OLYMPUS E-500 REVIEW
The E-500 is the latest Digital SLR camera
from Olympus which features a plethora of attributes that include 8.0 megapixels (effective), dust reduction and an interchangeable Zuiko lens
with an affordable price of $899.00AUD (online).
Not only does the E-500
support the popular compact flash memory card but also the new XD format
that is the first of its kind in digital SLR cameras. Although this
camera features the full functionality of a DSLR, the price point does
make it affordable to a wide gamut of users from beginners to amateurs
that is not only easy to use but also produces high quality images.
E500 Single lens kit
||Interchangeable digital SLR
||4/3 type Full Frame Transfer
CCD solid-state image sensor.
||8 million pixels
||Primary colour filter (RGB).
||CompactFlash card (Type I and
II), Microdrive, xD picture card. (Dual slot)
||Eye-level TTL Penta mirror type
optical view finder.
||2.5 inch HyperCrystal LCD
||TTL phase difference detection
||Single AF, continuous AF,
manual focus, single AF + MF, and continuous AF + MF.
||Available by rotating focus
ring, available for setting manual focus operation in AF mode (customised).
||TTL open aperture light
metering with 49-zones multi-pattern sensing system.
||Auto, Programme with programme
shift, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
||Portrait, Landscape, Landscape
& Portrait, Night Scene, Night Scene & Portrait, Firework,
Sunset, Macro, Sports, High Key, Low key, Document, Beach &
Snow, Candle, Children.
||Auto, P, Ps, A mode: 1/4000 –
60 sec. (depend on conditions)S mode: 1/4000 – 60 sec.M mode:
1/4000 – 60 sec. and bulb (up to 8 min.) Scene mode: 1/4000 – 2
||Up to +/- 5 EV in each 1, 1/2,
or 1/3 EV steps
||ISO 100 to 400
||ISO 100 to 400. Expandable to
1600 (in each 1/3 EV steps possible ).
||Advanced detection system with
||8 types (3000K – 7500K). Lamp 1
(3000K), Fluorescent 1 (4000K), Fluorescent 2 (4500K),
Fluorescent 3 (6600K), Daylight (5300K), Cloudy (6000K), Shade
|Built In Flash
||Auto pop-up type, TTL auto or
||Auto, Manual, Red-eye
reduction, Slow syncro with red-eye reduction, Slow syncro, 2nd
curtain slow syncro, Fill-in for exclusive flash.
||5 levels in each Vivid,
Natural, Muted mode.
||Vivid, Natural, Muted, Black &
||Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
|Single Use Only
||LBH-1 for 3x CR123A
||12 or 2 sec
||129.5 x 94.5 x 66mm.
Box Contents &
E-500 comes with variety of accessories that include the
a 17.5-45 mm lens, USB cable, Video cable, Li-Ion battery pack (BLM-1) and
Li-Ion battery charger (BCM-2), Shoulder strap, Olympus Master CD-ROM,
Instruction manuals and an International warranty card (one year). I
applaud Olympus for making their warranty international as many current
cameras on the market today are just limited to specific regions, so
this makes it ideal for those traveling overseas.
Although having played with one of these
cameras before, the installation of the lens and battery was a breeze.
The lens simply screwed onto the E-500 body with the battery sliding into
the battery slot on the bottom of the camera. Unfortunately no memory
card comes with this camera but fortunately we had a spare 512MB XD
memory card. Although this card is perfect for around 200 shots on a resolution
of 3264 x 2448 (JPEG) or 37 images at 3264 x 2338 in RAW, if you really
want to use the full potential of this camera (e.g. high quality shots)
then you will need to purchase at least a 2GB high speed compact flash
The E-500 uses a BLM-1
battery that stores 10.8 Wh of energy which allows for around 400 to 500
high quality shots of the camera. The only downside to the battery is
the charging time which roughly takes around 4 hours to fully charge the
battery so if you're intending on professional photography, then a spare
battery is highly recommended.
Olympus' Master Software is included with
the E-500 that allows you to perform a variety of functions with your
photos such as transferring photos to your hard drive, backing up your
photos and of course various photographic adjustments such as contrast,
exposure and even white balance. The software is perfect for a variety
level of users with an easy to understand interface that is not too
convoluted. With that said, the installation took only a few minuets on
our test machine and it simply auto installed when the computer detected
the CD disc.
