on December 27, 2007
Although I have been a Nikon f4s & Contax G2 User (35mm) for years, I have switched over to digital - and I am glad I choose the Olympus E-3 as my dslr. The camera is just a great piece of Photographic Equipment - providing me with a great way to transition from Pro 35mm to Pro Digital SLR. It is much lighter and compact than my workhorse f4s with all the same features plus many extras.
Impressive metal body frame, water and air tight as a drum, progressive electronics and intuitive controls the camera rates a 5 star from me - would give it a 6 star if available. The camera cleans itself electronically - end of dust problems which is the plague of digital slr's. The auto focus is spot on perfect and really NASCAR fast! The meter is very good and can be set to matrix, center weighted average, spot, and a few others to experiment with. I have used the matrix which is very good, but prefer the center weighted metering strictly out of years of habit. For very akward lighting I prefer spot metering or manual to get the job done correctly. The camera for all practical purposes (except frame size) is a 35mm slr. One can choose aperature priority, shutter priority, programed auto, or manual exposure modes. There is plus and minus ev compensation up to 5. Bracketing, bulb, just about any shutter speed one could want are all included. There are numerous other features that can be turned on if one prefers.
The 'noise' most people hear about in digital cameras (which is nothing different than grain on 35mm print film) is not present at 100-200 ASA. It is only minutely present at 200-400 ASA if you use a microscope to examine it - or for the rest of the world not present at all. At 400 - 800 ASA it is hardly noticable. As a matter of fact, there is less noise from ASA 400-800 than I have ever seen in the same ASA color print film, that is saying something for this digital.
As I said, you can use this just as you would a 35mm slr and with a 2gig memory card you can have about 200 photos using the super fine mode which I prefer. For most shooting the fine mode would be perfect - super fine is just my preference.
From what I have read the Sandisk 2gig III memory card is about the best you can buy. Most reviews say to stay away from every manufactures 4 or higher gig memory card, I listen to the reviewers on this aspect.
The photos already taken with it have been exposed predominately in aperature priority and printed directly without the need for touching up through photo shop - a lengthy way to take photos, in my opinion - call me old fashioned. To me that is very impressive - almost back to using 35mm without spending hours on touch up for a '24 exposure roll' of film. However, I have cropped in photo shop and have changed some of the photos to experiment with it (e.g. from super sharp focus to soft focus for effect) and it is useful and may even be necessary for that one complicated lighting condition that only photo shop could improve upon. For the most part though, the camera photos are pretty near perfect right out of the memory card.
The Olympus 12-60mm lens I purchased is superb, the optics are as good if not better than my Contax G2 lens (previously my sharpest lens, even over costly Leica's) and to have the proverbial 'cake and eat it too', it is a zoom lens! The lens offers me 35mm equivelant of 24-120mm in one lens - perfect for wide angle to telephoto which is the range most pros and 'civilians' use anyway.
I have not experimented with the raw feature yet to the chagrin of my photographer friends. I understand from them that it basically produces a negative which is refined and printed through a program such as Photo Shop. For the professionals doing magazine layouts and covers, this gives them the ability to produce a job-set print without shooting hundreds of photos to get that one or two elusive top notch photo. I will try this, albeit I still like the old fashioned way of taking photos without photoshop or raw programs.
Digital Camera Pros:
A great thing about a digital is you can look at your photos and decide if they are good enough to keep, or you can delete them right then and there and re-shoot.....a definate advantage over film! Imagine going to Europe, Tahiti, Australia, China, Japan or somewhere else far away and not having to bring 30 rolls of film! You never have to worry if your photos will come out good either. No more worry about airport x-ray security ruining your high speed film either.
Comparing Nikon D300 to Olympus E-3:
While I was planning all along to get the Nikon D300, when holding both the Oly and Nikon in person and going through the motions with both, I picked the Olympus. The lens was exactly what I was looking for as an all purpose lens, the feel was great and I was very impressed with the camera feel and function.
My only suggestion to Olympus and Nikon and the rest of the group is put the Aperature setting on the lens, not the camera body and put the speed on top of the body like the 'good old intuitive days of 35mm'.
