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Olympus EVOLT E-500

by Bob Atkins, 2005

As long as you don't mind the 4/3 sensor (which has a 2x "crop factor") and the lack of 3rd party lenses, it looks like a very interesting and reasonably priced camera which may tempt a lot of digicam users to move up to a DSLR.

Here is a copy of the press Release:

Melville, New York, September 26, 2005 – Olympus proudly introduces the new EVOLT E-500, the most full-featured digital SLR camera in its class of sub-$1000.00 SLR cameras. Designed to be used by all photographers of any skill level, the E-500's compact and durable body is packed with Olym pus innovations like the exclusive Dust Reduction System for spot-free photos, 8 million pixels of detail for bright and colorful images, a TruePic TURBO Image Processor for fast response time, and an oversized, easy-to-view 2.5-inch HyperCrystal LCD. Compatible with a wide range of Olympus Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses™, the E-500 delivers the versatility and power that are the hallmarks of a performance SLR, but at an affordable price.

Exclusive Dust Free Technology for Spot-Free Photos
Dust is all around us, and when swapping out a lens on a digital single-lens reflex camera there's a chance that a camera's electro-statically charged image sensor will attract micro dust that can ruin photos. Since the main advantage of using an SLR camera is the ability to change lenses for better imaging effects, Olympus has developed a way for photographers to enjoy the freedom of using all the lenses of the Olympus E-System in the most challenging, dusty environments without compromising image quality.

Olympus' Dust Reduction System produces spot-free photos with the exclusive Supersonic Wave Filter™, a patented ultrasonic technology that shakes at 35,000 vibrations a second to remove dust from in front of the camera sensor every time you turn the camera on. These spot-free photos liberate users from hours spent retouching photographs at the computer. The new EVOLT E-500, like all Olympus digital SLR cameras, is equipped with this exclusive user-friendly technology, and only Olympus has a solution to provide spot-free photography in a digital SLR.

Detailed, Bright and Colorful Photos with 8-Megapixel Image Sensor
The E-500 is loaded with an impressive 8 million pixels of detail, for bright colorful photos. The 8-megapixel sensor gives photographers the flexibility to blow up their prints to the large sizes supported by many of today's printers, or crop into an image to print only part of the image that is important to them. Moreover, the image sensor in the EVOLT E-500 is a high-performance Full Frame Transfer KODAK KAF-8300CE CCD™ that delivers improved dynamic range, low noise to capture fine image details in the highlight and shadow areas, as well as excellent color fidelity for brilliant colors. Additionally the anti-blooming technology on each pixel and the exclusive Olympus TruePic TURBO Image Processor helps to eliminate undesirable “artifacts”, “stepping” or “jaggies”, “purple fringing” or “moiré” in an image.

TruePic TURBO™ for Clarity and Speed
Olympus' TruePic TURBO Image Processor provides fast camera response, operation and processing speed for more responsive camera operation. This is done by closely integrating the image processor and hardware elements to eliminate unnecessary processing tasks, accelerating camera operations. For faster burst rates, the TruePic TURBO processor addresses the dedicated 64MB image buffer for up to 4 TIFF or RAW images at 2.5 frames-per-second, and unlimited burst mode with HQ JPEG images and extreme speed Compact Flash cards.

Along with the speed advantages, TruePic TURBO also produces crystal clear photos using all the pixel information for each image to provide you with the best digital images possible for every photo.

Large Easy-to-View 2.5-Inch HyperCyrstal™ LCD Monitor
Big and bright with 215,250 pixels, the E-500 has a 2.5-inch HyperCrystal LCD that offers many times the contrast of conventional LCD monitors, so captured images can be beautifully displayed in vivid color on the screen with exceptional clarity. Because photos are for sharing, the E-500 LCD features a wide, 160° viewing angle on the vertical and horizontal axis, ensuring excellent visibility and beautiful image quality even when everyone huddles around the camera to see what you've created. The larger LCD also means the icons and text on the camera's menu display are enlarged for easier viewing.

The World's Largest Selection of Digital Specific Lenses™
The versatility of the Olympus E-System comes from delivering the largest selection of “Designed-for-Digital” lenses –more than any other manufacturer to date. Olympus' Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses™ come in a wide range of focal lengths for achieving the best image result, and impress with their spectacular clarity and edge-to-edge sharpness.

Most other digital SLR cameras still use many traditional 35mm film lenses on digital bodies. But since those lenses are based on designs for film and not for pixels, they deliver insufficient light at the edges of a digital camera's image sensor. This can result in reduced sharpness and color definition, particularly when shooting with large apertures and wide-angle lenses . The E-500 does not have this problem, because it accommodates the full line of interchangeable Zuiko Digital Lenses. These digital specific lenses are designed for digital capture with smart technology that allows the lenses to communicate with the camera to ensure the best possible image quality.

