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Olympus E20 Review

by Philip Greenspun, 2001


Digital photo titled berry-go-round

The world of digital cameras splits into two hemispheres. In the Southern Hemisphere there are point and shoots. These take forever to power up, a lifetime to focus, and a few decades between photographs. You can't see much through the viewfinder. You can't evaluate focus through the viewfinder because the viewfinder isn't through-the-lens. In the Northern Hemisphere there are single-lens reflexes (SLRs). The best of these work like film SLRs. Flip the on switch, evaluate your composition, focus, and settings through the big viewfinder, and snap. Want a different perspective? Unmount Lens A and mount Lens B.

Digital photo titled berry-go-round-close-up

Olympus's E-20 can best be described as straddling the Equator between these worlds. In bulk, price, and performance the camera averages the capabilities of digital point and shoots and full professional digital SLR bodies. For a bit less than $2000 you get a self-contained 5-megapixel single lens reflex body permanently attached to a 9-36mm/2.0-2.4 zoom lens (equivalent perspective to a 35-140mm lens on a 35mm camera). The camera produces 8-bit JPEGs or 10-bit RAW-format images 2560x1920 pixels in size.

If you're familiar with the Olympus E-10, the E-20 is basically the same camera with higher resolution, shorter processing delays, and some other minor improvements. In fact, so similar is the camera that we refer the reader to the photo.net review of the E-10 for many details of operation.

We still love the idea of the Olympus E-series: a real viewfinder, an ergonomic body, a lens whose coverage matches the size of the imaging sensor. But the reality of the E-20 is less than impressive, particularly considering how little improved it is over the E-10.

Operation Speed

Digital photo titled st-bernard-safety-warning Digital photo titled flying-bobs-plus-two-thirds Digital photo titled american-diet

The E-20 has the body of a professional single-lens reflex camera but the CPU soul of a cheap point-and-shoot. It is slow (6 seconds) to turn on. It is slow in between shots. It is slow when writing images to the flash card.

It isn't possible to hold a picture on the rear LCD screen by holding down the shutter release, as with Canon products. You have to switch the camera into the dreaded playback mode, in which it becomes useless as a camera and cannot take any pictures, or press a button on the rear of the camera twice. The E-10 takes several seconds to bring up the image on the LCD.

Darkness

Digital photo titled caution-horses

The E-20 should be a good companion in low light, despite its maximum sensitivity of ISO 320. The lens is a fast 2.0. Most of the controls are individual buttons and knobs that can be operated by feel. The built-in flash is powerful and pops up a reasonable distance from the lens for red-eye avoidance. The camera offers active infrared autofocus (it sends out a beam), film SLR-style contrast maximizing passive autofocus, and manual focus. For the E-20, Olympus has also added a long-exposure averaging system to reduce noise in the shadows.

Included Software

Digital photo titled compact-car-ride

A camera at this price really ought to be bundled with a lightweight version of Adobe PhotoShop. But it isn't. Olympus gives you a plug-in for PhotoShop that will let you process and manipulate the 10-bit RAW images from the camera.

All digital cameras ought to be bundled with high quality image library management tools. But the Olympus E-20 is not.

Where camera companies fail, Microsoft comes through. If you plug the E-20's USB cable into a Windows XP machine, XP recognizes the device as a camera and asks "Would you like to copy these images to the hard drive". Once you've copied the images (8-bit JPEGs only) over, the native Microsoft operating system file explorer can show you thumbnails, rotate images clockwise or counterclockwise (the E-20 is too dumb to know whether it was being held horizontally or vertically and hence does not encode vertically captured JPEGs corrected).

Competition

Digital photo titled bees

On its face, the E-20 is a poor value. For half the price and less than half the size you can get a point and shoot from Canon or Nikon that affords similar image quality and processing delays. For a bit more money you can get a 6-megapixel digital single lens reflex with interchangeable lenses, e.g., Fuji S2, Nikon D100, Canon D60, or Sigma SD9.

My personal theory is that the Olympus E-20 will appeal to middle-aged people who are accustomed to the high-quality viewfinder and logical controls of a manual film single-lens reflex. A person whose last camera was a Nikon FE or Minolta SRT-102 is never going to understand how anyone can create a good image with a point-and-shoot digital camera. At the same time such a person might not want to adopt the bulk and complexity of a full-size digital SLR. Nor might that person want to lug around unnecessarily large lenses that cover a larger image area than the digital sensor.

Where to Buy

The Olympus E-20 is stocked by

  • Adorama

For additional retailer information, see our recommended retailers page and the user recommendations section.

More

Gallery


Text and photos copyright 2001 Philip Greenspun.

Article created 2001

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Amit Barak , March 16, 2002; 10:53 A.M.

I believe someone has already commented on the lack of 'momentary photo review' in Olympus digicams -

It's there - at least in their Camedia C2020..C4040 ZOOM series.

You need to double-click the 'display' button while in 'record' mode, to toggle between play and record modes. That's quite fast, and in some ways works better than Canon's 'press-and-hold' trick: you may review all of your photos rather than just the most recently taken photo.

Uwe Steinmueller , March 16, 2002; 02:17 P.M.


Yellow Field at Hwy 1

>A person whose last camera was a Nikon FE or Minolta SRT-102 is never going to understand how anyone can create a good image with a point-and-shoot digital camera.

Phil, a very good point. I bought a G2 for travel (otherwise use a D1x) and the viewfinder is hard to get used too. I would have even my trouble using a Leica and here image quality is out of question. Also I recently looked through a Contax 645 viefinder and every 35mm viefinder looks like point&shoot in comparison.

Uwe

Vuk Vuksanovic , March 17, 2002; 01:30 P.M.

(the E-20 is too dumb to know whether it was being held horizontally or vertically and hence does not encode vertically captured JPEGs corrected).

Phil.

You've made this comment more than once when reviewing a digital camera and I don't understand why it's worth the fuss. In fact, I'd be rather pissed off if the camera guessed the final perspective of what I had in mind. With a lot of my object photography, the orientation of the camera relative to "horizon" has absolutely nothing to do with the picture I'm taking. Maybe it's an ergonomic issue with the point-and-shoot crowd, but a device like this seems about $2K beyond what they have in mind.

Andrew Grant , March 17, 2002; 01:34 P.M.

"The E-20 has the body of a professional single-lens reflex camera but the CPU soul of a cheap point-and-shoot. It is slow (6 seconds) to turn on. It is slow in between shots. It is slow when writing images to the flash card."

The above comment describes the E-XX series of cameras perfectly. However it is not just the operating speed that seperates the E-20 from the true DSLRs. Image noise is also a big problem. So much so that it completely negates the advantage of the 2.0 lens.

