The Olympus E-520 is a small, 10 megapixel digital SLR that boasts an array of features including in-camera image stabilization, live view on the camera’s 2.7” LCD display, and a supersonic dust reduction system on its image sensor. Indoors the E-520 performed well, both in available light (leveraging the image stabilization feature) and using the small pop-up flash. While anyone doing any amount of indoor photography would benefit from an external flash, the pop-up’s performance was on par with that of other SLRs. Outdoors I found the exposure system quite accurate, even in challenging conditions.

Olympus was the first SLR manufacturer to build “live view “capability into their SLRs, and for those of us used to viewing the world through the viewfinder, the ability to compose a shot on the LCD display is a great plus, especially on a tripod. When activated, the live view function does increase shutter lag, making the viewfinder a better choice for moving subjects.

I tested the camera with an Olympus 14-42mm lens (35mm equivalent of 28-84mm) and was impressed with its handling with one exception: The manual focus ring on the camera is electronic, not mechanical. While I didn’t find that to be an issue, it might annoy some photographers who do a lot of manual focusing.

Olympus has established a reputation for accurate colours and neutral images, and the E-520 follows suit. However, what really stands out is that the E-520 with 14-42mm lens and battery weighed in at a mere 765g, making it one the smallest and lightest full-featured SLRs I have tested to date and an excellent candidate for travel abroad or across town.

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