Olympus dedicated digital optics coupled with the EVOLT E-500 render sharpness and contrast more consistently at any given f-stop. The lenses are matched to the Four Thirds System standard image sensor for the optimal balance between image quality, camera and lens size, and expandability. With a wide array of digital specific lenses to choose from, it's easy to select the ideal lens to bring along when you don't want to lug a lot of heavy, bulky gear.

14_45.jpg (4590 bytes)The E-500 outfit includes a compact, Zuiko Digital 14 – 45mm f3.5 – f5.6 Lens (equivalent to 28mm – 90mm in 35mm photography) that perfectly matches the imager so light strikes the sensor directly to ensure rich, accurate colors and edge-to-edge sharpness. Its 3.2x zoom covers the range most frequently used in ordinary photography and weighs just 10 ounces (285 grams) offering users an extremely dynamic, portable everyday-use zoom. Close-ups as near as 15 inches (38cm) are possible throughout the zoom range.

Easy-to-Use, Easy-to-Handle Light and Ergonomic Design
Creating an affordable digital SLR that most anyone can pick up and start to use is about making it easier to operate. That means menus that make sense and buttons on the body that are easy to understand and operate; adding automatic settings for every imaginable situation; making the LCD big and bright enough so you can review a shot without squinting; and making it less of a chore to get images out of the camera and into your computer or printer. Moreover, at just 5.09 inches (W) x 3.72 inches (H) x 2.59 inches (D) and only 15.3 ounces, the EVOLT E-500 is light and compact enough to comfortably shoot with all day.

You don't need a degree in photography to shoot like a pro with the E-500. Just take it home, charge the Li-ion battery with the included charger, and begin taking photos. Instead of working to find the right settings for the subject, select from one of the camera's 25 Exposure Modes (Easy, Basic and Creative) that make it easy to get the results you want, whenever and wherever you want them.

To access the Easy Modes, simply turn the mode dial on the top of the camera to “Scene” and choose from a range of 15 pre-programmed Scene Select modes to achieve the optimal results for: Night Scenes, Fireworks, Sunsets, Beach and Snow, Children, Landscape, and more.

Every Scene Select mode on the EVOLT E-500 provides a sample image and a description of what is happening to achieve the desired result. For example, choosing the Landscape setting reveals a sample of a landscape photo, and a text description of what the mode is displayed on the large, easy-to-read 2.5-inch LCD

To access Basic shooting modes that allow some user over-rides, just select one of the 5 icons on the mode dial (Landscape; Portrait; Night Scene-Portrait; Macro; and Action/Sports Modes).

The Creative Modes on the mode dial allow users to take control of the E-500 for the ultimate in artistic expression. For example, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Modes allow users to tweak all of the camera's settings just the way they want for any situation at hand.

Direct Button operation enables EVOLT E-500 users to get to the settings they want without wading through endless menus or pushing arrow buttons excessively. Instead, most custom settings can be set by pressing one of the cameras 8 direct key buttons for White Balance, Exposure Compensation, ISO, Flash Mode, Metering Mode, Auto Focus Mode, Auto Focus Frame and Recording Mode, and then turning a dial by thumb to customize the setting as desired. All settings are viewable at once on the camera's “Super Control Panel” displayed on the LCD.

Transferring images to the computer has never been easier with the Auto-Connect USB that does not require software drivers (for most computers/operating systems) for hassle-free image downloads. Images may also be viewed on a television using the video cable.

When it comes time to print images, the E-500 connects via the included USB cable for fast and easy PC-free printing, to any PictBridge-enabled printer via USB, like the new Olympus P-11 Digital Photo Printer. Simply select the images displayed on the camera's LCD that you wish and print.

The Flexibility of the Most Feature Rich Camera in its Class
Once one feature is mastered, there are a seemingly endless number of other features just waiting to be explored. Because the E-500 is designed for the ultimate user-friendly experience, you can choose to let the camera make all the decisions, or take control for a new level of customization and performance.

5 Metering Modes: A new 49 Point Digital ESP Light Meter enables digital electro selective pattern metering for accurate exposures under the largest number of conditions. The Digital ESP can also be linked to the AF (auto focus) selection or independent of the AF selection for even more versatility. Olympus' widely acclaimed proprietary Digital ESP metering calculates the best light values under complex lighting conditions. Center-weighted metering is biased to the center of the viewfinder (cross) area. Spot Meter (2%) enables the most accurate metering for tough lighting conditions like backlit or spot lit. Highlight Spot Meter (2%) adjusts for predominantly white subject for correct exposure with detail. Shadow Spot Meter (2%) adjusts for a black subject, providing the correct exposure with detail.

