on June 5, 2009
I've had the E-620 for a few weeks now and am quite pleased. Other options I considered were the Nikon D5000, Canon T1i & XSi, Panasonic G1, Sony A300 & A350, and Pentax K200D & K20D. Some comments with comparison notes:
1) SIZE & WEIGHT -- There's no point in having a camera that is so bulky that it doesn't get much use. Only the Panasonic G1 is smaller than the E-620 but not by much. There is a more dramatic difference in the size of the lenses, with Olympus being much smaller than all but Panasonic. Makes for a very compact outfit. For anyone used to the size of film SLRs, the E-620 is very similar. My wife also found it the most comfortable for her to hold.
2) BUILD QUALITY & HANDLING -- Very impressed with Olympus here. Solid, dense and with lots of sensibly placed buttons for direct access to settings. The other cameras had a less solid, plasticy feel, and their larger grips still weren't large enough for a comfortable pistol grip with my average size hands. The Sonys, in particular, had awkward button placement. The E-620 has a different style of grip where you hold the camera in the same way as old film SLRs, and is more appropriate to such a small camera. I carry the camera comfortably in my *left* hand, grasping the body and lens barrel with my fingers on the zoom ring; this frees my right hand from having to support the camera while working controls, and leaves my good hand open (I'm a righty).
3) LENSES -- The kit zooms from Olympus are reputed to be of higher quality than the others, as well as being more compact. So far I have been very impressed. I didn't want to buy a camera only to feel the kit lenses needed replacing; I'd rather spend on lenses that offer new capabilities, like fast primes or dedicated macro lenses. For anyone interesting in using legacy manual focus lenses, inexpensive adapters are available to attach virtually any MF SLR lens to Olympus bodies; used lenses can be quite inexpensive on eBay. Panasonic is limited by a very small range of lenses. For a two lens kit, the E-620 was the cheapest option.
4) IMAGE QUALITY -- I wanted to spend my time taking pictures, not fiddling with them in post-processing; Olympus has the best out-of-camera JPGs of the bunch (Canon and Pentax, in particular, fall short here). Although the smaller Olympus sensors are reputed to be a bit noisier, what noise there is is primarily luminance noise, giving images a film-like grain, rather than the colored blotches of chroma noise. I've found noise very well controlled through ISO1000, even with noise reduction set to LOW. For printing up through 8x10 and monitor display, I don't think noise is a concern up through ISO1600 (certainly with noise reduction set to standard). One caveat: be sure to keep gradation set at NORMAL (the default), not AUTO, unless you really need it; using AUTO gradation will noticeably increase noise.
5) IN BODY STABILIZATION -- I prefer in body stabilization to lens-based stabilization for two reasons: in body works with all lenses, and lenses can be more compact. You only carry one body but you are likely to carry multiple lenses, so it pays to keep them small.
6) LIVE VIEW & LCD -- Olympus has the best live view implementation (maybe tied with Sony) with quite quick autofocus. This is very important if you want anyone, e.g. my wife or random bystanders, who's used to compact cameras to use your SLR for snapshots or the like. The tilt & swivel LCD is very handy and seemed more natural than Nikon or Sony's implementations.
Overall, I found the E-620 to be the best value for a two lens kit.
Here are a few notes on the other cameras I considered:
Nikon D5000 -- Good build & handling, but a bit bulky. Live view isn't great. Much more expensive for a two lens kit than the Olympus.
Canon T1i -- Not impressed by the build quality, felt plasticy. Not comfortable for me to hold. Out of camera JPGs not so good. Inferior kit lenses. Much more expensive for a two lens kit than the Olympus.
Canon XSi -- Not impressed by the build quality, felt plasticy. Not comfortable for me to hold. Out of camera JPGs not so good. Bulkier than the Olympus. Inferior kit lenses.
Panasonic G1 -- Limited lens selection; will take legacy MF lenses but doesn't offer image stabilization with them since it isn't in the body. Plasticy. Not much smaller than the Olympus. More expensive than Olympus for a two lens kit.
Sony A300 & A350 -- Hated the button placement--ruled them out on that alone. Live view is very good though.
Pentax K200D & K20D -- Poor out of camera JPGs. Great handling and build quality. Short on features. Kit lenses aren't great. No live view / live view useless.
on June 6, 2009
I've had an E-620 for about a month, and with each photo I'm finding more to like about it.
Any camera represents a series of compromises as the manufacturer trades weight vs. features vs. cost vs. ergonomics vs. image quality. Any purchase decision should be based on how those particular trade-offs jibe with the intended use. None of the name-brand cameras in this price range that I've looked at are bad. But, for me and for the type of photography I do now, the E-620 is the closest fit.
