The 10-megapixel Olympus E-510 replaces the E-500 with improvements to the Live View and dust removal systems.
Bulkier than E-410
While the photographic side of the E-510 appears to be lifted straight from the E-410, the design hasn’t. Unlike the slimmed-down E-410, the E-510 carries a bit of bulk with it – weighing in at 460g (the E-410 is 375g), it’s wider and deeper too.
But don’t for a second think that just because the E-510 is bigger and heavier it’s somehow unwieldy; it isn’t. In fact, the E-510’s chunkier right-hand finger grip feels much more secure and comfortable. In addition, the E-510 doesn’t have the inconveniently placed strap lug on its side like the E-410 does.
Aside from the grip, the control layout is ultimately very familiar – not only echoing the E-410, but also the E-500 before it. The size of the body means the controls appear to have a little more space to ‘breathe’ than they do on its smaller sibling, which in turn makes the camera look less cluttered. On the top there is the on/off switch sitting at the base of a neatly designed mode selector dial. Unlike some DSLRs, the mode dial doesn’t try to cram all the camera’s scene modes onto its small circumference, instead offering the most commonly used settings, automatic and the PASM quartet for more experienced users. The ‘lesser’ scene modes are accessed through the ‘scene’ setting on the dial.
Just behind and to the right of the dial is the E-510’s control wheel, which operates either the aperture or shutter setting in the relevant priority mode, or allows you to adjust the paired setting in Program. In Manual mode the wheel takes control of the shutter speed, while pressing and holding the exposure compensation button near the shutter release and simultaneously turning the dial adjusts the aperture. Like most Olympus cameras, this configuration isn’t set in stone, and you can customise the set-up so the control wheel activates exposure compensation in Program mode, or switches the aperture/shutter speed adjustment method depending on which you use more often. However, two control wheels (one front and one rear) would still be preferable to the sometimes finger-contorting rituals demanded by a single control point.
As with the E -410, the controls on the back of the camera are neatly laid out to either side of the rear LCD. Like most enthusiast DSLRs there’s the option of accessing common settings directly on the rear LCD display, as well as through the four-way pad or the menu system. For me, using the LCD readout is the quickest and most intuitive method, as the various parameters are already on the screen, and making any adjustments becomes second-nature after only a short while with the camera. Moreover, as you don’t have to hunt around the menu screens or remember which buttons to press in what order, it encourages you to be a little more experimental, perhaps trying options you may otherwise ignore. In turn, you’ll learn more about the camera and its capabilities.