• Price When Reviewed: 400 . 443

  • Pros: Small lightweight body with effective anti-shake and anti-dust systems; new image processing improves overall image quality.

  • Cons: Increased shadow noise using optional Shadow Adjustment Technology; small viewfinder image; new 2.7-inch screen difficult to check in bright sunlight.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

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As expected, shortly after news of the update to the tiny Olympus E-410 comes the replacement for the maker’s popular mid-range E-510. Like the E-420, the new model has seen some cosmetic improvements to the finish and controls. As a result, the E-520 looks slightly better-made now.

The chunkier rear-selector dial is an improvement, its profile making for quicker, more assured use, but it doesn’t look or feel particularly sturdy in use. Little changes to the ergonomics mean the E-520 is comfortable to hold, especially when used with the maker’s larger lenses, as the rubber-composite covered handgrip is deceptively large.

Surprisingly, Olympus hasn’t added an optional vertical grip, something that would enhance its appeal to photographers without seriously infringing on the E-3’s territory. Nor has it enhanced the viewfinder optics, meaning the image remains quite small even when compared with rival sub-frame variants. An optional viewfinder magnifier is well worth the extra cost, but we think it should be included as part of the kit.

A slightly larger 2.7-inch screen now adorns the back, and the E-520 adds face detection to the auto-focus Live View options, like that seen in the makers latest digital compacts. Although we wouldn’t recommend it, it’s tempting to use this combination with one hand, especially as the E-520 brings the maker’s highly effective anti-shake system to the table. Located in the camera body, this image-stabilizer system works with every Olympus lens, including its superb range of fast-aperture lenses.

The screen’s greater size and improved colour accuracy is as welcome during playback as it is when doubling as the data screen. Legibility in bright sunlight is better than before, but it’s really only noticeable when making selections from the menu or data screen. Sadly, it’s still difficult to assess colour and focus during playback.