Number one is the available lenses. Read the reviews of the kit zooms such as the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS with its chromatic aberration and the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S VR DX with its barrel distortion. Unlike the Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ED, both have front elements that rotate when you focus, making the use of a polarizer or a petal-type hood difficult. Unlike the Olympus, both have manual focus rings that can't be used without shifting the lens out of autofocus. Yes, Canon and Nikon make other lenses that are sharper, faster, heavier and more expensive -- so does Olympus. But if you want to use the kit lens, the Olympus one gets better reviews.
Olympus also makes a sharp and handy Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 Macro, which has been spending more time on my E-620 than either of the kit lenses. For me, it's a great walking-around lens, good for both environmental portraits and product shots. On the other hand, if I needed a 600mm f/4 or a 14mm f/2.8, I'd have gotten a Canon or a Nikon.
The E-620 has in-body image stabilization, which means you buy it once and haul it around once, instead of adding weight and cost to every lens. Again, one could argue that at the extreme high end in-lens image stabilization is better, but I don't live at the extreme high end.
I had thought that the E-620's live view would be a gimmick, but it's quite useful zoomed in 10 times for manual focus on a copy stand- or tripod-mounted camera for macro work. You can easily assign the E-620's Fn button to auto white balance when you need it, and just as easily re-assign it to toggle face detect or autofocus on and off when that's what you prefer.
In the kit with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 and the 40-150mm f/4-5.6, the E-620 is currently priced comparably to the Nikon D60 and its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens plus a Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 VR lens and to the Canon Rebel XS and its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens plus a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS lens.
The E-620 lacks the D60's manual focus indicator and separate autofocus assist light, while the Nikon lacks the Olympus' dedicated ISO and white balance select buttons and has only three autofocus points. Like the Olympus, the Canon has seven autofocus points, but it has a very awkwardly placed exposure compensation button. All three cameras have a viewfinder with 95 percent frame coverage, but the E-620 has a magnification of 0.96x, compared to 0.8x for the D60 and 0.81x for the Rebel XS.
The E-620; the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, the 40-150mm f/4-5.6, the 35mm f/3.5 Macro; and an FL-36R flash in a Domke F-3X bag weigh 6 pounds, less than the equivalent Nikon and Canon kits and far less than what I schlepped around when I was shooting film. The best camera is the one you have with you.
on May 10, 2009
I have had the E-620 for about a week and i moved from a E-510. E-510 was my first DSLR and using that over the years i have been very satisfied and happy with the 510 especially due to the in body image stabilization and lens line-up. Liveview was also a plus over competitors but i never really used it unless it was really dark or i needed to manual focus.
Some things on the E-510 that were aging and were kind of the few weak points of the entry level E series was the 3 point autofocus system, small viewfinder and low light focusing. The lcd was so so too but for an SLR i don't see why a high pixel LCD should be important.. sure its good to have one but its not important.
Anyhow the E-620 really improves all these problems and really becomes a strong no compromise camera; worthy of buying just because its excellent.. not because its great value as was the case for me for the E-510.
1) The viewfinder is much larger; suitable for manual focusing.
2) now has 7 points - 5 cross (which is better then any entry slr .. d5000, t1i etc included). -- now that Ive had sometime to try out the imager AF; ill say that although its not the fastest AF system (talking about the hybrid mode as i don't have compatible lenses for standalone imager mode) -- it works very reliably in low light conditions; better then the phase detect sensor on its own. Using liveview to compose night shots many times i found my e510 hunting and eventually taking out of focus shots forcing complete manual focus-- hybrid mode definitely lets you use AF in seriously dark conditions.
3) nice flipping LCD which again trumps the other 2 boys in the group in terms of utility.
4) Much better tone curves/gradation/dynamic range.. people argue .. i don't know.. i just know that highlight and shadow information is retained very well. Of course jpgs turn out nice due to the gradation but there is dynamic range improvement visible in raw too.
Some things that have continued to be Olympus selling points
5) in body image stabilization
6) Excellent body quality... compare it to canon entry levels and see what i mean
7) Very strong, potentially the best lens line-up out there. kit lenses being outstanding value for money -- you can start taking good photographs right away.. unlike kit lenses from others.
Some other feature like the Art filters and multiple exposure (over laying multiple photos) are just a side for most people. Id say all of them are aesthetically pleasing filters and fun to try-- if you use them, you still have your raw file to do off camera processing. But id say that these features to me are like the video recording by canon and nikon -- just a pleasant aside but not really what dslr photography has been about (at least in the past).
