Olympus EVOLT E-520 Digital Camera Review$599.99
The E-520 is a solid, well-made camera that manages to be compact without feeling cramped. The matte black plastic body feels substantial, and its look is tied together by minor blue highlights on the lens, control dial and a few other spots.
A detailed, point-by-point description of the camera body and controls follows.
The front of the E-520 remains primarily unchanged from its predecessor, the EVOLT E-510. The rubberized hand grip on the far left is substantial enough that those with larger hands will have an easy time holding the camera steady. Slightly below vertical center on the grip is the infrared receiver for use with remote controls.
At approximately seven o’clock from the lens is the small, off-white '10.0 Megapixel' lettering. Directly above the lens and below the flash is the large, white Olympus logo. The built-in flash unit projects forward from the body, rising cobra-like from behind the Olympus logo.
In the top right corner of the front of the body is the E-520 logo, resplendent with Olympus’ distinctive stylized E, colored in the same off-white tone as the 10 megapixel label. Directly below the E-520 is the "iS IMAGE STABILIZATION" badge. This badge is composed of a separate piece of plastic from the rest of the body, and is lettered in gold. In the bottom right corner of the body is the reflective blue and white Four Thirds logo, indicating that the camera accepts Four Thirds format lenses.
The front of the body is composed primarily of textured black plastic, except for the rubberized grip, and the image stabilization badge and the lens release button, which are plain black plastic rather than textured.
The well proportioned hand grip is a pleasure to use
The E-520’s LCD is a 2.7 inch HyperCrystal II, featuring 15 levels of brightness and color temperature control, and a 230,000 pixel resolution. The screen projects out from the back by a couple of millimeters, with a nicely beveled edge. It has an Olympus logo on the top edge of the black border that surrounds the screen.
Directly above the LCD is the viewfinder, which is bordered by a rubber eyecup. This eyecup can be removed, albeit with some difficulty, and replaced by a black plastic cover to prevent light leaks when using the Live View function. While not required, this cover can prevent errors in metering. To the right of the viewfinder is the diopter adjustment control, which is small, plastic and stiff.
Above the viewfinder is the industry-standard hot shoe, which has a small plastic protector to save the exposed contacts from the elements. To the left of the viewfinder are small icons indicating the playback functions of the rearmost button on the top of the camera.
On the far left of the LCD is a column of four buttons: Playback, Delete, Menu and Info. The buttons are all in small recesses in the body, with a raised border both above and below the Delete button, most likely to prevent you pressing it by accident. Helpfully, the Playback button is colored blue, and all buttons that have an alternate function during Playback have the appropriate icon similarly hued. This makes identifying Playback functions far clearer.
Above the upper right corner of the LCD screen is the AEL/AFL lock button, which also serves to set image protection during playback mode. Along the upper edge of the right side of the LCD screen are two buttons, Image Stabilization and Live View. Below and to the right is the four-way controller, with a central OK button. When not navigating menus, the up button accesses white balance controls, the right controls auto focus, the bottom opens up ISO settings and the left sets metering. Directly below the four-way controller is a rubber cap protecting the multi-connector. Rather than having a standard mini-USB or video out cable, a single proprietary port handles both duties.
Above the four-way controller lies a rubberized pad for your thumb to rest on when grasping the camera. This makes for an easy grip, but those with larger thumbs may find themselves accidentally hitting the top button of the four-way controller. In the top right corner are two buttons: Fn (function), which can be programmed to a variety of tasks, and immediately to the right of that, the auto focus target selector. Below these is a small LED which signals reading or writing of the memory card. Finally, on the far right of the back lies the media door, which lacks a proper latch and feels as though it might come loose after repeated use. When opened the media slots are easily accessed, with slots for both CompactFlash and xD cards.
The back is busy, but doesn't feel cluttered
Left Side* (4.25) The left side of the E-520 is almost entirely featureless, with only a partially inset eyelet for the neck strap.
The left side houses little besides the eyelet*
The right strap eyelet is likewise partially inset and at the top of the right side. The rear half of this side is taken up by the media door, and the front by the rubberized grip.
Rubberized hand grip and media bay door*
The chromed shutter button sits comfortably in the normal position, surrounded by a thin ridge of plastic. The button itself is appropriately sensitive, with both the half-press and full-press feeling distinct. Behind and slightly to the left of the shutter button is the smaller exposure compensation button. The mode dial sits directly to the right of the viewfinder/flash. The dial itself is rather stiff, but makes a satisfying click when it changes between modes. The power switch lies beneath the mode dial and extends as a small lever. Its placement makes it rather easy to turn off, but difficult to switch on. At approximately eleven o’clock from the mode dial sits a small blue LED labeled SSWF, which flashes when the Super Sonic Wave Filter dust removal system is active.
Behind and to the right of the mode dial lies the easily accessible control dial. It is well ridged and easy to rotate with your thumb.
To the left of the viewfinder hump are two chrome buttons. The further forward controls the flash. Pressing it once deploys the flash, and a second time activates a menu allowing you to choose one of eight different flash modes. The second, likewise multi-functional, button allows selection between single shot or burst mode, self-timer or remote control while shooting, and copying or printing while in Playback mode.
Clearly labeled and well positioned function controls abound**
Apart from informational stickers, the underside of the E-520 holds two major features, the tripod mount and the battery compartment. The tripod mount is sensibly aligned with the camera’s optical axis. It is surrounded by ridged plastic, presumably to prevent against slippage.
The battery compartment is held shut by a rather stiff latch, and is reinforced by a metal plate. When open, the battery is held in place by a small red tab to prevent it falling out.
Ridged for stability*