The most compact and lightweight mid-range DSLR on the market, the Olympus E-620, looks a tad toy-like next to the chunkier likes of the Nikon D5000 and Canon 500D.

But make no mistake: this is a serious piece of image-snapping kit, aimed at the semi-experienced market.

Bristling with buttons

The back and top plates of this 12.3MP camera are bristling with more buttons than an open casting for Cinderella, which may scare off photographic newbies weaned on point-and-shoot snappers.

On the other hand, those who know the difference between AEL and ISO will love the fact that they can speedily tweak almost any setting without having to enter the menus.

The back plate is dominated by an articulated 2.7in screen, which can be tilted and swivelled in almost any direction - even towards the front of the camera, which is handy for those brooding self-portraits destined to end up as your Facebook/Twitter profile.

Fast live view autofocus

The screen supports live view (but not HD video capture, sadly), and can autofocus surprisingly rapidly when set to this mode - only the Sony A350 and A380 can fix a subject faster in live view.

Switch back to the optical viewfinder and instead of live view, the screen displays the current settings.

Photography-wise, the E-620 offers the usual manual, shutter, aperture and program priority modes alongside five scene settings (sport, landscape, macro, portrait and nighttime) and a fully automatic mode. There’s also a new 'art filter' setting, allowing you to shoot in six arty styles such as ‘grainy film’ and ‘pinhole camera’.


Effective filter modes

Seasoned shutterbugs might dismiss these as mere gimmicks, but they’re a heap of fun to use - particularly ‘grainy film’, which really delivers striking high-contrast black-and-white results.

The great thing about these ‘filters’ is that they work with live view, so you can preview the results before you even release the shutter.

Four Thirds form factor

Like all Olympus DSLRs, the E-620 uses the Four-Thirds systems, making it compatible with Olympus’ own auto focus Zuiko lenses, plus some Panasonic and Sigma lenses.

Four-Thirds uses a smaller sensor than other DSLRs, which allows the lenses and bodies to be more compact but also means noise can be slightly more evident in higher ISO shots.

Otherwise the results are excellent, although like with any DSLR a lot will depend on the lens being used. The 14-42mm kit lens supplied here is a solid performer, and the in-body image stabilisation means that it - or any other lens you use - gets the benefit of anti-shake tech.


Stuff says... 

Olympus E-620 review

A solidly built, compact and deceptively powerful mid-range DSLR. Video would have made it a killer