Olympus E-500/EVOLT E-500 8mp digital SLR
Anti-dust vs anti-shake
Colour and white balance
The E-500 offers eight different white balance settings from 3000 to 7500K, along with white balance compensation and bracketing - both impressive features for a budget digital SLR. Adobe RGB and sRGB colour spaces are supported and there's five picture modes to choose from: Vivid, Natural, Muted, Black and White and Sepia; we used the Natural setting test shots.
Depending on the picture mode, you can vary saturation, contrast and sharpness by up to five different levels, while Black and White mode allows you to choose from four coloured filter simulations and four toning options. Again this is an impressive level of control, especially for a budget digital SLR.
One of the E-500's biggest selling points - and that of the entire E-system - is undoubtedly Olympus' unique SuperSonic Wave Filter, SSWF. This vibrates the filter in front of the sensor every time the camera is powered-on to literally shake any particles from its surface. Olympus seems to be the only manufacturer actively combating this problem to date and is to be commended for doing so. It's not all good news though. As the camera powers-up the screen shows a short animation to advertise the SSWF in action (see left), but the entire process takes about 2.7 seconds to complete. It's possible to reduce this time by about a second by disabling the animation, but it's still a slow startup compared to the 0.2 seconds of most Digital SLRs these days.
The timing of the SSWF process also seems a little odd. Surely it would be more appropriate to only activate the system when a lens is removed or swapped as oppose to every time the camera is switched on. Even if there was dust on the sensor, it would have been good to have the option to disable SSWF entirely on startup for times when you needed the quickest response - always assuming that the delay is entirely down to the anti-dust process of course.
That all said, we greatly appreciate the efforts of Olympus to eliminate the worries of dust, and having swapped lenses many times during the test period and checked the images closely, we could see no evidence of foreign particles on them.
The E-500 claims a continuous shooting capability of 2.5 fps. Equipped with a SanDisk Ultra II 1GB Compact Flash card and set to the highest resolution and mildest compression (1/2.7), we captured five frames in just over two seconds - this equates to around the quoted 2.5fps.
After shooting five frames with these settings, the camera paused for four and a half seconds to clear its buffer and record them to the card. Interestingly if you'd kept the shutter release button pressed after this burst, the camera won't continue to take frames once the buffer had cleared. Instead you'll need to let go of the shutter release and press it again for another burst. If you shoot with higher compression, you may achieve longer bursts.
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