|Olympus E3 TruePic II processor
Often many pixels on a small sensor is not a good combination. It also depends for a great deal on the image processor. Olympus so far haven't convinced me with their TruePic II processor and the sensor they are using. The Olympus E3 however surprised me pleasantly. There are some beautiful pictures coming from this camera. But you have to make sure some issues are correctly dealt with.
Olympus E3 Light metering
Light metering offers several possibilities. Besides centre weighted and matrix metering, spot metering is available. You can adjust it to high lights and shadows. You can for example measure on a dark area and set the spot meter to Lo. The camera will then correct itself automatically. In most cases you will probably use matrix metering. And that works fine. It is advisable to correct the camera to some extent because all the pictures seemed to be a tad overexposed. Certainly at low sensitivities the difference is considerable, almost 20% which is noticeable in your picture. The difference is not that vast at higher ISO than ISO 200 and hardly visible in the pictures.
Olympus E3 Dynamic range
Thankfully the dynamic range is excellent at low sensitivities, even superb at ISO 100. This gives you room to play, but it is better to expose well if you don’t want smeared out lights and filled out shadows. The dynamic range decreases fast at a higher ISO and higher than ISO 800 it is average to bad even.
Olympus E-3 ISO values
The Olympus E-3 also managed to surprise me as far as noise ratio is concerned. In my opinion this was never Olympus' strongest point. The Olympus E-3 however seems to be an exception. From our DIWA Lab tests noise is visible at ISO 100, but this is a theoretical value. In practice there is no sign of it and that's what counts. ISO 400 shows noise but even at ISO 800 it is still fine. It's not until ISO 1600 that you can't get around it anymore and ISO 3200 should only be an emergency mode. These are fine values; we would have voted for them in the earlier days when it was nearly impossible to work with high ISOs in colour.
Olympus E-3 SLR White balance
I am less satisfied with the white balance. In daylight I can't complain, everything works astonishing as shown from the lab test results. Under incandescent or fluorescent light it becomes a different story. The pictures are too warm altogether. You can compensate in RAW providing you have captured a grey card or a white surface too. In any case it is better to set the white balance manually and to be honest you can't go without doing it. That is why it's even more frustrating that setting a manual white balance is so complicated with the E-3 as I explained in the previous chapter. To be blunt; Olympus have to put things right here.
Olympus E3 Colour reproduction
Colour reproduction is excellent; however this is mainly a question of personal taste. Surely when you shoot in RAW you can still make a lot of adjustments. Adobe is supporting the Olympus E3 format which enables using Lightroom as well as Adobe Camera RAW. And those are the standard programs to convert RAW pictures.
|The JPEGs seemed somewhat soft and unclear; the RAW pictures converted with ACR had an excellent sharpness. You can enhance the sharpening to your own preference but I advice you to go easy on it. It gets too sharp quite easily delivering an unnatural looking picture.
Olympus E3 Vibrating sensor
The camera has been equipped with a vibrating sensor compensating for camera shake. The advantage of image stabilization inside the sensor is that it works for every lens; you don't have to purchase special lenses. The image stabilization of the Olympus E3 works excellently and is flawless up to 3 stops. I have to warn you that it is not a miracle causer. Not all movements can be compensated through the stabilization system and sometimes you have to use the tripod which of course offers the best solution if you want a perfectly sharp picture. But it is not a very practical one, I am aware of that.
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm SWD lens
For testing I had the new Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm 1:2.8-4.0 SWD at my disposal. A beautiful compact lens with a relatively large opening. The range also appeals to me; compared with a 35mm camera it offers 24-120mm that will let you capture nearly everything. I can't say it often enough that this is the biggest advantage of the FourThirds System; compact light sensitive lenses with a large range. The lens is weatherproof so it makes a perfect combination with the Olympus E-3. Also the performance of the lens is on a level with the camera. Of course we see some barrel distortion in maximum wide angle but it quickly changes to an almost neutral mode. Just a tiny bit of barrel distortion remains. The sharpness is fine over the entire range except for when you reach the maximum aperture. If you go further then f/11 the sharpness decreases. Next diffraction turns up but then again every lens suffers from it. Chromatic aberration is fine and vignetting decreases as soon as you change the aperture one stop.