A much better camera for the money would be a refurb or used D30. The release of the D60 will result in a flood of used D30's hitting Ebay and proably costing less than $1500. The lenses may be oversized for now (Phil's big objection to DSLRs), but future DLSRs will have bigger sensors (the current 1D has 1.3 multiplier). You could even buy a cheap Rebel as a film backup.

Dimitri Zanopov , March 17, 2002; 01:47 P.M.

I actually agree to Philip's recurring comment about cameras too stupid to know wether they are hold vertically or horizontally. Maybe it's not always needed, maybe it's not absolutely necessary, but it should definitely be there, it's annoying to have to go through a big number of images and perform a task that the computer could easily have done for you. Saying this every time a camera is released may be an efficient method of eventually geting the attention of camera designers and making them include it in next designs. After all, it worked for Chartage.

Vuk Vuksanovic , March 17, 2002; 06:48 P.M.

To be fair, perhaps an image file "orientation" system that one can choose to employ or not is the solution. And how about a mechanism to rotate the CCD so you don't have to twist the camera?!

Patrick Hudepohl , March 18, 2002; 08:21 A.M.

Regarding the orientation sensor: I think it is worth the fuss. I've been working with a D1H lately and I've spent a large number of mouse clicks and keystrokes in ACDSee to re-orient many of my images (I like portrait/vertical shots). Knowing that a cheap HP C912 can do this trick for me automatically, I find it annoying that better and more expensive cameras don't.

Blokey Bloggs , March 19, 2002; 05:30 P.M.

This echoes the E10 in that it also 'pretends' to be a pro dslr when infact it only looks like one. It's inner workings are far from pro. The image noise it offers is terrible and it often has focusing problems too. You can't even update the firmware without sendig it back to Olympus. Olympus ripped off its customers with eye candy and sadly many, in ignorance, went for it, but not again.

Olympus has done absolutely nothing to solve the noise issue for the E10 and very little for the E20 which uses the same size ccd with more pixels and so has more noise. The D30 left the E10 dead for image and Olympus disregarded this image quality again in the E10 update - E20.

Olympus has not introduced a new model to compete with the others - it seems not to like competition. This is likely means the E series is dead and really who cares when there are the D60, D100 and SD9 who will have that field.

Samuel Lin , April 02, 2002; 11:17 P.M.

I have owned an E10 before and recently switched to an E20. The comment most of the readers made are just a little harsh on both machines. I can agree that in terms of startup and image storage speed, both cameras will result some kind of disapointment. In terms of image noise, yes, indeed, compare with some other P/S (Point and Shoot) cameras, it is not going far enough to reduce the image noise. In terms of sizing, its bulky and heavy comparing with other 5Mega Pixels DigiCam. Nonetheless, there are tons of beauty that both E10 and E20 are never being addressed by Mr. Greenspun and other readers.

The image processing speed might be slow, however, the operation of the camera is lighting fast!! I have used the Minolta Dimage 7 and Canon G2. On both Minolta and Canon, you have to press the "ZOOM BUTTON" to zoom in and out. With E10/E20, you can just turn the ZOOM RING on the lens barrel as fast as you can! Focusing of the E10/E20 is outstanding (of couse you cannot compare the F100 or EOS1V with it), however, it is above average among Digital Cameras! I have used Dimage 7 and its no match with E10/E20! When you need to compensate exposure, all you have to do is to press the compensation button on the left side of the camera and turn the command dial. All in all, if you know how to operate your EOS-1N or Nikon F90X, you will have no difficulty adapted yourself to the E10/E20. The true SLR view finder lets you view your picture composition on the fly! The true SLR View Finder helps a lot when you try to photograph live events! If anyone of you have used the Dimage 7 or Sony 707 you will know the differences between an Electronic View Finder and a True SLR!! To me, I just simply can't live with the Time Lag and Virtual Feeling on the Electronic View Finder.

Talking about the carmera construction, the E10/E20 is a match with at least Nikon F100 (which I owned one for a little more than a year and a half). I can just carried my E20 to anywhere and don't have to worry about the occassional bump or knock during the trip will damage the camera! After all both F100 and E20 are with an Aluminium Die-Casting body! The non-detachable lens is a beauty especially when I travel with this camera under a dusty environment! I don't have to suffer with dirt or dust on the CCD like other lens changable SLRs, Dust on CCD is a common problem on a lens changable digital SLR like D1X and D30. Sometime, the dirt or dust spot on the CCD will render the camera back to service shop for a cleanup!!

When it comes to Flash photography, I just set my Nikon SB28 to AUTO mode and put it on the E20. The result came out excellent (with some manual adjustment of couse). Furthermore, the E20 came with dual storage media slot, which you can use both Smart Media and Compact Flash on the Camera.

The very last thing is the pricing of the E10 and E20, indeed, it is much more expensive than the general P/S camera. Sony F707 and Coolpix 5000 is just a little over USD1000-. However, the E20 will cost you aroung USD1500- in Hong Kong. Its a 500 dollars difference and you can spend that 500 dollars on some accessories. The Fuji S1 Pro is just around the same price range, but, don't forget that the price of S1 is just the camera body! No lens attach! The other SLR type DigiCam (D1X and D30) is at least USD2500- (in Hong Kong (D1X is selling around USD$3400- in Hong Kong), which is a lot more than the E20!!

Therefore, I want to conclude that, if you don't care about the storage speed, the bulky body, the somewhat expensive price and the comparatively noisy image (which I really can't see the different with my 8X10 print), the E10 and E20 are the choice of camera for all time!!!!

Wishing from me to the E30... if the Olympus have one comming out later this year?? That would be 7MEGA CCD or even FoveonX3 with a faster Shutter speed and Storage time, 10 Frames buffer plus better control on Image noise.....would be the added and welcome features on the E30...!

Landrum Kelly , April 29, 2002; 10:41 P.M.

The real issue with regard to the E-20 is the question of the value for the price, and here it fails miserably--at least if one pays anywhere near the list price. The camera with its built-in zoom is expensive enough, but the accessories offered by Olympus are way overpriced. The large battery holder is outrageously priced, and the battery goes for over $200. (The battery holder alone is in the $200+ range.) If one buys them separately, not realizing at first that the battery is not included, then one will be paying over $500 for both the battery and battery holder. You can get them bundled for something over $400 as of this writing.

