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Olympus SP-620UZ Compact Digital Camera ReviewFeaturesHandlingPerformanceVerdictSpecification
The Olympus SP-620UZ was released in January 2012 as a successor to the SP-610UZ, designed for travelling photographers and featuring a 21x optical zoom lens. The SP-620UZ is available in black and silver for £169.00.
Olympus SP-620UZ FeaturesThe 21x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 25-525mm lens on a 35mm sensor, which is actually less zoom that the SP-610UZ, with the updated model offering an extra 3mm at the wide end, while sacrificing a total of 91mm at the longest length. Olympus has increased the number of megapixels, going from 14 to 16 on the SP-620UZ with Dual Image Stabilisation to aid taking sharp photos. The SP-620UZ can shoot 720p HD videos which can be played back on a HDTV.
The camera is powered by 4 AA batteries, meaning there is no reason to run out of power when out shooting for the day as you can carry plenty of spares or purchase new ones when out.
For extra creativity there are a range of magic filters available and other features such as Pet Detection and Beauty Modes. With PetMode, you simply point the camera at your cat or dog and the shutter will automatically fire when the animals face is detected. On top of this there is in-camera Panoramas, Intelligent Auto Mode, Advanced Face Detection and AF tracking.
- 16 megapixel CCD sensor
- 21x wide optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 25-525mm)
- 720p HD movie recording and HDMI Control
- Multi-motion Movie IS
- 3.0 inch 230,000 dot colour LCD screen
- Dual Image Stabilisation
- Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
- Advanced Face Detection and SAT
- iAuto and AF Tracking
- 3D Photo Shooting Mode
- Beauty Mode
- Pet Detection Mode
- In-Camera Panorama
- High-Speed Continuous Shooting
- Scene Modes
- Eye-Fi Card compatibility
Olympus SP-620UZ HandlingThe design of the SP-620UZ lends itself to being easy to grip as your left hand holds the lens barrel and right hand where the AA batteries are housed, with a rubber grip placed here for your fingers. There is a plastic lens cap to keep the lens clean and dust free, but it is a little easy to knock off when carrying the camera and it's worth noting that when the camera is switched on the lens cap just falls off and chances are it'll be easily lost. When loading the memory card and batteries it is quite fiddly to put the cover back on.
On the rear of the camera is the 3 inch LCD screen which is bright and easy to view. There aren't many buttons, with most of the settings being adjusted by the rotating dial and OK button. The rotating dial can also be used as a D-pad. It proved a little sensitive and quite often skips an option too far. Other buttons found are dedicated movie record, playback, menu, help, on/off, shutter release and zoom rocker. From the widest to the longest the lens takes around 2 seconds.
How many shots you get out of the batteries will very much depend on the quality of battery used. The camera has been tested using the four Panasonic AA alkaline batteries supplied. After taking over 300 shots during testing, including a full day around Prague, the batteries are still showing as full on the camera. Having 4x AA batteries makes a significant addition to the cameras weight.
We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.
|Shutter Response||0.1 seconds|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.4 seconds|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.5 seconds|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||2 seconds|
|Shot to Shot (without flash)||3.6 seconds|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||3.6 seconds|
|Sequential shooting||0.6 fps|
|High-speed 1||5.0 fps|
|High-speed 2||15.8 fps|
Olympus SP-620UZ PerformanceThe SP-620UZ takes pictures with decent colour reproduction that are well exposed. When viewing the images full size details lacks in shadows and highlights with clear softening in the corners and purple fringing appearing fairly frequently. With a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm the camera is capable of taking an impressive close-up shot.
Olympus SP-620UZ Lens test imagesThe ISO range is 80 - 1600. At the lowest two settings of ISO 80 and 100, there is no noise visible, with a small amount creeping it at ISO 200. Despite a clear increase in noise at ISO 400 and 800 the camera still manages to take sharp images. At the maximum ISO setting of 1600, images have lost sharpness and detail, with this setting best saved for images which are to be resized for use on the web.
Olympus SP-620UZ ISO test imagesThe first two images below have been taken using landscape mode, with good blues and greens produced. Portrait modes takes pictures with pleasant skin tones but when using the flash there is some red-eye. There are also further examples using night scene, sport (to freeze to motion of the water) and documents.
Olympus SP-620UZ Scene modesThe following images show the versatility of the SP-620UZ when travelling. It can be used to take portraits, wide scenes and zoom to pick out distance details. The camera also shoots panoramics, which are stitched together in camera.
Olympus SP-620UZ Sample PhotosPanorama | 1/400 sec | f/8.7 | 4.5 mm | ISO 640
Generally the auto white-balance does a perfectly acceptable job although under the incandescent lights in our studio the AWB images has a slight magenta tint whereas the incandescent preset performs perfectly. The AWB does the best job over the fluorescent preset under the studio's fluorescent lights.
Olympus SP-620UZ White-balance test imagesThe SP620-UZ has eleven magic filters: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Watercolour, Reflection, Miniature and Fragmented with examples below.
Olympus SP-620UZ Digital filters
Video ModeBelow is a short example video shot at 720p HD. The camera can record with use of the optical zoom, but only when sound is switched off, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Page.
Value For MoneyThe Olympus SP-620UZ is currently priced at £169.00. The market for ultra-zoom cameras is increasing with competition for all budgets. Other cameras to consider are the Fujfilm FinePix S4200 at £164.00, Olympus SZ-14 at £194.00, Pentax Optio VS20 at £199.00, Nikon Coolpix L310 at £199.00, Olympus SZ-30MR at £209.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 at £234.00, Canon PowerShot SX240 HS at £299.00, Olympus SZ-31MR at £299.00, Fujifilm FinePix F770 EXR at £329.00, Canon PowerShot SX260 HS at £329.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 at £329.00, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 at £379.00 and Leica V-Lux 3 at £689.00
Olympus SP-620UZ VerdictWhen taking into account the price of the SP-620UZ the features and performance make it extremely good value for money, ideal for those who are looking for a decent amount of zoom but are on a tight budget. Image quality is good, with only a few minor handling issues providing any problems with the camera.
|The Olympus SP-620UZ is ideal for those on a budget who want a camera with a versatile zoom lens.|
Olympus SP-620UZ Pros21x optical zoom lensMagic filters are unique to OlympusFast high-speed shooting modesDecent image quality for the priceExcellent value for moneyIn-camera panoramic stitching
Olympus SP-620UZ ConsVideo recording is limited to 720p HD4x AA batteries make camera quite heavyRotating dial on back can be fiddly
Olympus SP-620UZ Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/3.1 - f/5.8|
|35mm equivalent||25mm - 525mm|
|Sensor Size||1/2.3 inch|
|Sensor Size (width)||6.16mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||4.62mm|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/1500sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||4sec|
|ISO sensitivity||80 - 1600|
|Video FPS||No Data|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||4x AA|
|Battery Life (CIPA rating)||No Data|
|Box Contents||4x AA Batteries, Lens Cap, Hand Strap, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Instruction Manual, World Wide Warranty Card, [ib] Image Management Software|
View Full Product Details
Olympus SP-620UZ review | TechRadar
Recent bridge camera/superzoom releases such as the Fuji X-S1 might have suggested cameras sporting large, fixed lenses were evolving into luxury items second only to DSLRs. Blowing that theory is the Olympus SP-620UZ, which is resolutely a budget-priced, entry-level superzoom.
Priced at £179.99 in the UK and $199.99 in the US, it is not much costlier than your average 5x zoom pocket model, yet sports a dual image stabilised 21x optical zoom plus 16 megapixel effective resolution from a 16.6MP 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor.
The mini DSLR styling of the Olympus SP-620UZ means it's one for chunky jacket pockets only, but it is one of the smallest in its class.
