February 25, 2009 Olympus has extended its digital SLR range with the unveiling of the E-620. The new addition will sit in the middle of the company's SLR line-up led by the flagship E-3 released in 2006 and extending through to the compact E-420. The E-620 is pitched as an "all-in-one" model that combines some of the best elements of the higher end units - like the flip-out rotating screen - with a high-degree of portability.
The E-620 packs a newly developed 7 point AF system, 4fps sequential shooting, built-in image stabilization, a 12.3 megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor and TruePic III+ image processing engine, very handy illuminated buttons for night shooting and six on-board art filters - Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale Light & Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film and Pin Hole – all of which can add some extra enjoyment for the amateur photographer with a creative bent without having to change lenses or go near photoshop. A word of warning though, unless you are shooting RAW images the original photo will be lost when the filter is applied, so use the preview functions carefully.
Lightweight SLR with heavyweight screen
Weighing 475 grams, the E-620 is billed as the world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR to incorporate an image stabilization mechanism. Gizmag had a brief hands-on look at the camera ahead of this week's announcement and we can say that it definitely lives up to the light and compact label. The only potential issue for someone who is used to shooting with a chunkier device is the smaller grip, which helps keep the unit compact but could also take a little getting used to from a comfort point of view. This potential issue can quickly be made to disappear by adding the battery-grip.
To achieve this size, Olympus has introduced a leaner image stabilization unit and reduced the component packaging size for the internal circuit boards and image sensor.
The small footprint is even more impressive with the inclusion of the 2.7 inch HyperCrystal III dual axis swivel LCD screen. Apart from the flexibility of being able to rotate the screen vertically and horizontally, the maximum brightness of 1000 cd (candelas)/m improves the use of the screen for Live View shooting in bright ambient light.
The E-620's newly designed image stabilization mechanism offers the same performance as that found in the E-520 model (compensating for up to 4EV according to the company's in-house tests) but weighs 20 per cent less. The built-in image stabilizer also has settings for pan action photography in both a horizontal and vertical direction.
Like other Olympus models, the stabilization system is built into the body not the lens. While there is a school of thought that sees lens based optical stabilization units such as those used by Nikon and Canon as more effective because they are tailored to a specific lens, there are undeniable benefits to the consumer with the Olympus approach (which is shared by Pentax and Sony). The obvious one is the fact that any lens that will fit the camera can be used with image stabilization, so it's available across all focal lengths. The E-620 will work with any ZUIKO DIGITAL lens or others that use the Four Thirds System standard.
Seven point AF system
The new seven-zone AF system featured on the E-620 includes twin-line sensors at each autofocus point - five central points and two on the outside at the horizontal. The AF is also performed again when the shutter release button is fully pressed.
The AF Live View system is image sensor based, meaning the camera can autofocus without moving the reflex mirror to make the process "as easy and convenient as it is with a digital compact camera" according to Olympus.
The camera's 4 fps sequential shooting capability is up from 3.5 fps on the E-420.
Olympus E-620 - key highlights
- Multi-aspect shooting: a choice of nine different aspect ratios (four are offered during Live View shooting - 4:3, widescreen 16:9 and medium-format 6:6 plus 35mm-format 3:2)
- Preview function which displays four live image frames on the same screen with varying exposure compensation or white balance settings
- Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF) dust reduction system (a system which proved its worth to us long ago on the E-300)
- Built-in flash with wireless off-camera flash control
- Face Detection and Shadow Adjustment Technology which is designed to balance highlights and shadows
- Two multiple-exposure options - a second image can be overlaid on a previously taken RAW image (and viewed on the LCD) or up to three RAW format images already recorded be combined together
- Optical viewfinder with 95 per cent field of view and 0.96X magnification
- 49-zone metering system
- Lightbox view with enlargement function for side-by-side image comparison
The Olympus E-620 will roll-out globally in coming months at a price point of around USD$800 (with a 14-42mm lens). Stay tuned for a full review.