Customer Reviews: Olympus E30 12.3MP Digital SLR with Image Stabilization (Body Only)
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on February 7, 2009
After owning an Olympus E-510 for 8 months I had been looking forward to an upgrade to the E-3. When Olympus announced the new E-30 in November the upgrade waters became a little muddied. I poured over the differences between the E-3 and the E-30 and then waited for some of the initial Olympus reviews to come out. I further waited to hear from the more well known internet Olympus users and bloggers to see what they had to say. After all, they were used to shooting Olympus and had done so with most of the models currently out. Once I knew that the E-30 performed similarly to the E-3 I knew now that I had to pick one over the other. But which one?

Basically, any camera purchase will be based on a personal style and liking and not everyone chooses the same system or the same camera within a system. Gotta love diversity!

What I knew about Olympus that I already liked were the Zuiko lenses, the in body image stabilization, the smaller, lighter (but not cheap feeling) bodies, the image quality, the live view, the intuitive design of the menu system, their dust reduction capabilities, and their built-from-the-ground-up digital system.

I chose the E-30 over the E-3 because of two main reasons:

One was the fact that the E-30 contained much of the innovation and performance of the E-3, but with newer technology. In the digital world, I felt that was a plus.

The second was the actual weight difference. While I think the weather sealed body of the E-3 is great for someone who actually will need it, I couldn't see myself shooting in the rain. Since I have a bit of arthritis in my hands and wrists already, the lighter body of the E-30 was a better fit for me.

My thoughts on the overall performance of the E-30 is that it performs just as I had hoped it would. It's fast and responsive.

The 11 point auto focus points were a nice jump from the 3 points with my E-510 and after figuring out how to change from one to the other, it became pretty easy to handle.

The larger 2.7 in screen was nice, not to mention the fact that it can tilt and swivel. I sort of missed the tilt and swivel option from when I owned a Canon S5 IS.

I noticed a difference in the dynamic range too. I wasn't blowing out highlights as easily as I did with the E-510. Less "blikies" are always a good thing!

The image quality doesn't disappoint and the 12.3mp allows for larger prints.

I haven't used the art filters yet, but I'm sure it'll be just one more thing that I can play around with. It definitely doesn't distract or degrade the high quality you get with this camera!

If you want to upgrade from the E-4XX or E-5XX models this camera will not disappoint. If you are looking at this as a new DSLR purchase it will be a great camera for you as well.
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on January 28, 2009
As an early adopter of the E-500 and it's quality kit lenses, I've had my eye on the flagship, tank-like E-3 as my next Oly body. Then the announcement in November that Olympus was set to introduce a mid-range camera that built on many of the successes from both the E-5X0 and the E-3. Having mulled over the decision for two months, reading every review, watching every video and scrutenizing the owners manual I pulled the trigger on the E-30 with the 14-42mm "standard grade" kit lens. Tough decision to make with the E-3 body's selling for the same price as the E-30! What ultimately convinced me was the E-30 offered everything I loved about the E-3 in a slightly smaller package.

First impressions:
Feels great in hand! Good weight distribution, nice balance. Bright beautiful, viewfinder - huge improvement over the E-4X0 and E-5X0 models. LCD has excellent contrast and renders colors accurately. Back lit top panel display is easy to read. Faster focus in hybrid live view than I expected. Shutter is a bit metallic but not intrusive.

Live view for checking focus in macro and composing cityscape's at night.
Articulating screen for getting shots on or near the ground.
SSWF "battle-tested" dust removal system.
Image stabilized body that works with all FourThirds lenses.
Built-in leveler that detects pitch and roll to help snap straighter shots.

xD card slot is a waste of space and should be replaced with SDHC.
I could do without the "creative filters". Some may find them interesting.
The 14-42 kit lens included is nothing to write home about. Feels a bit toyish but responds well on the E-30 and is very lightweight.

My early impressions aside, everybody has different needs for a camera/system, the E-30 feels right at home with how I shoot. Let your style/needs dictate the tools you use.

Availability is still patchy as of late January 2009. Mine shipped from Adorama (helpful, fast) and there are several "package deals" from other Amazon vendors which offer the venerable Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Digital ED SWD Lens for Olympus Digital SLR Cameras and Olympus FL-50R Electronic Flash for Olympus Digital SLR Cameras along with the E-30 body.

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on January 5, 2010
I started out with an E-510, went to the 520, then took a couple of steps back and started using the E-1 and the E-500, then added the E-3 to my bag which saw about 6 months use, but all the jumping around came to an end the day I bought the E-30. After exactly two months, I've sold all my old Olympus gear (except the E-1) and I'm happy to say that I'm very satisfied with my purchase of the E-30.

The E-30 is not just an E-3 packed into a smaller body, it's much more! The AF system seems vastly improved over the E-3, the LCD screen is slightly better, IQ at higher ISOs is a lot more usable as there is no banding and the overall size is a lot more manageable.

