As compact cameras continue to evolve into commodity items, camera makers have shifted the way they approach their entry-level digital SLRs.
In Olympus' case, the E-410 and E-510 include Live View LCD preview mode to mimic the way you frame a shot with a compact camera and scene presets in case you're not comfortable enough to set exposure using the program, aperture- and shutter-priority, and manual shooting modes that are the norm among SLR shooters.
Of course, those modes are still available in the E-510, and can give you the same level of exposure control you find in other SLRs.
Olympus thinks of the E-510 as a small step above the E-410 and thinks that it should appeal to dSLR newbies (or possibly former film SLR owners) that want more of a traditional SLR design than its smaller sibling.
While the E-410 has an extremely compact body design with almost no grip so it can fit into a pocket if you take the lens off, the E-510 has a more prominent grip, making for a slightly larger body. Not only that, the E-510 also includes mechanical, sensor-shift image stabilisation, which the E-410 lacks.
Like most newer entry-level SLRs, the E-510 doesn't include a separate status LCD. Instead, you can access info, such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO, on the camera's main LCD screen. While we normally prefer a status LCD to this method, we do like the way Olympus built its status screen, since you can quickly navigate through the screen to change any of the settings included in that view.
Of course, there are also hard buttons for commonly changed settings, such as ISO, white balance and AF mode, in case you want to bypass the status screen, which you access by pressing the OK button in the middle of the five-way touchpad.
The layout of buttons on the E-510 is very nice, making it a comfortable camera to use, though like most entry-level SLRs, its body is a tad short, and our last finger dangles from the bottom of the grip when we hold it.