Olympus E-3 Review

January 9, 2008 | Mark Goldstein | PhotographyBLOG | 7 Comments |

Olympus E-3It’s been a long time coming, but the Olympus E-3 professional DSLR camera is finally here. Successor to the popular but positively ancient E-1, the new E-3 certainly has a lot to live up to, not to mention fierce competition from the likes of Nikon, Canon, and Sony. The Olympus E3 certainly has a number of very interesting features, including what Olympus claim is the world’s fastest auto-focusing speeds, and Live View on the multi-angle, swivelling 2.5 inch LCD screen. Gavin Stoker found out if the Olympus E-3 has been worth the wait in our first review of 2008.

Website: Olympus E-3 Review



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#1 Leandro DUTRA

The reviewer does a sloppy job on comparing the E-3 to its competition on size and weight.

When compared to bodies with similar features (image stabilisation, weather sealing, dust removal &c) it does is smaller and lighter; but the biggest advantage is on glass, again if compared to lenses with same equivalent zoom (35mm equivalent focal length), quality, focusing speed and aperture.

5:17 pm - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

#2 Robert999

Agreed that the reviewer does a questionable job on calculating the weight of a 4/3ds system camera and lenses. But perhaps more imporantly, I feel the reviewer needed to spend a bit more time with the body, as the E-3 is all about hard buttons and it's dual control wheels - as it is designed for highly competent users that never want to remove the viewfinder from their eye. But it takes a lot of practice to understand which buttons do what with which control wheel, and customizing of the buttons for your workflow and style. And the E-3's controls are HIGHLY customizable, as benefits its intended user community of pros and advanced amatuers. Given that, the Ease of Use rating seems a bit low really...it's not designed to be a consumer camera, but a pro tool. And as a pro tool, it's "on the eye" interface competes very well with the EOS 1D, D3, D300, etc.

8:13 pm - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

#3 Zoltan

I do not think any of us is in the position of criticising something that is given to us for free.

I think Gavin is to be acknowledged for writing from experience in the Ease of Use section - i.e. for commenting on the ergonomics aspects that affect day-to-day use in real life, instead of simply listing all the buttons and wheels. This section is clearly the most insightful one in the review.

Now, some suggestions:
<ul type=square>
<li>I. Please indicate which Noise Filter setting (off, low, standard, high) and what sharpening level was used for the Noise Test. Also, if you do not mind, please re-shoot the ISO 100 and ISO 200 samples, they are clearly out of focus.</li>

<li>II. In the Flash Test, the indicated focal lengths are 28 and 84mm, for Wide Angle and Telephoto, respectively. Knowing it was the 12-60mm lens you had, it appears safe to assume the correct numbers would be 12 and 60mm, or 24 and 120mm in 35mm equivalency.</li>

<li>III. Both in the Image Quality and the Sample Images sections, you talk about SHQ JPEGs - they don't exist on the E-3. The JPEG compression settings are Super Fine, Fine, Normal and Basic, as stated correctly in the Specifications.</li>

<li>IV. If not too much work, please provide the following information for every thumbnail on the Sample Images page: ISO sensitivity, Noise Filter setting, Sharpening level, Contrast setting.</li>

<li>V. It seems that the DIWA-compliant review structure does not allow separate sections for features. It is a pity, as everybody would be interested in what the best settings are - in your experience - for e.g. AF point selection for different types of subject, or how effective the IS is etc. Please examine the options for including this kind of feature assessment in the reviews you provide.</li>
</ul>

Thank you.

11:02 am - Thursday, January 10, 2008

#4 Olympus E-3 video reviews

The E-3 has to be by far the best quality per dollar available and it all fits into something leaner, lighter but no less sophisticated than any highest end pro cameras I've checked out and that is very significant considering the other great cameras that compete with it. In fact, I don't think I'm wrong to say that it offers even more options... or, at least, other. Complexities make it harder to judge these days. I had to draw the line somewhere in my expectations for a 4/3s format that would generate and reflect the best and leave me very comfortable. The E-3 achieves it. With megapixels leveling out, the E-3 is easily within competitive image size range and will be an excellent tool to work with for my portfolio.

Besides the obvious like a swing out LCD, LV, the new viewfinder, etc., my favorite small features include the "avoid menu, get to the point" Super Control Panel concept. WONDERFUL! Auto gradation. GREAT! Dual option buttons. YES! A fabulous camera... to say the least.

6:44 pm - Friday, January 11, 2008

#5 Jim

Your review was appreciated. I am sure that everyone has a favorite 'must have' feature and mine is an lcd that is moveable as this camera has. Contrary to your opined the future will bear out it's usefullness I have bought cameras because of it. I take a lot of macro shots and seem to use it for a lot of hard to get shots like over the head of someone else where I can frame precisely the shot I want. I also have a vision problem that really makes me more comfortable with the lcd. As well, I haven't gotten knocked over in a crowd as much because me eyes can still see pretty well around me using the lcd rather than one eye closed squinting through the viewfinder. That's my experience anyway. Keep up the good work.

Thank you,

Jim-

1:40 am - Sunday, January 13, 2008

#6 A Bathing Ape

This is the first review I've read on the Photography Blog, so I don't really know how the it compares with previous reviews. The suggestions made my Zoltan above are for the most part spot-on, and would make it easier to understand any mitigating factors with specific examples. However, as presented the 4.5 / 5 rating that this camera received doesn't seem to be reflected in the comments and examples shown.

To give a few specific examples:

A 12-60 lens can not have an 35 mm equivalence of 28-120. It's a 2 FOVCF sensor, so it has to be a 24-120 equivalent lens. Nit-picking over a typo, sure...

When discussing the functions, the reviewer uses the word "fiddly" several times. Fiddly is generally not a positive ergonomic description. Ease of use is marked down, but still 3.5 seems a bit generous.

The ISO test examples show obvious image degradation at 400 ISO and significant degradation at 800 iso. It's hard to say how serious these degradations are without being able to see the full image files, but ISO sensitivity of the E3 doesn't appear to compare well with the recent Canon or Nikon offerings.

The portrait IQ samples are not well focused, and the sharpened example of the eye appears to be horribly over sharpened. Also, the reviewer might consider setting a custom white balance when using poor lighting.

IQ test examples are generally pretty poor. The reviewer was limited to the supplied lens, so some slack has to be given. Nonetheless, the images generally look soft, and complex detail, like in the brick facades and flowers appear to have been lost. The contrast and color saturation appear look weak. Also the bokeh produced by the test lens appeared to be quite harsh. White balance correction should have been done as well.

My intention isn't to criticize this camera, since I've seen that it can capture images with depth and substance, but to point out that this review doesn't do the camera justice. If the strong points of the camera are it's functions, then some effort to show the benefit of those functions should be considered essential. Likewise, if IQ is also a strong point, then images that have good IQ should be considered essential. £1000 is not a small bit of change and the competition at that price is stiff.

3:19 am - Sunday, January 13, 2008

#7 wolfee

uh, maybe you got the noise sample images labeled backward?

9:32 pm - Monday, January 28, 2008