The issue of high ISO with oly has always been there, some thoughts:
I like the extra ISO steps and use the ISO 160 as standard ( people say 200 gives best DR in comparison to 100 -- but i think 160 is slightly better then 200)
In contrast to canons move up to 15MP for the 50D and t1i-- Olys move from 10 to 12.3MP you will find actually better high iso performance then the E-510 and 520. ISO 1250 is about comparable to 1600 of others. id say upto ~ 1250 is useable. Notice that 15MP and over the APS-C pixel density actually goes above the 10MP 4/3rd sensor. Essentially low light performance in APS-C cameras has been going down (or staying stable at best) across the board. So if you want to take pictures of football games in pitch dark at 6400 ISO 4/3rds or APS-C is not what you are looking for. Generally the solution to low light is not pumping up the ISO the first course of action is of course flash- with regards to that E-620 allows a lot of functionality with the Fl-36R/50R units including built in wireless flash support (no need for carrying a transmitter)
Over all for an mid entry SLR you will be very happy with the E-620. Another factor is ergonomics and i like holding an Olympus but that you will have to try and compare yourself-- happy shooting!
-updated to include thoughts on Imager AF and wireless flash support
on October 10, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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.
LCD SCREEN & AF PERFORMANCE
Olympus E-620 has swivel LCD screen which is helpful for composition and also for people who are used to compose photos using back LCD screen (compact camera users). The resolution of the screen is standard (230k) but it is clearer and more detailed than other DSLR with 230k resolution.
Auto focus in live mode is slower than most compact camera, but works very well in bright or low light condition. Depending on the light condition, it takes a round one to two seconds for the camera to focus.
Aufo focus performance in viewfinder are much faster. Now it has 7 AF points, 5 of them are cross type sensor. AF continuous works very well, it is very quiet and fast. There is nothing to worry about.
To change AF points, there is dedicated button in the top left of the camera, and then you change it using thumb dial. This approach is similar to Canon DSLR cameras, but different from Nikon approach. Nikon uses four way buttons which I prefer more because it is faster and spot on.
Image rendered by this camera is generally very good dan very detailed. Thanks to the above Olympus Zuiko lenses. ISO. Unfortunately, noise in in issue. There is noticeable noise especially in shadow area across ISO (low of high). Of course in high ISO, the noise are more prominent. ISO 800 is the limit between acceptable and unacceptable image.
However, to be fair, the noise generated by this camera is not annoying like many other DSLR. It is more film like than electronic noise which is usually generated by camera with CMOS sensor. It is also worth to mention that Olympus prefers to keep details rather than losing it by smearing the noise, which could be good or bad depending on your taste.
ART SCENE MODE
Art scene mode is fairly new in Olympus DSLR cameras. Basically, the camera will process the image directly after you take the picture. The process is very fast and negligible. If you use live view mode, you can see the effect on the screen. This might be fun for people who has no editing or photoshop skills but for advanced / photo enthusiasts, they might want to take original image instead and edit the photo later. In the other words, donft based your decision on buying this camera because of this feature.
1. The shutter noise gka-chingh is not very appealing. It is quite loud and sounds cheap.
2. The size of the camera and kit lenses are equally small. It is half the volume of pro grade system, and much more enjoyable to carry on traveling or walking.
3. Evaluative metering is slightly underexposure to protect highlight, but there is also exposure compensation button that you can use to adjust it. I usually set it at +0.7 in various lighting condition.
Olympus E-520 is an older DSLR cameras which is a bit bigger in body size, but have fewer and less sophisticated features. Like E-620, it has built-in image-stabilization, but thatfs about it. E-520 has a smaller viewfinder, non-swivel LCD screen, no backlit buttons, no art scene mode, and only has 3 AF points and 10 megapixel image resolution. But E-520 wins in price. It is approx. $250 cheaper than E-620.
Canon T1i is $100 more expensive than E-620 but it has movie mode, bigger and hi-res (910k) LCD screen, 11 AF points and compatible with EOS lenses collection.
Newcomer Pentax k-x has better image quality in high ISO, very compact size, has a live view mode but in a cheaper package. Pentax kx might be the toughest competitor Olympus must face beside Canon and Nikon cameras.
D5000 also has swivel LCD screen, but lack of AF motor that prevent this camera to use older Nikon lenses. Image quality is superb in low or high ISO setting.
Olympus E-620 is an interesting camera, it focuses on compact size which is the right thing to do to get advantage of four third sensor. Built quality is better than most beginner DSLRs. There are many dedicated buttons and very friendly menu / control panel so you can find and change setting you want very fast. The ergonomic is also very good especially for average hand man/woman. Featurewise, this camera is very up to date although it lacks movie mode. In addition, it has backlit buttons which is non-existence even in my Nikon D700, a $2500 camera. It also has crystal clear swivel LCD screen. I find myself using it for many occasions. There two weaknesses of this camera, small viewfinder and noticeable noise in ISO 1600 or higher. If Olympus fix this problem in upcoming dSLR while retaining the compact size, this camera will make a great travel or street companion.
