Olympus E-20 SLR Review

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Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

Camera Features & Controls

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

That BIG lens is a fast F2.0 9-36mm (35-140mm 35mm equivalent) all glass zoom with one ED and two aspherical lens elements (14 elements in 11 groups). The lens has both a manual focusing ring and a manual zoom ring on the barrel. It is threaded for 62mm filters and comes with a lens shade.

The E-20 features dual AF-Active (IR and passive TTL) system autofocus (contrast detection system) with a step-less focusing range of 0.2m to infinity. Manual focus range is also step-less from 0.2m to infinity. Standard focus mode covers 0.6m to infinity, Macro mode coverage is 0.2 to 0.6m.

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) Olympus America with mods by Steve

Olympus has a 0.8X wideangle, a 1.45X and 3X telephoto converter and a macro extension lens option especially for the E-20 (and E-10).

Olympus Camedia E-10 with TCON-300

Want to see the TCON-300 telephoto adapter lens in action? Check out the firsthand experience of David Weikel at his web site.

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) Olympus America with mods by Steve

The E-20 (and E-10) uses a beam-splitting prism to allow the camera to act like a conventional SLR even though it does not have the usual mirror found in its film counterparts.

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves DigicamsOlympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

The eyelevel viewfinder shows approximately 95% of the captured image and includes diopter correction. Inside the large and bright viewfinder you'll find a clearly defined focus area (with a real focusing screen) and spot metering area. Below is a status line with flash, focus and exposure information. For self-timer, remote or long exposures there is a shutter that can be closed over the eyepiece.

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

The built-in flash features five modes (Automatic, Fill, Redeye Reduction, Slow Synchro, Slow Synchro w/Redeye.) The flash intensity level can be adjusted from -2 to +2 in 1/3 EV increments. The effective range is 0.6 to 18.3 feet (0.2 to 5.6m) at ISO 100.

Olympus Camedia FL-40Olympus Camedia FL-40

The flash hot shoe accepts the more powerful Olympus FL-40 external flash and operates it in full TTL control mode. The FL-40 gives you bounce flash capability and greatly enhances the infrared focus-assist system with its own IR sensor. The internal flash and FL-40 can be used simultaneously. Third-party external flashes and studio lights can be connected to the PC sync terminal on the side of the camera.

Photo by David Weikel

Thanks to David Weikel we now know that Olympus has finally come out with their own off-camera shoe cord (part FL-CB05) for about $60.

You can see it in action mounted on a Stroboframe bracket at Dave's web site by clicking here.

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

On top is where you'll find the majority of the controls. Most buttons are held down while turning the Main Dial or Sub Dial on the back. Selections are indicated by icons on the monochrome data display. Across the top are the flash mode and image resolution buttons. The unmarked dial is the Main Dial, next to that is the white balance button.

Below the LCD is the SM/CF button for selecting the SmartMedia or CompactFlash card slot. The Light button illuminates the data LCD (as shown here). On the back edge is the Sub Dial, it also controls the display in Play mode (index, zoomed, info, histogram). The AEL is the autoexposure lock button.

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

The Mode Dial (Power switch around the base) has positions for:

    Manual - You control both the shutter speed (bulb up to 120 sec., 60 sec. - 1/640 sec. [interlaced] 1/18,000 [progressive]) and aperture (Wide: F2.0 - 11.0, tele: F2.4 - 11.0, 1/3EV steps).

    Shutter priority - You select desired shutter speed (2 - 1/640 sec. [interlaced] 1/18,000 [progressive]) and camera picks the aperture

    Aperture priority - You select desired aperture (Wide: F2.0 - 11.0, tele: F2.4 - 11.0 1/3EV steps) and camera picks the shutter speed

    Program AE - Camera picks best combination of shutter speed and aperture

    - Playback of stored images on LCD or television

    - Embed DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) information on the card

    - Connect to PC to download via USB port.
    Enter the Setup menu by pressing the Menu button.

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

Setup menu options:

  • Macro button - by default it selects built-in macro mode, when using one of the conversion lenses it is selected here.
  • Time and Date - Set the camera's clock
  • Filename - If Auto it will continuously increment, Reset will reset the numbers
  • M Mode - Set the Monitor mode (not sure what it does yet)
  • Histogram - Enable/disable histogram function in playback mode.
  • Pixel Map - Automatic bad pixel mapping routine
  • Sleep - Enter sleep mode after 1, 5, 10 mins or OFF

Olympus Camedia E-20N, photo (c) 2001 Steves Digicams

Here's a look at the adjustable-angle color LCD in action.

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