A brilliant, feature-filled SLR
- Impressive pictures, great exposure handling, dust reduction works well, sensor-based stabilisation
- Live View autofocus still slow, menus can be confusing
Olympus' E-520 is a great D-SLR that is more than capable of competing with the big guns from Canon and Nikon. Its images are impressive and the feature set is robust enough to satisfy all but the most demanding photographer.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
Competing against units from the likes of Nikon and Canon is a tough ask for any camera, but Olympus’ latest mid-range SLR, the E-520, is up to the task. Olympus has been working hard to position itself to compete against the big guns of the camera world.
Like past Olympus SLRs, the E-520 sports a 10-megapixel LiveMOS sensor. Lenses are mounted using the four thirds system, which means they won’t be compatible with a lot of other manufacturers, although Panasonic and Leica units will be fine. Our test bundle was a dual lens kit with both 14-42mm and 40-150mm lenses; despite being a low cost option the lenses performed well.
Shots were crisp and sharp, with good resolution and detail. Testing with Imatest revealed the camera is competitive with other 10-megapixel units; your snaps should be suitable for sizeable enlargements. Chromatic aberration wasn’t an issue, with no fringing noticeable on high-contrast edges.
One feature of the E-520 that Olympus is touting is Shadow Adjustment, which essentially improves the dynamic range. The improvement wasn’t enormous, but we were extremely impressed with the overall exposure of our shots. Everything was well balanced, with highlights not appearing blown-out and detail was well rendered in dark areas.
Colours were also impressive. Everything looked accurate while using the natural colour mode, with the possible exception of some slightly oversaturated reds. For a more vibrant look you can switch to the vivid mode, which ramps up the saturation noticeably while still producing nice pictures.
Noise was generally well controlled. It began to creep in a little at ISO 800 and there was a small amount of detail lost at ISO 1600, but those shots will still be fine for small and medium prints.
Users may not need to use high sensitivities too often, however, as the unit comes with image stabilisation. Built into the body, like on previous Olympus cameras, this system is compatible with any lens you attach to the camera. Olympus claims it offers four EV steps of protection; it certainly did an excellent job of keeping the picture crisp.
The other feature of note is Live View, which is a technology that Olympus pioneered several years back. Allowing users to use the LCD screen to frame their shots is a nice bonus for novices but it does have its flaws. This time around contrast detect autofocus is included, meaning you can autofocus without losing sight of the image (unlike on some competing models). It also offers 100% field of view, ensuring no cropping is required during post-processing. However, the autofocus is still sluggish and won’t be suitable for many shooting situations.
One thing that does assist the Live View is the new improved 2.7in Hypercrystal II LCD. We tested it in bright sunlight and were impressed by its ability to retain clarity even under glary circumstances. Having a large screen is important to many users more familiar with compact cameras; its presence here should help draw in SLR novices.
Another technology that makes a welcome return is dust reduction, and it is as impressive as always. SLR users constantly struggle with dust accumulating on the sensor when they change lenses; while many companies have devised ways to deal with this, Olympus’ system is still the most effective.
There is the usual array of shooting modes (aperture, shutter, program and manual) along with auto and a variety of scene modes (which are included in the function dial). Wireless flash support has been thrown in, and it is pretty simple to use — a boon for portrait lovers.
The burst mode snapped at exactly four frames a second in our tests and the overall performance was speedy. Autofocus speeds were particularly impressive, with everything functioning quickly and quietly. Start-up did take a little longer than some competitors at 1.2 seconds, but this is because of the sensor cleaning mechanism.
Like the E-420 the E-520 is a pretty small unit. While not as diminutive as its cheaper sibling, it is nonetheless quite portable. The flipside to this is that it isn’t as sturdy as some SLRs, but the plastic build is solid and we love the feel of the hand grip.
There are a host of buttons, which may be confronting for some beginners. Olympus likes to give you several ways to achieve the same thing, which results in a lot of bits and pieces. However, once you have everything down pat it is quite intuitive. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the menu. It is quite convoluted at times and we needed to refer to the manual more than once during the test period.
Join the newsletter!
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Ballistix Sport AT
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Toys for Boys
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
ESET Smart Security Premium
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Internet Security
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Developing data science skills is one of the best things that you can do for your career.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 3 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
- 4 Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
- 5 Huawei Nova 3i review: All Sell, No Soul
Latest News Articles
- DJI launches Osmo Pocket stabilised camera
- PAX AUS 2018: Alienware isn't looking to sell a gaming smartphone just yet
- Fujifilm launches Cashback promotion of up to $1,000
- Fujifilm unveils latest Rangefinder style GFX 50R
- Panasonic develops its first full frame mirrorless cameras
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Oppo R17 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?