Olympus E-620 Review

5.0
June 8, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12.3 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

During the review, the Olympus E-620 produced photos of very good quality. Colours were vibrant without being over-saturated even in the default Natural picture mode, and you can always choose Vivid if you want even more punch. The Shadow Adjustment Technology helps make the most out of the shadows in a high-contrast scene, so you can safely expose for the highlights. The art filters quickly produce special effects that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, while the Picture Modes provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG images. Image stabilisation via the camera body is a feature that helps the E-620 keep up with its competitors, and one that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The 12.3 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate overall exposure. The night photograph was very good, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and Bulb mode allowing you to capture enough light in all situations. Noise is the main issue for the E-620, with obvious noise at ISO 800 and faster settings easily detectable when viewing images at 100% magnification on screen.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Olympus E-620. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and the RAW equivalent on the right:

JPEG

RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Olympus E-620 has 4 different JPEG file quality settings available, with SuperFine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

SuperFine (7.7Mb) (100% Crop)

Fine (5.1Mb) (100% Crop)

   

Normal (2.2Mb) (100% Crop)

Basic (1.5Mb) (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes by changing the Picture Modes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Flash

The flash modes include Auto, Manual, Slow synchronisation, Slow synchronisation 2nd curtain, Red-eye reduction, Slow synchronisation with red-eye reduction, Fill-in, and Off. These shots of a white ceiling were taken at a distance of 1.5 metres.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (84mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (84mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-eye reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Olympus E-620 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 60 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times as long as 30 minutes, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 10 seconds, aperture of f/8 at ISO 100. We've included a 100% crop to see what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation

The Olympus E-620 has an Image Stabilisation mechanism built into the camera body, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Image Stabilisation turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Image Stabilisation turned on, the images are much sharper than when it's turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Image Stabilisation Off (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation On (100% Crop)

1/8th / 28mm
1/10th / 84mm

Shadow Adjustment Technology

Similarly to Nikon's D-lighting, Sony's DRO etc., Shadow Adjustment Technology (SAT) brightens the shadows in a high-contrast scene without affecting the midtones or the highlights, with four settings on offer. Although this option is always at your disposal, remember that it is meant to be used in strong, contrasty lighting at base ISO. Below you can see a comparison of Normal and Auto gradation; the difference is noticeable in the shadowed areas on the left side of the photo. Two other, special-use gradation settings are available on the camera, Low Key and High Key. The former is for photographing dark subjects against dark backgrounds, whereas the latter is for light-toned subjects against a light-toned background.

Auto

Normal

   

High Key

Low Key

Art Filters

The Olympus E-620 offers six different Art Filters, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it (JPEG images only). The most useful of these is Soft Focus, because the FourThirds system lacks a dedicated soft focus lens, and the effect would require advanced knowledge of layers, blurring methods and blending modes if you were to reproduce it in post-processing. The six available Art Filters are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. Note that applying the Art Filters slows the camera down somewhat.

Pop Art

Soft Focus

   

Pale&Light Color

Light Tone

   

Grainy Film

Pin Hole

Picture Modes

Olympus' Picture Modes, similarly to Nikon's Picture Styles and Canon's Picture Controls, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings. The six available Picture Controls are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. There is also one User Defined style so that you can create your own look.

Vivid

Natural

   

Muted

Portrait

   

Monotone

 
 

Entry Tags

12 megapixel, 2.7 inch LCD, dslr, olympus, digital SLR, Four Thirds, art filters, e-620, e 620, e620

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