If one gets tired of the limitations of the zoom lens, the add-on lenses begin to get ridiculously expensive and unwieldy. The 3x teleconverter, which goes for about $550, requires one bracket to hold it to the camera if used without the battery pack, and another $200 bracket (no, that is no typo) if one wants to use it with the battery holder in place. The 3x teleconverter is also unwieldy and time-consuming to set up for use, although it does yield (in combination with the zoom) an effective focal length of 420mm. (The 1.45 teleconverter is not nearly as expensive or as unwieldy and yields an effective focal length of 200mm when used with the zoom.) If one pays anywhere near list for the camera, all of the requisite accessories (including adequate storage media) will push one past four thousand dollars for the entire package, thereby doubling the list price of the camera, enough to get a Nikon or Canon digicam AND a couple of really good lenses. The E-20 is indeed slow to start up and to save to the cards, although it is somewhat faster with the microdrive--but that's another $320 or so for 1GB. It is faster in 4-shot bursts (high quality mode), where there is almost no delay. The image quality is generally good, but not outstanding, considering the problem of noise.

The E-20 would be a really good value if it were priced lower, and already it is starting to drop significantly at some vendors--and it is also now available on E-Bay. It is a very convenient camera if one restricts oneself to the basic body with built-in zoom, and perhaps a macro and wide-angle converter (and possibly the smaller 1.45x teleconverter)--and lots of batteries. The 3x teleconverter probably is not a rational choice for most persons, especially if one uses the battery holder and thus the required additional bracket mentioned above. Even so, if one gets the battery holder (and sooner or later one will out of frustration), plus the longer teleconverter, it gets to be rather unwieldy and expensive in a hurry.

With the Nikon D100 looming, as well as the new Canon, no one ought to buy this camera new at this point, at least not at anywhere near list. Perhaps it had its day--at quite a premium--but that day was brief, and it is over. When one can get the basic camera for around $1,200, and the accessories for much less than they presently cost, it will be a good value. I am not a casual user of this camera. I bought mine about three months ago, and I have taken thousands of shots. I understand its strong points and its limitations, and it does have its virtues--chief among which is convenience if one keeps things simple. (It is also convenient in being free of the problem of dust on the CCD). If convenience in a 5 megapixel camera is one's prime consideration, it is a good camera. Otherwise it is a poor choice, too bulky for the point-and-shoot crowd, and not really quite in the same league with the big boys. I personally do enjoy using this camera, and it is probably a pretty good compromise for many persons, but again, at what price?

larry lambert , May 10, 2002; 10:18 P.M.

not to sound jaded or anything, but having sold cameras for a few years, and having watched digicams go thru birth to infancy to their current toddlerhood, may i add my humble perspective. four years ago the only digital slr available was from kodak. it was a gutted film camera retro-fitted with a sensor, weighed four pounds, had a piddly pixel count, cost over $10 grand, and many "made the big leap" to digital at the expense of $10 grand worth of dynamite studio film equipment. ever since then, everytime a new camera comes out people grumble about how chincy the current benchmark is. Here is forsight for you, no matter what the latest is now, six months from now it will suck to you. That goes doubly for d100 and d60, with foveon looming on the horizon. that said I am co owner of an E20, own a business, turn out 16*20 ALMOST EVERY DAY THAT SELL for hundreds more than what they cost to print, and am very happy with the camera. It takes a beating, does not falter in its workhorse duties, and has paid for itself several times over. Does it have limitations? Absolutely. will the "ohh ahh" d100 and d60 and sd9? Absolutely. will somebody who knows what they are doing work around those problems like any other camera system? answer that for yourself. After all, people just won't seem to be happy with their digicams until the camera can toast bread while taking thirty 10 megapixel pictures a second, so they are the ones fueling this continual obsolescence. Olympus has bankrupted themselves trying to keep up with the R&D dollars of the Big Two, and in the meantime turned out a nice camera that seems to get no respect from people who keep looking for the end all be all of digicams, people who want a career in photography to be packaged in a box. E20 turns high image quality, has survived shoulder height drops, HAS A QUALITY LENS ON IT ALREADY, and the button array on the body leads to a very logical digital workflow. If you are so concerned with high image quality and forward compatability, Phase one backs on hasselblads will destroy anything going in the 35mm clone digicams for quite sometime, plus you can use film whenever you want. To all the other pro's who are waiting for the "pro digicam" with the best value, let me remind you that almost every digital camera is a ridiculously poor investment unless you get money back out of it immediatley. The original cost is almost totally unimportant, you won't be able to give them away two years from now. Are you going to wait for the best one? hope you like waiting, pro photographers.

Samuel Lin , May 13, 2002; 05:07 A.M.

I have post a comment on the E-20 in earlier time. Before I put down my comment I have to stress that I am not a professional photographer, which photographing is a career. I am an amateur photographer. I enjoy photo taking. I appreciate the pictures I took. When it comes to equipment. I just require my equipment to be durable, easy to operates, reliable and gives out good result! Every camera has its limitation. E20 is not a perfect product. It does have limitation, like slow file writing speed (which I found annoying once in a while), Noise on images, Shutter speed only goes to 1/640. However, it gives out very good image quality. Colour balance is very good and even matched up with some of the US$2000 over DSLR. Writing speed is slow, but it all depands on your subject. I use the camera to photo birds and I can still capture lots of amazing images. 1/640 shutter speed is good enough on most of the subjects, because I usually go hiking with my camera and I seldom take sports pictures. In fact, I have friends that is a sports photographer for Badminton Torament and he is using a E10 too, he never complains. Therefore, I think whether to dertermine a camera is "RIGHT" or "GOOD", its all depands on what your requirement to the camera! If you just get a camera and never really visit your needs, then, I can say that any camera you get is a bad camera. However, if you have defined your requirements and get the camera that can accomodates most of your needs, then any camera can be a GOOD and even an EXCELLENT one! Take a look at the attached picture, and you will know why I like the E20 that much!

Image Attachment: P5010883.jpg

wave girl , May 27, 2002; 06:56 A.M.

I've been looking at the review, the images, and some images taken by other cameras mentioned for comparison. It strikes me that the E20 does offer value for money. The images have good colour reproduction, amazing detail, and lovely soft bokeh.

I don't think cpu and firmware is really Olympus's forte. In fact I think the firmware is pretty basic. But Olympus has always offered first-rate optics; and I for one am not middle aged but absolutely welcome digital cameras that try to be user-friendly to tradition SLR users.

Gurpreet Singh Bhasin , May 28, 2002; 06:22 P.M.

Looking at all the reviews I think that currently E-20 is better than all other D-SLRs for non pros. Especially considering that it is dust proof, since you cannot change lenses! However the less likeable aspects are slow CPU and 5 MP. If Olympus could fix the CPU and bump the image to 8MP or more and still keep it under$2000 I will sell my N90s and other lenses.

FWIW, this camera DOES feel like a real camera. I tried the Sony F-707 and it lacks the camera feel. But the E-20 feels just right.

And I am 25, not middle-aged-:)

Tom Gallo , June 06, 2002; 03:08 P.M.

