Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympus E-620: Final Thoughts

For some reason the E-620 (unlike earlier Olympus models: the E-510, or the wonderful C-8080) never worked for me. It wasn’t as obvious a situation as with the Sony R1 . . . no, but in the end it took about the same time (several months) for me to decide that I wasn’t that thrilled with it.

The technical issues were:

Physical: a) The handgrip is very small and not very usable (even for me, with small hands). Just a little bit uncomfortable when used with the largish 12-60mm lens. Not a major problem, of course. But still . . . b) I almost never used the rotating LCD screen due to the angle at which it rotates. Too bad! I would like to see a usable tilting screen some day.

Exposure issues: Olympus has evidently rewritten the software in their cameras. In order to avoid overexposing the highlights, their cameras significantly underexposure all scenes (at ISO 200 and higher). Some say: no big deal. My take: of course, this creates shadow areas that are much too dark, so the software goes ahead and boosts exposure in those areas, thus creating, alas, obtrusive shadow noise. For me, this is a little too clever: if you want to give me this feature, make it something that I can turn on and off. But it’s built-in and can’t be turned off: in order to compensate you have to use a higher ISO and overexpose. No thanks.


The bottom line is that I took a lot of photographs with the camera, but for some reason I never got images that I really liked. This almost goes into the realm of the mystical, because it’s really impossible to pinpoint why certain cameras work and others don’t.

I was happy enough with my old Olympus E-510, but its mode dial didn’t work even after paying for repairs. Olympus has no obvious upgrade path that would address the exposure issue, since one would necessarily assume that the next model up, the E-30, would have the same (exposure) functionality.

This Christmas I had a bit of a financial windfall! So, as I’ve noted, I’ve now been extensively utilizing the Nikon D90. A report on this will be forthcoming.

Photo: Olympus Gear to Ship—Marin County, 2010

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