Subjective rating relative to beginner DSLR cameras in 2009
Image Quality : 4/5
Features : 5/5
Performance : 5/5
Body and Handling : 4/5
Value for Money : 3/5
Please visit my website for sample images, high iso comparison and size comparison.
on August 10, 2009
Hello, I am a seasoned fine art photographer. Outdoors, I photograph landscapes and classic architecture, mostly European. In my studio, I do my own flower studies and reproduce original artwork for artists and crafters. My main system is a Pentax K20D with DA* and DA lenses. I use an Olympus E series as a backup system or when I want to travel light.
I have recently replaced my E-510, that had served me well for one year, with an E-620 two-lens kit. As soon as I got it, I put the camera through a set of field tests consistent with my kind of photography. My conclusion is that with the E-620, Olympus have fully met their 1999 promise to use the 4/3" format to develop small and light cameras and lenses without compromises of quality and price. I was concerned about the diminutive size of the body but I found it to fit my average-sized male hands remarkably well. The feeling is comfortingly solid and the commands are logically placed. I never had a problem with the Olympus control system and this camera is no exception.
The new 12.3Mp sensor is quite good. Depending on light conditions, noise is very low up to ISO800-1600. Dynamic range is definitively improved. Pictures taken in early July of my house and garden at noon in full sun recorded the entire tonal range with no shadow/highlights clipping. Minuscule detail is also captured remarkably well. Co-responsible for this are the two kit lenses, rightly famous for their high quality/price ratio with good corner-to-corner sharpness and low optical distortion and chromatic aberration. Very important to me, the viewfinder is larger with coverage of 95% and magnification of 96%, and allows me to focus manually.
This is my first (transmissive) LCD monitor truly usable in full sun. It is completely articulated, hinged on the side of the camera so that it does not interfere with the head of the tripod (like the Nikon 5000). Even with "only" 230,000 pixels, I still find it to be remarkably bright and sharp. It helps a lot with copy stand work and macro in the field. This is enhanced by the quality of the camera's Live View. The E-620 can use contrast-based autofocus eliminating the need for the sequence mirror down/focus/mirror up. Live View shows a lot of information, live histogram included, and allows for many key regulations. You can choose any area of the picture and enlarge it x5, x7 or x10 for fine focusing. The enlarged view is quite clear and sharp. The new 7-point phase detection autofocus has evolved and feels faster (I use spot autofocus anyway to ensure that I always know where the camera is focusing). Image stabilization on the sensor allows for smaller, less delicate and less expensive lenses. Lab tests indicate that it provides a 2 to 2.5 f/stops gain. The dust suppression system is still the best (some experts say the only one truly effective on the market). The camera offers an unparalleled wealth of manual and automatic regulations through its dedicated buttons and the LCD monitor.
Outside, I use the camera on aperture priority at f/8-11 (to minimize lens diffraction) at a setting as close to ISO200 as possible (the camera's sweet spot for noise and dynamic range). No matter how good the exposure meter is, most of my pictures have always needed compensation. I take as many test pictures as necessary (with the Fn button set to "test picture") to get the proper exposure. The half-pressed shutter button is set to lock focus only. I focus where I want (mostly with an eye on hyperfocus), recompose and take the picture. In studio, I use the Fn button to get a custom white balance and set the camera to Live View and manual focus. I enlarge the subject for fine focusing, take some test pictures to perfect the exposure, and shoot with an extension cable and the "anti-shock" function set to 3 seconds (with anti-shock on, when you press the shutter button the camera lifts the mirror and waits the number of seconds set by you - up to 30 - before shooting, letting the mirror vibrations subside). Since the camera is on a tripod, I do turn image stabilization off. I shoot Raw+jpeg, use jpeg for family emails and reserve Raw for all my professional work. Developing in Camera Raw 5.4 at 16bit/channel in the ProPhoto color space, processing in Photoshop CS4, upsizing in Genuine Fractals 5, and printing with Epson UltraChrome inks and fine art papers and canvas, I obtain impeccable prints up to at least 24x30".
I believe that the best camera is the one that gets you to carry it around and have fun photographing. Today, it is the Olympus E-620 that does it for me. If Olympus is listening, I would respectfully wish for an AC adapter.
on June 26, 2009
I bought an Olympus E-620 from Adorama a few weeks ago and took it to Yellowstone to compare performance with my other Olympus digital cameras--an E-330 and an E-510. Took along my two good Olympus lenses--a 14-54mm and an 11/22mm.