I find it interesting that some folks think that folks shouldn't buy an E-20 (or E-10) for that matter, instead opting for one of the "consumer" Digital SLRs.

First, it's not just "a bit" more money for say a D60 (which was mentioned in the original review). It's more like $800 to $1000 more to get a D60. And that's ONLY the camera body. If you don't have Canon EF lenses then you have to buy some adding to the total. I can only guess that people who say "buy a D60 or D100" have very deep pockets.

Based on my experience with the E-10, I have no doubt that the E-20 produces great results. I've used an E-10 in my auto racing photography business for a year an a half now and I produce excellent results week in and week out.

I couldn't have done that with a 4mp point and shoot camera. And I certainly wouldn't still be using the same E-10 I bought 1.5 years ago if it weren't build like a tank.

If I had the resources, would I switch to an SLR system. Yes, I would, but ONLY because I could use more "reach" than the E-10 + 1.5x gets me. But I'd be forced to go with a D1 (x/h) because I doubt that the image quality in a consumer SLR would be so much better than the E-10 I have now and from handling a D30 these cameras are not of the same build quality.

Frankly, it's pretty irritating to hear all the negatives, when I'll bet most of the people criticizing the camera haven't spent all that much time the an E-10 or E-20. And I'll bet a few never even used one.

Tom Gallo http://www.bnspictures.com

William Powell , June 09, 2002; 10:43 P.M.

Before buying an E20N in April, I read all I could find about the camera. As with most products there were negative comments and positive comments. I also talked to a professional photographer friend who has an E10 and still loves it after a year and a half. Having owned both a C3030Z and a C4040Z and been completely satisfied with the quality of the cameras and the pictures they took, I decided to go ahead and get the E20N. Now that I have shot over 600 images and printed out a number of them on my Epson 1270 printer, I sure am glad that I bought the E20N.

Landrum Kelly , June 29, 2002; 09:47 P.M.

Okay, so the E-20n is a good camera, and the price is dropping. I like it and I use it all the time, as my ample supply of mediocre pictures on this site shows. The E-20n meets many persons' expectations--and even goes beyond them. The same can also be said with regard to many point and shoot cameras.

What I don't like about the E-20, in addition to the points already mentioned before, is that the add-on lenses just aren't that great. Now, maybe that doesn't even need to be said to the pros and serious amateurs, but there are probably a lot of people like me who think (or thought) that they could get the various add-ons and get really quality shots: in general one cannot. The distortions are really obvious in some cases, far beyond the levels of distortion that I am used to with my Nikon and Canon film cameras and their lenses.

So, I guess that it doesn't really come down to film versus digital for me, or any of that nonsense about whether one can make money with this camera. (There's no doubt that one can.) The real question is finally about OPTICS, and, if you like fine glass, you are going to get tired of the limitations of the E-20n in a hurry. The built-in zoom is great--but the add-on lenses are not.

There is obviously no right or wrong answer on this issue. It finally comes down to what one wants out of a camera. I am personally appalled that the limitations are not just there in the 5-megapixel CCD. They are there in the optics--at least to my eye.

Roland Stauber , July 09, 2002; 05:14 P.M.

To Lannie Kelly:

Hi Lannie, I'm not sure how and where you came up with your assessment of the Olympus Pro add-on lenses for the E-10/E-20.

I own both, and I tested them thoroughly both in real photography and under test conditions. Yes, the wide-angle converter increases distortion a little bit compared to the stand-alone lens at 35 mm (equivalent to 35 mm photography).

The total distortion at 28 mm witht his wide-converter is still less than what the Canon EF 28-105 mm 1:3.5-4.5 USM gives at the wide end.

With the telephoto add-on lens, the distortion is basically zero - not detectable.

The optical quality (sharpness, resolution, contrast) is amazing and there is basically no difference to the stand-alone lens. It is at least as good as the Canon EF 1.4x converter and better than the Canon EF 2x converter (this is just a relative comparison to express if and how much image quality gets degraded when using a converter).

Also, you don't lose any f-stops like you do with the rear-mounted converters (between lens and camera).

Overall, these Olympus converters deliver excellent quality. They have there price and are not cheap. And they are somewhat cumbersome to use. Alos, I'd like to see a little less distortion with the wide-angle converter. But I don't think it gives these lenses a fair credit when generally downgrading them.

They are by far the best add-on lenses I have ever used for anything.

Roland Stauber

Mamiya NC Series Homepage (http://people.freenet.de/stauber/mamiya-nc/)

Landrum Kelly , July 11, 2002; 05:32 P.M.

Hi, Roland. Thank you for your comments. I don't have comparative experience with other add-on lenses. I can only compare the Olympus add-ons to the primary and zoom lenses which I have used, and my assessments are indeed subjective. The wide-angle add-on for the E-20 gives GROSS distortion AT TIMES. (See the next-to-the-last paragraph below.) One doesn't need measuring instruments to detect the distortion--it hits one in the face. (I can mail you a photo showing this if you want me to. Perhaps I made errors of some sort, but the distortion in some of the photos is obvious.) As for the teleconverters, I don't find the images to be particularly crisp, and these lenses are A PAIN to use (especially the bigger teleconverter used with a battery holder on the bottom of the camera). If you can't do it with the built-in zoom on the E-20, then you are going to have use add-on lenses. No other option is available, since the camera does not allow for the use of interchangeable lenses.

Having said all that, I must say that I still love the E-20 with its built-in zoom lens, and I intend to keep using it. I just won't be using the add-on lenses very often--unless I find out that I have been doing something wrong.

One last point: the aberration is most noticeable in cases where I kept shooting as the light was fading. That might suggest that these add-on lenses work pretty well with smaller apertures, but not wide open. I'll have to check and see where the "sweet spot" is on these lenses, as well as where it is that the image really begins to degrade. Another possible cause of problems is that one is ALWAYS (with the E-20) using add-on lenses with a zoom lens--not a great recipe for success, in my non-expert opinion.

Do you find no image degradation at large apertures on the wide angle converter? Any corrections that you could make to my limited knowledge would be appreciated.

I should add that I have not noticed any problems with the macro lens.

Bruce Bonham , September 08, 2002; 10:43 P.M.

I am very pleased with the E20 and also realized the limitations when I bought one. I did a lot of reasearch and have a very good understanding of computer processing and photography. A lot of things that are described in your article are a matter of choice. First there is battery life verses speed. I expect a good balance but if I have a choice the preference is toward battery life. The E20 has proven excellent in this realm. I really don't care if the camera knows what angle it's being held. Until last year most of my photos were being taken with a OM2S or a Leica 3F Which are both excellent cameras. I'm used to taking my time. There were some elements that left certain camera out as far as digital media. The first was any the required propriatary media. That left Sony out at the first shot. The other was that they could'nt use 35mm lenses on a sensor that wasn't designed for the maximum use of the CCD sensor. In the end, the E20 was and still is the best bang for the buck available. It took a lot of work to decide that and I have no regrets.

