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Learning the E-620: How big is that camera?

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"[I]t's astonishing how much Olympus has crammed into its small dimensions" (DP Review)

"Despite its compact size, the E-620 is loaded" (Pop Photo)

"The E-620 pulls most of the important features found in the company's high-end SLRs into one compact, more affordable camera" (Imaging Resource)

Whichever way you look, the E-620 is presented as a small camera. How does it stack up size-wise against my old H2?

Looking at them side-by-side, they appear a similar size. The petal shade of the 14-42 mm lens protrudes a bit further than the cone shade of the H2, but the distance from lens front to camera back is almost identical. The E-620 is a cm or so wider and a bit taller - it has a real pentamirror in that hump, after all!

Pick them up, and the E-620 is noticeably heavier. The grip is very slightly smaller at the front, but the H2 lacks the back-ridge. Neither camera is ideal for one-handed shooting, but it's certainly a possibility with both of them.

The H2 has, of course, got a 12x zoom (36 - 432 mm EFL), compared to the 3x (28 - 84 mm EFL) of the E-620. But I found that I was generally either in the sub-100 mm EFL range or right at the limit of the zoom with the H2, so this is not actually much of a loss in terms of usability. And once I got the teleconverter for the H2, it became essentially a two-lens camera - used at short focal lengths without the TC and at long focal lengths with it attached.

Put the 70-300 on the E-620 and screw the 1.7x TC onto the front of the H2 and things look different. However, this is slightly deceptive. The 70-300 has a lens hood, while the TC does not - the distance from the front element to the rear of the camera is again about the same. Holding them is now definitely a two-handed job for both cameras - the E-620 is noticeably heavier, but more comfortable. It hangs much better around the neck than the H2 in this configuration as well.

I've also used a Nikon D300 on a few occasions recently. This camera is very comfortable in the hands, but single-handed shooting is out of the question. It's when you put it around your neck that the trouble starts. The D300 is a huge, massive, ungainly thing that I can't imagine wanting to carry all-day. The E-620 definitely wins out as the camera I'd actually have with me when I wanted to take a picture!

Compared to the likes of the Nikon D300, the E-620 is small and wins hands-down on portability. Compared to the H2 it is a little larger and heavier, although not by much.

However, the H2 is a super-zoom at the very top end of the compact camera size range. A friend recently described the Panasonic FZ 35 as 'a very big camera', and that would, I think, be most people's reaction to the E-620. It's a small DSLR but still larger than around 90% of cameras sold.

So, is it worth the weight? I'd say yes, but then again I've been lugging around an H2 and a couple of accessory lenses (the aforementioned TC and a 0.7x WA converter). It's the obvious step-up in quality without much of a step-up in size.

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Updated 27th October 2009 at 09:37 PM by robminchin

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