  • 3 Color Modes: Vivid / Natural / Muted: Vivid mode produces photos with more highly saturated colors and higher contrast to optimize images when vivid shots are required. This is also the recommended setting when printing directly from the camera to an inkjet printer. The Natural mode produces realistic color similar to those seen by the human eye and is the perfect choice for the discerning photographer looking for the most realistic photos. The Muted mode is ideal for those users who plan to heavily manipulate or edit their images with the included OLYMPUS Master Software or with Adobe ® Photoshop™.
  • A Choice of Two Color Space Settings: Users can choose from two color space settings according to their needs: sRGB, which is the standard for computer monitor viewing and inkjet printer output, and Adobe ® RGB, which is widely used for commercial applications.
  • 9 Black & White Modes: Red, Yellow, Orange, and Green filters can be selected to replicate the same traditional film filters, enhancing the drama of the image in the Black & White shooting mode. In addition to Sepia tone, the EVOLT E-500 also offers users three tone effects: Blue, Green and Purple for special results.
  • 2 Red-Eye Reduction modes, on Flash and in Playback: Besides the ability to select Red-Eye reduction mode on the flash prior to taking a shot, the EVOLT E-500 also offers the ability to correct for Red-Eye in images that have already been taken while the camera is in playback mode.
  • Dual Card Slots: Users also benefit from two memory card slots – one for CompactFlash or Microdrive and another for xD-Picture Cards – which add to the camera's practicality and provide extra data storage. Simply depress a button on the back of the camera to choose which card type to capture to and copy images back and forth from one card to the other in playback.
  • Support for High-Speed and High-Capacity Memory Media : The EVOLT E-500 supports 32-bit file formatting allowing the use of 2 gigabyte and larger CompactFlash, Microdrive, and xD media™ cards. The EVOLT E-500 also supports high-speed CF cards for faster operation in the burst mode.
  • AF: The E-500 dedicated auto focus system offers 3 selectable AF points for accurate auto focus operation. When automatic target zone selection is active, a superimposed display confirms the relevant target zone. Focus modes are set via a manual switch on the camera body for Single AF, Continuous AF, and Manual Focus operation. To ensure successful focusing in the darkest environments, the E-500 utilizes an AF illuminator built into the flash.
  • Simultaneous RAW and JPEG Image Recording : A choice of three image formats is offered: RAW, TIFF, and JPEG. If desired, image data can be simultaneously recorded in RAW and JPEG with the RAW+JPEG format.
  • Contrast, Sharpness and Tone Curve Controls : Contrast can be set to any of five levels, and sharpness can be set to any of seven levels. So whether users want pro-quality tonal fidelity or sharp vibrant colors, they can customize each image to suit their preference.
  • White Balance : White balance settings from 3000K to 7000K can be set in 12 steps using button and dial controls, with ±7-step fine-tuning available for all settings. A one-touch white balance function allows users to store and retrieve up to four frequently used white balance settings at the touch of a button. By initially reading the light separately for the CCD, the camera can see a dramatic increase in speed without loss of accuracy.
  • Noise Reduction : The noise reduction function uses a proprietary Olympus algorithm to detect and eliminate the fixed noise that can appear on long-exposure images.
  • High-Precision Flash Control: The flash can be turned ON and OFF manually or with the AUTO FLASH option selected the flash will pop up automatically when ever it is needed. A wide range of flash modes is provided, including Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow Synchro (front and rear curtain), and Fill-In.
  • RGB Histogram Information Display: The EVOLT E-500 will display an individual histogram for each color channel (RGB) as well as the overall luminance of the exposure. This information is valuable to the more advanced user who may need to alter the exposure for specific output sources. A display that identifies overexposed highlights or underexposed shadow areas is also an option in image playback mode.
  • Self-timer and Remote Control: The built-in self-timer offers a choice of 12-second or 2-second delay. An optional RM-1 remote control unit is available and can be used with the 2-second delay setting or for immediate shutter release, as well as to control “bulb” shutter openings for longer exposures.

The Olympus EVOLT E-500 Digital SLR will be available in October 2005. It includes: EVOLT E-500 Body with 14-45mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLM-1), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCM-2), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS Master Software CD-ROM, Manuals, Warranty card.

US Pricing
EVOLT E-500 with 14-45mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens Estimated Street Price: $799.99

EVOLT E-500 TWO Lens Outfit; 14-45mm f3.5/5.6 and 40-150mm f3.5/4.5 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens Estimated Street Price $899.99

Where to buy

Bob  Atkins (www.bobatkins.com)  

Readers' Comments

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Alfie Wang , September 27, 2005; 09:58 A.M.