I'll leave a fuller discussion of the camera to others and just say my photo results from a day of shooting was a set of images easily acquired that were of superb quality--very sharp, very well exposed and yielding a tonal/dynamic range that was much greater than I've come to expect from Olympus digital cameras. Very easy to take photos without blowing highlights that also showed more detail in darker toned areas of an image. Olympus has greatly improved dynamic range with the E-620 over earlier E-series cameras.
One notable difference with the E-620 was the need to increase the exposure settings. My older Olympus E-330 and E-510 required setting exposure with -1/3 EV (minus 1/3), to insure most highlights weren't overexposed. With the E-620, the EV needs to be set to +1/3 or more--otherwise images initially look too underexposed. The JPG engine in the camera seems to do very well--producing warm, saturated images. I developed RAW files with Iridient Raw Developer 1.8.3. The end files saved in Photoshop or TIFF are larger than those from earlier Olympus cameras (69mb or so, vs. 42mb from the E-330 and 57mb from the E-510).
I have had some odd, variable auto-focus behavior (back-focusing, sometimes), but this only requires I pay attention to what the camera is doing while taking pictures--and only seems to happen at the wide end of my lenses. Battery life was better than I expected--shot an 8GB CF card and most of another 4GB CF card with the battery still showing to be full. I'll post a few images to demonstrate the nice results. The E-620 is highly recommended.
on October 4, 2009
REVISED for 2010! :-)
Are you stepping up from an P&S and got baffled? No, you're not alone. That's where I was (and I already knew how to use Manual mode!). Hopefully this guide will make the transition from a P&S to E-620 easier and start shooting better pictures.
First of all, here is what I think of e-620.
Very compact, like a good old 35mm film SLR camera. The built quality is like a tank. Everything is well assembled together and doesn't feel like something will turn loose at any moment. It is NOT weather proof, but it feels that way.
Olympus's lens collection is top notch. I read many reviews and saw many sample pictures from users before I made the commitment. I believe you get the best bang for the money with Olympus. I purchased a lens (Zuiko 14-54MM 2.8-3.5 II) along with the body-only option, and shot some baby portraits and landscape pictures. From the baby picture, I can see the glistening of his eye brows where sun shined. The detail is simply amazing. Nothing is perfect, so please read my review on that lens for a more complete view of the combination. It's very impressive overall.
1. Try to play with your camera first and see what each button does before move on. Take a few pictures to get a feel. Use Pg. 2 and 3 of the manual to locate where each button is.
2. Super Control Panel: Press OK on your four-way direction pad will let you access Super Control Panel (SCP). Learn how to use it instead of going through the complicated but feature-(super)rich menu; it'll save you a lot of time. Don't you wish this is a touch screen? :)
3. Customization: Right after setting up your E-620's time clock, you should turn on the customization menu by going to Menu -> Utilities (wrench icon) -> Menu Display (gears) and turn it On. Press OK on your four-way button to go back, and voila, now we are ready to rock.
You can find all of the following in Chapter 8 of your manual, but they're not in layman's terms.
Here are few stuff that you should be aware of in Customization Menu that you cannot access through SCP:
Under AF/MF Menu (Menu A, A for AF):
* AF Illuminat: flash strobes, or AF assist as called by Canon. It's quick flashes of light used to make low light focus easier for the camera. It can be disturbing. Turn it off when you are in the museum.
Under Button/Dial (Menu B, B for Buttons)
* Dial Function and Dial Direction: If want turning clockwise to decrease aperture (or slower shutter speed) instead of the default counter clockwise, or something similar, then you go to this menu to reverse the dial direction, or change the default action of the dial.
* AEL/AFL Memo: AEL/AFL Memory. Basically when you press and hold AEL/AFL button, you can do a spot metering (Auto Exposure Lock) and even after you move your camera away from that spot, the picture's metering stay with it. It's not that easy to hold and press AEL and half-press shutter button to focus at the same time, and that's why there is this "sticky-key" option. Press it once to turn it on, then again will turn it off.
* Fn Function: This is a biggy and can save you time! Read your manual on pg. 97-98 (of the current English edition) to find out more. I customize my Fn button to do one-button white balance. More on this in Tip #5.
* My Mode: If you want your camera to automatically turn on face detection, no flash, spot meter or similar series of options just by pressing a single button, this is where you set that up. Only work if you also set up Fn button to use My Mode.
* Four-way direction button Function (icon: four-way buttons): Don't want the default quick functions associated with direction buttons? Use this.
* Multiple Shot Function (icon: three photo shots): If you don't use burst mode that much or you don't care about timed exposure, then you can change this button into another Fn button (sort of, they have different options you could use).
