• Price When Reviewed: 509

  • Pros: Wide range of features. Solidly built. Live View mode.

  • Cons: Images can be noisy.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

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While many digital SLRs priced around £500 have severely limited features, Olympus’s E-510 bucks the trend. This 10.2-megapixel camera is designed for photo enthusiasts who have a basic command of photographic technique and want a camera that can handle almost any situation.

And though its multitude of features might make it a bit daunting, the E-510 is a solid camera that takes very good pictures under most conditions.

Together, the camera and its standard lens weigh less than 900g. The E-510 doesn’t feel flimsy, however. The body is well-built, and the grip felt comfortable in my hand.

When you’re ready to start taking pictures, the shutter and exposure compensation buttons are easy to find, and the big control dial on top invites you to select the shooting mode you want. The dial offers five dedicated scene modes, and 13
other modes.

Unlike some digital SLRs in its class, the E-510 has a great many features built in. For example, in addition to offering exposure bracketing, this model can bracket shots for flash and white balance. You also get two levels of image stabilization to help minimize camera shake, a depth-of-field preview button, multiple metering modes, and a dust-removal feature.

The E-510’s Live View mode lets you use the 2.5-inch LCD as a viewfinder. It’s not really designed to be used all the time; overuse can heat up the camera’s sensor and introduce noise into your images.

The interface to some of the advanced features is a bit clunky, but that’s counterbalanced by the fact that access to the primary features is intuitive and easy.

Colour fidelity and saturation were very good, and the E-510 handled most shooting conditions easily. At lower ISO ranges, the E-510’s images show very little noise; as you reach and exceed ISO 800, colour noise begins to appear, though it’s
no worse than on other cameras of a similar price.