Teo Calbaz , September 22, 2002; 02:43 A.M.

I have to agree with Larry Lambert, Being a proud and happy owner of a recently purchased Olympus E20 I must agree that Larry's points are on target. A digicam is only a tool. I did exhaustive research on all of the digicams as of Sept 2002 and weighted features based on my needs and objectives. The Olympus E20 was the winner for me. It's feature set indicated a good value for the money and I haven't looked back since. This camera was ready to go right out of the box working hard at delivering beautiful images.

Yes, the camera is slow to save images to disk. But fast on everything else. Since I generally do studio work and weddings it's not much of a problem because all of my shots are carefully set up and executed. The burst mode is there if I need to catch some occasional fast action.

Batteries? What Batteries? In the studio or on location just plug in the AC Adapter and away you go! When I did want batteries I just walked down to Best Buy and purchased a combination 1 Hour NimH Charger with four 1850ma rechargeable battries for only 39$. This gives me about four hours of average usage. The knobs and controls on the E20 are ergonomic and logically placed for efficiency and easy to use. The convenient light-up LCD control-panel provided me all the information I needed to know.

The pop-out viewing LCD panel is nice. However, I found in most cases I didn't even need it. The Viewfinder with the fast fly by wire zoom and auto focus is wonderful. Physically big? Yes, a little. Bulky? Not to me. The aluminum housing seemed solid as a rock. This camera feels professional, looks professional and produces high quality images on smartmedia, flash and IBM Microdrives.

Would I have liked to have interchangeable lenses as those found on a D60 or D100? Of course I would! But there are hazards associated with removable lenses on digital cameras. I believed the E20 a good compromise.

The zoom lense on the E20 took care of most of my needs. The high quality wide angle accessory lense, Promaster 5500 party flash, 5000 slave flash and Olympus wired remote completed my kit.

The final comment by Larry that "...almost every digital camera is a ridiculously poor investment unless you get money back out of it immediatley..." I concur with. I didn't get this camera until I had an assignment that paid for it.

Ultimately I would have loved to have purchased a medium format Mamilaya 645d with a Kodak digital back. But until that day and the gig that pays for it, I am happy with my Olympus E20 and even my older Oly 3030z.

cheers!

If you would like some alternative review sites for the Oly E20 check out these links:

Steves Digicams E-20 Review http://www.steves-digicams.com/2001_reviews/e20n.html

Imaging Resource Review http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E20/E20A.HTM

DP Review http://www.dpreview.com/news/0109/01091301olympuse20p.asp

larry lambert , December 01, 2002; 01:46 A.M.

TO ANYONE STILL CONSIDERING THIS POOR DEJECTED CAMERA: my e-20 hype value has long worn off, we find it mates AWESOME with the new Quantum T2D and X2D flashes, stopping down to 5.6 elimnates 97% of focusing problems, WE"VE DROPPED IT, let me repeat that,WE"VE DROPPED IT here and there, (it happens at weddings), and so far we haven't itched for a new wundercam. Several of our local pro's here in Florida are using the latest and greatest and still paying for it, we continue to enjoy the fact that we made one PAYMENT and were done with it. The camera got the job done, period.

Frank Benton , December 05, 2002; 03:30 A.M.

I recently purchased the E20 after comparing it to the Minolta Dimage 7HI and the Nikon 5700. I did not look at the Nikon D100 since a friend had one and spent a fortune getting it repaired because some dust got into the sensors. So, until that dust problem is solved, I decided to stay away from the interchangeable lens digital cameras. I chose the E20 because it acts like a 35mm--the viewfinder is true optical SLR, unlike the SLR "type" on the 7HI and 5700. The jerky and blurred viewfinder screen on the latter two were just simply unacceptable to me. The E20 is also much easier to use than the 7HI and 5700 and much faster to manipulate. I strongly prefer knobs over menus when I am out in the field taking pics. However, it was the shutter lag, or lack thereof, that really sold me on the E20. I have a Nikon 990 and the shutter lag just drove me crazy--I lost countless shots of subjects moving away or changing poses before the camera fired off. Although the 5700 and 7HI were much better than the 990, they were nowhere near as fast the E20. The E20 is bigger than the 5700 and 7HI. Since I am a big guy the smaller 5700 and 7Hi were just too small for my hands. The E20 is built like a tank, but then the other two were pretty solid also with their magnesium bodies. The zoom lens does not cover as much distance as the other two, but it covers virtually all the focal lengths I use. Sure, it would have been nice to go to 200 like the 7HI but this is a small drawback. As far as the most important reason for owning the camera goes--pictures--the E20 takes great pics. I've compared the pics to pics done by friends on the D100 and 5700 and they are indistinguishably good. Someone would need a loupe and have to be looking real hard to see the differences. My exposures have been what I wanted and the pics have been sharp. Colors look natural and that is all I need. As far as noise goes, I have not had a problem with it yet. But then, I don't have time to take bulb shots at the sky like some critics seem to do. Bottom line--the E20 is a great compliment to my 35mm system. I did not have to go out and buy a bunch of lens and accessories. It takes great pics, I have full creative control, the controls are relatively quick and easy to use (compared to other digital cameras but still not as quick and easy as my MZ-S), I can see clearly the shot I want to take in the optical viewfinder, it takes the pic when I press the shutter button and it's built like a tank. Highly recommend. Oh, and I am 20 years away from being "middle aged".

Landrum Kelly , February 21, 2003; 11:29 P.M.

I see that B&H is now offering the E-20 for $1299, substantially below the price a little over a year ago when I bought mine. Given that technology keeps moving on, however, I was wondering if anyone knows how it compares at that price now with other cameras that are using other sensors, etc.

I have now taken thousands of shots with it, especially since I bought the microdrive and the battery pack last spring. It has held up very well. One real limitation for me is that I sometimes want a faster shutter speed than I can get with the available light. Another obvious limitation, the lack of interchangeable lenses, has been made up for in terms of convenience. The fact that it can be in sleep mode when I want a quick shot can also still be irksome, but I have learned to live with those limitations. When I want something faster, I take a different camera.

It has been a versatile and useful camera within its limits for over a year now, and it has never required any kind of maintenance whatsoever. I feel better about it everyday, but I am still eyeing the newer digicams with even more megapixels.

Erol Ata - NYC, NJ , March 16, 2003; 01:32 A.M.