Under Release Menu (Menu C)
* RLS Priority S/C: These two options change the behavior of S-AF and C-AF. Typical shutter behavior is when you pressed the shutter release all the way down (i.e., without half-press it first to AF), it'll auto focus quickly, lock it and take the picture all in one operation. If you need the picture intentionally out of focus, then you need to turn either one of the options On, so it'll just take the picture without AF first.
Under Display Menu (Menu D for Display)
* USB Mode: When you update the firmware, you should change the option to STORAGE (that's the current instruction from Olympus's website as of October 3, 2009)
* Live View Boost: Should be Off, if you want to see the effect of changing shutter speed/aperture, etc. under Live View (only). Otherwise, you can turn it on to dynamically adjust the LCD screen brightness level for reading LCD screen under bright sun light.
* Info Setting: Don't like cycle through so many screens when you press Info button, here is the way to get rid of a few screens you don't use.
Under Exposure/Meter/ISO Menu (Menu E for Exposure)
* ISO-Auto Set: Here you can set minimum and maximum ISO value when you use Auto ISO. E-620 is said to have the best dynamic range when you use ISO 200-800.
* ISO-Auto: If you don't want Auto ISO grayed out when you use Manual mode, then here is the way.
* Anti-shock: Turn Off for better picture quality. Turn On when you need anti-shock, i.e., when you mount the camera on the tripod to minimize residual shakes where the slightest movement will count because you turned off your IS. It's called "mirror lock up" by other camera makers. This is not the same as IS.
Under Pixel/Aspect/Color/WB menu (Menu G)
* Color Space: Change it to AdobeRGB for wider color range (i.e., more color).
* Pixel Set (picture of a triangle with some pixels): Here you can set "how fine the grain" of your output jpg files are. You can change it from Fine to SF (super fine) for excellent output without RAW post-processing. This option does NOT affect RAW file's resolution.
* Pixel Count: Similar to the previous except this changes the resolution (i.e., 3200x2400 or 2560x1920 or 1600x1200 for Medium size jpg).
* Aspect Shooting: You can change the aspect ratio from native 4x3 to 2x3, 1x1, etc.. Only works when you shoot with LCD (not through Optical View Finder). Will only crop if you use Olympus's supplied software. RAW files will not be affected (always 4x3).
Under Record/Erase (Menu H)
* DPI Setting: You can increase your Dot Per Inch setting with E-620!!! Most photo processing shops use 300 dpi, so you can do that. If you want to have finer detail or just being future proof, you can increase the pixel count.
Under Utility Menu (Menu I)
* Pixel Mapping: If you have dead pixels, use this to map them. Please read manual first.
* Cleaning Mode: READ MANUAL FIRST before you do your own sensor cleaning and follow the instruction carefully.
* Exposure Shift: It's known this camera will slightly under expose, so go to this menu to bump up the exposure by 1/3 step (or whatever you're comfortable with), that way you don't have to do a lot of post-processing because of it. I love this feature. Please read the tip on White Balance as well.
Update and added on Jan 6, 2010:
4. AF Performance of E-620:
Use S-AF for best performance, period. I enjoy using both AF and MF, but instead of using AF+MF, there is an alternative way, which you may like it better.
Press Menu button, customization menu (gear icon), select B (Button/Dial), and then select AEL/AFL menu. A sub-menu will show up with three settings. S-AF, C-AF, and MF behaviors. Choose MF, and change it to Mode 3. In this mode, you can do MF as usual, but also an "AF on demand" when you press AEL/AFL button on your E-620. I like it better than AF+MF because you don't get an unwanted AF when you press the shutter button (you mean to shoot, not to AF again after you just did a MF).
5. Learn how to use Custom White Balance. Read the Fn Function customization instruction above and start using Custom White Balance. Your picture will look better, because the color is correct, exposure is more likely to be correct, and less problem with dynamic range (extreme light condition). There are tools that can help you achieving excellent white balance (gray cards, white balance caps to name a few), but you can't do it until you set the Fn button to do custom white balance (Custom White Balance deserves a separate button, like E-30 has).
6. Under Playback/Display mode.
* Press +/- button will rotate the photo.
* Press Fn button will call up the zoom box. Use direction arrows to move the box around, Control Dial to change the magnifications (2x, 3x, 5x, 7x, 10x, then 14x), then press Fn button again to zoom in (or you can zoom in first, then use Control Dial to change magnification).
* Press Focus Area button [...] to compare two photos. Use left and right direction buttons to change candidate photo.
* Undocumented: Press Sequential Shooting/Timer Button (the one next to Flash button) will switch between viewing photos stored in CF and xD memory card, if both were inserted.
