(Olympus Evolt E-300 in the USA)
Review Date: April 13th 2005
The Olympus E-300 has an 8.89 megapixel, 4/3 type Full Frame Transfer CCD that delivers 8.0 effective megapixels. There are 3 image quality/size settings (SHQ, HQ, SQ), which are recorded as JPEGs. Both RAW (12 bit) and TIFF (RGB 8 bit) formats are available. You can also choose to record both a RAW and JPEG version of a shot at the same time. The aspect ratio of the images is 4:3. The 14-45mm kit lens that is supplied with the Olympus E-300 is equivalent to a 28–90mm lens on a 35mm format camera. The camera supports Compact Flash card (Type I and II) and Microdrive memory cards.
The Olympus E-300 offers four advanced exposure modes - Programme with programme shift, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual - and 14 different scene modes (Portrait, Macro, Landscape, Night Scene, Sports, Landscape with Portrait, Night Scene with Portrait, Fireworks, Sunset, High Key, Document, Museum, Beach & Snow, Candle). Exposure compensation can be set up to +/- 5 EV in either 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps and exposure bracketing is available for 3 frames in +/- 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps. There is also a dedicated auto-exposure lock button. The maximum aperture of the supplied lens is f3.5 at wide-angle and f5.6 at telephoto and the shutter speed range is 1/4000 - 30 sec with a Bulb option also available (up to 8 minutes). There are 5 ISO speeds ranging from 100 to 1600 and an Auto option (which selects from ISO 100-400).
For focusing the Olympus E-300 uses a TTL Phase difference detection system. There are 3 different focusing modes available - Single AF, continuous AF and manual focus. The camera has 3 autofocus points which can be selected automatically or manually. An AF assist lamp is offered via the built-in flash or optional Olympus dedicated flashguns. There are 8 different White Balance presets to choose from that correspond to colour temperature settings (3000k -7500k), plus Auto and Custom settings. White balance bracketing of 3 frames with 2,4,6 steps is available.
The Olympus E-300 has both single and continuous shooting modes with a maximum shooting speed of approx. 2.5 fps. 4 RAW/TIFF frames can be taken in a specific sequence; the maximum number of JPEGs is dependant upon the compression ratio and pixel number. The camera has a 12 or 2 second self-timer mode. Image processing is handled by Olympus' TruePic TURBO engine and there are two colour spaces to choose from, sRGB and Adobe RGB. 5 levels of colour saturation, sharpness and contrast can all be chosen. JPEG images can be taken in-camera in black and white or sepia mode and there are also 3 graduation levels (high key, normal, low key).
The built-in flash offers a range of different modes; Auto, red-eye reduction, slow syncro, 2nd curtain slow syncro, fill-in, manual and off (no flash). It has a guide number of 13. The Olympus E-300 has a hotshoe that accepts TTL auto and FP/TTL auto for Olympus dedicated flashguns, either auto or manual. The intensity of the external flashgun can be changed up to +/- 2 EV in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps. Multi-flash control is also possible.
To compose your images you use the optical viewfinder monitor. The Olympus E-300 has an Eye-level TTL Optical Porro Finder which offers 94% scene coverage. The viewfinder has built-in diopter adjustment of -3.0 to + 1.0 diopters. To playback your images, the camera has a 1.8 inch Hyper crystal LCD screen with 134,000 pixels. Its brightness can be adjusted in +/- 7 steps. A histogram and a high light point warning can be shown for each image. The Olympus E-300 offers a built-in dust protect filter, called the Supersonic Wave Filter. Depth of field preview is available. PictBridge support allows direct printing with compatible printers, and the DPOF and PRINT Image Matching II features allow you to configure options for printing your images.
The camera's dimensions are 146.5mm (W) x 85mm (H) x 64mm (D), and it weighs 580g without the battery and storage card fitted. The camera is powered by one rechargeable Li-Ion battery pack (BLM-1). An optional AC adapter is also available which can be connected via the DC in jack. There are two remote control options: wireless by RM-1 or RM-2, or wired by RM-CB1 with HLD-3. The camera can be connected to a television via either the NTSC or PAL video signal outputs. There is a metal tripod mount in the bottom-centre of the camera in line with the lens mount.
Finally, the box kit that I reviewed contains a E-300 body, 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, USB cable, video cable, Li-Ion battery pack (BLM-1), Li-Ion battery charger (BCM-2), shoulder strap, Olympus Master CD-ROM and instruction manuals. You will need to budget for a few Compact Flash or Microdrive memory cards (at least 512Mb in size), as there is no card supplied, which is typical of most DSLR cameras.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Olympus E-300 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.