View Full Version : Bodies / Media E-500

09-30-2005, 02:22 PM
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10-03-2005, 03:12 PM
To come at some point.

10-03-2005, 03:16 PM
Other reviews on the Net:

10-03-2005, 03:18 PM
Please use this format, or else you will be deleted!!!
price paid:
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12-31-2005, 08:55 AM
Here is my humble review of the E-500 body.

I have the E-300 and the E-1 as well.

The E-500 body is light and does not have the feel and weight of the E-1.
It is slightly larger than the E-300.
The viewfinder, as far as I can tell, is about the same as the E-300.
The E-300 seems a little heavier, and slightly different to hold.
The on-board flash on the E-500 is good for what I do, but there have been reports that it will not work with an external flash mounted.


Great build quality for the class of body.
Easy to learn menus and buttons.
4/3 System body.
Good feel in the hands.
Adequate User Manual.
Olympus quality pictures.
Easy access battery door and Card Slot.
Fantastic LCD view screen on rear in both size and resolution.
8 megapixel resolution.
Good out of the box software.
Automatic firmware updates when used with Olympus Master.


The one touch white balance button is in an awkward place and is easy to push while taking a picture.
On board flash cannot be used in conjunction with FL 36 or FL50.
No firewire.
No battery grip.
No LCD screen on the top to check settings.

Price paid: By the time I got all through, $723.00 with 14-45 and 40-150 lenses.

02-24-2006, 08:11 PM
How do you like the icture quality? I am thinking of getting one as a backup camera.

03-25-2006, 09:36 AM
I bought an E-500 two-lens kit in early December 2005. It was my first digital SLR; I have been using the OM 35 mm SLR system since 1977, and got into digital with P&S models (2 MP Fuji, 4MP Canon A80) over the past few years. I have no experience with Canon, Nikon or other brands of DSLR; I waited until some manufacturer would get a model on the market that compared well and that was affordable. And yes, as an OM user I have always been biased towards Olympus. The dust buster was the deal maker for me, and from the first moment I held it I knew it handled well.

Light, very good ergonomics, decent build quality (whatever I have seen from the entry-level Canons etc. turned me away from those, I don't want to carry an SLR that is so obviously a plastic camera).
The menu is excellent, with the possibility to access most settings directly by pressing OK and picking it from the settings screen instead of through many levels of menus. The LCD is large and bright. I don't miss a top settings LCD, but then I never had a camera with one (OMs never had them either).
Resolution is good, at 8 MP, and I like the wide choice of image settings. The SHQ JPEGs are very good, with almost total absence of compression artefacts. I love the detailed control over HQ and SHQ settings, specifying the resolution and compression factors in such detail. I often shoot RAW+JPEG and can the set the JPEG to precisely the quality I may need for the situation at hand.
Image quality straight out of camera is OK, as in any SLR when you have mastered the settings a bit, and provided of course that the shot was properly exposed. As someone who has developed and printed his own BW work for more than 25 years I prefer to do a lot of post-processing though, and for that I love the RAW format.
The lenses are probably better than one might expect from such consumer, entry-level zooms. They are certainly good enough to keep them around until I find the money to upgrade. Olympus never compromised on the quality of their glass even in the old days, and it shows. The 40-150 mm is particularly good. The 14-45 is just OK.
CF media was another deal maker. I had several of those cards, and an adapter to use them in a PCMCIA slot in my laptop. They are sturdy, and cheaper per MB at large sizes than most other types.
The shutter has decent feel and there is little vibration. It is not the quietest shutter around, but not very noisy either.
I got an adapter and can use my OM lenses on it. The 2 times crop factor effectively turned my Panagor 400 mm into an 800 mm equivalent and I have been shooting pictures of birds a lot this winter.
It has fast flash sync compared to a classic 35 mm SLR (OM1 and OM2 only had 1/60 second, I have tested the E-500 up to 1/320 before some shutter curtain shadow became visible), 1/250 is certain, so one can use fill flash outdoors; and the flash data connector points on the hot shoe have been placed so that older OM-series TTL flashes do not cause false contacts. I can happily use my Quick Auto 310 or my T-32 on it.
Infrared remote is handy (I got a cheap Chinese IR remote on eBay for a few euros, and it works up to about 7 metres).
Good battery life; you can usually just keep on shooting all day.


