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*September 26, 2005 – *Olympus announced the next generation in its EVOLT line today, the Olympus EVOLT E-500. This digital single lens reflex camera is marketed as an advanced model with user-friendly features that even novices can use. The E-500 has the same 8 megapixel full-frame CCD and TruePic Turbo image processor that the E-300 has, but it packs it into a more compact and traditional-looking body. Olympus hopes the more ergonomic design and ease of use will attract all skill levels to the E-500. The Olympus EVOLT E-500 and a 14-45mm kit lens will be available in October for $799.99.
The biggest differences between the older E-300 and the new E-500 are physical. The E-300 was 5.77 x 3.35 x 2.52 inches and weighed 20.5 ounces. The Olympus EVOLT E-500 measures up at 5.09 x 3.72 x 2.59 inches and weighs 15.3 ounces, which is very light for a DSLR. The E-500’s compact body takes on a more traditional look than the E-300, which had a flat-topped look. The EVOLT E-500 got a little facelift, shifting the mode dial around and positioning the pop-up flash directly above the lens. The E-300 has a 1.8-inch HyperCrystal LCD screen that has a 160-degree viewing angle. The Olympus E-500 improved upon that with its 2.5-inch monitor that has 215,000 pixels and the same wide viewing angle.
The two EVOLTs both share Dust Reduction System technology, which consists of a supersonic wave filter that vibrates 35,000 times a second to shake dust away from the electrostatic image sensor. Olympus touts this as a necessity for photographers who are constantly changing lenses. The Olympus EVOLT digital cameras have Four Thirds standard mounts that are compatible with Olympus’ large selection of Zuiko digital-specific lenses. For $799.99, the EVOLT E-500 comes with a 14-45mm lens that has an aperture range of f/3.5 to f/5.6. The 3.2x optical zoom lens also comes in the E-300 kit. For $899.99, the EVOLT E-500 comes with that lens plus a mid-telephoto lens that reaches 40-150mm with aperture ratings of f/3.5 to f/4.5.
The Olympus EVOLT E-500 has slight changes from the E-300’s setup. The E-300 offered manual, priority, and a few scene modes. The EVOLT E-500 goes even further by offering 25 exposure modes in Easy, Basic, and Creative categories to enhance the ease of use. The E-500 has 15 custom image presets in a menu that includes sample images and text descriptions of the scene’s uses; these are the Easy modes. The Basic modes include five scene modes located directly on the mode dial; users can override their default settings. The manual, shutter speed priority, aperture priority, and programmed modes make up the Creative palette. There is also a fully automatic mode available.
The physical changes and ease of use are the biggest differences in the two EVOLT digital cameras. The two cameras have the same 2.5 frame-per-second burst mode that can shoot up to four RAW or TIFF files or shoot an unlimited number of JPEG files. The new Olympus EVOLT E-500 adds two metering modes to the E-300’s standard list of three. The newer model includes average, center-weighted, and spot – as well as Highlight Spot and Shadow Spot to adjust for predominantly black or white subjects and show their details. The E-300’s shutter slows to 30 seconds, while the new E-500 slows to a full minute.
The Olympus EVOLT digital cameras share the same $799.99 price tag, but the E-500 will carry more automatic functionality that will be optional to photographers. Olympus hopes to attract both beginners who are dabbling in digital photography and seasoned professionals looking for a more compact and affordable body in the EVOLT E-500.