Olympus E-620 Digital SLR Review

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Body Design and Feel

One of the first things we noticed about the E-620 during normal use was that it seemed smaller in size than other DSLRs we’ve tested. The camera body itself measures 5.1 inches wide, 3.7 tall, and 2.4 deep. When you consider that Olympus crams an articulating display and in-body image stabilization into this package, it’s quite impressive. Not including a lens, battery, memory card, and other accessories, the E-620’s body weighs approximately 1.04 pounds. Overall, the build quality of the body feels solid and sturdy.

Another thing that stuck out to us within the first few minutes of holding the camera was the size of its grip. Like the camera’s body, the E-620’s grip is smaller than other models we're accustomed to using. Of course, the grip and feel of a camera is very much a personal preference. That said, while we liked the smaller body size of the E-620, we prefer a full-size grip on an SLR. Despite our preference for a larger grip, we will admit the camera was still comfortable and secure to hold, even single-handedly.

Looking at the camera from the front, you may notice the receiver for the optional wireless remote control on the camera’s grip as well as the self-timer lamp. At the very right top of the grip near the flash is an external white balance sensor. The lens release button is located on the opposite side of the lens from the grip.

The top of the E-620 has quite a few buttons, but anyone who is somewhat familiar with camera controls should be able to figure them out easily. On the left top side of the camera, you’ll find a button that opens the flash and provides easy access to various flash options. Below this button is a self-timer/shooting mode button that lets you select between single image and burst modes. Moving to the right, you’ll find the camera’s hot shoe with a classic mode dial next to it and a power switch at the base. The mode dial offers Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes as well as direct access to five popular scene presets and a dial position for ART / SCN, which offers access to the camera’s six Art Filters as well as 13 extra scene presets.

To the right of the mode dial, there’s a separate dial for navigating through menus as well as the shutter button and an exposure compensation button. Between the mode dial, shutter button, and navigational dial, you’ll find a light indicator for the Supersonic Wave Filter.

The rear of the camera has even more buttons and decals than the top. Due to limited space and quantity of buttons, these rear controls are somewhat small, but not so small that they’re difficult to use. On the left side of the optical viewfinder, you’ll find the camera’s Menu and Info buttons. Moving to the other side of the optical viewfinder and LCD, you’ll find a variety of controls, including AE lock, Play,  Live View, Erase, a dedicated button to turn image stabilization on and off, a Function button, AF target button, and four cross keys.

To use the four cross keys, press up for White Balance, right for AF options, down for ISO, and left for metering modes. You can also adjust many camera settings by pressing the OK button in the center of the cross keys to select the desired option on-screen. You can then press OK again to see a dedicated menu for that item, or simply turn the thumb wheel to adjust it directly. Below the cross keys, Erase, and IS buttons you’ll find a compartment for the camera’s multi-connector jack. This proprietary hookup lets you download images or display them on a TV using the supplied cables. The only thing missing is an HDMI port for high definition slideshows.

The camera’s articulating 2.7-inch LCD screen offers 230K pixels. Because Olympus positioned the hinge for the display on the left side of the screen rather than on the bottom like Nikon did with the D5000, you’ll have no problem swiveling the display in all available directions, even if the camera is on a tripod. The LCD can also twist back on itself for protection while in transport. The hinge mechanism for the screen feels solid.

While the design of the E-620’s LCD is certainly top notch, its picture quality isn’t as impressive as the high resolution displays we’ve seen on other DSLRs. For an articulating display, however, the E-620’s 230,000-pixel resolution is average. Certainly larger, high-resolution screens are nice to use, but there’s also plenty of good reasons to choose a slightly smaller screen that flips out instead.

One of the nicest things about many of the controls to the right of the display is the fact that they are backlit. The controls become illuminated when the camera powers up or when you press the shutter halfway. This can be especially handy when shooting at night.

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On the right side of the camera, you’ll find a compartment for CompactFlash and xD Picture cards. You can place both types of cards in the camera at the same time, but you can only record to one card when taking pictures. Using the camera’s shooting menu, you can easily switch between cards while shooting. The left side of the camera is free from any controls or ports, but it’s a good thing since this is where the LCD hinges.

The bottom of the camera offers a tripod mount and a battery compartment.

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