E-520 to join Olympus's DSLR lineup this summer
by David Rasnake -  5/12/2008

Olympus named an heir to its popular E-510 DSLR this evening with the release of the Olympus E-520.

Olympus E-520

A relatively light upgrade to the E-510 platform, the 10 megapixel E-520 – which shares its sensor and processor with the previous model – features improved live view functionality (including the addition of face detection technology) first seen on the E-420, a more advanced in-body image stabilization system, Olympus's Shadow Adjustment Technology to compensate for wide dynamic range shots, and a larger 2.7-inch LCD.

Olympus E-520

The E-520's live view (a technology that allows the user to compose images on the camera's LCD, as with a point-and-shoot device) implementation now features contrast-detection auto focus. Contrast AF uses the camera's imager to acquire focus, meaning no mirror motion to use AF, and thus no "black out" period while the camera focuses in live view mode. The inclusion of face detection technology, which optimizes exposure for and locks focus on faces detected in the frame, furthers the connection between Olympus's latest DSLR and the user-friendly features of the latest generation of compact digicams.

A 2.7-inch HyperCrystal II display improves the live view experience as well, providing a larger composition area, wider viewing angles, and improved contrast over the E-510's 2.5-inch LCD. The slight size increase of the display has done little to change the overall shape and layout of the latest 500-series Olympus camera when compared to its predecessor, with the E-520 retaining the E-510's basic shape, size, and control layout.

Olympus E-520

In spite of these apparently entry-level focused improvements, the E-520 remains a camera that should have strong appeal among the advanced amateur set, with a range of dedicated controls and a slightly more mature interface than some of its competitors. To this end, Olympus has incorporated wireless flash control for its FL-50R and FL-36R flashguns into the E-520. Per the manufacturer, the new camera is able to control up to three flash groups independently via its wireless protocol, with multiple flash units in each group. From all indications, this improvement should put the new E camera on the cutting edge of flash control technology in this price class.

As noted, the E-520 uses the same 10.0 megapixel Four Thirds format CMOS sensor and TruePic III processor employed in the E-510, as well as the familiar three-point AF system. Continuous shooting speed is up slightly from the previous model, to 3.5 fps – making the E-520 potentially among the fastest sub-$1000 DSLRs on the market.

Sensor-shift image stabilization from the E-510 is carried over to the E-520 as well, though the system has been reworked slightly to include a new mode that compensates for portrait-orientation camera panning (in addition to the landscape-orientation panning and default two-axis stabilization modes already in place in the previous model).

The Olympus E-520 is slated for retail availability in July, with an anticipated street price of around $600 for the body alone, or $700 with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko kit lens.

To see a hands-on first look at the E-520, head on over to our Olympus E-520 First Thoughts.

Olympus E-520 Specifications:

Sensor10 megapixel Live MOS, Four Thirds format (17.3x13.0mm)
Lens/ZoomFour Thirds system mount, 2x crop factor
LCD/Viewfinder2.7", 230K-pixel HyperCrystal II TFT LCD; optical viewfinder
SensitivityISO 100-1600
Shutter Speed60-1/4000 seconds
Shooting ModesAuto, Program, Apeture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene
Scene PresetsPortrait, Landscape, Landscape+Portrait, Night Scene, Night+Portrait, Children, Sports, High Key, Low Key, Digital Image Stabilization, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks, Documents
White Balance SettingsLamp, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Daylight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade
Metering Modes Digital ESP, Center-Weighted Average, Spot
Focus Modes3-point TTL phase-difference detection system, 11-point contrast detection AF; Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual Focus, S-AF+MF, C-AF+MF
Drive ModesSingle Frame, Sequential
Flash ModesAuto, Red-Eye Reduction, Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync, First Curtain Slow Sync, Second Curtain Slow Sync, Fill, Manual, Forced Off
Self Timer Settings
10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
Memory FormatsCompactFlash Type I/II, Microdrive, xD-Picture Card
Internal Memory
File FormatsJPEG, RAW
Max. Image Size3648x2736
Max. Video Size
Zoom During Video N/A
BatteryLithium ion rechargeable
ConnectionsUSB 2.0, AV output, DC input
Additional FeaturesFace Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology, Perfect Shot Preview, Live View, TruePic III image processor