Let me start with some Pros:

1. AF system is a huge upgrade, the E-30 seems to have an AF system which is much more sure footed and accurate than the E-3. The biggest plus is the ability to perform micro adjustment on the AF. The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Four Thirds Lens for Olympus and Panasonic Digital Cameras is one of my favourite lenses which unfortunately had AF problems on every 4/3s body, but with the E-30, I've dialled in an AF adjustment and it works flawlessly! In the S-T-D mode the AF is simply spectacular, locking focus in very, very low light! In short, the AF is a huge upgrade from the E-3.

2. IQ is an improvement over all other 4/3s bodies. In fact the IQ of the E-30 came closes to what I was used to seeing from the E-1; accurate white balance and excellent colours with lovely saturation and just the right amount of contrast. The sharpening is a touch too much for my taste, but keeping it at -1 makes the images look a lot nicer with lesser noise. Noise is slightly on the higher side, but with the noise filter at either "Low" or the manufacturer recommended "Standard" this is a complete non-issue.

3. High ISO performance is by far the best I've seen on any 4/3s body. I fearlessly use the E-30 at ISO 1600 with no issues whatsoever. In fact I've made several 8x10 and 13x19 prints of ISO 1600 JPEGs straight from the camera and not once have I seen any issues. With the E-3, E-510/520 I almost always saw banding in the shadows, no such thing with the E-30.

4. Dynamic Range is a toss-up, but has definitely seen some improvement. At ISO 200, the images show a lot more highlight detail than ISO 100. Olympus hasn't documented it's ISO implementation very well and as a result this may leave many users confused. When used in "Auto ISO" the lower range starts from ISO 200, whereas when selecting the ISO manually, ISO 100 is available. Based on certain tests, I noticed that highlights definitely retain more detail at ISO 200, but shadows are a tad noisier. Basically, if you want ultra-clean noise free images, continue to shoot at ISO 100 with careful metering and you'll be happy. If a scene has too much DR, ISO 200 may help a little, but don't expect miracles.

5. Lastly, metering seems very conservative just like the E-3, this is a good thing, but I'd definitely recommend keeping an eye on the histograms. Overall, the metering is very predictable.

Now that we're done with the Pros, here are some Cons:

1. Build quality is nice, but nowhere near E-3 standards, considering that the E-30 is priced so close to the E-3, I was hoping for better. For example, the pop-up flash in my unit actually has some play. The shutter however seems to be the same as the E-3 which I really like; its quiet and has very little lag and non of the whining and moaning that you get on the E-620, 520 and similar.

2. There is a problem with the AF point illumination light spilling into it's neighbouring points; I spoke with Olympus regarding this and they confirmed that this was a known issue with no solution at this point. The best thing to do is make sure your eye is dead-centre on the OVF (thank you very much!).

3. Images lack the biting detail that I was used to seeing from previous Olympus cameras, especially at higher ISOs. As a result, at times they do require a greater degree of sharpening.

4. Image noise is so far the highest amongst all 4/3 DSLRs, while this is only an issue when pixel peeping, it's definitely a bigger issue if you plan to print very large or if you plan to crop heavily.

5. I'm not very crazy about the button placement. The combination button to enable bracketing isn't great and I find the placement of the ON/OFF switch to be very counter-intuitive, although this is just a very small matter of getting used to. Also, the 4 buttons on the bottom of the LCD are very difficult to get to especially if you're using the camera with gloves.

Overall, the E-30 is a fine camera and houses a lot of improvements that could have essentially been used in an E-3 MKII. I'm glad to have bought this camera and will definitely recommend this to anyone considering it.I will keep my eyes open for the next big thing, but until then I will be using this camera with a lot of pleasure!
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on April 6, 2009
I'd been debating about buying this camera for a while. I have an E-1 and an E-510 which both work just fine. I have a lot of lenses which means I'm not switching brands anytime soon. I kept telling myself I didn't NEED the E-30, but then I got to see one in person and I fell in love! It's the perfect size for me... a little larger than the 510 but it handles the larger lenses very well. I LOVE the art filters - and the fact that if you shoot Raw + jpg, then you get the jpg with the art filter and the original Raw in case you didn't like the effect! :) I might not use the filters that often, but I love having options. ;)

I love the articulating screen - that was one of the biggest selling factors for me. What amazes me though is the vibrant colors this thing produces... straight out of the camera I'm floored with how wonderful the pictures are. IT's 100 times better than my 510. I loved my 510, but this camera is amazing. :) BUY ONE! NOW! lol....
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on February 5, 2010
I originally purchased this camera to go alongside my E-3. With the increase in work I've been getting I wanted to have 2 cameras to bring to jobs. After spending a good deal of time with my E-30 it has actually become my main camera. I prefer its ergonomics over the E-3. I much prefer the high iso noise performance of the E-30 over the E-3. It is not that the camera produces less noise, it is that the noise cleans up extremely well (in a program such as the Lightroom 3 beta). I feel that there is also sharper images coming from the E-30 (slightly).