This camera looks to be delicious. Seems to be perhaps better than the XT ever could.

Curtis Campbell , November 14, 2005; 06:19 P.M.

I just bought one and have been using it for a few days. So far I must say that I am impressed.

Update: I have now been using this camera for about a month. So far I have been pleasantly suprised. There are a few supply side problems with accessories, but they will stabilize in time. Excellent camera for the money.

Alfie Wang , January 12, 2006; 04:12 P.M.

A sweet camera. I am probably going to grab one during this year. I was thinking about the XT but the E-500 is with better quality imagery.

Rich Drogba , February 11, 2006; 12:30 A.M.

This is one awesome camera (for the money) and when bought together with both kit lenses, it is an excellent travel D-SLR as well.

Omer K , February 11, 2006; 09:30 P.M.

I test drove this camera in the store. It is pretty nice. What I found annoying though, when I held the camera vertically, and auto flash popped up, it hit my nose. To make sure I tried one more time, it happened again. This is because camera is smaller than other D-SLRs and built-in flash is at the back a little bit. So you know about it if this is going to be a problem before you buy it. I don't have a huge nose by the way :)

Alex Milarakis , February 13, 2006; 06:56 A.M.

I have one, this is an excellent camera. I believe that the greatest advantage of Olympus E-1, E-300 and E-500 is the supersonic filter beacause I think that the great problem of the DSLR is the dust of the sensor.

Sebastian Dooris , March 13, 2006; 02:35 P.M.

Have one too and love it but not as much as my E300. Sorry guys I've only fell in love once and devorce is not an option :)

Glen Barrington , April 02, 2006; 10:05 P.M.

I just placed an order for the 2 lens E500 kit. I was able to handle The Canon DRebel XT (I believe its called 300D outside North America), the Nikon D50, Nikon D70 and the Olympus e500.

While I liked the Nikon's viewfinder the best, overall, I liked the ergonomics of the E500 the most. And the Olympus viewfinder was still pretty good. Though the VF image was a bit smaller than the others, in a way, even that worked in my favor. I like to shoot with my eyeglasses on,and my eyegalsses prevent my eye from getting close to the eyecup and light gets in and can cause glare in the viewfinder. The black frame around the view finder image served to 'absorb' that glare and allowed me to concentrate on the image.

The Canon just didn't FEEL right to me. I didn't like it at all. It was clearly the fourth choice in my opinion.

Jaime Ludewick , February 18, 2007; 08:10 P.M.

I just purchased the Olymupus Evolt E-500. My origonal choice was the Cannon Rebel xti however it just didn't seem to fit me. I was impressed with the Olympus, the weight and the fit in my hand. After that there was no other choice for me! I love that it is easy to use and I bought mine with the 2 lenses. I have been an Olympus user for 2 years now, having bought my first digital camera used for about $100. It is an Olympus C700 UZ with 2.1 megapixels and I have and still do get my money's worth!

Lisa Aaron , November 06, 2007; 04:37 P.M.

Do not buy this camera! I've had it for 8 months and it has broken twice. BAD customer service!!!

Jackie Beach , April 19, 2008; 11:18 A.M.

I have had my EVolt 500 for over a year, and I LOVE it!!!! It takes great pictures,I haven't had any trouble with it at all, I have the two lenses that came with it and I am currently waiting on the delivery of the 70mm-300mm telephoto len I just ordered.

Ron Graves , May 20, 2008; 01:46 P.M.

A superb camera, without a battery-eating LCD viewfinder, which I wouldn't use anyway (and which at least stops idiots holding the thing at arm's length, taking shaky photos and blaming the camera!).

As for the auto-popup flash nose banging problem, auto-popup can be turned off, it's simply not a problem.

Oh, and by now there are third-party lenses available, check out Sigma. Their remarkably cheap 55-200mm f4-5.6 DC zoom (35mm = 110-400mm) is a cracking bit of kit - don't be put off by its price (the equivalent of $170 or so here in the UK), image quality is at least as good as the Oly kit lenses on first acquaintance, and may turn out to be better. As an unannounced bonus, it has switchable manual focus via a tiny switch on the lens body - that's PROPER manual focus, as with a manual lens, not the terrible electronic version the Oly lenses, and so many others, have.

Heber Chapas , June 04, 2008; 08:29 P.M.

I have one E-500 olympus, and its really great, there are many features that makes it a great easy to use camera, the pop up flash is dead now, but the fl-36r is the Flash that fits exactly as the integrated popup flash.

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