Four 5-Megapixel Cameras In Review

In Use

The E-10 was notable for the quality of its images. The E-20 is the same, but bigger. It may give a bit more perspective, due to its greater speed range, at least in theory. In practice, the images gain very little because the TFT monitor does not focus well and its optical viewfinder does not entirely cover the area captured. Consequently, E-10 enthusiasts will not have much use for it, especially if they were used to focusing via the monitor.

There are three focusing modes: IS; PS; Noise Reduction. As usual, the latter is used with high sensitivities (ISO 320 max. on the E-20). In this mode, the camera starts by taking a shot with the requisite shutter speed. Then it takes another of the same duration with the shutter closed, and subtracts the noise from the first. IS (Interlace Scan) is the mode which usually gives the best images, but unfortunately, it is confined to speeds of no more than 1/640 seconds. Beyond this, you will have to use the PS (Progressive Scan) mode where vertical resolution is halved. The resulting image is considerably vignetted, but the speed increases to 1/18000 seconds. Movement is easily captured without the least bit of streaking.

Target Market

A private individual who wants this sensational model needs a lot of money for this fantastic early or late Christmas present-to-self. But it must be said that it is somewhat of a waste of money, given that the E-20 costs the same as an E-10 plus a really good photo printer, like the Canon S9000. Nevertheless, a professional who wants to go digital will find the E-20 an acceptable solution, provided that it is mainly for studio work. You would have the best CCD sensor around, but you'd be limited by the low capacity of the built-in buffer and often find yourself waiting for the memory to empty. This makes it hard to conceive of using it professionally in outdoor situations. Another irritation is in the areas covered by the viewfinder and monitor. It is quite unbelievable that Olympus has designed such an elite camera with such poor focus. Actually, the true rival of the E-20 is not one of the other three in the tests but its own little brother, the E-10. The difference in price leads us to prefer the 4 megapixel version.