Well after making a decision to go digital. I did my research as to what direction I wanted to go, with a new digital SLR. The E20 the wise choice. I like the idea of not carrying added lenses when all you need is a 2x teleconverter an it really doesn't take up a lot of space in the camera bag. I'v also read in several reviews of the dust issues with the DSLR with the interchangeable lenses. Iv even enlarged to a 16x20 print as is from the camera and you would think it was shot with a Hasselblad. All the functions are at the fingertip... no menu searching, all features are easy to understand and fast to change. I like the feel of the camera... solid and a great preformer. I got a great deal from BH...$950.oo but they quoted me wrong through thier e-mail pricing service an honored the price. It was normally $1299..I'll put this camera up against a D60 and a D1X any day.

Craig Garland , April 23, 2003; 12:41 A.M.

I've owned the E20n for near a year now and love it. At age 60 I may represent the "old codger" segment of the photo buff population. The E20n replaced OM-2(s) and OM-4(s) that I'd used for many years. I was really surprised to see the negative comments early in this review section. As far as I'm concerned, the E20n has a fast, sharp versatile zoom that replaces several prime lenses and produces photos that are crisp and with excellent color-- and the value of a "color darkroom in a computer" is incredible to an old bugger like me.

The other really important feature of the E20n to me is the excellent (true SLR)viewfinder. If there is a downside (to me) to this high quality versatile camera it's the sort of slow "write to memory time", but as with any other camera, I've quickly learned to live with this characteristic. However, it's upside is much, much greater than it's downside. Bells and whistles? You can have them. The E20n produces excellent photos (up to 11X14), and is easy to use. Craig

alekos elefteriadis , May 08, 2003; 07:37 A.M.

I have the e20 for six months.I use in studio and in wedding.Is perfect machine with nice filling over control and setting, the lens is amaising, good sharpen and contrast ballance,but have two problems that make me no used any more......To slooooooooooooooooooow write time (that i can understand because older model of olympus is much much faster) and also the noise level specialy in 320 asa that make this camera unusable in low light.Yesterday i buy the olympus 5050 for just 650euro here in greece, and i'm very hape when i so the quality of the picture (of corse in 64 asa)that beat the e20 in sarpen and noise level.Of corse in 200 and 400 asa is noisier and have also color aberation that is lower when i use f5,6 and more-but if you think that camera have 1/3 the price of the e20 and write one shq picture in 2,5second with 7 picture in bufer and that camera is sarper and lower noise in 64 asa is the perfect tool. What shame for olympus to keep the e20 in market!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Landrum Kelly , July 12, 2003; 08:53 P.M.

I like this camera more and more every day--except for the noise, especially on blue skies. Does anyone know any software that will fix that after the pictures have already been made and downloaded to the computer?

Richard DeBari , August 10, 2003; 09:49 A.M.

Lannie,

I have found a website that offers a set of free Photoshop Actions called "Deluxe Digital Toolbox" designed to remove noise from high-iso digicam images. These actions work well to clean up the noise on E10/E20 files. For those of you who are not familiar with actions, they are similar to macros in a word processor. They are a set of pre-recorded steps within Photoshop that you can re-use at will. In the case of Digital Toolbox, these actions are very sophisticated and remove noise without compromising detail. I recently shot hundreds of images with my E20 at ISO 320 and was able to make good quality 8x10 prints from them. I generally use the basic De-noise Deluxe Action followed by the Mid-Iso Grain action.

The link is: http://www.2morrow.dk/75ppi/coolpix/actions/

Note: The actions are not specific to any one digital camera and can be used with most digital files. The one exception noted by the program designer is that he doesn't recommend the actions for use with CMOS-type digcams.

Bailey Swartz , November 15, 2003; 02:04 P.M.

The camera does not need to be switched to playback mode on the dial to view images that are already taken. All you have to do is hit the screen button twice to get the playback mode, and then tap the shutter release to get back... it takes about 2 seconds. This is the case with ALL Olympus cameras, and is in no way unique to the E-20.

It is a shame that someone supposedly offering a fair review of the camera did not even read the manual.

Landrum Kelly , December 20, 2003; 01:50 A.M.

I know that this camera has been a real workhorse for me and for many others, and it is a good, reliable camera in the same way that the IBM PC and PC-XT were reliable computers, and impressive for their era. Although the E-20 will continue to be used for some time to come, it is still sad to see it becoming obsolescent, as I think that it is. Things are just happening too fast now with the CMOS processors and other systems to keep people interested in it too much longer. All that I can say is that this dear friend has served me well, and I will continue to use it, but I am still preparing to order a replacement that offers better resolution, less noise, and more speed. I yet hope that photo.net keeps this thread active for a very long time, if only to document a camera that made an important contribution during a critical phase of the development of digital photography. It is hard to believe that this camera has been commercially available now for about two years, and that is an eternity where computer technology is concerned.

Charles Sieracki , June 06, 2004; 11:33 A.M.

Well, I'm a long time E-20 owner and user since November 2001 when the E-20 was new. Now it's pretty old and not at the forefront anymore by a long shot. I'm pretty disappointed with Olympus for not continuing the E series cameras, as I am now holding a lot of the accessories that should have been able to go on a future E-30 model that had fixes to the E-20 body. Maybe the role for this camera now is a good 'learning' camera for someone who wants to practice on a DSLR without having to spring for a more expensive removable lens model. The E-20 is now under $1000. It's useful for playing with RAW files and exposure compensation, which are not available on most consumer digicams. I don't think that most people in the market for a true DSLR that can be used for real pro-level work would still consider this camera, but it's surely better than having to rely on a camera with almost no control over all those photographic parameters we all know and love. The write times are very slow, sometimes agonizingly slow when writing TIFF or RAW files. I've been shooting with ISO 80 on this camera and not seen too much noise but I'm sure others have tried the higher levels and not liked it. The add on lenses are very expensive for this class of camera (pro-sumer) and now cannot be used anywhere else. I reconsider that when I see the prices on the E1 lenses. $500 for a normal lens? I'm on a budget like most people and I'm not a pro who has an expense account or a 'relationship' with Canon or Nikon. My point is that this is a camera you can really grow with despite it's shortcomings and you can learn a lot with it. I'm still learning a lot with this camera. When I know everything maybe I'll go for a Canon 1Ds.

Image Attachment: P9177636.JPG

Landrum Kelly , June 15, 2004; 10:17 A.M.

