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Olympus E-620 DSLR Digital SLR Review

The new E-620 from Olympus could just well be the most perfect camera ever made. Matt Grayson gives his thoughts.

|  Olympus E-620 in Digital SLRs
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It's got the best of both worlds from the speedy focusing of the E-3 to the portability and ease of use from the E-520. Olympus now make room in the ever expanding stable for the E-620.

Skip to Verdict

Olympus E-620: Specification
  • Olympus E-620 DSLRResolution: 12.3Mp
  • Sensor size: 4/3in
  • Sensor type: LiveMOS
  • Max. image size: 4032x3024
  • Aspect ratio: 4:3 (default), 3:2, 16:9
  • Focus system: TTL phase difference detection system
  • Focus points: 7
  • Crop factor: 2x
  • Lens mount: FourThirds
  • File type: JPEG, RAW (12bit lossless compression)
  • Sensitivity: ISO100-3200
  • Storage: Compactflash I, II (UDMA), Microdrive, xD picture card
  • Focus types: Single, continuous, manual
  • Metering system: TTL open aperture system
  • Metering types: Digital ESP, centre-weighted, spot
  • Exposure compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3, ½, 1 step increments
  • Shutter speed: 60sec-1/4000sec, bulb to 30min
  • Frames per second: 4fps max
  • Flash: Built-in, hotshoe for external
  • Flash metering: TTL auto, auto, manual
  • Flash sync speed: 1/180sec
  • Image stabilisation: Built-in SSW (Super Sonic Wave) system
  • Integrated cleaning:
  • Live view: Yes, High speed LiveMOS, 100% field of view, face detection, previews (exposure, WB, gradation, face detection, perfect shot), Grid line display, AF frame display, histogram
  • Viewfinder: Optical, 95% field of view, 0.96x magnification
  • Monitor: 2.7in Hypercrystal LCD, 230,000dot
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Power: Li-Ion battery
  • Size: 130x94x60mm
  • Weight: 475g (body only)
Olympus E-620 DSLR
Shown here with the 25mm pancake lens, the E-620 is roughly the same dimensions as the E-520 and E-420.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
A similar outlay to the E-3 in terms of
buttons on the top plate.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
Although the lack of a screen gives room for the command dial.
Olympus E-620: Features
While the designation of the E-620 suggests that it replaces the current mid-range E-520, in reality it's been designed as a bridge between the E-520 and the newly released E-30. The idea being that it incorporates all that is best in the other DSLRs and is aimed squarely at hobbyists.

Olympus view it as having the portability of the E-420, functionality of the E-520, creativity of the E-30 and reliability of the E-3. If you've read the preview of the E-30, you'll know about the creative art filters available and these are also found in the E-620. If you haven't read them then they're similar to ones found in other cameras such as the Panasonic G1 and Pentax K-m DSLR. They're designed to replicate particular scenarios and the Olympus boasts popart, soft focus, pale & light colour, light tone, grainy film and pinhole modes.

Most areas have been improved on, such as the higher 12.3Mp resolution taking the camera to a higher setting than the flagship DSLR, faster TruePic III+ processor and an improved autofocus system in the live view mode. Exposure compensation can cope with an impressive 5EV in either direction and image stabilisation will give a sharp image up to 4EV.

Of course it has to rein in the technological advances in some places and it's noticeable in the 7 point AF system which is distinctly lower than the 11 points found on the E-30 and E-3. On top of that it has a slower 4fps continuous shooting mode.

That's not bad for a camera that's supposed to slip in the middle of a current range. Normally they have a few more features held back to ensure the sales of the bigger models don't slip too much. Essentially, the camera appears to be a miniature version of the E-30 as the dimensions aren't too dissimilar to the E-420. Mainly, it's a bit deeper and actually has a grip.

Other interesting features include the live view multi exposure which allows you to superimpose a new image over a RAW file stored on the memory card. This is great for increasing creative work and puts more control over to you at the actual photo taking stage.

Olympus E-620 DSLRWhile using the live view, you'll no doubt get to use the monitor on the back of the camera and it uses the same swivel screen monitor as is found on the E-3 and E-30. The rear has been simplified in terms of buttons when compared to the E-520. It still retains the command dials on the top plate but the buttons down the left side of the screen have had to be removed to fit the joint of the articulated screen in. This is a good thing as earlier Olympus cameras were inundated with buttons to do different things with and the camera could get too busy to look at.