Dimensions are 109.7 x 74.3 x 73.7mm and it weighs a sturdy feeling 435g, largely just because it's powered by four alkaline AAs out of the box rather than a single rechargeable lithium ion cell.
The equivalent 35mm focal range is 25-525mm, the lens jutting out roughly 2cm from its housing when at its widest setting.
The Olympus SP-620UZ's available with a metallic silver or black body, and is aimed at beginners and travelling types rather than photo enthusiasts per se.
The camera lacks the command dials, dedicated buttons and optical and electronic viewfinders (EVF) of pricier bridge cameras, such as the Fuji X and HS series models, Canon SX40 HS and new Nikon P510.
There are few direct controls - there's not even a shooting mode dial or dedicated button - while users are reliant purely on the fixed, 3-inch, 230k dot resolution LCD for shot composition and review.
It's fit for purpose though, with one of its closest matches for looks and features being Nikon's equally new Coolpix L810, also 16MP, and with a 22.5-585mm reach.
More positively, the Olympus SP-620UZ comes with interesting features. These include a panorama mode that automatically stitches three successive images together, a 3D stills mode overlapping two differently angled stills for viewing on a 3D TV, plus Olympus' trademarked Magic Filters digital effects, most of which can be applied when capturing video as well as stills.
So how does this budget superzoom actually perform?
Olympus E-620 Review
Olympus E-620Hands-On Preview
by Shawn BarnettDate: 02/24/09
Whether you consider it trying to find a niche market or truly exploring what's possible in the world of digital photography, Olympus is not relenting in its quest to make ground-breaking digital SLR cameras. Their latest SLR camera proves that they're not going away, and they're not running out of ideas. Indeed, each new Olympus SLR I use impresses me more, as they not only keep introducing intelligent, sometimes painfully obvious features that nonetheless appear on no other digital SLRs, but the cameras are also built well, designed with a lot of thought.
The Olympus E-620 in particular is a great example of how the company delivers more of what photographers want in a single package. The E-620 pulls most of the important features found in the company's high-end SLRs into one compact, more affordable camera. First, the E-620's body is small, not much bigger than the E-420. Second, the camera has an articulating LCD like the E-3 and E-30. Third, the E-620 has most of the software features found in the E-30, including the Art Filters and multiple exposure capabilities. Finally, the E-620 combines most of the Live View improvements found in the latest round of Olympus SLRs, including greater speed, multiple AF modes, and face detection. It even borrows something from automotive design, with backlit buttons, one of those painfully obvious features that are found nowhere else, at least not on an SLR.
We got to spend a little time with the Olympus E-620 and enjoyed it. It's not that it's so very different from the company's other offerings, but the E-620's core benefit is that it combines so many of Olympus's key innovations into one camera.
Look and feel. Though it's not much bigger in stature than the E-420, the Olympus E-620 weighs more. The E-420 comes in at 1.42 pounds (648g) with the kit lens, hood, battery, and CF card, while the E-620 weighs 1.63 pounds (740g) identically equipped. Without the lens and hood, the cameras weigh 0.97 pounds (440g) and 1.15 pounds (524g) respectively. The E-420 feels better balanced in the hand, despite the E-620's larger grip. That's probably due to both the swiveling LCD and image stabilization built into the E-620's body. As a result, the E-620 feels like a bigger camera, regardless of the actual size, and the whole body has a tendency to twist away out of my hand. It's definitely a two-hand camera. Dimensions are 5.1 x 3.7 x 2.3 inches (130 x 94 x 60mm), not far off from the E-420's 5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 inches (130 x 91 x 53mm).
Similarity to the E-420 is clear right away, especially with the shutter button and EV adjustment button, which are further back on the top deck, while the equivalents on Olympus's other SLRs are out on the grip (see top view below for more). The grip is a little bigger than the E-420, but still less substantial than the grip on the E-520. That's a shame, because I'd prefer a bigger grip. However, I think the reason is that the Olympus lens lineup includes some fairly fat lenses, and your fingers would have a hard time fitting between the grip and lens if the grip were any bigger. Indeed, with the E-520 and the 150mm f/2, if I rotate the tripod mount ring to the right so I can handhold the combo, my fingers are pinched between the mount and grip. That's just a theory, but it makes sense.
Also missing from the front of the E-620 when compared to the E-420 are those swivel/lug camera strap mounts from yesteryear, now replaced by the top-mounted metal lugs that make so much more sense. For one, when you're not using a strap, these permanent lugs don't rattle, and they're always tucked away so they don't cut into your hands.
From the top you get a better picture of the grip's small size, as well as the relatively small kit lens included with the E-620. The ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital zoom lens is the same terrific performer that shipped first with the E-410, and is a great match for the E-620.
I like that the shutter button is just slightly more forward on the larger top deck, making for a more relaxed finger position when holding the camera. Everything else here is pretty much the same as the E-420, save for the addition of the ART/SCN position on the mode dial, which used to be just SCENE. Note that the E-620 isn't an upgrade to the E-420, according to Olympus, but the body size is similar enough that it's worth comparing the two.
The large hinge on the left forces all the four buttons from the left to new positions. The LCD is actually the same size as all the other SLRs in the line, 2.7 inches. All of the buttons on the right have tightened up toward the right, and they're all fairly small, but not so small that I have trouble activating any of them.
Backlit buttons. Another first from Olympus.
The best part, though, is that many of the buttons are backlit for easier use in low light or darkness. This feature is long overdue; after all, it was old when my 1994 pickup was brand new. On the prototype we saw, the buttons light up brightly at first, then dim. I've not been able to tell whether there's a sensor that's supposed to adjust them based on the ambient light, but in general room light, only the blue playback button is noticably lit.
The power switch is easy to activate with the flip of a thumb, and the Control dial rapidly scrolls through options, and zooms in playback mode. The USB/Video out port is also here on the back, covered by a rubber door, leaving the left side of the camera feature-free. The right memory card cover door finally features a slide to the rear before it'll open, instead of the simple friction fit of past models.
Think of the possibilities. No other articulating design is so versatile. The Olympus E-620's implementation is smooth and sturdy as well.
Articulating LCD. For the creative photographer used to digicams, the Olympus E-620's most desirable feature is the tilt/swivel LCD. Of all designs conceived thus far, this one is the most versatile. It swings out 180 degrees, and swivels 270 degrees to face up, down, and forward. It can even be turned to face inward to avoid scratches when in a bag. No other design makes Live View so useful, because SLRs that don't have some kind of articulating screen only allow so much versatility over the optical viewfinder when it comes to accurately framing a photograph from overhead or at ground level. The LCD also has a 176 degree viewing angle, good for sharing your photos with others.
Viewfinder. Seven AF points and a display across the bottom that's much easier to read than the displays on the E-420 and E-520. (Click image for callouts.)
Viewfinder. One of our chief complaints when using Olympus's older SLRs is the placement of the status display on the right hand side of the viewfinder. It requires you to take your eye from the main portion of the frame, and look off to the right to see a rather wide display. Thankfully, the Olympus E-620's viewfinder incorporates the new display used in the E-3 and E-30, which runs along the bottom. It's a little taller than displays from competitors, and a little further down, but it's a lot easier to peer down and back up to your subject than to look off to the right.
Points. Olympus uses the same analysis chart that they used on the E-3 to show why they chose the seven AF point array.
Eyepoint is decent, but I still have to press my glasses against the rubber eyecup to see the full frame. The E-620 has a new 7-point autofocus array with twin AF points on the outer two, and five twin cross-type (biaxial) AF points in the center.