I have started learning to print since I wrote my earlier entries, and I have been using an Epson 2000P. I have been getting marvelous results at sizes up to 13" x 19". I agree that Olympus should have supported those of us who invested a lot in this camera and its accessories. I bought the full panoply of accessories and cannot use them on anything else that Olympus is producing. I now have a Kodak 14n, not to mention a 4x5 Toyoview, but I still turn to the Olympus for many outings. It is just so easy to use, although the write times for the TIFF images are still very frustrating. The result is that I often shoot in the SHQ mode, getting files that are about 3 MB. These are more manageable than the 15MB TIFFs, but good enough for most applications. I haven't tried to sell anything yet, but I could, and this camera is still commercially viable in spite of the competition, if one can get a good deal on it. I've dropped it more than once, once so hard that the barrel is slightly out of round at the very end, but I got the UV filter off and then back on again--and then left it there. The polarizing filter and other filters will still screw on and off easily. This thing is built like a tank, and I have taken a lot of pictures with it in all kinds of conditions. I just wish that I could use the accessories I have bought with a new generation of Olympus products. It had one blown pixel when I bought it, but over two years later there is still only that one blown pixel--typically not a problem (not even visible) but easily cloned out when it is. I have come to appreciate the E-20 more and more over the twenty-eight months that I have had it. The Kodak by contrast is much more trouble, especially when producing raw files that translate into 41 MB TIFFs, although it gives pictures that are out of sight in terms of resolution. I still have more fun with the Olympus and still use it more often. As long as I use low ISO and have good light, it is very useful.

Wayne Inouye , August 17, 2004; 12:25 P.M.

Interesting views on the E-20. From my perspective, the E-20 is THE photographer's camera. It is not a point-and-shoot camera, it is not designed for those who 'machine'gun' their images, and it is not for those who want the latest technology. It is one fo the few SLR cameras with a fixed lens. It has a fast f2.0 35-140mm (35mm equivalent lens), which is much faster than those on the interchangeable lens DSLR's. With the two lessor auxilary lenses, you can cover 28mm to 203mm and still carry the entire kit in a small shoulder bag. Ok, the TCON-300S is a handful, but what 400mm f2.8 lens is not (add the TCON-14B, and you have a 600mm f2.8 lens)?

I have found that the E-20 is one fine camera, capable of high quality images, excellent handling, the shortest shutter lag I have seen, and allows for creative photography with out the need to constantly use the LCD monitor menus. Assigning individual functions (like the Canon DSLRs) is a better solution than menu screens. The optical finder, even though it has no focusing aid, is quite useable for manual focus, and is brighter than most DSLRs I have tried. The ability to use any flash is a welcome feature if you have studio strobes, or older flash equipment. Incidently, even though the E-20 has a built in voltage protection circuit on the pc sync and hot shoe, Olympus does recommend the use the the SafeSync. So, don't assume that the E-20 is obsolete. It is still a fine photographic tool and is more camera than one assumes (plus it has a very good instruction manual, not like those from many other camera makers).

5MP is plenty for normal home size prints (8x10 to 16x20), and the noise is not an issue for most shots (remember, you have at least 1 if not 2 stop advantage over most DSLRs unless the owner has sprung for the 'pro' series fast lenses). Incidently, most DSLRs have focus issues with the ultra fast lenses (f2.8 or faster for zooms, f1.8-f1.4 for fixed lenses), so it is nice to know that you can rely on the E-20 lens to work at all apertures (seems to be at it's best at f4 to f5.6).

Now, some hints and tricks:

Oh, just an observation, if you use filters, use the best you can find. There have been reports of auto focus issues when using lessor filters. I have found that B+W filters work well, as do some SHMC Hoyas, Minolta, and Nikon filters. Some others have had issues with Hoya green box, Hoya HMC, and others.

If you try to make the Bigma (TCON-300S plus TCON-14B), the 49mm to 62mm step up ring is critical - get one that attaches tightly (most do not). The problem is that most step up rings do not have the 49mm threads going to the step - they have an unthreaded portion just before the step. This causes the ring to turn free as the TCON-300S threaded portion is fairly short. This causes the TCON-14B to tilt slightly - it will not fall off, but it's axis will not be inline with the TCON-300S or E-20 lens. A solution would be to attach tape or other material to make a pre-stop or to attache the step up ring to a thin filter (the addition of two glass surfaces creates less distortion than having the TCON-14B be slightly off).

Here is one that many may already know, but for the newbees, the Contax #5 lens hood fits perfectly on the TCON-14B. It even has the rubber ring like the Olympus lenses. I have not found a hood for the WCON-08B. Oh, the MCON-35 has a 72mm front filter thread - might be just the thing to put a UV filter on when photographing 'dirty' subjects up close (pond water can spot a lens).

Teo Calbaz , September 05, 2004; 06:26 P.M.


Hello Photo.Net people!

It's been a while since my last posted comment on Photo.Net praising the E-20. This camera has taken thousands of photographs for me and to put it plainly it just continues to rock. Our work relationship has been very solid : )

This workhorse of a camera has paid for itself many times over.

In retrospect I have come to appreciate how in normal light most of the photographs taken by the E20 still come out beautifuly. When I am doing wedding or fashion photography I am able to shoot with confidence in raw mode using natural light. Skin tones are wonderfuly flawless for 8x10 and 16x20s. And in the studio this baby really shines.

However, this doesn't mean that I haven't learned not to hesitate in using a tripod and/or oly fl-40 flash in tricky lighting conditions. Handling of low light conditions is not really the camera's strength.

After all these long years (4), the E20 is now in the sunset of its former glory. I admit that the newer Digi-SLR camera's coming out are looking good. But it may be a little early for a eulogy.

One observation: There are older film camera's out there in the studios working 24/7 because they have certain unique irrefutable qualities and I believe that the E-20 firmly belongs in this category. The E20 for me has been reliable, fast to setup, easy to use, portable to carry and still offers exceptional imagery. They can now be purchased at bargain prices. And, even though I have purchased several other cameras since my initial E20 purchase I would seriously consider purchasing another E20 for backup.

I hope and wish that the new digital Olympus E-1 camera will have a legacy as strong as the E20.

Ted

Landrum Kelly , October 23, 2004; 12:43 A.M.

I still use this camera a lot, although I now have the Kodak 14n. The E-20 just keeps going and going on one battery charge, and I am getting good prints on my Epson 2000P of shots I took over two and one-half years ago. My primary regret is that Olympus discontinued the series, since this lens would still work on some updated sensors, and without the hassle of interchangeable lenses--there are times when one wants an all-purpose fast zoom, and this camera is fine for just snatching up and running out the door with it, without a lot of baggage. It is also worth the time to take the big 15MB TIFFs, even though they are slow to save, and it is especially worth the time to use a tripod.

Al Li , July 02, 2006; 06:33 P.M.