Olympus E-620 DSLROlympus E-620: Build and handling
Because of the high specification of the camera it's difficult to remember that this is a camera designed for the hobbyist so you don't get a magnesium skeleton. In fact, the materials are the  Glassfibre reinforced plastics as found on the E-30. Still pretty tough but brings the camera back to the ground as a lower specification model.
They've also built on the speedy autofocus system that was designed for the E-3. It has seven points which is four less than the E-3 and E-30 but five of them are cross point and the whole system has been redesigned for a hobbyists needs. This was done by incorporating the information they got from professional photographers while developing the AF system for the E-3.

Olympus E-620: Performance
Olympus E-620 DSLRI managed to grab hold of the E-620 at Focus 2009 but it was a pre-production model so I wasn't able to take any test shots.

What I can say is that the user interface is just as good and easy to use as previous Olympus models but what I really saw a difference in was the live view focusing. It's fast and accurate, thanks to the hybrid AF system and doesn't require the screen to raise or even a drop in light levels to lock.

Now using a final production model, I've had a really good response from the colour test chart with boosted primary colours and balanced mono tones. The earth brown and forest green are rich although the green is a little paler than usual.

Yellows are punchy and the skin tone tiles are well reproduced. Altogether it's a really good result and probably the best colour test chart I've seen from a DSLR in a long time.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
Colours in the colour test chart have been reproduced nicely. They're punchy and true.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
In portrait mode, skin tones are warmed up a little too much maybe but detail is good.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
In program the exposure looks better and more control is given to the user.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
Using full power is ok but there are other modes in the flash menu which may work better.

In portrait mode, the skin tone looks a little orangey but it's not false. Detail is really good and the camera has handled what little contrast there was. Flicking over to program has adjusted the exposure accordingly and the camera will now expose to the settings I decide on. It's brighter in the highlights and the warm cast from before isn't there.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
Using a burst of flash needs forethought as there are mutiple options available to you in the flash mode. As well as the usual options of red-eye reduction, flash on, flash off and slow sync, you also have the opportunity of two slow sync functions and adjusting power between full, 1/4, 1/16 and 1/64. I used full power on the portrait shot and it's come out ok. For more varied flash results, take a look at the Olympus E-420 review.

Attaching a macro lens, I took a close up of a vintage camera Olympus E-620 DSLRand the detail is great. I can see the ridges of where the lens information has been stamped in on the front.

Looking at the landscape test shot and I'm quite pleased. It's produced a decent result despite the grotty day which was full of mist and drizzle. The letters on the balance beam are clear and there's enough focus in the image which is only fuzzing out in the distance because of the bad day.

Olympus E-620: Noise test
This is the area I'm most interested in because the smaller FourThirds sensor has been problematic with noise.

ISO100 looks really nice as do all other settings up to the very top. I'm quite critical of noise on all cameras because it's a particular dislioke of mine. If I was to be overly critical then I'd point out that noise is actually starting to creep in at ISO200 when viewed at full size. Ok, so I've just mentioned it but that's not to say it's annoying. In fact it's tolerable up to the penultimate sensitivity setting. There are a total of 16 ISO settings going up in 1/3 stop increments.

I've also uploaded the RAW files of the ISO100 and ISO3200 sensitivity ratings which can be accessed by pressing the links to our download section.
Olympus E-620 ISO100 RAW file - Pending
Olympus E-620 ISO3200 RAW file - Pending
Olympus E-620 DSLR
The ISO100 test.
Olympus E-620 DSLR
The ISO200 test. 
 Olympus E-620 DSLR
The ISO400 test.
 Olympus E-620 DSLR
The ISO800 test.
 Olympus E-620 DSLR
The ISO1600 test.
 Olympus E-620 DSLR
The ISO3200 test.

Olympus E-620: Verdict
I've used this camera for some time and all the time I was impressed with it. Olympus have always suffered from noise and while I can't give performance top marks for that reason, they score higher due to the advancements they've made in the area recently.

I think with some more tweaking, they'll nail it and until then I think it's fair to say that with the other results of the camera and the fact that it's a joy to use, this could be one of the most perfect DSLRs on the market.
Gadget Granny says:
Matt gave me a far too brief play with the new Olympus E-620 but the short time I had, I knew I needed longer. So I took it to Australia for ten days as I was taking a group of teachers to look at how kids with visual impairment are taught there. Matt gave it me without a camera bag and with the heaviest lens (Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4) ever!