Stabilization. Though it's not new to Olympus SLRs, the E-620 is the smallest of their digital SLRs to integrate the company's sensor-shift Image Stabilization, for up to four stops of greater stability in low light. There are three operating modes for the system. I.S. 1 compensates for shake in all directions, while I.S. 2 restricts the compensation to vertical shake only (allowing for horizontal panning). Finally, I.S. 3 compensates for horizontal shake only (and hence allows for vertical panning).
Stabilization. Here's a shot of the E-620's stabilization mechanism, which both makes the extra weight understandable, and the camera's small size that much more impressive.
As you'd expect, the Olympus E-620 also includes the company's "Super-Sonic Wave Filter" Dust Reduction system, which when activated vibrates a filter in front of the image sensor at 30KHz to shake off dust. The removed dust then settles onto an adhesive strip below the filter, preventing its return. The filter also serves a dual purpose by holding dust further away from the sensor to minimise its effect in images, and the area between filter and sensor is hermetically sealed to dust from getting onto the sensor itself. It's a system that has been in every Olympus digital SLR since the initial E-1 model.
12.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor.
Sensor. The E-620's sensor resolution of 12.3 effective megapixels is a little higher than the 10 megapixels offered by the E-3 and E-520. The Olympus E-620 uses the same Four Thirds-format Live MOS image sensor that was introduced in the E-30, which we're told should yield similar noise levels to the previous generation (despite the necessarily smaller pixels), thanks to improvements in the microlens and photo diode design.
Burst shooting is possible at up to four frames per second with an unlimited burst depth with JPEG, and up to 5 RAW frames, and lower burst speeds can also be set between 1 and 3 frames per second.
Aspect ratio. While most SLRs are 3:2 aspect ratio, which fits nicely into a 4x6-inch print, but doesn't translate well to an 8x10, the Olympus E-620 has a few optional aspect ratios you can select. Which aspect ratio you've selected is only visible when you're in Live View mode, as there's no ability to put a mask in the optical viewfinder, as is available on the Nikon D3, for example; but the camera does put a note about which crop to use in the EXIF header that the camera's software can read and crop the image accordingly. The Olympus E-620 doesn't support the full range of possibilities available in the E-30, but it does offer 3:2, 16:9, and 6:6.
Shadow Adjustment Technology. The Olympus E-620 also offers Shadow Adjustment Technology, Olympus' name for dynamic range expansion which adjusts contrast to prevent loss of detail in highlight and shadow areas of contrasty scenes. The effect can be previewed on the Live View LCD display, as can the effects of white balance, exposure compensation, and depth of field preview (with the gain being boosted during this latter function so as to keep the brightness of the preview the same).
Modes. The Olympus E-620 has the basic modes you'd expect on a modern consumer digital SLR, including a few that you'll not see anywhere else. The basic Program, Aperture, Shutter, and Manual modes are there, plus Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Flower, Sports, and Night Shot modes, but the Art Filter options are built around the new processor, outlined below.
TruePic III. Built into the Olympus E-620 is the same processor found in the E-30, the TruePic III+. The processor incorporates some special hardware features to accelerate the "Art Filter" processing offered by the E-620.
Rather than simply applying a canned effect to whatever it receives from the sensor, the new Art Engine adjusts exposure, tonal range, color rendering, and perhaps even focus to achieve the final effect. Depending on the effect, it can take a little time to save each image to the card, Grainy Film and Pin Hole among the longer times. The chosen effect is also displayed on the LCD in Live View mode, in real time, which is fairly impressive, given the relatively rapid refresh rate of the LCD display.
|Olympus E-620 Art Filter Options|
Pop art: Boosts colors, but it's more than just a saturation bump, the effect is something different, "pop art" is as good a description as any.
Soft Focus: Just what it says. It wasn't clear in the briefing to what extent the prototype was actually shifting focus optically vs just applying a filter.
Pale & Light Color: From Olympus: "Uses muted color tonalities to create a mood embraced in a gentle light."
Light Tone: Tones down highlights, opens shadows. (Kind of like the Highlight/Shadow filter in Photoshop.)
Grainy Film: Wow, this one was nostalgic for us: It really brought back memories of souping Tri-X black & white film in the darkroom. It may go overboard, though.
Pin Hole: Softer focus, vignetting, and skewed color to evoke the feeling of images shot with a pinhole or toy camera.
I shot a bit with the Art Effects enabled, and found Pop Art and Pin Hole to be the more compelling modes. Pop art was able to turn a flat Winter day into a warmer Fall day, as it found and amplified oranges in particular. It also turned my faded old catamaran into a bit of Americana. Pin Hole mode produces shots that remind me more of images from an old Brownie camera, with shaded corners and slightly aged colors. Grainy film had too many plugged shadows and blown highlights to be usable in daylight; perhaps it would be better in the shade.
Art Filters: Students at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia try out Olympus's new in-camera effects.
It's nice and appropriately digital to have these capture modes on a digital SLR. I'd like to see more modes, though, and it would be better to have them also built into the Olympus Master software so you could apply the filters after capture. Olympus rightly points out that some of the modes aren't possible after capture, because they tweak things like exposure and focus, which can't easily be done after the fact, but surely they could do some of it with the capacity of RAW files. Better would be the ability to download effects that you want to create and upload them into your E-620. Creating an engine on the computer that could help people create Art Filters, much like Canon's Picture Styles software, and copy them back to their camera would make a promising feature even more valuable.
Art Filter effects are applied only to JPEG images. If you're shooting in JPEG mode, the images saved to the card will have the chosen effect applied to them. If you're in RAW+JPEG mode, though, the JPEGs will have the chosen filter applied, while the RAW files will be undisturbed. That's actually great, because if you decide you don't like the effect of the filter, you still have the RAW image, provided you shot in RAW + JPEG mode.
Live View. The Olympus E-620, like its recent predecessors, has three AF modes in Live View. The first, called AF Sensor, uses the more traditional AF method: dropping the mirror to use the traditional autofocus sensors. The unfortunate side-effect of this is that you lose Live View while the camera tries to focus, which often makes the process slow. The next mode, however, is a blend of the contrast-detect mode most people are used to on their old digital cameras and the traditional SLR AF method mentioned above. The E-620 uses contrast detect to get the focus inline while you watch, then when you press the shutter, it drops the mirror, focuses with the AF sensors, and takes the shot. Provided you or your subject doesn't move much, this is a pretty good compromise that gives you the interface you're used to from point-and-shoot digital cameras, combined with the accuracy inherent in SLRs. If you'd rather get shots faster, and don't mind relying on contrast-detect autofocus alone, you can set the E-620 to Imager AF. In this mode, you can move the AF box around the screen or let the E-620 select from among 11 areas on the screen.
It all works pretty well, if a little slowly at times. The fastest option in most situations is to not use Live View at all and shoot with the viewfinder, which automatically puts you in AF sensor mode. But Live View has its advantages, especially with the articulating screen.
Multiple exposure. Like the E-30, the Olympus E-620 can either capture or combine multiple images into one and save the resulting image to the card. Unlike the E-30, the E-620 can only combine two images at once. (Screens below are from the E-30).
|Olympus E-620 Multiple Exposure Feature Menu Screens|
Select Multiple Exposure via Shooting Menu #2.
Choices are number of frames, auto gain setting for merging images and overlay image selection.
You can choose to combine only two images into a single image.
Auto gain adjusts the brightness of each shot as you merge them, so all images are combined equally in the final frame.
The third option on the menu lets you choose a single RAW file from the memory card to use as the first image of your composite.
This first image will appear on the LCD screen while you're shooting the first new image, and will be merged into the final image just as if you'd shot it as part of the series. You can only merge-in one image from the memory card, and it must be a RAW file.
Because the Olympus E-620 has both a CompactFlash and an xD card, you can use one card to store a bunch of RAW images, say of the moon, as a PR person we know has done, and then you can combine that moon with any image you choose to take, inserting and blending in the moon into any sky you like. It's a trick from the old days of film that's continuing to make its way back into modern SLRs.