I would have liked a larger viewfinder with a higher eyepoint. It's a bit difficult to see it all with my glasses on. The viewscreen should have been more matted to facilitate manual focus. It's possible for someone who has been used to manual focusing for many years, but it's not easy. Interchangeable screens would have been a nice feature.

No cable release and no flash connect port. I think that is the major gripe with this model. Put it on a tripod and you want to hook up a cable release. I don't understand Olympus omitted that. The IR remote helps some, but first, it is on the front (understandable for self portraits), and second its reaction is slow: first the camera needs to accept the signal, then it beeps, then it fires. Together it takes a second or so, and that is way longer than the instant reaction of a cable release. The bird you want to capture has already moved. And it just is not handy or reliable when you need to hold the remote out in front and above the camera, pointing back, when you are behind the cam looking through the viewfinder at your 800 mm-equivalent tele image to capture the moment. So you end up shooting with your finger on the shutter button anyway. I can image this being a deal breaker for some people.
The lack of a flash sync port may be solved with an adapter on the hotshoe, but the lack of a cable release can not be solved. I would gladly have traded the IR remote for an electronic cable release socket. And why not a radio remote instead of IR? At least you can use that from any position, not just the front.

As said, battery life is very good, but I would have preferred the option of using rechargeable AA's. You can always get a blister of four Duracells in any tobacco shop or gas station to keep you going. With a proprietary battery, lose or damage your charger and it's end of story. One of the first things I did was buy two more cheap backup batteries and a 3rd-party charger that will also work from the car's 12V lighter socket. On long trips in wild areas (as I did when I was longer and carried as much weight in my backpack as I now carry all day in excess fat around the waist ;-( ), you would need to carry a stack of expensive BLM-1 batteries, and taking a handful of extra AAs would be a lot cheaper (flash units, flashlights, GPS receivers and many PDAs also use AAs, and using just one fast charger for everything would be handier; now one may need to carry a multi-outlet block along on trips as well).

It's not weather sealed, and not as sturdy as a full-metal body, and I would hesitate to use it with the same impunity as I did with my OM-1/OM-2 in the old days. In spite of the very decent build quality, it does not give the impression that it would certainly survive me falling on top of it or it banging into a steel fuel tank during a firm landing in a hot-air balloon, if not protected by a high-quality padded camera bag (being a balloon pilot, that matters to me; unfortunately, for aerial landscape photography, one also needs high resolution to resolve all the endless detail - I know pros who use 16MP for that - and the 5MP of an E-1 is not enough; 7 - 8 MP is only just sufficient).

The manual focus ring of the kit lenses, especially that of the 14-45, is fairly useless. On the 40-150 I can get it to work, but I hate the lack of a clear 'stop' at infinity and a distance/DOF scale, and the feel is way inferior to that of the old OMZ lenses. I tried both the long Panagor 400 mm and my OM Zuiko 100 mm f/2.8 on it using the adapter, and those old lenses are way easier to focus manually than the modern ones with the fly-by-wire focus rings. I suppose/hope that the pro-series lenses are better in this respect. I also do not see much reason for the choice between two focusing directions. In its standard setting it focuses the same way as an old OMZ lens, why not just keep it that way and have a clear stop at infinity?

Aperture control should, in my old-fashioned view, be on the (front of the) lens. It is a lens function, not a body function. It would make full manual control much easier: shutter speed wheel on the body for the right thumb, aperture with the left hand that is holding the lens. There is a certain logic in the old way of doing these things. Which is a remark valid for almost any DLSR, it seems.

price paid: about 800 euros with 14-45 and 40-150 mm kit lenses, in a photo store in the Netherlands.

Conclusion: the E-500 is a very decent camera with advanced capabilities at a very decent price. It is a good tool that will allow one to take very good pictures (the camera does not take pictures, the person holding it does). With a cable release connector (mechanical or electronic, I don't really care; most likely electronic) it would have been even better.
I would really like to see Olympus bring out a few more really good, fast prime lenses for the 4/3rds system. Like a 25 mm f/1.4.
I don't care about the noise. It's way overhyped. It is hardly an issue up to and including 400 ISO, and I have shot in 800 and even 1600 ISO and removed the noise in post-processing. Just shoot RAW in high ISO and run the image through RAWShooter Premium. Want to see noise? Use a P&S digicam at anything higher than 100 ISO. My Canon A80 at 400 was a disaster compared to the E-500 at 1600 ISO.

