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Learning the E-620: Why the E-620?

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When I started looking for a DSLR, I had two main uses in mind. I wanted a camera for general photography (not a problem), and I wanted a camera for taking pictures of birds (slightly trickier). With a 1.7x tele-converter on my H2, I could reach an EFL of 734 mm; it would be nice to have a similar reach (and focussing in less than a couple of seconds). To make sure this was no easy task, I had a budget of $1000 to work on. I also had no chance of handling the camera prior to purchase, so everything had to be done via internet research.

The two main rivals to the E-620 are, in my opinion, the Nikon D5000 and the Canon 500D. The Olympus has proven in various tests to be up there with these two titans in most scenarios. The Nikon is better at high-iso work, but is significantly heavier. The Canon has the highest resolution but costs the most, and where it has been tested, it seems that it looses its resolution advantage completely at higher ISO. The Olympus has the best screen articulation, is not burdened with a semi-functional video mode, and comes in (with the kit lens) over $100 cheaper. But the real killer comes from the in-body IS. This substantially reduced the price of entry-level telephoto lenses: the ZD 70-300 costs at least $200 less than (stabilised) 70-300 lenses for the other two cameras. Additionally, of course, 300mm is a longer focal length on 4/3 than on APS-C, and I'll make a similar saving on any other lenses I get.

So, decision made?

Well, not quite. Panasonic had just announced that they would be bringing out a 100-300 mm lens for m4/3. I looked into this for a short while before deciding that the cost of the 100-300 would probably break my budget, when it eventually came out - and I didn't want to be waiting until next March, and then some more while Panasonic decided to actually build enough of the lens to satisfy demand! The 50-200 was still a possibility though, and prices were fairly low. What put me off this was reading a number of reviews that pointed out that the EVF blacked out for much longer than an SLR viewer. And, of course, nobody actually had them in stock.

So, back to Olympus. I found a good deal on and got the E-620 with the 70-300 and a 4 GB CF card for under $1000 (they also threw in an 8 GB CF card for free - which for a 12x card looks to be about the market value). This arrived at the end of last week, and so far I'm enjoying it, although it does have its idiosyncrasies, of which more later...

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Updated 27th October 2009 at 09:39 PM by robminchin

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  1. John Perriment's Avatar
    Hi Rob,

    Great summary of your reasons for choosing the 620. I'm looking forward to the next instalment.