Storage and battery. The Olympus E-620 offers both xD Picture Card and CompactFlash card slots. Images can be copied between cards. The E-620 uses the BLS-1 lithium-ion battery used in the E-420, and is capable of capturing 500 shots using the optical viewfinder, according to CIPA standards. The E-620 comes with the BCS-1 battery charger and one BLS-1 battery.
Battery grip. The new HLD-5 battery grip mounts to the E-620 for easier vertical shooting and additional battery capacity. The grip holds two battery packs, and uses a tower-style connectivity system that reaches up into the E-620's battery compartment. Pricing on the HLD-5 was not known at press time.
Availability and pricing. The Olympus E-620 digital SLR will be available from May 2009. The E-620 body has an estimated street price of US$699.99, while the E-620 body bundled with the ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom lens has an estimated street price of US$799.99.
Underwater housing. Olympus being who they are, they've been sure to create an underwater housing for the E-620. Called the PT-E06, the housing allows you to use all the camera's controls and can handle submersion to 130 feet.
Shooting. Since it's only a prototype, there's not much I can report from shooting with the E-620 that I haven't already mentioned. It feels more like an E-520, despite the smaller size, which is likely due to the greater weight. It shoots about as fast as the E-520, with the added benefit of a 7-point autofocus system. Shooting with the articulating screen is quite a bit more versatile, more fully realizing Olympus's long progress in Live View SLR photography, and advancing the E-620 beyond the other major SLR manufacturers who have mostly caught up in other areas.
Analysis. Overall, the Olympus E-620 is the best of the company's consumer SLRs, offering a feature-set that is superior to the E-420 and E-520. It has more autofocus points, higher resolution, a faster frame rate, an articulating screen, and the built-in art filters, just to name a few points. Though it's heavier than the E-420, its small size helps mitigate that; and the available battery grip means users can have a compact photography solution with as little or as much capability as they need at the time. We'll have to reserve judgement on the image quality and timing at this point, since what we saw was not final, but the E-620 seems to meet or exceed the E-520's functionality. And there's no question that the Olympus Zuiko Digital lenses have a lot to offer in terms of optical quality. Each of them will be stabilized, thanks to the E-620's built-in stabilization, which somewhat makes up for the high price you'll have to pay for some of this fine glass.
As it has been from the advent of the SLR -- with the brief exception of the OM-10 -- Olympus SLR quality and unique utility remains the secret of the company's longtime fans. With each new camera, though, Olympus gets harder to ignore. Considering its features against its low price, the Olympus E-620 is easy to admire, and certainly worth a closer look.
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Olympus SP-620UZ Review: Overview - Steves DigicamsReview posted 07/02/2012
|The SP-620UZ performs well for a sub-$200 point-and-shoot. You get a powerful lens with a 25mm wide angle for a reasonable price. If you can live without quick focus, fast performance, and a high-resolution LCD, you'll have fun going zoom zoom zoom with the SP-620UZ. Read more in our Full Conclusion.|
The SP-620UZ from Olympus is built equally for still image capture as it is for 720p HD video. Multi-Motion Movie and Dual Image Stabilization help you get clearer stills and video. Olympus includes a series of Magic Art Filters and what they call Beauty Make-up Mode, which apparently allows users to add make-up to photo subjects' faces like eyeliner, eye shadow and rough, as well as physically alter faces (lift cheek bones, etc.).
The Olympus SP-620UZ runs on four AA batteries and sports and SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot that is Eye-Fi compatible.
Olympus SP-620UZ Features:
- 16.0 megapixel 1/2.3" CCD
- 3.0" LCD screen
- 21x optical zoom lens (25-525mm equivalent)
- 720p HD video
- Multi-Motion Movie Image Stabilization
- Dual Image Stabilization
- Macro Mode
- Panorama Mode
- Intermediate Zoom Settings
- Magic Art Filters
- Beauty Make-up Mode
- 3D capture
- Runs on 4 AA batteries (included)
- Eye-Fi card compatibility
What's in the box?:
- SP-620UZ Digital Camera
- USB Cable
- Instruction Manual & Software CD
- Audio/Video Cable
- Lens Cap
- Four Alkaline AA batteries
Additional Product Views:
Olympus Tough TG-620 Digital Compact Camera ReviewFeaturesHandlingPerformanceVerdictSpecification
We recently took a look at the Olympus Tough TG-820, awarding it 4.5 out of five, which is priced at £252.00. The TG-620 is a cheaper version with fewer features and if your budget is tighter still, the TG-320 can be purchased for £139.00. The TG-620 is available in white, pink, blue, black and green for £214.00.
Olympus Tough TG-620 FeaturesThe Olympus Tough TG-620 has Olympus' new iHS (Intelligence, High Sensitivity and High Speed) technology aimed to make it possible to take great pictures in lousy conditions. There is a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor and TruePic VI image processor (originally developed for DSLR cameras). Olympus say this will all help improve low-light performance, speed up camera response and enhance scene and subject recognition, ideal for fast-moving subjects, night scenes and other tricky shots.
Of course, the TG-620 isn't called Tough for nothing. It’s waterproof to 5m, shockproof to 1.5m and freezeproof to -10°C. All this will help protect the camera components, which include the 5x optical zoom lens, a 35mm equivalent of 28 - 140mm.
The TG-620 can also record videos, at full 1080p HD. During recording you can use Magic Filters and optical zoom with stabilisation available to ensure steady videos.
- Waterproof to 5m
- Shockproof to 1.5m
- Freezeproof to -10°C
- 5x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 28-140mm)
- 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
- 1080p full HD movie recording and HDMI control
- Multi-motion Movie IS
- iHS Technology
- 3 inch 460,000 dot HyperCrystal III LCD screen
- Dual Image Stabilisation
- Magic Filter Movie and/or Stills
- HDR Backlight Adjustment
- Advanced iAuto and AF Tracking
- Face Detection and Advanced SAT
- Super-resolution Zoom
- 3D Photo Shooting Mode
- Beauty Make-up Mode
- Pet Detection Mode
- In-Camera Panorama
- LED Illuminator
- Scene Modes
- Eye-Fi Card compatibility
- Photo surfing and [ib] software
- USB-Battery Charge
- Metal body
Olympus Tough TG-620 HandlingWhen compared to the TG-820 it's obvious which is the toughest of the two. The TG-620 has a plastic body, with two separate compartments for the battery and memory card. Both of these have two locks which require pressing to open. The zoom rocker is placed on top of the camera alongside the shutter release. On the rear is a chunky OK button which acts as a D-pad and makes it easy to use the camera even with gloves on. There is also a metal plate which helps grip and is also used to attach a strap. The playback button allows viewing of your pictures and videos even when the camera is switched off, the ? button tells you the time and date as well. The rear of the camera also hosts a 3 inch, 460,000 dot LCD screen which is easy to view in all lighting conditions.
Olympus haven't provided a CIPA rating for the camera's battery but it was charged before testing and was not needed to be recharged. We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.
|Shutter Response||0.1 seconds|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.2 seconds|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.35 seconds|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||1.6 seconds|
|Shot to Shot (without flash)||0.6 seconds|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||1.6 seconds|
|Sequential shooting||5 fps|
|High-speed 1||15 fps|
|High-speed 2||85 fps|
Olympus Tough TG-620 PerformanceThe Olympus Tough TG-620 produces images which are really well exposed with very pleasing colour reproduction. Detail is good at both ends of the lens, soft in the corners and with some purple fringing in high contrast areas. There are three different modes for close-up shots, macro, super macro and super macro LED. In super macro mode the camera has a minimum focusing distance of just 3cm, allowing detailed close-up shots to be taken. There are examples below using the LED light.