I know that Olympus is marketing this camera for the "Art Filters" but I never use those personally. I mainly shoot in RAW and process my images through Lightroom with Nik Software plug-ins. I think that if you prefer to shoot in jpeg and would like to bypass using software such as photoshop, then the art filters would be an excellent choice to use.

Overall I am very happy with this camera. If I am going to a job which I feel will require more than one camera (wedding for example), I will bring both the E-30 and E-3. If the weather is bad, I will definitely use the E-3. For everything else I would prefer to use the E-30.
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on November 23, 2009
After easing my way into the world of dSLR for almost a year with an Olympus E-520, I thought I had evolved enough to earn an upgrade. At the time, I had three Olympus choices (as I had no intention of building my lens collection all over again): the E-620, the E-30 and the top-of-the-line E-3. I chose the E-30, and my reasoning is as follows:
* E-620. A not-so-radical upgrade from the camera I already owned, although there were important improvements.
* E-3. Too heavy, too expensive, too much (besides, I, like every other Olympus owner out there, am waiting to see what this model's successor will be like).
* E-30. On paper, and from the information I gathered on photo forums and other places, it seemed like the ideal camera for me, in terms of image quality, fast autofocus, weight and build. So I went for it.

After several months and many thousands of photos, I am completely satisfied with it. My main subject are birds -- in natural light --, so the well-known Olympus limitations with high ISO and low light were of no concern to me. What matters to me is having a responsive camera that is easy and intuitive to handle (of course the E-520 broke me in), that is accurate, well thought out, solidly built and ergonomic, totally customizable and renders high quality images. Furthermore, a camera that I can carry for hours at a time without breaking my back.

The E-30 has given me all that. It has suffered some (involuntary) abuse, some rain, salt water and a few weeks of below freezing conditions without missing a beat. Initially I had to do a bit of user manual reading because some configurations were different from the E-520, and there were loads of new options in the menus. But it took me very little time to figure out the optimal settings for me, and from then on it was just the occasional tweak according to momentary shooting conditions.

The camera has performed beautifully with everything I have thrown at it, giving me some of my best shots yet. Autofocus (especially in combination with the 50-200 mm SWD) is extremely quick and accurate, which is a huge matter when you are photographing moving subjects.

The images I take with the E-30 require minimal post-processing; normally cropping and eventual light/shadow fiddling and noise removal. This means I can spend more time outside chasing birds and less in front of the computer fixing bad photos. I couldn't ask for anything more.
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My E30 was purchased in 2010 to replace a venerable E500 which did not have image stabilization. I paired the E30 with a Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Digital ED SWD Lens for Olympus Digital SLR Cameras which is a superb lens.

Another lens I use is the Olympus E 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 Zuiko Lens for Olympus Digital SLR Cameras for wide angle work - mainly building interiors and landscapes. It has some distortions at the wide and but these are easily corrected in the Olympus Master II software.

With the Olympus MF-1 OM Lens Adapter I can use the range of my manual OM lenses but I have to depend on manual stop-down and focus. The screen in the E30 is not very good for manual focus and there is no manual focus assist. Oh well. Still it is very good in the studio and a nice option as I have a full macro outfit from my OM4t days.

This combination is well balanced and meets most of my photographic needs. As I have been using Olympus SLR cameras since 1980 the design options almost all make sense to me. Like other have mentioned I could have skipped the XD card slot - a SD card slot would have been a better choice, but backward compatibility is a hallmark of Olympus design.

I mostly use the viewfinder, but having live-view as an option is very handy in certain situations. The built-in levels are very handy for shooting landscapes and/or panoramas.

The E500 which the E30 replaced only had a slow USB1 connection. The E30 has the much faster USB2 connection. Battery life has been excellent.

Integration with my studio flash using the PC connector has been great. I have a Novatron pack and heads for studio work.

The E30 has a larger/brighter viewfinder than the E500. A 4/3 camera will have a darker optical viewfinder than if the camera had a larger sensor. I use the Olympus EYECUP ME-1 MAGNIFIER on my E-30 and it makes a big difference for me. I really like it.

I have never run out of battery. That's remarkable compared to the E500 it replaced. The BLM-1 battery can easily handle 300 plus images.

Overall the E30 has become a good photographic partner and has exceeded my expectations.

I hope this helps someone.
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on April 7, 2009
Owned this camera for few months now. Have been an Olympus user for sometime (3-4 years). My views therefore compare with other cameras available.