Cons of the E-3:
So far I have not any cons to speak of, the camera performs perfectly doing what a camera should do..... allowing the photographer to be creative and concentrate on composition. While the Nikon does offer the D300 with 12MP and the Olympus E-3 offers 10MP, the difference is minimal, actually 8MP is all one really needs. Of course if you plan on blowing every photo up to poster size then wait for heavy, clunky, medium format digitals to come way down in price and when resting use the camera as a dumbell, if you can still lift your arms!
on December 23, 2007
Long time E-1 fan but moved to Nikon D-200 when Olympus didn't release a 10mp body for years. The E-3 is fantastic and will keep it and the D-200!
1.Extremely fast focus
2.Low light focus blows away any camera I have ever used
4.Olympus Pro glass is wonderful...don't scrimp, get the Olympus Pro lenses with SWD, you won't regret the extra cost.
5.Love the dual chip setup...cf and XD...you choose which chip to write to
6.One very minor negative...when using the live view feature, autofocus does not function. Autofocus only works through the view finder. HOWEVER, manual focus does work with the live view. Now that I have played with this for a bit, I actually like it better the way it is. It's really nice to be able to use the live view for closeup shots and be able to manual focus. It would be nice to be able to turn the autofocus on and off for the live view just like you can through the viewfinder.
7.High ISO produces some amazingly good images. You can easily shoot 400 and 800 with little grain. Just starting to work with the 1600-3200.
8.Controls are a little different than the Nikon but easy to learn and easy to switch off using one camera or the other.
9.Built in flash is pretty good but not over about 20 feet
I can't speak highly enough of this camera, it is outstanding.
on March 2, 2008
- Great built, solid piece of hardware
- Excellent image quality and ISO performance
- Good menu layout (intimidating at first due to the astounding number of features)
- Fast and reliable
- Excellent lens line-up. Zuiko lenses are among the sharpest and lightest and most rugged out there. One of my favorites is the Leica 14-50mm
- a little big for a Four-Third body
- no main dial for shooting modes (but you get used to it after a while and it doesn't impede handling speed)
- When shooting continuously, user must wait for the buffer to be fully emptied to play back pictures.
on January 2, 2008
I've been using the E3 for several weeks now, and, frankly, I couldn't be happier! For me, all the controls are in the right place, and it didn't take long to memorize their locations and compose shots without pausing to look at the LCD screen menu. Not only that, but the Live View with the articulating screen has been an extremely nice addition especially when I need to shoot close to the ground or overhead. It takes a bit of getting used to (there's a slight delay when you shoot via Live View), but once you've tried it, it can be a godsend. What's very nice about the Live View, however, is composing a shot and actually seeing - real time - what the shot's going to look like before you take the picture! Regarding the "fastest auto focusing system," it does seem to be blazing fast; however, in low light conditions (like any auto focusing lens), it can lag a bit. Mostly, though, quick, blazing focus. If I had one nit, it would be the weight of the camera. It's a bit on the heavy side; however, it's solid, sealed, "splash proof," and I worry less about it than any other DSLR I've owned. I know I'll get used to the weight. Bottom line: A simply FANTASTIC DSLR! I am more than satisfied; I'm elated!
on November 24, 2007
4+ Month update on the camera:
This is still by far the best SLR cam from olympus. Neat features are everywhere like a full compliment of buttons on the portrait grip, and the ability to shoot as fast as your memory card can write, with the sandisk IV 5 FPS.
First - the system I purchased was a pre-relase system and needed firmware upgrades. These were trivial with the software and usb cable
Second - even though the 50-200 mm lens did not need an upgrade, two of us noticed that it suffered from the same "hunting" during autofocus that the original 50-200 mm did. The ability to see where the focus was happening with the LEDs on the viewfinder ofset this, but the speeds were not as promised. It's a minor issue, but not to spec.
Third - Using it with to the 50mm prime lens Olympus 50mm f/2.0 Telephoto Macro ED Lens for E1, E300 & E500 Digital SLR Cameras produced exceptionally fast focusing and improved resolution over previous bodies. Depth of field was exceptional using the twin flash accessory Olympus TF-22 Twin Flash Head (Needs FC-01 Flash Controller, FR-1 & SR-1)
Fourth - shooting raw used to mean you always got a fixed size file. Now raw files vary in size. photo a 8.5x 11 blank paper and expect a small raw file, but photo a page from the phone book and it will be bigger. This makes estimating number of exposures a bit more tricky than it used to be, however raw exposure is still lossless and actually uses less space on the memory card than the 8MP cameras did.