Olympus Tough TG-620 Lens test imagesThere's no noise at ISO 100, but it does start to appear at ISO 200 and more so at ISO 400. At ISO 800 noise is making the images slightly softer and again at ISO 1600. As you'd expect, noise continues to increase through ISO 3200 and 6400, but a usable image is still produced, particularly if you are resizing for web use, with colour reproduction remaining good throughout the ISO range.
Olympus Tough TG-620 ISO test imagesLandscape mode takes pictures with good blues and greens. Portraits have excellent skin tones and are free from red-eye. Sport mode has been used to gain a fast shutter speed to capture the movement of the water. The fourth image used the LED macro, with the final two images taken underwater.
Olympus Tough TG-620 Sample PhotosThe auto white-balance (AWB) setting takes an image with an orange cast under the incandescent lighting, with the respective preset taking a better picture. Under the fluorescent lighting, the AWB setting has a very slight magenta cast, with the fluorescent preset giving a much stronger magenta cast.
Olympus Tough TG-620 White-balance test imagesThere are a range of magic filters available to add creativity to both images and videos, although not all of them can be used for video recording.
Olympus Tough TG-620 Digital filters
Video ModeBelow is a video shot at full 1080p HD, the camera also allows the use of optical zoom during recording, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel.
Value For MoneyThe Olympus Tough TG-620 is currently priced at £214.00 and is in the middle of the Olympus Tough range which includes the TG-820 and TG-320. If you want the most waterproof and shockproof camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 ticks the box.
Olympus Tough TG-620 VerdictIf you participate in activities which will put your camera at risk of being dropped and have the extra cash available you are may be better off with the TG-820, which has a metal body, is crushproof to 100Kg and shockproof to 2m. Other than that, the TG-620 is much the same, with excellent image quality, full 1080p HD video recording and fast high-speed shooting.
|The Olympus Tough TG-620 offers great image quality and will survive both underwater and in freezing conditions.|
Olympus Tough TG-620 ProsExcellent image qualityBuilt for extreme conditionsFull 1080p HD video recordingFast continuous shooting modes
Olympus Tough TG-620 ConsLacks the metal body of the TG-820AWB wayward under our studio lights
Olympus Tough TG-620 Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/3.9 - f/5.9|
|35mm equivalent||28mm - 140mm|
|Sensor Size||1/2.3 inch|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Screen resolution||460,000 dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/2000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||4sec|
|Bulb mode||No Data|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 6400|
|Optical Zoom with Video||No Data|
|Battery Type||LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery|
|Battery Life (CIPA rating)||No Data|
|Box Contents||LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery, F-2AC AC Adapter, CB-USB6 USB Cable, CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable, Hand Strap, World Wide Warranty Card, Image Management Software|
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Olympus E-620 Review - DigitalCameraReview
What happens when entry-level is no longer entry-level? We’ve been pondering this quasi-philosophical question for awhile – ever since the major players in the DSLR world went from building one camera under $1000 to rounding out a lineup with two or three models in this segment. By what standards do you judge a camera that sits squarely between the once-clear consumer and enthusiast categories? For that matter, what do you even call these new “higher than entry-level but not quite prosumer” cameras?
With two DSLRs already positioned squarely in the entry-level category, as well as a recently released prosumer model, we were a bit surprised to learn that Olympus would be the latest manufacturer to add a mid-level camera to their rapidly expanding DSLR stable. On the one hand, with all the buzz around video capture making its way down to this category, the recently announced Olympus E-620 may not strike a chord with gadget geeks looking for the latest thing. At the same time, the inclusion of a slew of new technology developed for Olympus’s high-end E-30 suggests that this camera might just have a few noteworthy tricks of its own up its sleeve.
BUILD AND DESIGNThe technologies inside the E-620 will be most familiar to those who know Olympus’s prosumer model, the E-30. Size-wise, though, the E-620’s closest sibling in Olympus’s lineup is the tiny E-420, coming in just slightly larger all around than Olympus’s smallest entry-level model. In this way, Olympus’s new model does what a lot of upper entry-level DSLRs do, taking key technologies from an advanced model and grafting them into smaller, lighter bodies. But with a footprint almost identical to the nearly pocket-size E-420, the E-620 takes smaller and lighter a step beyond most of its rivals – making it a good match against Panasonic’s well-rounded Micro Four Thirds model, the G1, in more than one respect.
For a quick run-down of the E-620’s basic specs and features, check out our previously posted hands-on preview video of this model.
In terms of carry-overs from the E-30, the E-620 covers most of the bases. New 12.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor and TruePic III+ processor? Check. Tilt and swivel LCD? Check. E-3 derived, 11-point auto focus system? Yep. Art Filters, multiple aspect ratio shooting, in-camera multiple exposures, and even mechanical image stabilization? Sure enough, even the majority of the E-30’s highly touted, creativity-unleashing features make the transition from Olympus’s prosumer contender. In short, if the E-30 appealed to you, but you were turned off by its bulk, its relatively high cost, or both, a quick run-down of the E-620’s functions and features suggests that this camera packs in the overwhelming majority of both the technical and creative tools that set its prosumer sibling apart from its peers.
Other key features include both a hot shoe and wireless control for up to three groups of compatible Olympus wireless flashguns, as well as a Four Thirds system lens mount – providing compatibility with current Four Thirds lenses from Olympus, Panasonic/Leica, and Sigma. The bigger news in this case is that behind that lens mount, you’ll find that the E-620’s sensor is mechanically stabilized. Given the camera’s compact dimensions, packing in in-body IS was no small feat (the E-420 didn’t feature IS), and for the moment, Olympus can still lay claim to building the world’s smallest DSLR with mechanical image stabilization.
Externally, build quality is impressive as well, with textured plastic providing a nice feeling under hand on the camera’s working surfaces. Buttons, knobs, and doors all feel tightly anchored, as does the camera’s top-mounted multifunction control wheel. Even the “swing and swivel” display mount feels solid – at least as tightly constructed as the E-3’s display mount, in fact. For a sub-$800 camera kit, the E-620 easily stands up to the build quality standards set forth by the best built models in this class.
The E-620 gets its power from a proprietary lithium-ion battery – the same one that powered the E-420 – and stores images to either a CompactFlash card or Olympus’s proprietary xD-Picture Card memory type. You’ll find separate slots for each memory type beneath the side-mounted card door.
Ergonomics and ControlsWith its striking similarity to the E-420 – as with basically all current Olympus models, the control layout follows a single system-wide basic formula – navigating the E-620’s ins and outs will be simple enough for transitional Olympus shooters. In trying to get up to speed on the control layout, those unschooled in Olympus’s user interfaces expressed concerns we’ve heard before about buttons that are too small and too numerous. Those with big hands may also find the overall ergonomic experience here unrewarding: in spite of the fact that it’s both light and provides a much more ample grip area than older “flat front” Olympus DSLRs, the fact remains that there’s simply not much unoccupied surface area for your fingers to rest on with this camera.
Even finding the camera’s small size and even smaller buttons hard to come to terms with, I was able to quickly re-adapt to Olympus’s way of doing business. As we’ve said over and over, serious shooters tend to come to appreciate what may seem at first blush like “button clutter” to the uninitiated: in the case of the E-620, button position is generally logical and accessible (though I will note that I don’t like the fact that the flash settings button, which sits on the top deck to the left of the flash and prism, can’t be actuated with your right hand), and having direct access to commonly changed exposure and performance settings is an asset rather than a liability.