What I like:
*fast focus with the 14-54Mk II lens. Wow..first time I used it, it was fast, compared to the older 14-54mm lens and the older 510 & 520, the latter two which I subsequently sold.
*light weight, compared to E3, but heavy compared to e510 and e520.
*Olympus colours
*The range of ISO up to 3200 however is much much better than the previous ISO 1600 limitation.

What I can do without:
*Has Olympus done its research? The art filters are out of place ..really, why would one use art filters if one buys the e30! art filter on point and shoot okay..but on the e30. Market positioning seems to be wrong.
*flexible LCD monitor: not really useful.

What I dislike:
* small electronic view finder: having used the Nikon D700, Olympus viewfinder need to be improved!
* LCD screen: at 2.7inch and 250,000 dots...this is appalling. 3 inch should be minimum, and at least 900,000 dots like competitors.
*low light performance: better than e510/e520, but still lags behind competitors.
*Auto white balance: totally out indoor lighting. I sold my e520 because of this. The e510 auto B is the best.
High ISO: good up to ISO 800..after that there is noise. Olympus has ot improve on this.
* xD card: its time to change to SD. xD is S.L..O....W... on downloading!

I have corresponded with Olympus before on their features and the new launches, which makes olympus owners lose high investment as the prices depreciate quite fast upon post launch.

Seems like Olympus do make changes, but slow...

*Olympus e30: if you do not like Olympus colors in the images, then this camera is not suitable, as there are other products that may meet your needs. I stick with Olympus only because of the colors; tried Nikon and Canon, but still revert back to Olympus,
*ate its low light performance (although much better than the e5XX series!),which Olympus could seriously improve.

*Yesterday tried low light shooting... quite disappointed.

I have used the e30 for a model shooting showing...more keepers images than previously compared to e510, which however, had better accurate white balance.
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on November 20, 2009
This camera is beautiful to regard and so easy to hold. It is well-built; nothing cheesy or flimsy about it. As a matter of fact, it's pretty big and heavy as far as DSLRs go these days. If it were weatherproof (and sported a titanium chassis), this would be the replacement for Olympus's flagship, the E-3.

What takes Olympus cameras from the "good" category to the "great" is the glass: Zuiko Digital (ZD) lenses rate amongst the best in the solar system. Also, because the Olympus DSLR line is in the 4/3 format (the sensor is about one-quarter the size of the exposed plane on 35mm film and is shaped into a rectangle 4 wide to 3 height), ZD lenses can be made lighter and smaller than traditional lenses.

Upon its release, the E-30 was one of the world's best DSLRs under $1000. But times change quickly in the digital camera market. While the E-30 comes with professional features (top-reading display, infinitely customizable menu, reasonable FPS, multiple exposure, excellent lenses), it also boasts a few knickknacks that might appeal to the highly-competent amateur, including "art filters", a means to alter the end result of the photographs while they are still in the camera.

But the E-30 is missing a vital element. What is that big drawback? Why did I rate this wonderful camera four stars instead of five?

Nearly every DSLR on the market today is capable of shooting HD video... except for those DSLRs from Olympus.

In the case of the E-30, already a bigger-than-average DSLR, it is unlikely that Olympus will find room to add the circuitry required for HD video; so, don't expect an upgrade from Olympus any time soon. Research and re-tooling require lots of time and money.

The E-30 is a stellar performer and a delight to (be)hold, but it is already a dinosaur in the digital world.
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VINE VOICEon June 11, 2009
I'm not going to add much in terms of content - much has already been written about the camera in terms of the technical details. But if you have an earlier E-series Oly DSLR, it's time to move up. I've really enjoyed my E-500 and have to say I learned a lot on that camera and needed that time to get used to digital SLR photography and all the controls you have at your disposal. I didn't think the E-510 or E-520 were quite worth the jump even though they are both improvements in many ways to the E-500 (and it's predecessor E-300/330). The E-620 is out and looks to be a fantastic addition to Oly's line, but the E-30 really caught my eye as a logical next step. I did weeks of comparisons to include the E-3 as well, but in the end, the E-30 appeared to be the best upgrade for this experienced amateur.

I am fabulously happy with my choice and the improvements over my beloved E-500 are very apparent. The better metering and better autofocus sensors really show in the pictures. The better viewfinder is a VERY welcome change for my well-over-40-year-old eyes. The rearrangement of the data in the viewfinder is much better than the E-500's side version, which was hard to see.

I also have larger hands, which is another reason for getting a bigger camera, rather than a smaller one as the E-620 is. The feel is - to me - very close to a film SLR in terms of weight and size, which is a very comfortable fit for me (having done film work for 30 years before digital).

If you have an earlier E-series and have been thinking about an upgrade, this is the one for you. It's a logical step up in Oly's current progression. I could not be happier.

Sidenote: it's only fair to note that 17th St. Camera was an excellent seller in my case, since Amazon was out of stock when I purchased my E-30
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