I had to use it blind (excuse the pun) because of the short time between receiving it and taking it with me but to the camera's credit, it's really easy to use. I took pictures out of aeroplane windows, in schools, even in the dark in my garden and the camera was just amazing.
Olympus E620 CloudsIf I could come up with a witty title for the cloud picture it is good enough to go on the Cloud Appreciation Society website.

The Purple Iris and the Bronze Iris were taken in total darkness - I couldn't see a thing in the display so just played with the shutter button and the camera did the rest.

This camera helped a photography amateur take fab pictures and made her colleagues really jealous! It is at the top of my wish list and I recommend you put it at the top of yours.
Olympus E620 Bronze Iris
Bronze Iris.
Olympus E620 Purple Iris
Purple Iris.

Gadget Grandma

Olympus E-620: Plus points

Great colours
Articulated screen
Fast focusing
Massively expanded exposure compensation
Built-in flash is very natural

Olympus E-620: Minus points
Build could be better
Noise still needs some addressing





In terms of advancements in technology, new features and noise control, the Olympus E-620 has been awarded a Highly recommended award.

See the video review of the Olympus E-620 review here:

Olympus E-620 video review

Olympus E-620 costs around £600 body only and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Olympus E-620

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Photographs taken using the Olympus E-620

Wildest DramsQM2 QueensferryStone Cold SoberQueen Mary 2 sails into FlamInterrupted Golf MatchSnow at the SeasideSnow StationVisitors to North BerwickThe Poor MusicianQM2 Firth of ForthForth Bridge Sunset & the QM2TerminatorNorth Berwick Train ServiceMan and DogThe Bird Lady

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Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
25 Feb 2009 1:48PM
Is it just my imagination, the prism housing`s seem larger than earlier models.
MattGrayson 14 622 3 England
25 Feb 2009 3:51PM
I'll see if I can find out if that's the case...
oneill 13 155 Ireland
26 Feb 2009 5:09PM
matt this could be the one we all have been waiting for,, and if they have put inside and outside,, into one body,may be it will get other big names to do the same and give to us dlsr,s, that should last a few years ,,instead of the race that on to see who can get the biggest number of cameras on the shelves,, its good to see a big name listen to the end user,,us,,,,pat,,,
Declanworld 14 37 Ireland
27 Feb 2009 7:22PM
Articulating LCD on an SLR at a hopefully affordable price - might drag me into the world of SLR at last.
Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
9 Mar 2009 7:13PM

Quote:I'll see if I can find out if that's the case...

For a long time Olympus were being knocked for having small dull viewfinders, the 520 being the exception.

Pretty much looks to me that they have now moved on and added a larger prism.

Quote:A similar outlay to the E-3 in terms of buttons on the top plate

Can`t see any resemblance at all, sorry Sad
MattGrayson 14 622 3 England
10 Mar 2009 11:29AM
I mean that it has buttons there instead of a wheel.
Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
14 Mar 2009 7:48PM
Lol they all have a wheel except for the E3 and there on all the other side of the top plate Smile

Thre`s not a single 4/3 dslr with a wheel on that side.
oneill 13 155 Ireland
18 Mar 2009 8:39PM
how long matt before the full review,,,,
MattGrayson 14 622 3 England
19 Mar 2009 12:42PM
I've been promised the camera first, Pat so as soon as Olympus UK receive it, it gets sent to me.
I'll chase them though.

MattGrayson 14 622 3 England
19 Mar 2009 3:01PM
Should be a couple of weeks, Pat. Smile
17 Apr 2009 4:20PM
Im using an old Oly, The E500, I wonder how the E620 compares to that in regards of noise? Do you have any idea?
Why does iso start on 200, and not on 100? I know you can use 100 as well, like I can extend my iso up to 1600 on my E500. Is that to give more Dynamic range?
Sorry for so many questions Wink
filbow 13 2 United Kingdom
29 Jul 2009 11:07AM
Hi Matt, where are Gaget Grandma's pictures? I would like to see what a fellow novice photographer can achieve with this camera.
chensuriashi Plus
14 333 18 England
27 Jun 2010 10:35AM
Just got to say I am very pleased with mine...The prints are superb, and the cam is so very nice to handle, even with the 50/200 swd, 2 mem card too make a the added flexability, not too much to hang on the neck really...Chen.

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