Menus and ModesContinuing a theme from the previous section, Olympus menus can be a bit of an “acquired taste.” The E-620’s page menus can be a bit difficult to deal with in spots: things aren’t always where you might expect to find them when it comes to the gray area between what’s a shooting option versus a master or “setup” option, for instance. But while Olympus hasn’t fundamentally reworked its UI structure, they did improve things by allowing you to turn off the advanced settings menu – significantly de-cluttering the menu structure when it’s disengaged – as well as replacing the visually ambiguous wrench icons for setup menus with a more universally understood gear pictograph for setup options. And we can always hope that some small refreshers this time around on an interface that his been essentially unchanged for years signal a significant overhaul in the offing.
What continues to work well, though, is the E-620’s shooting status display, which uses the LCD to provide a wealth of information about the camera’s settings. As best we can tell, pretty much every conceivable option – from ISO to image size to noise reduction aggressiveness – is represented on this display, and you can use the d-pad to move around within this interface and change settings as desired. The sheer quantity of information in the E-620’s snapshot view can be a little overwhelming, but this kind of quick access to major and minor functions tweaks alike sure beats digging into the menus.
Like most consumer DSLRs, the E-620’s modes are a mix of novice-friendly auto exposure options and deep-level control for enthusiasts – with the added twist of Olympus’s Art Filters technology. Olympus’s latest in-camera processing and emulation system, Art Filters serve up six photo effects, including filters mirroring the look of shooting with a pinhole camera, a soft-focus filter, or on high-speed monochrome film. A complete list of the camera’s shooting options is as follows:
- Auto: Camera selects all exposure values
- Program: Auto exposure mode with user control for flash settings, metering mode, etc.
- Shutter Priority: User selects shutter speed, and camera calculates aperture for correct exposure
- Aperture Priority: User selects aperture, and camera calculates shutter speed for correct exposure
- Manual: User selects both aperture and shutter speed
- Scene: Five scene presets – landscape, portrait, macro, action, and night portrait – each have their own position on the mode dial
- ART/SCN: Eleven additional scene presets, as well as the aforementioned art filters, are accessed via a menu from this position
Like most DSLRs, if you’re looking for fun things to do with your photos in playback, you won’t find those options on the E-620. Overall, while the camera’s overall shooting experience clearly targets both enthusiasts and general consumers, the E-620’s complex heads-up displays, many custom setup functions, and button-rich control layout will find more appeal with (and, at times, engender less frustration among) a slightly more serious and savvy set of photographers. At the E-620’s price point, this camera serves up a whole lot of advanced tech, and while this is certainly a boon for serious shooters (especially those with a preexisting investment in Olympus gear), it also presents a steeper learning curve at the outset for shooters coming over from other systems or moving up from a point-and-shoot.
Display/ViewfinderComparing the E-30’s 2.7 inch, 230,000 dot LCD to the simply fantastic screens on competitors like the Nikon D90 and Canon EOS 50D, we felt a little like Olympus had brought the proverbial knife to a gunfight. If the E-30’s HyperCrystal II LCD was a little overmatched in the prosumer class, it’s much easier to find praise for this same display on the E-620, compared to other entry- and mid-level consumer models. Specs are in keeping with current expectations in this group, and as before, the screen remains fluid in live view mode, and contrasty and vibrant everywhere else.
As before, we also noted a few color reproduction inaccuracies on the display compared to our final results. There’s a slightly cool cast here as well that can leave you with some unnaturally warm shots if you spend too much time trying to compensate at time of capture, and predictably, on-screen saturation wasn’t as strong as what we got from the final files. Nonetheless, it’s a crisp, highly functional display that didn’t give us any serious reasons to dislike it during our time with the E-620.
While the display itself may not be top-shelf in every respect, Olympus’s articulating mechanism for its screens is. A two-axis hinge on the lefthand side of the screen lets you swivel and rotate the display into just about any position you can imagine – just like on the E-30 and Olympus’s other high-end models.
Not surprisingly, this technology helps get maximum benefit from Olympus’s live view technology in particular.
With all of this E-30 derived tech coming down to the E-620, costs had to be saved somewhere. One of the more obvious cost-reductions concerns the E-620’s viewfinder: while magnification is improved over previous entry-level Olympus models, E-620 shooters are left to settle for a comparatively dark and small finder with 95% frame coverage. It’s certainly usable, and generally performs on par with other entry-level viewfinders we’ve shot through. At the same time, I found myself manually focusing more and more using a zoomed preview from the E-620’s live view system instead.
In-viewfinder information runs along the bottom of the frame and is basic, providing information on exposure settings, ISO, focus confirmation, battery life, and the number of shots available in the buffer for continuous-drive shooting.
PERFORMANCEOn the surface, the E-620 appears to take one of our favorite approaches to the problem of designing a consumer DSLR: offer a compact but feature loaded camera at a price that’s low enough to keep the model squarely out of serious enthusiast territory – which is to say, well under $1000. Users may have more choice than ever in the “step up” entry-level realm these days, but with so much technology carried over directly from the E-30, we approached the E-620 with the assumption that it would be a powerful camera fit for serious shooters, in spite of its size.
Shooting PerformanceWith performance numbers roughly equivalent to what we saw from the E-30 in most respects, the E-620 didn’t top the list in terms of speed. No doubt the slower focusing 14-42mm kit lens played a role in the differential between the E-30 and the E-620 in our “straight from the box” AF tests. At the same time, there’s a lot of solid performance to work with here.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Canon Rebel XS||0.03|
|Sony Alpha DSLR-A200||0.05|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Sony Alpha DSLR-A200||0.17|
|Canon Rebel XS||0.19|
The 11-point auto focus system sourced from the E-30 was generally reliable, posting excellent numbers in good light in our studio tests. Performance definitely falls off appreciably when there’s less light available, though: at longer focal lengths or shooting indoors, the E-620 was more prone to hunting for lock than the best performers in this class. Likewise, continuous focus drive is suitable for casual moving-subject tracking, but low contrast, low light, or high speeds can all give the E-620 more than it can handle in this regard. Given that we’ve seen similar performance from other current Olympus cameras, this isn’t exactly surprising.
|Olympus E-620||6||4.1 fps|
|Nikon D5000||30||3.9 fps|
|Pentax K2000||5||3.4 fps|
|Canon Rebel XS||∞||3.0 fps|
|Sony Alpha DSLR-A200||9||2.9 fps|
* Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
Continuous shooting also did slightly better than expected when working with a high-speed CF. Per our testing, we were also surprised to learn that although the camera’s in-viewfinder buffer readout only promises four continuous shots, we were consistently able to get six frames at just about 4.0 fps before the camera slowed appreciably.
Olympus makes a big deal about the live view capabilities of its DSLRs, and with good reason: the E-620, like many of its peers from the manufacturer, has a very sophisticated and relatively easy to use live view system, as well as a crisp, highly flexible rotating LCD. A dedicated live view button provides logical access to the technology, and the live view system’s on-screen preview provides lots of information and loads of options (though at times we found navigating the camera’s heads-up displays and function selection procedures in live view more than a little onerous).
It’s generally agreed these days that no live experience is complete without contrast-detection auto focus. Instead of blacking out the live preview for a second or more to focus and capture a shot, contrast-detection AF uses the camera’s image sensor to establish focus (just like a point-and-shoot), allowing you to see your shot on-screen during focusing.
In exchange for no long blackout periods, though, contrast-detection systems tend to give up a significant amount of focusing speed compared to traditional DSLR auto focus. In response to challenges from improving contrast-detection focus experiences from competitors (most notably, Panasonic’s hybrid G1), Olympus has rolled out an update to its AF system for live view. But while we saw slightly better contrast-detection AF times on this camera than on previous models, without the live-view optimized Zuiko 14-54mm kit lens from the E-30 in its corner, the default Imager AF (Olympus’s term for contrast-detection focusing) setting still averaged over a second to lock focus on a static subject in our studio test.
