The Olympus E-600 digital SLR is a lower-cost version of the existing E-620 model which launched in February 2009, with just a couple of changes made to reduce the cost and help provide differentiation. The only hardware difference we’re aware of is that Olympus’ E600 drops the useful backlit buttons, which make it easier to see the controls at night or in low light conditions. Firmware changes include the removal of three “art filter” modes which were offered in the E-620 – Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, and Grainy Film. Also absent is the two-shot multi exposure mode, and the aspect mask control. If they’re not features you need though, the potential saving is significant. Estimated street pricing for the E-600 is around $600 – and that’s for a kit including Olympus’ ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens. By way of comparison, the E-620’s street price is currently around $600 body-only, or around $700 with the same lens.
As with the E-620, the Olympus E-600 has an effective resolution of twelve megapixels from a Live MOS image sensor, and accepts Four Thirds-mount lenses. ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 3,200 equivalents, controlled automatically or manually. Exposure modes include Program Auto (with program shift capability), as well as both Aperture- and Shutter-priority and a fully Manual mode. There are also a generous eighteen scene modes to keep things approachable for beginners, and a Scene Program AE mode that automatically selects from a subset of five scene modes. Images are metered with Olympus’ 49-point Digital ESP multi-pattern metering, with center-weighted and 2% spot options also on offer. Focusing modes include either seven-point Phase Detection (five cross-type points), or 11-area contrast detection using information from the camera’s image sensor when in Live View mode.
The E-600 offers shutter speeds ranging from 1/4,000 to 60 seconds, plus a bulb mode which allows for exposures as long as thirty minutes. Burst shooting is possible at up to four frames per second with an unlimited burst depth with JPEG, and up to 5 RAW frames, and lower burst speeds can also be set between 1 and 3 frames per second. Images can be framed or reviewed on a 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 dot resolution, and the E-600 also offers a TTL viewfinder with 95% field of view. There’s a -3 to +1 diopter adjustment for eyeglass-wearers, and the viewfinder offers 0.96x magnification with an 18mm eyepoint. As well as a hot shoe for external flash strobes, the Olympus E-600 includes an integrated popup flash that has a guide number of 12 meters at ISO 100. Red-eye reduction, slow-sync (first / second curtain) and manual modes are offered, and the E-600 is capable of +/-3EV of flash intensity control in 1/3EV steps. Another important feature offered by the E-600 include Olympus’ well-received Supersonic Wave Filter dust reduction system, which helps control the effects of dust on the image sensor.
While it doesn’t include the full complement of Art Filter modes offered by the E-620 as mentioned previosly, three Art Filter modes are still available. These are the “Pop Art”, “Soft Focus” and “Pin Hole” filters, and their presense is enabled by the camera’s TruePic III+ image processor. The benefit of putting the effects in-camera isn’t only in reducing the need for editing on a computer. As Olympus points out, when enabled the effects are taken into account at the time of exposure, with resulting adjustments being made to exposure, focus, tonal range and color rendering.
The Olympus E600 draws its power from a proprietary BLS-1 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, rated as good for 500 shots when using the optical viewfinder. Images are stored on Type-I or Type-II CompactFlash cards including Microdrives, as well as on xD-Picture cards. Connectivity options include NTSC / PAL video output, and USB 2.0 High-speed with which the camera can be connected to a computer.
The Olympus E-600 ships from November 2009. Pricing is set at $599 for a kit that includes the ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko zoom lens.