Finally - you get 3 sets of flash "GROUPS" with the E3. Each can be programmed separately for timing and illumination. Contrary to preliminary belief, the signalling is not radio frequency but uses the camera's pop-up flash to tell each group how it is to expose. There are some drawbacks in that you can not use a hotshoe mounted flash nor the popup flash in your flash scene. Using the remote controlled flahses (3 groups) must handle your lighting. The plus here is that you can tell each of the 3 groups to increase or decrease light output, for example you might want less light on the backdrop and more on the subject with minimum sidelight. If you have 3 50R flashes you can accomplish this "program" on the camera. Note, however, that the 50Rs must have their sensor pointed to the popup flash to get their instructions and have their flashtube aimed where you want it to go. It is very flexible for portrait photography and the only complaint seems to be the loss of the on camera flash to expose the shot since it must program each of the 3 groups. A group, by the way, can have more than one flash in it if you have a collection of 50R units. They also come with a tripod mount making it easy to use small tripods to locate the flashes to get their program from the camera and aim the light to your liking. Finally, they use the Olympus SHV-01 High Voltage Flash Power Pack (for FL-50, SRF11, STF22 & FC01) for rapid cycling in a studio environment. Combined with the E3's ability to bracket flash exposure which earlier cameras did not do makes this a valued feature.
(the remainder of the review is a compilation of 3 people who purchaed prerelease sets of the E3 knowing that Olympus has always put out a quality product. We had difficulty obtaining all the parts needed but finally did get it all. Many people asked about compatibility which we tried to answer as best as possible, however older gadgets like the remote trigger have been reintroduced removing the USB trigger and a 6xAA pack has been introduced to the dual-rechargable grip, however it does not like to use the L91 lithium batteries due to the higher voltage)
--original review below--
I've been an olympus 4/3 system user since the E300 came out at 8 MP, when I upgraded my E20N 5MP by 60% to 8MP so for me the E3 is only a 25% increase in resolution, but a lot of extra features. I bought the body because I print often on 24x36 size paper on an HP Designjet and that extra 25% can make a difference.
I want to clarify that only certain 4/3 system components do not fit the E3's fast focus spec. Essentially Olympus has developed a new lens design for autofocus, the SWD. Older lenses WILL autofocus and mount and be recognized by the E3 even though newer versions of some of them have been redesigned. The difference between the non-SWD lens systems that have worked with the E1, E300, E330, E500, E410, and E510 bodies that you may already own and the new E3/SWD drive lens set is the focus on the E3 w/ SWD lens is specified by Olympus to be 170 ms, exceptionally fast. Some older lenses focus fast by design (EX: the 14-54 is fast and the 11-22 mm wide angle lens is really fast on all boddies) The focus on other lenses like the tack sharp 50mm prime lens can extend a barrel as long as the lens body and takes a while. The 50-200 also extends a very long and wide barrel during focusing which slows it down.
To address this, and meet the 170 ms specification, Olympus redesigned the 50-200 into a SWD driven lens. Evaluation lenses are very fast focus because less movement is required. Wait to purchase them until the final release as a firmware upgrade is likely on the rare ones that were intended for prerelease evaluation. All OLY gear upgrades easily via USB.
Olympus also put a very common feature of remote strobes with a radio link into the E3. This required revising the FL-50 Olympus FL-50 Electronic Flash for Olympus C7070, E1, E300 & E500 Digital SLR Cameras into the FL-50R flash FL-50R Wireless Electronic Flash which can be either a transmitter on the hotshoe or receiver, so a pair of the FL-50R flashes will give you the radio remote capability often added as a third party accessory, but now inside the flash itself. I have the -R but since the FL-50 works as well, my friends have not upgraded yet. We will update the R with timing info once we get 2 units and can test the radio ability.
My friends and I have a variety of olympus bodies so we often trade pieces of the 4/3 system - we have verified the older FL-50 and non-SWD lenses can all be used despite some of the literature that emphasizes the need to buy the new compoents for the E3 system. TRUTH: If you want to meet the E3 specifications, you'll probably want the SWD lenses for focus speed and FL-50R for remote flash flexibility. If focus speed isn't high on your priority list you'll be happy and save alot of $ using older lenses and your flash, plus we've been discussing a likely price drop on the older (but good) glass out there.
