Olympus E-620 Digital SLR Review

Article Index

Controls/Functionality, Response, and Menus

When looking through the E-620’s viewfinder, you’ll see seven AF-points. The technology behind this 7-point twin cross AF system works to provide fast and accurate focusing that is said to be comparable to that of the E-3’s. Thanks to a dedicated Phase Detection AF sensor in the camera body, focusing on moving subjects or subjects in low-light conditions is fast as well.

Like the E-520 before it, the E-620 offers three AF modes in Live View: AF Sensor, Imager AF, and Hybrid AF. The AF Sensor uses the traditional phase-change AF system, meaning when you press the AE/AF lock button to focus, the mirror drops temporarily and interrupts the live image while taking a reading. The entire process is generally pretty quick, but you will notice an interruption in the Live View. When you fully press the shutter, the camera will focus again, so you can skip the AE/AF lock button if you'd like.

The Imager AF mode uses contrast-based techniques like you’d find on a compact camera to autofocus without interrupting the Live View. This mode also supports a broader 11-area AF system as well as face detection. In Imager AF mode, you can press the shutter halfway to autofocus, just as you would when you’re not shooting in Live View mode. This mode feels very natural, particularly for users coming from a point and shoot model. Even though the Imager AF mode takes a bit longer to focus than the AF Sensor option (typically about two or three seconds), the fact that the Live View image doesn’t freeze or disappear will make it preferable to many. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Imager AF is only compatible with relatively modern lenses which support the feature.

As you may guess from its name, the Hybrid AF mode uses a combination of the other two modes. Hybrid AF will focus using the contrast method when you half-press the shutter, but unlike the Imager AF mode, when you fully press the button to take the picture it takes a reading from the traditional 7-point AF sensor to determine a final focus lock. You’ll notice that both the Imager AF and Hybrid AF modes result in several mirror flaps as you take a photo, but the Hybrid mode is slightly slower.

You can also focus manually while shooting in Live View mode. To help ensure you’ve focused correctly, the E-620 lets you enlarge part of the frame by pressing the Info button, moving the green square to a targeted area, and pressing the OK button. The image can be enlarged by five, seven, or ten times.

The Olympus E-620’s menu system serves its purpose, but it’s nothing to write home about. The camera’s primarily monochrome menu offers five main “tabs” with various settings in each one. You’ll use this menu system to change the camera’s aspect ratio, enable Multiple Exposure mode, format a memory card, and more.

When you're shooting using the viewfinder, the camera’s LCD displays a Super Control Panel. This panel is crammed with boxes displaying current settings, including some that are rarely used such as color space. The myriad of boxes and options may be a bit overwhelming at first, particularly to new DSLR users. We’d prefer to see Olympus move some of the lesser-used functions from this control screen to the camera’s menu system and utilize the space for larger controls for key items such as ISO, resolution, and white balance. 

To help you capture the motion of moving subjects without interference from camera shake, the E-620 offers two specialized image stabilization modes in addition to a traditional image stabilization mode. IS-2 is ideal for capturing a car traveling in horizontal motion. This mode helps to preserve the sense of motion while panning. IS-3 mode achieves the same effect when the camera is held vertically. Olympus claims up to four stops of compensation are possible with its in-body image stabilization.

Olympus has also incorporated Shadow Adjustment Technology into the E-620. Shadow Adjustment Technology adjusts for extreme lighting variations and attempts to maintain visible detail in both the shadow and highlight areas of the screen. This feature can also be applied to a shot after it has been taken using the Edit menu. Although results will vary from one shot to the next, we did notice an improvement in many shots to which this technology was applied.

After taking a picture, you can edit it in-camera using a handful of editing features. You can fix red eye, trim a picture, create a black and white or sepia toned image, adjust the color depth of the photo, and change the aspect ratio of images from the Edit menu.

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