JPEG vs. RAW
Although the majority of home users will use the highly popular JPEG
format with this camera, amateur and professional photographers will use
the RAW format that is an uncompressed picture format and is ideal for
modifying your photos before saving them to another format. In laymen's
terms, RAW pictures are almost non-digital SLR quality which are easier
to modify before any compression has been made to the picture. The only
downside to the RAW format is that the images are very large in size
(13.6MB) when they are saved but it is a small price to pay for
large print-quality images.
However with that said, the TIFF mode for this camera is around
24.5MB in size which is extremely large for smaller memory cards. Once
again the TIFF
and RAW formats are ideal for those users that wish to produce high
quality print media
photography such as posters or banner advertising.
The design and feel of the E-500 (although a
little on the large size) is perfect and feels like a traditional SLR
camera. I must admit that the neck strap is probably the most useful
accessory for this camera that not only protects the camera from being
dropped but also prevents the user from tiring out too much because this
camera, although not too heavy, weighs just under a comfortable 1
kilograms which isn't too bad for a digital SLR. Apart from that, all the buttons are dials are in the right
place and nothing seems out of place on this well designed camera.
E-500 Menu System
I must admit that most digital SLR cameras
have a rather straightforward menu system and the Olympus E-500 is no
exception. The menu itself is divided into five different tabs that
include Shooting 1, Shooting 2, Playback and Custom 1 & 2.
Shooting menu 1
Card setup (format,
Custom reset setting
(Reset, my reset 1/2)
(Vivid, natural, muted, monotone, sepia)
Gradation (High key,
normal, low key)
Image quality (RAW+SHQ,
RAW+HQ, RAW+SQ, RAW, TIFF, SHQ, HQ, SQ) -
compensation (-5EV to +5EV, 1/3EV increments)
WB setting (Auto, 5300K, 6000K, 7500K, 3000K, 4000K, 4500K, 6600K,
WB compensation (Red/Blue, Green/Magenta)
ISO (Auto, 100, 125,
160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600)
center-weighted, spot, spot shadow, spot highlight)
As mentioned in the features section of
this camera, the
E-500 features Supersonic Wave Filter that actually uses ultrasonic waves
to remove any dust and grime from the sensor in order to prevent the
images from being dirtied. The only drawback from this feature is that
it does hamper the start-up speed of the camera but once again, it is a
small price to pay for dirt free images. The E5-00 also features an
extremely large 2.5" LCD screen that makes for perfect menu control and
Scene select & manual controls
The E-500 also features an extremely useful mode dial that gives the user
access to a variety of preset functions that include scene mode (e.g.
portrait, night scene & museum mode), night scene, sport, macro,
landscape, portrait, auto record mode (point and shoot), program mode
(some manual overrides in automatic mode), aperture priority mode
(manual aperture shutter speeds), shutter priority mode and full manual
mode. A must admit that at first, I thought the dial was a little too
hard to turn but it actually prevents the user from turning the dial to
the wrong setting or accidentally knocking it while taking a photo. It
should also be noted that the preset features are brilliant and actually
work quite in the selected environments such as night, beach or even
Everything is also perfectly located on the
camera with the zoom and focus on the front lens (as all good SLR
cameras), a large power button on top of the camera that cannot be
easily flicked one way or another and also a variety of buttons on the
back of the camera from playback to menu and shortcuts for ISO, AF and
WB. The flash itself will automatically pop out on automatic mode which
is rather quite bright but in manual mode, the user must manually select
Speed and Picture Formats
For those photographers that love high
speed auto focus, the E-500 can focus in speeds of 0.3 to 0.1 seconds in
good conditions. The camera itself (once again, also in good conditions)
can capture around 5 images in 2 seconds, with 4 RAW images in about 1.
5 seconds. However, it takes around 6 - 8 seconds to clear the buffer
which may hamper some photographers who require immediate results. The
camera also supports a wide gamut of picture sizes from traditional
640x480 resolutions to 3264x2448 in either RAW, TIFF or SHQ JPEG modes.
The image quality of E-500 was extraordinary
for a camera of this price that featured relatively noise free images
that maintained their natural colours. Although on the higher ISO
settings, the camera did show a little bit of noise but I'm sure through
the manual settings, this noise could be removed through one
In conclusion, the E-500
is a perfect camera that I would recommend to all camera enthusiasts on
a budget. The Olympus E-500 produced high quality photos with minimal
shutter lag and great auto focus speeds. For those that love full manual
controls, the camera performed as well as any other DSLR on the market.
Why buy a digital camera when for a little more, you can get a fully
fledged digital SLR, highly Recommended and a job well done by Olympus!