Counterbalancing focusing performance in live view that is, to say the least, uninspiring, the E-620’s live view system is polished and very user-friendly in basically every other way. Like a point-and-shoot, you get a detailed readout of exposure settings in the righthand sidebar when you’re shooting with the live preview enabled, and if you’re exploring the camera’s Art Filters, you’ll even get to preview the effect on the display before you capture a shot. For macro shooting, in particular, the ability to magnify an area of the composition up to 10x for manual focusing or focus confirmation is also a nice touch – though getting to some of these more advanced features like the point magnification and live histogram functions is a bit of a tedious process (you use the Info button to cycle through a fairly long list of available options).
Built-in flash performance on the E-620 is about average, with average to slightly slow-ish full-power recycle times and a guide number of 12 meters at ISO 100 – all “par for the course” compared to similar cameras at this price. Likewise, flash exposure was as expected from the pop-up strobe: flat, and slightly underexposed across the board, but without other significant concerns.
The E-620’s hot shoe provides full TTL communication with Olympus’s current flashguns. Additionally, the E-620 is the latest Olympus model to serve up wireless flash control: it’s a simple, relatively flexible three-group system, and we had no problems getting the kinds of results we were expecting when triggering both FL-36 and FL-50 Olympus flashes remotely with the E-620.
As noted, an in-body sensor shift mechanism provides image stabilization for the E-620 – an unusual function for an Olympus model this small. A dedicated IS button (which shows just how far Olympus takes the whole “dedicated buttons” idea…) can be used to engage or disengage IS, and select from one of three (normal, plus two panning mode) options for the system.
Finally, the E-620 runs on a relatively slender 1150 mAh lithium-ion battery pack. The pack’s slim form and low weight prove to be a double-edged sword when it comes to power depth: Olympus claims 500 shots from the E-620 with live view disabled, but in real world testing with some live view shooting, some flash shots, and image stabilization engaged full time, we were in need of a charger before the shot count crossed 300. The E-620’s battery charger itself is also much larger than the one used for the E-30 and E-3 batteries, making it hard to pack, and like previous Olympus chargers, it requires that you tote an external AC cord as well. Olympus has made it known that they’ll be bringing a battery grip to market for the E-620, and given the less than stellar battery performance seen in our testing, we’re betting some shooters will trade the extra bulk of a battery grip for the prospect of all-day shot capture capabilities.
In the field, the E-620 certainly wasn’t flawless. Widely variable AF performance – running the gamut from superior to merely mediocre, depending on shooting conditions – can be frustrating. Conversely, flash control is top-notch here, rivaling the best wireless control systems out there for what it can do: if you’ve wanted to play around with multi-flash setups, there’s a lot to be said for giving Olympus a long look. By and large, how much you appreciate the E-620’s capabilities seems to depend a lot on where you’re coming from: while at least one point-and-shoot user who tried out the camera during my time with it found it frustrating and obtuse, a few advanced shooters who weren’t familiar with Olympus found the camera’s many capabilities both entertaining and highly useful.
Lens Mount/Kit LensLike all Olympus DSLRs, the E-620 is designed around Four Thirds format standards. Using a sensor that’s smaller than the APS-C units in many entry-level models, Four Thirds cameras share a common lens mount standard, theoretically allowing the use of any system lens from any manufacturer. In practice, Olympus and third-party maker Sigma provide the bulk of the current glass for Four Thirds, with just a few options provided by third system participant Panasonic-Leica.
The availability of moderately priced glass – especially wide-angle glass – is a particular concern for all Four Thirds cameras; if you’re hoping to do a lot of bargain shopping in the used market to round out your lens collection, Olympus certainly isn’t the easiest place to do it. Conversely, the fact that Olympus builds some of the very best zoom lenses on the market means your investment is usually rewarded with super-sharp performance.
Like all Four Thirds models, the E-620 registers a 2x crop factor, meaning the 14-42mm kit lens performs like a 28-84mm zoom in familiar 35mm terms.
Speaking of the kit lens, we’ve always been favorably impressed with Olympus’s 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 consumer glass, and this time around was no exception. The fact that it doesn’t provide the (much) more expensive 14-54mm II’s Imager AF improvements aside, the 14-42mm is an excellent performer that’s capable of some seriously sharp captures in its own right.
Build quality is better than your typical kit lens for this class as well, and the Four Thirds format affords a smaller and lighter build than what you’ll find with an APS-C camera’s 18-55mm kit optic – a perfect match for the E-620’s small all-around dimensions. And given that the kit lens only tacks about $100 onto the total package in this case, if you’re new to DSLRs (or new to Olympus DSLRs), the 14-42mm might just offer the most bang for your buck in terms of long-term usability of any package lens deal out there.
Image QualityWhen we reviewed the E-30, which sports the same processor and 12.3 megapixel sensor, we were generally very pleased with the shots it produced. Niggles about noise and dynamic range aside, the E-620’s big brother produced pleasing, colorful high-res images that looked great on-screen and in print. With this in mind, we expected an equally solid performance from the E-620 in both our studio tests and field shooting.
It’s not surprising, then, that the E-620’s studio shots show the same basic package of default processing choices that we commented on in looking at the E-30: highlight roll-off is smoother than previous Olympus sensors, and shadow areas are less muddy and blocked up. Colors reproduction is accurate under default settings, and strikes a nice balance between saturation and neutrality. It’s worth noting that the E-620’s default multi-area metering tended to underexpose shots slightly if left to its own devices; to the positive, though, this seemed to keep highlight clipping more well controlled here than in previous Olympus models, and all of the basic metering options (plus those designed for high- and low-key shooting situations) are available to exercise more direct control over the E-620’s exposure.
In-camera processing is the name of the game with the E-620, so if you don’t like what you see there are plenty of options for tweaking it, as well as the option to shoot RAW or combined RAW+JPEG. In terms of in-camera processing, the E-620 provides basic presets including Vivid, Natural (default), and Muted color/processing modes.
You can also manually tweak parameters including saturation, contrast, and sharpness straight from the status screen in shooting mode. Olympus’s standard array of “gradation” options also allow users to customize highlight-to-shadow balance (with both high-key and low-key presets, as well as normal and automatic settings) to better account for outside-the-norm subjects. For novices, having all of this control – plus all of the options afforded by shooting RAW and processing yourself – may seem a bit overwhelming.
In the same way, not even the E-620’s image size or aspect ratio is set in stone. While the camera’s Four Thirds sensor yields a 4:3 shot (as opposed to the 3:2 shot from most consumer DSLRs) by default, multiple aspect masks – another E-30 carry-over technology – allow the E-620 to output high-resolution shots at four different aspect ratios.
4:3 aspect ratio (default)
You won’t find any of the more advanced models odd international-spec ratios on the E-620, but the camera covers the most commonly requested presets with 4:3 (default/full capture) as well as 3:2, 16:9 (“widescreen”), and 6:6 (square format) options.
2:3 aspect ratio
16:9 aspect ratio
6:6 aspect ratio
Note that the optical viewfinder will always show a 4:3 frame regardless, but if you’re shooting in live view mode, the image will be framed out according to the aspect ratio you’ve selected.
If the E-620’s myriad processing options may not exactly be novice-friendly, however, the same can’t be said of its Art Filters options. Occupying its own space on the mode dial, the Art Filters processing options provide several unique image looks without the need for post-processing. Dial the camera into Art Filters mode and you get a list of preset options, complete with sample images that give a visual description of how each preset operates.
Shooting in Art Filters modes is about as straightforward as DSLR operation comes. One gripe with the E-30’s implementation of this option was that you can’t use advanced exposure control settings when capturing shots with Art Filters engaged: it’s auto-exposure only in this mode, so forget dialing in your aperture or working in full manual mode.
