The 10-megapixel Olympus E-510 replaces the E-500 with improvements to the Live View and dust removal systems.
Similarity to E-410
As the Olympus E-510 appears to share the same sensor as the E-410, and certainly the same processing engine, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that it will produce similar images – especially when their identical metering systems and kit lenses are factored in.
But, as we saw in last month’s test of the smaller camera, this is certainly not a bad thing. The E-510’s white balance proves to be reliable in all situations, and even when faced with a mixture of tungsten lighting and daylight, the automatic setting can be relied on to deliver a perfectly acceptable image.
The 49-zone ESP metering is also reassuringly consistent, and if you want to set the camera to its multi-area metering pattern, you will be guaranteed a high success rate – it’s only when you start pointing the camera at predominantly light or dark scenes that it under or overexposes accordingly. It is typical of this kind of metering pattern in all DSLRs, so it would be unfair to describe it as ‘wrong’ in any way.
However, as with the E-410, it’s the way in which noise is dealt with from the LiveMOS sensor that really impresses. At the lower reaches of the ISO range – which is the full ISO 100-400 range if you use automatic ISO selection – noise just doesn’t appear, even when you take 10MP images and produce A3 prints from them. Even beyond ISO 400 there’s not much to complain about. At the maximum ISO of 1600 it’s true that there’s some texture in the images, and this does start to take the edge off fine detail to deliver slightly soft pictures. However, it’s nothing a touch of sharpening in your image editing package can’t fix.
Yet, just as the E-510 carries all the positive traits of the E-410, so it suffers in the same area too – it has a somewhat limited dynamic range, which is most likely due to the tiny photosites on the E-510’s Four Thirds sensor. This means that while the metering system will give the ‘correct’ exposure, this can be accompanied by a loss of detail in highlight or shadow areas – or both if the scene is naturally quite contrasty.