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Olympus E-1 | Digital Camera Review | Control
The designers of the Olympus E-1 have had a heavy task. On the one hand the camera has to meet the expectations a professional expects on a camera like that, on the other hand there has been a demand to make the camera lighter and more compact to add to the user's convenience. They succeeded on this last mission. Beside that a perfect operation, or at least an operation where the photographer intuitively can find the buttons, is required. The Olympus E-1 has a lot of settings and most of them have landed on a logical spot. Of course experienced users that are used to a different way of operating a camera will have to search for the right buttons, but one gets accustomed very quickly.
Olympus E-1 | Digital Camera Olympus E-1 | Digital Camera
The main switch is placed on the right side on top of the camera. This switch also enables settings for aperture or shutter priority, program or manual. In general the right side of the camera is the most important one as for operation. The clearly visible grip with the release button offers a stable way of photographing. The release button reacts in a pleasant way and gives a good feeling of photographing. Olympus has placed de various handy and necessary functions in general clearly and logical directly under the button, however the white balance is a question mark for me. Personally I find the white balance button, right next to the turn switch on the camera neither a logical nor a handy spot. You almost need two hands to make a choice from the broad range of white balance settings. Move the white balance button to the left side would seem more logical to me.

The back of the camera will be recognised by the users of an Olympus E10 and E20 camera. No matter how busy the top of the camera is, the backside is the opposite. A small command wheel serves to show an image, a button for the Menu, an OK button, INFO button, a Deleted items button, a Protect button and of course the well-known arrows with which one can navigate through the menu. The buttons can be operated easily and are situated perfectly with regard to the housing to enable operating with one finger top.

Slightly hidden there are a few more buttons at the front of the camera; the depth of field function, the manual white balance function and another switch to select the way of focussing.

The start up time of the camera is prompt with an average time span of approximately two seconds. It would be nice if the E-1 reacts quicker when in sleep mode. Beside that the camera is quite slow in showing a just captured image, in approximately 2.5 seconds. Something that I really miss on the E-1 is a histogram on the review mode and beside that the possibility to zoom in digitally at the first reproduction of the image on the monitor. I use this function frequently when making portrait pictures, checking the sharpness of the eyes of the model.
The E-1 first shows the image, then you have to select the review mode to show the same image again, and then you can zoom in digitally. During my conversations with Toshiyuki Terada, technical product manager from Olympus Europe, on Mallorca and a few weeks later in Holland it turned out that by means of a possible future firmware update this can be changed. Let's hope that this message of the first users and testers of this camera will be rated at its true value so we can overcome this unnecessary obstacle.

The Olympus E-1 performs fine when writing large files onto a CompactFlash card. I used the new SanDisk Ultra II 1GB card where read and write is reaching the optimum speed. The so-called interval of release hardly plays a role at the E-1. The camera reacts well in divers situations. Although the E-1 is aiming for the professional user, we must see this more generally. The camera is not a speed monster like the Nikon D2H, but it has to be looked upon as a versatile digital camera with a professional finishing touch. The camera will feel at home in studio surroundings but the E-1 can also be used as a reporter camera without any problems.

In general you can say that the operation of the E-1 is clear and straightforward. The different layers of the functions are not directly visible but appear in the large menu. A good performance of the designers is to not only design a digital camera with high expectations but also make it user-friendly. The LCD monitor on top of the camera shows the exposure at a glance and with one turn on the button it can be changed.

The Olympus E-1 is a high quality digital camera that introduces convenience in a compact design on a professional level. The way the camera can be operated is in fact easy, which is a relief for the ones who will switch over from his/her old and familiar digital system to the Olympus E-1.
Olympus E-1 Olympus E-1
   
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