Olympus E3 digital reflex camera
The past few years we have seen a lot of DSLRs from Olympus passing by but it took a long time before the successor to the E1 arrived. Apparently Olympus wanted to test a few things before surprising the professional photographer. And the new Olympus E-3 surely is surprising. It has become a beautiful camera that will appeal to many photographers.
Olympus E3 Weatherproof housing
First of all the camera has a very solid build, that can clearly stand the rough treatment of photo journalists. Thanks to the weatherproof seals the Olympus E-3 can be used in all circumstances. Whether you are climbing a mountain, shooting wildlife pictures in the jungle or capturing the Dakar rally, it is not a problem for this camera. No water or dust influences the camera. And even if dust gets onto the sensor, the SuperSonic Wave Filter swipes it clean straight away. I think the filter is the main improvement of this camera. The times of continuously manually clean the sensor are definitely over!
Olympus E-3 Optical viewfinder
During taking pictures in practice the Olympus E-3 turned out to be a very pleasant camera to work with. Partially thanks to its nice viewfinder. Surprisingly clear and large, a true joy. And it is extremely satisfying you can see what you are actually capturing, I'd wish for every camera to have a 100% field of view.
Olympus E3 Live View LCD display
Live View certainly is an asset, also because you can tilt the monitor to all sides. I still find it hard to believe that these vari-angle monitors disappear off the compact cameras to appear again on the DSLRs. You have to take into account that the auto focus has a vast shutter lag when using Live View. You can prevent this by setting manual focus and lock it prior to taking the picture. But I don't expect you to use Live View when going for action photography. It makes a lot more sense using it for macro, product or science photography.
Olympus E3 Auto focus system
I can't say if Olympus proved themselves with the fastest AF in the world. I must admit the auto focus is quite impressive. It is ultra fast and very precise. The many possibilities make it a mature system. We had to wait a long time for it, but Olympus have proved with the new Olympus E-3 that they can do it.
Olympus E3 Image quality
The image quality the camera is offering is excellent, although not belonging to the top. At high ISO noise is visible and the dynamic range decreases fast. It requires correct exposure but the E-3 tends to overexpose somewhat. Colour reproduction is fine and so is the sharpness. Also with the new 12-60mm Zuiko Digital lens that performs really well and is a good combination with the Olympus E-3.
Olympus E-3 White balance
I am not at all pleased with the white balance in fluorescent light; it deviates too much just as it does with the Panasonic L10. It would not be too bad if you were able to make a manual white balance easy and fast. But that is the problem with the E-3; it takes too much of an effort. It would have been better to have a separate button available on the camera and set it in a way it would facilitate making a white balance in dimly lit circumstances.
Olympus E3 - Impressive SLR camera
All in all the Olympus E-3 impressed greatly. It is a very well thought-out camera with emphasis on the user. That doesn't go for many other camera brands. I won't be surprised to see many E-1 users making the step to the Olympus E-3 after having waited all this time. Just as potential buyers from competitive brands will probably start looking at the Olympus and get convinced. I am also curious as to how the Olympus E-3 will be received by the professional photographer. The Olympus E-3 is a real photo-beast, meant for the real stuff, very impressive!
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"During the Olympus E-3 event I was able to work with the camera for an entire day and I must admit that I was nicely surprised. Not that I did not have faith in the long development period necessary to build a new D-SLR camera but more so because Olympus once again have presented a full D-SLR with its very own character. The competition is heavy and ruthless and the technique advances with big steps. The Olympus E-3 seems to fit in perfectly in the current D-SLR market but it is capable of keeping its own identity."
Continue to read our E3 preview and take a look at our test photos!
Olympus E3 RAW & JPEG files
Files of the Olympus E-3 are rather large and certainly when shooting in RAW (ORF, the Olympus RAW format). You have to consider a file size of 11MB per picture. The largest JPEG still measures 6.8MB. The fact that the buffer can hold up to 19 RAW pictures is worth a compliment to Olympus. They don't underestimate the usefulness of working in RAW. In JPEG you can carry on shooting until the memory card is full. It might be wise not to economize on the capacity of memory cards because of the large files. The table below shows how many pictures fit on a 1GB card but I'd advice a 2GB card at least. Even more so if you shoot in RAW.
Considering 1GB of storage capacity:
RAW - 3648x2736 pixels - 11 MB - 91 pictures
JPEG - Large - Superfine - 3648x2736 pixels - 6.8MB - 147 pictures
JPEG - Large - Fine - 3648x2736 pixels - 4.7MB - 211 pictures
JPEG - Large - Normal - 3648x2736 pixels - 2.2MB - 460 pictures
JPEG - Large - Basic - 3648x2736 pixels - 1.5MB - 687 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Superfine - 3200x2400 pixels - 5.3MB - 187 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Fine - 3200x2400 pixels - 3.7MB - 267 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Normal - 3200x2400 pixels - 1.7MB - 597 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Basic - 3200x2400 pixels - 1.1MB - 888 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Superfine - 2560x1920 pixels - 3.6MB - 280 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Fine - 2560x1920 pixels - 2.2MB - 466 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Normal - 2560x1920 pixels - 1.1MB - 927 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Basic - 2560x1920 pixels - 0.7MB - 1361 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Superfine - 1600x1200 pixels - 1.3MB - 799 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Fine - 1600x1200 pixels - 0.8MB - 1163 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Normal - 1600x1200 pixels - 0.5MB - 2284 pictures
JPEG - Medium - Basic - 1600x1200 pixels - 0.3MB - 3198 pictures
JPEG - Small - Superfine - 1280x960 pixels - 0.8MB - 1230 pictures
JPEG - Small - Fine - 1280x960 pixels - 0.5MB - 1776 pictures
JPEG - Small - Normal - 1280x960 pixels - 0.3MB - 3366 pictures
JPEG - Small - Basic - 1280x960 pixels - 0.2MB - 4920 pictures
JPEG - Small - Superfine - 1024x768 pixels - 0.5MB - 1881 pictures
JPEG - Small - Fine - 1024x768 pixels - 0.4MB - 1665 pictures
JPEG - Small - Normal - 1024x768 pixels - 0.2MB - 4920 pictures
JPEG - Small - Basic - 1024x768 pixels - 0.1MB - 7107 pictures
JPEG - Small - Superfine - 640x480 pixels - 0.2MB - 4569 pictures
JPEG - Small - Fine - 640x480 pixels - 0.2MB - 6396 pictures
JPEG - Small - Normal - 640x480 pixels - 0.1MB - 10661 pictures
JPEG - Small - Basic - 640x480 pixels - 0.1MB - 12793 pictures