest on the back.

It has one thumb dial and four-way buttons which you will use to change various settings and navigate the menu. Each of the four-way buttons for navigation and also for access popular settings such as ISO, WB, metering, and AF mode. This is buttons are similar buttons that you often find in compact camera layout.

The swivel LCD is very clear and versatile

The swivel LCD is very clear and versatile

In addition, there is Super Control Panel. By the touch of INFO button, it will let you navigate and change various important settings in one screen. This is very smart design. Canon and Nikon interface does not come close.

Buttons are considered small compare to other DSLRs, so if you have a big fingers, you might find a bit uncomfortable to find or access the button. Unique to Olympus E-620, it has backlit buttons, which is automatically light on when you are in dark condition. This small feature is significant if you often shoot in low light condition indoor or outdoor. There is also a dedicated live view button, which will activate live view mode instaneously.

Viewfinder (96% coverage, .95 magnification) is slightly bigger than E-520 but still smaller and narrower than other entry level camera. Looking at the viewfinder is like looking at the tunnel, which is uncomfortable. You will notice significant different if you regularly shoot with higher end cameras such as Olympus E-30 or Nikon D90.

Compared with Nikon D90 and 24mm f/2.8 lens

Compared with Nikon D90 and 24mm f/2.8 lens

Overall, the body design and ergonomic is very good, better than some beginner DSLR cameras on the market. Despite that, you might have balance issue when you mount Olympus pro grade lenses which is heavier than regular kit lens. Olympus has thought about it and provide battery/vertical grip to counter this problem. The only significant downside is the small viewfinder.

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