7. To shoot back-lit scenes, such as the sun within the frame, try this. Turn the metering to SH[*] (Shadow Spot Metering) if your subject is in the shadow/darker area of the frame, then OVEREXPOSE. Usually I find +2.7 works best, but to get a more accurate "estimate", turn on LiveView mode (LCD), then press Info button until you see the multiple-frame screen which maybe either WB or +/- on top of the screen (if you're on WB screen, press Down arrow to switch to +/- screen). This is where you get your exposure estimation visually. Choose the look you're trying to achieve with left or right arrow and you're set. You might have to experiment a little because it's an estimation, and also you're reading the LCD screen under sun light, which may not be 100% accurate.
Why under-expose with Shadow Spot then overexpose? Because this way you retain the detail in the shadow area. If you just use the regular reading, the dark area will just be silhouette (perfectly fine if that's what you're aiming for). Even if the photo turned out dark, this way, it's "more" fixable with Lightroom and similar software (remember to shoot RAW+JPG for more versatility).
Wish List: The hand grip takes time to get used to. It hurt my below average size hand initially, but once I got used to it, I actually could mount my Zuiko 14-54MM f2.8-3.5 II lens on it and running around a hiking trail taking pictures. It is highly mobile. I do wish Olympus could make the buttons larger. I also plead they'd switch the placement of Info button with Menu button, as I use prior more often to switch LCD views. At current position (next to the viewfinder eye cup), the button is hard to press. Another tip for Olympus's interface department, the control dial should be right under PASM dial, cascading in a Mastercard logo formation, as that's where the user's thumb is. The current design of the thumb pad forces the user to hold the camera in a very specific position. Moving the thumb backward to turn the control dial at its present position can be very uncomfortable (and it's the most often used dial). It takes time to get used to, but I think my design is more ergonomic. Also, like one online reviewer has mentioned, Olympus should try to make the control dial a button, like Panasonic G1's, so no more two-finger operation to change aperture and shutter speed when one works with Manual mode.
on August 31, 2009
I won't go deeply into the features and benefits, if you're reading this - then you've already researched those. I would rather tell you about how much fun this camera is to use. I've been a fan of super zooms for a long time and while they have their obvious drawbacks - they really are very handy. I was a big fan of the Canon S5 IS and when I moved up to an DSLR - I looked at Canon, but ultimately decided on an E-510. I liked it - solid camera, but I missed the swivel screen. It was really useful when shooting at odd angles (such as in a crowd). So along comes the E-620 and I jumped at it. I then added the battery grip, an Olympus grip strap and a Zuiko 18-180 lens. Suddenly I had the perfect camera (for me, of course)- a DSLR Super Zoom. It fits my hand perfectly, has 10x capability, is fast, light, perfect for a wide variety of shooting situations, and it has the versital swivel screen. It's a HOT set up. Put it in a Tamarac 5683 and you have a great travel photography combo. I have this camera with me nearly all the time and the results have been fantastic.
A word about the art filters - LOVE THEM! I recommend you pair this camera up with a wrist strap and the Zuiko 25mm pancake lens. Then use the "grainy B&W film" art filter for astounding retro results. (This lens works well with the "Pop Art" filter as well). This set up has nearly the same size and weight as a point and shoot (like the Canon G series for example) with the image quality of a DSLR. Again, very fast and light and it can fit in a small bag or big coat pocket. Think - a cross between the E 410 and the E 30. It's perfect!
This is Olympus' best work to date. I highly recommend this camera. It's a true artist's camera and an absolute blast to use. If you're already an Olympus fan, this is a "no brainer". If you own another brand and are not too heavily invested in glass - this is a great camera to start with. The photographs you will take with this camera will WOW people.
on July 23, 2009
Olympus has knocked one out of the park! I have had my e620 for just a few days and I must say I am very impressed with it's capabilities and features. The competition can not even come close in this price range. You really would have to spend hundreds more to get the same caliber of camera from the leading competition. Although no camera is perfect, this one comes close for my needs. There are already lots of reviews out there talking about the technical specifications and capabilities of the e620 so I won't go into that. I'll just tell you what I like:
I bought this camera as replacement to my e520. I loved my e520 but it was lacking in a couple of areas, mainly, the e520 didn't perform well at high ISO settings. But that is all fixed in the e620. I also wanted the improved continuous shooting speed from 3.5 fps to 4 fps. There are many other improvements over the older e520 so I sold my e520 and ordered the e620 from Amazon / Adorama.
The e620 produces super high quality photos. In auto mode this camera takes amazing photos. I have members of my family using the two leading brands of DSLRs. If we all take photos of the same thing, mine always turn out better with more vivid colors, sharper image, more accurate white balance and better bokeh effect,. The ironic thing is they paid about the same amount as I did for their more popular name brand camera kits. They thought they were getting better cameras because of the name, but the truth is, currently, no one can match the e620 at the same price. The features and capabilities of this camera at this price puts the e620 in a class all its own. The images produced by the e620 are really great. You can shoot in RAW if you want, but the JPEGs produced by this camera are amazing. I used to shoot in RAW but now I almost always use the JPEGs straight from the camera.
