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Olympus E-20

Olympus updates their bargain-priced Pro SLR with a 5 megapixel sensor and improved electronics

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 11/28/2001

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True 5-megapixel sensor for resolution to 2,560 x 1,920
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High-quality 4x zoom lens, 35-140mm equivalent
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Unique SLR design with beam-splitter for live LCD preview
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Very flexible exposure controls, good user interface
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Exceptional low light capability


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Manufacturer Overview
Olympus continues to be one of the real powerhouses of the digital photography world, with on of the broadest lines of camera models in the industry. Their products range from rock-bottom entry level models to the 5 megapixel "Pro" SLR that's the subject of this review.

The E-20N is clearly intended to compete at the highest image quality levels of the digital SLR field, thanks to its true 5.24-megapixel CCD resolution. This review is based on a full-production model of the E-20N, and the results are impressive indeed. With an initial selling price of $1,999 US, the E-20 is thousands cheaper than most competing models, and actually outperforms them in some areas. After spending a week or so with the camera, I found myself liking it quite a bit, although there are a few quirks in its design that I'd change if I could: The combination of high image quality, good optics, excellent low light capability, and a relatively compact design (smaller than many film-based SLRs) added up to quite a package. I suspect there will be a lot of people for whom $4,000 plus for one of the competing SLR models (including a lens) would be an uncomfortable stretch, but who can happily find the $2,000 for an E-20. Olympus' earlier E-10 digital SLR was very popular, the new E-20 looks like it will continue in the same vein. Read on for the details...


High Points

  • 5.24-megapixel CCD delivering up to 2,560 x 1,920 pixel resolution images.
  • 4x professional ED (Extra Dispersion) glass 9-36mm lens (35-140mm equivalent on a 35mm camera).
  • Optical, SLR viewfinder with focusing screen and full information display.
  • 1.8 inch (4.5cm) LCD monitor that tilts upwards.
  • Auto and manual focus.
  • Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Bulb exposure modes.
  • Aperture adjustable from f/2.0 to f/11.0.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/18,000 to 120 seconds.
  • Adjustable white balance with three operating modes.
  • Built-in, popup flash with five modes.
  • Hot shoe and PC sync terminal for mounting an external flash unit.
  • Sequence, Time-Lapse, and Auto Bracketing shooting modes.
  • Adjustable ISO and metering modes.
  • Infrared and wired remote control capabilities.
  • Sturdy, cast aluminum body.
  • Uncompressed TIFF, Olympus RAW data, and JPEG file formats (Olympus RAW Photoshop plug-in included).
  • Images stored on SmartMedia or CompactFlash Type II memory cards, with a 16-megabyte SmartMedia card included.
  • 32-megabyte buffer built-in for quick burst photography.
  • Video output for image playback (NTSC in US, Japan on the -N model, PAL in Europe, on the -P version).
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • Power from two lithium CR-V3 batteries, four AA alkaline, NiCd, or NiMH, or optional lithium polymer battery.
  • USB cable for high speed connection to a computer.


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