05-21-2006, 08:24 AM

This is my first digital SLR, after moving up from a point & shoot. Although the learning curve has been steep, the camera itself is easy to master. The functions are clearly marked, the menus are good, and the buttons are nicely placed. The manual is OK, but I have learned far more about how to use this camera from Internet resources like this forum. That being said - read the manual! Several times! Some things on the camera are NOT obvious. For example, setting ISO to "auto" means that ISO is stuck on 100 unless you are using the flash, in which case the camera will change it. If you are shooting without a flash, you will need to adjust ISO manually if you want anything other than 100.

The price is very attractive, especially with the current rebate. The kit lenses are light, good, and they produce fine results if you know what you are doing. :D My first month's pictures were terrible because I didn't know how to properly use the camera or adjust exposure, focus, zoom, etc. The lenses and camera produced much better results once I figured out how to properly use the camera!

The camera feels nice in my hands. I can see where, for a man with really large hands, it might be too small, but for me it's perfect. I've used with more expensive, heavier lenses and it still feels great.

The more my photography skills improve, the better pictures I take. :D I feel that this camera is only limited by the skills of the photographer in terms of picture quality. It is a very, very nice camera. If you are new to DSLRs, you can use the included "scenes" - landscape, portrait, etc. until you get up to speed with how to set the aperture and shutter yourself to achieve desired results. People poo-poo the "scene modes" but they achieve pretty satisfactory results if you a) feel like taking "snapshots" on the fly or b) need some handholding while you are coming up to speed on how to use the "A," "S," or "M" modes.

The LCD screen is great!


Additional lenses are for the most part, rather expensive. Sure, you can buy older lenses with an adaptor, but if you want "all automatic" lenses, the 4/3 lenses for the most part are pricey.

The onboard flash does NOT work together with the FL-36 flash unit. I am not sure if it does with the FL-50, but the size and design of the FL-36 prevents the onboard from being able to pop up.

The "auto" white balance is for the most part good, but can produce some ugly results under certain lighting conditions (indoors, no flash, low light). My advice is to shoot in RAW format so that you can adjust white balance later, if needed.

The manual could be improved. The included software (Master) is mediocre. It's fine for beginners but if you have more than the basic computer knowledge and/or photography knowledge, you will be frustrated by its lack of flexibility. I suggest if you are using RAW, purchasing a different developing program such as Olympus Studio, Silkypix, or RawShooter, Capture One LE, etc.

The Olympus RAW files are really big. ~14mb. If you are shooting RAW, you must purchase big CF cards, and be prepared to use a lot of hard drive space when you transfer files.

Availability - currently the e-500 is available in many places, but lenses and accessories are not as widely available, especially in local retailers. Be prepared to do a lot of online shopping unless you live somewhere like NYC. Also, the lack of a current "upgrade" camera could be a deal-breaker for some. If you think you may want to move up to bigger and better, more expensive cameras later, and aquire a bunch of expensive lenses now, the fact that Olympus hasn't announced a successor to the pro-level E1 might make you nervous. I tend to think they will eventually come out with something so that if you want to upgrade someday, you'll have something to upgrade to, but no one knows yet.

price paid: ~$700 (ncluding $100 rebate) for e-500 w/ 2 kit lenses

Other info:

If you are going with Olympus, and you think you might use a function like "LiveView" - you may want to check out the e-330 (more expensive though).

I have not found "noise" to be a problem at ISO 100-400, even 800. If you do a lot of low-light shooting, at ISO 1600+, your mileage may vary - but a noise removal program should help there.

07-20-2006, 06:11 AM
I have used this camera for about seven months now, shooting mostly racing in all kinds of weather conditions. It has seen freezing cold (below minus 20 degrees celcius), lot's of rainy days (I do try to keep it covered as it's not weatherproof), incredible amounts of dust and even the occasional shampagne shower at a podium ceremony. And it still works fine.

Pros: small and lightweight, fits very well in my hand; has a nice meny system and a big bright LCD; battery just keeps on going and going; unlike other racing photographers I never have to worry about dust; and I really, really love the colors of the pics.

Cons: buffer and fps are a bit too small; AF a tad slow; only three focus points - I really wish there was at least one that was placed lower than the center point; not very good on high ISO.

Price: about 850 for a two lens kit.