|Taking the camera into your hands for the first time you immediately feel the difference between an amateur camera and a camera produced for the demanding photographer. There has been no economising on the used material. The magnesium alloy and the weather proof of the camera are good examples of the professional appearance. Olympus considers the E-1 as a professional camera. The first digital camera with the Four Thirds system sets a high standard straight away. The camera is weather proof meaning: a few drops of rain don't harm the camera, neither does a large splash of water. In practice it occurs many times that one has to take pictures in rainy conditions. My experience is that moist and damp circumstances effect the electronics of my digital reflex camera and make it unstable. This makes a camera unreliable under this weather circumstance which is the last thing a professional needs. Beside making the camera weather proof Olympus also tackled another problem: dust! A daily problem on a digital reflex camera with changeable objectives is when the objectives are being changed, dust will enter the camera. These dust parts can cling onto the image sensor which will cause dark spots on the images. It is a time-consuming job to carefully remove these dust parts from the sensor. Olympus has applied an ingenious system in the E1: a Supersonic Wave Filter. This filter catches the dust and prevents these dust parts to get to the image sensor. By making the filter vibrate supersonically, the dust parts fall off and are being caught by a sticky strip. Every time when the camera is activated the Supersonic Wave Filter starts automatically. A striking method that, as far as I experienced with frequently changing objectives outdoors, works really well!|
|Very special of the Olympus E-1 is that it has been designed newly. Olympus didn't have any restrictions by already existing systems based on 35mm format cameras. Choosing a new standard Olympus made the first step to reach a new standard that creates independent dealers from cameras as well as lenses. In the end an exchange of all brands will be possible. Striving for this to make it happen is a unique ambition!
The cameras' lenses available at this moment are also especially designed for the Four Thirds system. When another manufacturer decides to introduce a new digital reflex camera according to the new system, the earlier mentioned lenses will be exchangeable without a problem. The big advantage of the new system is that lenses can be designed very compact. Especially telephoto lenses like the 300mm f2.8 that has the same range as a 600mm lens are a lot more compact. This adds to the user's convenience because carrying around a heavy telephoto lens a whole day is not fun anymore by the end of that day! One of the features of the Zuiko lenses is that communication between the lens and the camera takes place. Various data is passed on to the processor of the camera; the focal range, a certain aberration caused on a certain focal point of the lens and even a possible problem of shading. This information is also used by the camera to correct the images in the camera on possible failures. This communication is absolutely innovative and presently unique! The Olympus Zuiko lenses consists of a series of: 14-54mm, 50-200mm, 50mm macro, 300mm telephoto an a 1.4 tele converter. Next year a new series of lenses will be announced so there will be wide choice for the (semi-) professionals.
The E-1 is equipped with a 5 Megapixels Full Frame Transfer CCD that is about twice as small as a 35mm image. Because there is a new standard we shouldn't use a length multiplier factor but to compare it to a 35mm lens: a 300mm Four Thirds System lens in combination with the E-1 camera has a focal length multiplier of 2x. The range then is equivalent with a 600mm on a 35mm camera. The last few months enough has been said and written about the how and why from the Four Thirds system. We'd almost forget it is the final product that counts: the E-1 digital reflex camera.
The E-1 has a considerable hand grip with a rubber coating. This makes the camera lie roughly in one's hand which adds to the stability of the camera during photographing. In the hand grip we find a large amount of useful buttons such as the button to activate the camera, chose the sort of programme, or select the aperture. On top op the camera the LCD monitor is placed which shows the various settings clearly.
|On the left of the centre, the hot shoe is placed for the external flash gun, the camera doesn't have a built-in flash. In the grip we find the memory compartment that is covered by a large lid. The left side of the camera offers place to a few interfaces like the Firewire (IEEE1394) and a USB 2.0 interface. Olympus did a good job integrating both fast connections. Every available possibility to transfer images quickly from the camera tot a computer or notebook is very welcome. The interfaces are hidden behind a firm cover. Next to the interfaces we find a flash synchronisation connection and the Focus button.
The back side of the camera features a 1.8-inch LCD monitor that is covered by a removable plastic transparent cap. To prevent the LCD monitor from being damaged. A 1.8-inch LCD monitor is not particularly special; a 2-inch LCD monitor would have been a more welcoming size! The monitor is getting more important by the day and is an important tool for the demanding photographer. The rest of the back of the E-1 looks quite empty, but well-organised. The well-known navigation buttons are also present. Above the LCD monitor we find the optical viewfinder. This optical viewfinder is a jewel! Olympus really made an effort for this optical viewfinder. The image field is 100%, perfect! Around the viewfinder a rubber ring is placed, through the diopter setting the viewer can be adjusted to the eye of the user, and a small switch can close the optical viewfinder completely. This is to prevent the light from getting in through the back of the camera when taking pictures with slow shutter time. It is a pleasure to look through the viewfinder of the E-1. The image is clear and that means full concentration can be given to the composition, without any disturbances.
At the bottom of the camera we find the well-known (metal) tripod connection. The connection is placed in a way that the camera has a perfect balance on the tripod and a battery can even be replaced. The battery compartment is hidden at the bottom of the hand grip. This compartment is covered by a firm cap and has a security lock.
The Olympus E-1 leaves an excellent impression behind. The camera may be called equal to professional reflex cameras like the ones from Nikon and Canon. The quality is of a high standard. Beside that the professional and enthusiastic amateur photographer will also appreciate the compact size of the camera. Combined with the way the camera fits into your hand, we may conclude that the camera is also ergonomically successful!