Olympus made a smart move selling the E3 as just a back - pick YOUR lens or keep YOUR lens from an upgrade, but now stores are making E3 "Kits"
out of just about anything - buyer beware - my E3 kit contained prerelease SWD glass which is not a big deal just a firmware upgrade. This was from a brick & mortar camera store - not amazon.
I made the mistake of buying the "KIT" the store assembled with only the new components for the E3. By un-kitting the body you avoid buying a slow, small, "made in china" lens you would never purchase if it were not in the kit. It requires stores, however, to stock lenses now! (Amazon has been a real help getting some oddball lenses)
Olympus has kept up with their expectations - the noise reduction on long exposures is still there, and virtually all 4/3 system components work, except to take advnatage of the new focus system you need to buy the supersonic wave drive (SWD) glass which is all in the near $1000 price range. Write speed to the SD card is great - a fast card will continue to shoot as long as you hold down the shutter and there is room left (continuous mode)
So far my olympus groupies have not yet bought a second FL-50R so I can not comment on its radio link. Once we pair a couple up I will update my review on the FL-50R's backwards compatibility with earlier bodies and take some backlit shots plus check timing impact. The twin flash Olympus TF-22 Twin Flash Head (Needs FC-01 Flash Controller, FR-1 & SR-1) and ring flash Olympus FS-RF11 Ring Flash Head (Needs FC-01 Flash Controller, FR-1 & SR-1) still work great with the old 50mm macro lens for some razor sharp macro exposures.
The live-mos focusing is a pleasure to have again. The last time I had a live image was on my E20N, so now I can "see it the way the camera does" before pulling the trigger. (I'm mainly using 4 ea E300 bodies for scientific work before I got my E3) Focus checks are really easy with magnification. Everyone will especailly like the pivot mechanism designed for the screen -- this feature has been long overdue and is much appreciated as you have camcorder like flexibility on the screen.
And speaking of the changes, Olympus FINALLY went back to the the electronic trigger and ditched the USB trigger which made them unusable with my lightning detector. That, for me, was a key selling point. It also made the FP-1 usable with the E3, along with a host of time lapse photography accy's such as my lightning detector that exposes very dramatic shots. If you have the once new, now old USB remote, you need to downgrade to the 3-pin original remote shutter release.
Pros/Cons quickly: PRO's better resolution by 0-50% depending on your existing body, MUCH faster focusing and image processing, more features. Con's - some 4/3 accessories need to be replaced to get full value from the E3, and they command a professional price. Most 4/3 stuff still works like it always did, so I'm not too displeased as the 11-22mm lens is fast, but the ec-14 teleconverter has been re-done to an ec-20 t/c for the new SWD lenses (nobody I know has the EC20 yet) Be prepared to outfit your system differently to handle the E3 depending on your use.
Olympus' mild bumpy upgrade path is what cost them one star on this product - I still could see giving it 5 stars by itself, and the lenses are fast in more ways than light gathering, but to say "certain 4/3 products got upgraded" is not acceptable when they have been interchangable through the whole E series and across vendor platforms (e.g. panasonic's 4/3 entry) prior to the E3. While the SWD was a necessity to make it happen, the flash transmitter could have been a sandwich in the hotshoe combined with a receiver hotshoe and mini tripod for the other strobe. At least Both FL-50's work with the high voltage chargers like the SHV-1 Olympus SHV-01 High Voltage Flash Power Pack (for FL-50, SRF11, STF22 & FC01). I do alot of macro work with Aperature priority F/10 and above so this was an important feature and I am very happy with the body's focusing using the neaar perfect 50mm macro prime lens.