The e620 has tons of flexibility and custom settings. It truly gives you all the control you would ever want. There are many extra features that I will probably never even use but I like knowing they are there in case I ever need them. For those who don't need all of the extra control, this camera's full auto mode takes very suburb photos on its own. But if you're like me and like to play in the manual settings, this camera is a dream. The e620 pretty much gives you the same control as the professional cameras. The menu system is laid out in a very logical way and is easy to get accustom to. The other brands don't give you near this many manual settings in this price range. Some amateurs complain that they are overwhelmed by the many buttons and controls on the Olympus cameras. But the button layout and the control panel make it a snap to quickly adjust your settings on the fly so you can get the perfect photo. For me, I would rather have the flexibility and options to control the camera than be locked down to a limited set of functions.
Image stabilization is built into the camera body. Don't believe anyone who tells you lens stabilization works better than in-camera stabilization. For the type of photos I take, lots of action and sports, and some with a 300 mm lens without a tripod, the in-camera stabilization works very well. And the best part, you can save a lot of money when buying lenses because you don't have to buy the image stabilization with each lens. This is a must have feature.
Fast continuous shooting at 4 frames per second. Faster than the other brands at this price. This is very nice for sports and action shots. I use this feature a lot to take photos of my children's sport events.
Fast auto focus. You can take photos really fast with this camera because it focus locks so fast. And it has lots of focus points making focusing even more accurate and fast.
The buttons are back lit. This is great when you are trying to shoot in the dark and need to make adjustments. Once you are used to the camera, you will pretty much have all of the button locations memorized, but it is still nice to have a visual confirmation of the button locations when shooting in the dark.
Excellent high ISO performance. This is a huge improvement over the e520 which I previously owned. This make taking pictures in low light without a flash possible. And the noise level is quite acceptable and on par with the competition. I have already taken 3200 ISO photos that are usable. And the 1600 ISO photos I have taken are not bad at all. I am very excited I will be able to use these high ISO settings. I couldn't really go over ISO 800 with the e520.
Art filters are fun to use and allow you more creativity with your photos. I like these art filters. You can do the same thing in Photoshop, but it is fun to be able to use the effects in the field and see the results on the spot. I think I will use these quite a bit.
The ingenious dust reduction system was invented by Olympus and works flawlessly. You don't ever need to worry about needing to clean your camera's internal sensor.
The fold out screen makes macro shots near the ground so much easier. This is a huge improvement. Screen is very bright and crystal clear. Not sure how much I will use the fold out screen, but it is a cool feature.
This small camera body is nice and comfortable to use. The camera feels well built and does not have the cheap plastic feel of the other brands at this price. And it is unbelievable how feature packed this small body is. I can easily fit this camera with the pancake lens in the front pocket of my cargo pants. Even thought the camera body is small, it still feel adequate and balanced with my 14-54 mm lens attached.
This camera has really good battery performance. You can take several hundred photos without needing a charge. Charge time is 3.5 hours. I bought a spare battery for $10 from eBay and it works as good as the Olympus battery but I'm not sure I will every really need to use it but it will be nice to have.
Live view works really good and is nifty for some situations like macros. I'm not a big fan of live view on the DSLRs, but it is a feature that is nice to have when you need it.
The Olympus lens lineup is top notch and the kit lens is very good, and better than what you get with the other brands' kits.
In summary, this is a top notch, highly capable camera, packed with features. You can not go wrong with the e620. Check out [...] for an in depth technical review of the e620.
on April 18, 2009
I just got this camera yesterday and am loving it. I am upgrading from an E510. I was very interested in the better live view and the flippy twisty screen of the 620 and it does not disappoint. I will use the optical viewfinder most of the time but the imager AF live view and the ability to angle the screen is going to eliminate me laying on the ground and such quite a bit.
The size of he camera is nice. A bit smaller than the 510 but still easy enough for me to hold. The biggest lens I have is the 70-300mm and it feels fine with the camera. I am not sure how the bigger Oly lens would feel...I can't imagine the 50-200mm of one of the SHG lenses on this camera but I won;t ever own any of those anyway.
The IQ of the 620 is very nice. I think Oly jpgs are the best. Great color, contrast, exposure, etc. I think 1600ISO is perfectly usable and easily cleaned up if you have a severe case of noisephobia at 100% pixels.
All in all, the 620 is going to be a great camera for me. Feature packed, small, not too expensive and a joy to use.