As for the filters themselves, the image results run the gamut from average to truly excellent. I continue to be impressed with the grainy film filter in particular, which does a reasonably authentic job of mimicking the look of high-speed monochrome film. Likewise, the pop art mode provides a useful super-high-sat shooting option, and those who want to dabble in portraiture will love the built-in soft focus and pin hole filters. The following samples highlight the differences between each of the Art Filters modes.
Overall, we’re betting that the Art Filters package will really hit the mark with the E-620’s target audience – perhaps even in a way that it might not with more advanced Photoshop-savvy shooters who would consider the E-30. Every filter isn’t a home run; in fact, most folks could probably get by with just the two or three truly superior ones. But as a creative tool, ease of use goes a long way in making up for some of the system’s minor deficiencies in this case.
Auto white balance under incandescent light is about as expected with the E-620.
Auto White Balance, 3200K incandescent light
Interestingly, though, the tungsten preset takes the correction too far for typical indoor light, resulting in an unnaturally cool cast.
Tungsten White Balance, 3200K incandescent light
Both measured and Kelvin temp custom white balance options are available, and in this case, I found the user-set modes even more invaluable than is usually the case for getting natural looking JPEG output from the E-620.
When we reviewed the E-30 a few months back, the general feeling was that its sensor and processing couldn’t quite hold their own against some very strong newcomers in the prosumer space. In the context of current consumer models, though, this same performance seems much more evenly matched.
Shots are impeccably clean through ISO 800, with a little softening creeping in at ISO 1600, and appreciably more noise showing up at ISO 3200. That said, I’d have no reservation shooting with the E-620 through at least ISO 800, and even ISO 1600 is very clean and colorful, and sharpens up nicely in post-processing. All in all, pixel peepers will be able to discern some differences at the highest sensitivity settings between shots from the Four Thirds sensor in this model and larger APS-C sensors in many of its competitors. But our experience working with the E-620’s output suggests that unless you’re looking to make poster prints or do a lot of low-light shooting, this may or may not be a serious concern.
Additional Sample Images
CONCLUSIONSWhen we reviewed the E-30, we liked just about everything about the camera – except the price. When the E-620 came along, it seemed like exactly the answer we – and, we’re betting, a lot of other shooters – are looking for: the E-30’s creative advantages for casual shooters and those who don’t relish the thought of hours of post-processing, in a camera that’s more in line with what your typical student or advanced family photographer is willing to shell out. Likewise, shooters with an investment in Olympus who want to see what the bulk of Olympus’s new creative technologies are all about without making the major investment that the E-30 represents now have a low-cost alternative to consider.
It’s in no way a sleight on the E-620 to say that this camera could fairly be marketed as “E-30 Lite.” Even in an industry where we’re used to derivative models and trickle-down technology, the E-620 impressed with just how closely its performance – from shooting speed to image quality – aligned with what we saw from the much more expensive parent model. The E-620 may not have an edge on its strongest competition in measures of raw performance, but with quick continuous shooting, a boatload of processing controls, a full complement of Olympus’s latest creative features, and the ability to get plugged in with Olympus’s legendary lenses, the E-620 also has some advantages that no competitor can match.
No, there’s no video capture, and novice shooters may balk at the camera’s many features and modes. But if you’re a current Olympus system user, this might just be the backup body you’ve been waiting for.
- E-30 technology for under $1000
- Very nice kit lens
- Creative features are fun, useful
- Wireless flash control is excellent
- AF performance is hit or miss
- Live view experience still not perfect
- Noisier at high ISOs than competition
Olympus EVolt E-620 Review | Neocamera
The Olympus E-620 is built as a diminutive camera with all the components of a traditional DSLR. The short grip provides a comfortable hold on the camera which is well secured by a finger indentation on the grip and an outward curve on the back. On the top of the grip one finds in very close proximity the shutter-release and EC button. Both are comfortable to reach and switching between them is quick. The camera's short height also means that in will rest on the lower palm of your hand.
This DSLR is littered with buttons, the only thing missing compared to a high-end model is a second control-dial. it only leaves a small but comfortable space for the thumb on its back. The camera itself as more angles than most modern cameras do. This helps access buttons easily.
The top of the camera has the usual prism bump with a standard hot-shoe. To the left is the flash-release button which also serves to select the flash-mode and apply FC when used with the EC button. Just behind it is the drive-mode button which includes continuous, self-timers and remote-trigger options. Bracketing is controlled separately which is a great thing, particularly to allow it to be used in conjunction with the self-timer. Speaking of bracketing, the E-620 supports exposure and flash bracketing, as well as virtual bracketing of WB and ISO. A virtual bracket is made from a single exposure with the file being saved 3 times with different parameters. This is similar to converting a RAW image multiple times in different ways. Strangely this form of bracketing works in RAW mode as well.
To the other side of the viewfinder chamber, which also has the E-620's built-in flash, is the mode-dial which is on top of the power-switch. Next to the mode-dial, we find the only control-wheel. The dials and power-switch have nice clicks to prevent accidental changes. They move well and firmly. The shutter-release is pretty standard with a distinct half-way point and short travel to full-press from there.
The back of the camera is where most of the buttons are. It also, as usual, has the viewfinder and LCD display. If you are considering the E-620 it is important to know that the viewfinder is tiny and dark, something which can be a deal breaker. This may depend on your vision but I found it very hard to verify focus through the viewfinder, so much that I kept thinking I must have bumped the diopter-correction dial. This is the only serious ergonomic issue found with this DSLR.
The LCD screen is hinged to make it movable. The hinge is solid enough that this does not seem affect the solidity of the camera. The position of the hinge is such that the LCD has to move sideways before tilting. This is rather a poor choice as far as movable LCDs go because seeing the screen from a high or low angle requires protruding the LCD completely to the left of the camera. It does work well for self-portraits though. The screen is dated in terms of brightness and sharpness but still quite usable. In live-view the LCD exposure-priority except in S and A mode. So one does not see under-exposure in these modes.
Above and to the left of the LCD there is a menu and info button. The info button toggles a status display on the rear LCD when using the viewfinder and goes through various display modes in live-view. The menu button does what is expected.
To the other side of the viewfinder, there is a customizable AE-L/AF-L button, a customizable Fn button and a focus-point selection button. The remaining buttons on the back are: playback, live-view, delete, stabilization and the 5-way controller which is made of 5 separate buttons. Each of these is assigned a function: up is white-balance, right is autofocus, down is ISO and left is metering. It would have been better if the ISO button was the highest, in place of the playback button and the metering mode button be just below it, in place of the live-view button. This would make operation more efficient as the most used functions while shooting would be accessible without shifting your grip. It would be an improvement but the current arrangement is pretty usable.
The Olympus E-620 has a choice of 5 metering patterns. The usual multi-segment, center-weighed and spot are there plus two modes unique to Olympus: highlight and shadow based spot metering. These extremely useful metering modes work like spot metering except that they meter for highlights or shadows, instead of mid-town. The reasons these are worth it is that it is easy to determine the brightest or darkest area where details are needed.
Further functions of the camera are setable via a tabbed menu system or an interactive status screen. The central OK button activates the status screen which is quite easy to use. The menu system is easy to navigate but it a mess in terms of organization. Luckily there are external buttons for most common operations. The most common deeply hidden function is WB fine-tuning.
The settings menu has a whopping 69 items. This camera is extremely customizable, from minor details such as dial rotation to important camera customization. The most useful options include: AE-L/AF-L options per focus-mode, choice of AE-L metering pattern, info screen choices, one-touch custom white-balance assignable to the Fn button, WB fine-tuning and control over noise-reduction. The first two letters of filenames can be changed but sadly not the numbering convention with is based on the date, day of month first. This causes files to sort out-of-order when a images cross a month boundary.