Olympus E500 versus E620 (part 2)

As opposed to all the more technical reviews you can find on the internet when you try to guess if a certain camera would be the right one for you, this is not the umpteenth techno talk. Of course I do use a term  or two to explain what is happening but you will not find all the functions, buttons, possibilities paraded here. First, because there is just too many of them and it is only a part of it all that I (and I am sure most photographers) use. A built-in studio in your camera may be interesting if you are stuck at some remote place with no other possibilities to correct and send your photos but I still prefer seeing them on a big screen before I start cutting them up, if necessary. The LCD screen is ok but not that ok, really…

So, quite happy with what I had discovered about my new camera up to this point, I started on what is the most important to me. Black and white. As I have already mentioned, that was something that worked nicely on the old 500. No sweating over how to Photoshop. Just a few tricks that I would have used in the dark room as well and that was that. Which made me curious how the 620 would behave.

I should have known I was in for another shock, that the changes in the color results would have their consequences for black and white too. And they did, of course. I found myself looking at pictures that just did not feel right to me and my usual correcting clicks only produced more confusion. The whites would not go white, the dark parts died on me and still did not look real black… it looked like a converted color photo with no life to it at all, falling flat on its face.

Above photos have not been corrected or worked on and were taken with the same settings as much as possible.

This is the 500 after a bit of correction




The next two are the 620 after a hard time to get them to behave. They turned out either too soft or too hard…










I needed to get out on the street to see what would happen there.





The harshly bright sun of that day did not help matters much and I spent another afternoon grumbling over Photoshop. As I did not find the ideal way, I also tried changing the camera settings, underexposed, overexposed, changed contrast, went through all the filters the camera has for b/w photos… tried working manually… no real joy… It felt like the first year at the academy all over again.

The next trip was to a shopping center with a glass roof. Lots of light without the harshness of direct sun. In the meantime I had decided to use my favourite setting of aperture preference after all and look for the solution at the computer. A slight underexposure seemed to help but I could easily pull that out of Photoshop’s hat.





It is still not what I had come to expect of my 500. But maybe my eyes are getting used to the new look? In fact, for those who have known dark room work, it is a bit like always working with TriX film and then suddenly ending up with TMax – two different things. You can juggle with Multigrade paper and developers as much as you want, they will never do the same thing. It seems that has translated itself into the cameras now. Think twice if you want to change cameras and have the same obsession I have of wanting it all as perfect as possible… 🙂

Some of you with more technical inclination might wonder why I didn’t just put a grayscale card in front of the camera and get it over with. I’m afraid that’s not what I am about. I am more a trial & error person wanting to see the results ‘in the field’, under changing circumstances. They just have to click with some undefinable gut feeling saying “that’s it!” So I go about it in my own, slightly chaotic way. To me that makes more sense.  And I enjoy the trip… In the end the conclusion would be the same, I’m sure.

And another question, why bother with such trivial differences when you know that everyone will see what their monitor’s settings show them anyway and probably never what I see on mine? But that is for another time, folks… 🙂

Nederlandse versie


6 thoughts on “Olympus E500 versus E620 (part 2)

    • It seems that while I was sleeping you started on a ‘grand tour’ on my blog, going into corners no one bothers to look any more… 🙂

      Thanks a lot for being interested 🙂

    • Hi Joseph,

      The 620 can indeed use all the lenses of the 500. They use both the 4:3 system. I had bought a pro zoom lens while still working with the 500 and it works just as well on the 620.

      What would not work (for neither camera) is the newer system of micro 4:3. There may be an adapter for that but I’m not sure.


  1. Hi Orren,
    I started off with jpg but after writing these articles I switched to RAW (orf) and Adobe Lightroom to work on them as I was still not so happy about my results. There is an article about that part in the pipeline if I can finally get to finish it 🙂 I can already say that I would surely recommand the RAW and Lightroom combination if you want your b/w photos upgraded a few notches already in the try-out period…


  2. orren zook says:

    I ran across your site in a google search… very interesting as, I too, enjoy BW photography. Were your photos witn the e-620 done in JPG or ORG format? any advantage to using RAW images? Thanks in advance!

    Ohio USA

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