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.
We couldn’t test it, but the wireless flash compatibility first seen in the E-3 has also been added. You’ll need to budget extra for the new FL-50R and FL-36R models, though.
To our minds, the most worthwhile improvements come courtesy of a new auto white-balance algorithm, and the addition of the maker’s Shadow Adjustment Technology (SAT). This tweaking of the image-processing pipeline, including the application of a fairly steep tone-curve, provides output that’s vastly superior to the generally underexposed and murky looking images of the E-510.
The result is far more pleasing under a wider variety of lighting conditions and, with the SAT (Auto-Gradation) option enabled, even areas that are usually underexposed are given a lift. The downside is that coloured speckles can be more visible in the shadow areas – especially at ISO 800 and above – but generally noise levels are well controlled.
We would have liked to see Olympus push the envelope a little to include ISO 3200 as the maximum sensitivity, like many rivals, but the option to include Auto ISO selection up to the maximum ISO 1600 instead of ISO 400 over its predecessor is welcome nonetheless.
While the E-520 is a solid choice overall, newer designs such as Sony’s A350 and the Canon EOS 450D are
also worth a look before stumping up the cash.