The first Four Thirds format D-SLR with a built-in Image Stabilizer, the EVOLT
E-510 is an incredibly versatile camera in many respects. This 10-megapixel
model offers several benefits over the previous EVOLT models, including higher
resolution, the faster TruePic III processor with superior noise reduction,
plus additional features in Capture and Playback modes. But the new camera retains
the best capabilities of the earlier E-330, including the "Supersonic
Wave Filter" that eliminates sensor dust and Live View, for composing
images on the LCD monitor.
It's worth noting that there's another new E-System model, the more
affordable EVOLT E-410 ($649, street price), that's identical to the E-510
in most respects but does not include the Anti-Shake stabilizer. It's
also substantially smaller, designed for maximum portability, and features fewer
external controls. Although this review covers the E-510, I also worked extensively
with an E-410. Everything in this report--except size, handling, and discussions
about the stabilizer--applies equally to both Olympus EVOLT cameras.
E-510 is convenient to operate thanks to many analog controls
and a submenu (shown here) that allows for quickly selecting frequently
used functions. Naturally, many other advanced features are also
available in the full electronic menu, including a wide range
of overrides plus options for modifications in Playback mode.
Design And Capabilities
A mid-size D-SLR with a large, well-sculpted handgrip, the E-510 is much heavier
than the E-410 because of a much larger battery and the new Anti-Shake mechanism.
The viewfinder is bright and contrasty but is a bit small, as with every camera
that employs the Four Thirds size (17.3x13mm) sensor. But the high-resolution,
wide-view LCD monitor (fixed, without any articulating mechanism) is quite large.
It's great for image preview or playback and for viewing the various menu
items in a fairly large font. The camera sports analog controls for most of
the frequently used features, all conveniently placed and well marked.
First time D-SLR buyers will find the E-510 easy to use thanks to the 18 fully
automatic, subject-specific Program modes selected with the SCENE setting on
the mode dial. Information as to the intent of each mode is displayed on the
LCD monitor when you scroll to the right with the four-way controller. When
appropriate, the built-in flash pops up automatically in Scene modes. All of
this is quite simple and great for a novice.
at default settings--without using any of the numerous in
camera overrides--the E-510 often produced photos of excellent
quality. As we'll see however, there are a couple of methods
for getting even greater detail and sharpness from the new 10-megapixel
Live-MOS sensor. (Image made at ISO 200 using a Zuiko 50-200mm
ED zoom and a Hoya S-HMC polarizer.)
All Photos © 2007, Peter K. Burian, All Rights Reserved
Olympus provides a multitude of advanced options as well, making the E-510
among the most versatile cameras in its price range. Some of the most frequently
used items are available in a submenu, accessed with the [OK] button on the
camera back. Additional functions can be found in the five-part electronic menu.
In spite of the logical layout, menu navigation is tedious because of the sheer
number of items for customizing the camera. And some of the features definitely
call for a review of the instruction manual for full specifics as to their purpose
and value. After an initial setup to meet personal preferences however, there's
rarely a need to access the full menu.
Like the Sony Alpha and current Pentax D-SLRs, the E-510 incorporates an Anti-Shake
mechanism that shifts the entire sensor module. When the Live View feature is
on, the effects of the Image Stabilizer (IS) can be previewed on the LCD monitor.
Olympus employs a proprietary stabilizer with "blurring frequency analysis/
detection" to determine the type of camera shake and a Supersonic Wave
Drive motor to adjust the sensor module's position. Three options are
available for selection with the [IS] button. Off is recommended when using
a tripod or to save battery power. The IS 1 mode is for multipurpose use; it
compensates for vertical and horizontal shake. Designed for panning, IS 2 mode
provides stabilization only for up/down camera shake; it does not try to compensate
for your intentional horizontal camera movement.
Unique to Olympus in the "affordable" D-SLR category,
Live View allows for composing on the LCD monitor with an accurate
depiction of exposure and white balance. Depth of field preview
is also available in Live View, great for assessing the range
of acceptable sharpness from foreground to background. (Image
made at ISO 100 in JPEG capture, with Vivid mode, using a Zuiko
50-200mm ED zoom and a Hoya S-HMC polarizer.)
Live View Technology
Unlike the earlier EVOLT E-330, the E-510 offers only one Live View mode for
composing images on the LCD monitor. Press the pertinent button and the camera
automatically flips the reflex mirror out of the sensor's light path.
Once that obstruction is removed, light can strike the Live-MOS sensor. The
image data is directed to the 2.5" LCD monitor for a preview with an overlay
providing full shooting data. The LCD monitor no longer flips out as it did
on the E-330, but it does provide a very wide 176Þ viewing angle.