Lady Z, make with an 4 years old Olympus E20

I have to sing the praise of my trusty E20. Had it for a few years and it still works like a charm. I had purchased a Minolta 7D about 18 months ago, and I have been very disappointed. I had been using the Minolta film cameras 800si and the 9. I was very excited to start shooting digital with my Minolta lenses. The 7D had gone back to the shop 3 times for focusing problems, software problems, and just poor material. My PC terminal broke twice in 18 months.

I think Minolta subcontracted the camera's production to Malyasia to the lowest bidder, and the qaulity is poor. The camera feels good, but the components do not last.

It was good that I did not sell my Olympus E20. For without it, I would have missed about 8 photo sessions. Will keep the camera forever. The Olympus is slow, but still produce wonderful results.

So this is my tribute to Olympus for making a fine machine.

Ingo Cyliax , July 12, 2006; 12:45 P.M.

I bought my E20n used on Ebay two years ago. Before that, I had a E10 that got stolen. I take my E20n everywhere (hiking, etc...) and it is a very rugged camera which has excellent image quality. Since it's "old" technology and so incredibly rugged, I don't worry so much about breaking it or that it gets stolen. I can always get another used one on Ebay. After, all you can't take photos if you leave your camera safe at home.

Landrum Kelly , July 23, 2007; 04:23 A.M.

I am surprised after owning this camera for almost five and one-half years that I am still using it and getting good results from it. No, it does not compare with the DSLRs that I use now, but it has been a remarkably durable and useful camera. I think that we sometimes overstate the obsolescence of digital cameras. Sure, new products come along that are better, and resale prices drop for old digital cameras, but they can still do useful work years after they are manufactured and sold.

--Lannie

Ashley Pomeroy , July 06, 2008; 06:07 P.M.


The only shot of Ms VoodooFaye ever take with an Olympus E-20 in the world ever.

I bought one of these from a leading auction site recently, mainly because I wanted a toy that I could abuse without caring whether it died. Inevitably this page popped up, because it's one of the top Google results for "Olympus E-20", after Digital Photography Review. I find the E-20 frustrating. I can understand why it existed, and I can also understand why Olympus abandoned the idea shortly afterwards (given how small an upgrade the E-20 was over the E-10, an imaginary E-30 would have been killed stone dead by the Canon 300D). The E-20's body and lens are solid, the autofocus is accurate, it is very quick from shot to shot, the buttons and thumbwheels are tactile and tough. The user side of the camera is fine, and it's nice the fact that you can redefine the preset JPG compression level and image dimension settings. That's a genuinely perceptive idea that I wish other manufacturers would adopt. There's no shutter or mirror clack and the lens has a nice wide aperture. The wide aperture is wasted to an extent because of the camera's limited ISO range, which goes ISO 80-160-320, except that there's too much noise above ISO 80, so you're stuck with a relatively fast lens and a slow sensor. Having said that, I can't think of a cheaper way to get a good-quality f2.0-f2.4 35-140mm zoom lens. It's a shame there isn't a way to chop it off and stick it on a modern SLR body.

I kept wishing that Olympus had put a better sensor and CPU into the camera. The review hits the nail on the head when it describes the camera as having the CPU soul of a cheap point-and-shoot. The camera can take the first four photographs very quickly, but it takes about thirteen seconds to flush out each image, and you can't review the shots until the memory buffer has emptied completely, which takes four times thirteen seconds. The LCD can only display the most basic shot assistance data, essentially a very simple histogram, but you have to wait thirteen seconds before you can see it. The menus themselves are ponderous, although thankfully most of the camera's functions are controlled with the buttons. If Olympus could have invented the guts of a Canon 300D back in 2001, and stuck them into the body of their E-20 back in 2001, they would have had a classic on their hands.

It's hard to judge the image quality, because I can't easily put it into context. The E-20's image quality is better than a typical modern ten-megapixel mobile phone-quality handbag camera, it's similar to a modern Powershot, but noisier, and the colours seem flatter and duller. Nonetheless I think the review is unfair in this respect. For its price in 2001 the E-20's combination of features would have been very good value, although I suspect that a Sony F-707 would have been better value, albeit that the F-707 was odd-looking and silver. Compared to a modern digital SLR the E-20 is clearly inferior, with noise and stuck pixels. The relatively low resolution doesn't bother me greatly, because the lens is nice and sharp. The noise isn't really unattractive, because it's random film grain-style noise, and I prefer it to smeary noise reduction, but I would rather not have it at all. RAW is a disappointment, with almost no extra exposure latitude. I can see that being a problem with wedding shoots. The review's quip about middle-aged people seems bitchy and out of place, especially given that the author is now well and truly middle-aged himself.

What else comes to mind. The top shutter speed of 1/640 and top aperture of f11 is a limitation. I generally ignore the LCD unless I can't easily crouch to see through the viewfinder. I think that the E-20's real forte is product shots for small websites, auction sites etc. It doesn't have a flip-up mirror to disturb the shot, the shutter is nice and smooth, it has a built-in macro and a flip-up live view LCD. I find the use of AA batteries good in the sense that AA batteries and cheap, and bad in the sense that I have to carry around one or two spare matched sets of four equally-charged AA batteries. That's a lot harder to arrange than a bag'o'BP-511s.

I've taken lots of shots with it, and I've used it in a studio for the sake of curiosity (you can see a couple of samples on my blog, here). Overall I find the slow buffer flush speed frustrating for fashion work, and in all other respects the camera is no better than a modern digital SLR with a decent zoom lens. It's far too bulky to use as a casual carry-around, and so it doesn't really have a role any more. I get the impression that the digital camera market was still in flux in 2001, and the E-20 is a kind of historical oddity.

Landrum Kelly , November 12, 2009; 12:03 A.M.

Gosh, it is now 2009 and I am still shooting with this camera. I shoot mostly FF Canon EOS cameras, including the 5D II and the 1Ds II, but I am still impressed by this old workhorse. Yes, it is slow, but I have gotten incredible results printing up to about 12x18 on 13x19 paper.

If it were not so noisy at low light, I would still consider it to be one of the best all-around cameras I have seen--if only because it is so convenient to shoot with that really remarkably good zoom lens--and big battery.

What a remarkable instrument! I have dropped it and shot it in the rain and it still keeps on working. At least half of my shots in my "All of My [digital] LIfe" folder were made with this camera.

No, it can't keep pace with the big Canons--but it doesn't have to. It just has to keep being its reliable and predictable self. I just found a new big battery pack for it. Heck, I might hand it down to my grandson when I kick off.

In the meantime I will keep shooting it. It was my first digital camera, and for all I know it might be the last one I own, if I ever have to sell the others for whatever reason.

I also just purchased another big battery for the battery pack. This is only the second. The original was not holding a charge as long as it might after almost eight years--but it still works. I doubt that many new batteries are still available. . . .

--Lannie


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