Price (RRP): $1,199
Reviewer: Byer Gair
With a street price close to $1,000 this Olympus camera will win many friends, equipped with its near 3x zoom kit lens and imaging to an eight megapixel CCD. The maximum image size is 3264 x 2448 pixels, leading to a print measuring 37 x 28 cm.
The CCD dust cleaner in the E-500 (and in all Olympus D-SLR models) is a first class arrangement and actually shakes off any dust particles from the sensor each time the camera is turned on. Alternatively, you can manually clean the image sensor – but do so carefully.
In size, the E-500 is pretty much like its competitors but weighs only a little over 700 grams, with battery and card loaded. If you do a lot of travelling, a relatively lighter weight camera is an important anti-fatigue factor.
The camera feels well balanced in the hand, with most controls close to the fingers of the right hand, leaving the left hand free to manage the lens for zooming or to perform manual focus.
Direct control of the camera is tapped via the top mode dial, offering the exposure options plus a number of scene modes (portrait, sports, macro shooting and more). The nearby control dial drives more choices, concerned with white balance, ISO sensitivity, aperture, shutter speed and other parameters.
The E-500 is notable for offering a choice of two card formats: the tried and trusted CompactFlash format or the tiny xD-Picture Card, pioneered by Olympus and some others.
Couple with this convenience is a wide choice of image capture formats: JPEG in two qualities, TIFF and RAW. You can also shoot RAW format, accompanied by a simultaneously captured JPEG.
Load up a large memory card – sayÃ‚Â 1 or 2GB – and you can shoot in continuous mode at 2.5 fps, saving the images right up to the card’s full capacity.
The camera also has a wide range of shutter speeds, from 60 seconds to 1/4000 second. For low light fans there is also a Bulb setting, allowing for time exposures up to eight minutes.
Focus modes are similarly generous: select from a three-point auto setting or manual, or an auto focus setting for single frame capture or you can set up command the system to track a continuously moving subject.
If you attach an external flash unit you can manually adjust the output of the flip-up flash cell to balance the overall lighting, just like the pros do!
This model is seriously worth consideration, thanks to its wide feature set, attractive pricing and access to a varied range of quality Olympus lenses.
The shots taken with the E-500 are well in line, quality-wise, with the output of any other Olympus D-SLR. And that’s saying something!
When heading for the store, cash or card in hand, be prepared to bargain, with the likelihood that you can win the E-500 plus a larger memory card and maybe another lens ? and still be looking at less than $1,400.