SUMMING IT ALL UP:
Yes, you can use your "old" glass with the new body, but if you already have a 10 MP OLY back the number one reason to upgrade is the speed of the focus, which unfortunately requires new glass with the SWD system. Questions we still don't know are mostly about the future of SWD lenses - like will they introduce a 300mm SWD? If so, this is a serious competitor to the Canon lineup and I would not be surprised to see it on the sideline at a football game as a professional camera. If you are a newcommer to DSLR, this is a great entry point for a camera that people would call professional. If you are looking to save money last years' model will definitely drop in price with the E3 out there. Be sure to consider if your photography needs SEMI-PRO or PRO equipment with the E3.
on July 6, 2008
First , I will say if you love the 4/3rds system then you will love this camera, it is by far the best camera to date in the system. Secondly, I must say that if you are a gear junkie, then this is a great system to get into--Olympus, in my opinion, makes the best lenses for digital imaginable.
Now, why do I say, 'if you know how to use it?' The images produced by the E-3, and the E-1, have a film-like quality to them, an almost Leica quality. The color rendition of the E-3 image sensor is beautiful. And the noise it produces (all image sensors produce noise) is also quite lovely compared to other systems. But these qualities are only appreciable if the images have been exposed perfectly and in perfect, or nearly perfect light. So if you rely on your camera to manage exposure for you, if you don't know how to use exposure compensation, or spot metering, or even manual mode exposure, then this camera will force you to learn all about obtaining perfect exposure.
Next, I must share with you the only major disappointment that I have in the camera. Yes, it has the fastest autofocus in the world with certain lenses, but more importantly, only in the right light, with the right subject. Much too often, the camera searches for focus far too long, or simply will not find focus at all. If you are a photojournalist or a sports photographer who relies on autofocus, then this is not the camera for you.
Finally, you may be wondering why i give the E-3 five stars (I would give ten if Amazon would let me). Because, for the right photographer doing the right kind of photography, this camera is sublime. Its favorite use for me is travel photography, but it is outstanding for fashion, outdoor portraiture, studio work, wildlife (A 300mm f2.8--that's a 600mm f2.8 equivalent, WOW!), street photography, landscape and cityscape (check the 7-14mm f4 lens--the best wide-angle zoom manufactured by anyone), and the list goes on, just not fast-paced sports.
So, I highly recommend the E-3 system, with the above caveats, to anyone as a primary system, and to everyone else as a system to supplement an existing Canon or Nikon system.
on November 28, 2007
Although I have only had the E-3 for a little over a week, I find that it is an excellent camera. I am moving up from an E-1, which I have always found to be a great SLR with excellent images and color. The E-1 is getting somewhat dated (but still takes excellent pictures) and the E-3 is the perfect upgrade -- it follows up on the durability, and ergonomic design of the E-1, but has twice the resolution, much faster and better autofocus, built-in IS (image stabilization) that works with all 4/3 lenses, and has a useful built-in flash (which I find very convenient indoors, even though I also have an Olympus FL-50 flash). This is a semipro/pro camera that a serious amateur can really enjoy and that any photographer can use.
It also has a better shutter (faster and rated for more use), better noise reduction, longer exposure time, and it kept the water resistance and dust removal filter that work very well for the E-1.
It is not cheap, but it costs less than the E-1 did four years ago and does much more. I especially appreciate the fact that I can continue to use my existing lenses, batteries, flash, charger, cables, remote control, etc. that I used with the E-1. Everything was compatible.
In all I am very happy with the E-3.
on January 17, 2009
This a a wonderful product. I have used an Olympus DSLR for several years, and the auto focus never seemed to be as good as some of the other top brands especially in low light or when there wasn't a good contrast. The auto focus on this camera is excellent. It will lock on to almost anything even in low light. I'm especially pleased with its performance with birds in flight.
on December 12, 2007
Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have Three older lenses LOL(I laugh because they are not old, digital updates) some of the lens's that were not SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive) that also work great, but I have to say the lens's that go with this camera with the (SWD) will knock off your socks!!! It is a bit heavy with all the accessories, flash, battery grip, lenses, but lets remember I am older with weaker wrist. This camera drives me nuts, I have been years, trying to capture what I got with this camera in no time at all. It is as fast as they say, The buttons are easily accessible, I did a lot of research before I bought this camera, it used to make my husband think I was having an affair, LOL I was, this camera will make you feel like you have a new love in your life. Sincerely B.J.B. © 2007
on April 9, 2011
I WAS MOST IMPRESSED BY THE E-3'S IMAGING ABILITY. IT OUT RESOLVED MY NEW NIKON D700 IN A LOW LIGHT SELF PORTRAIT - AND AT 1/3 THE ISO, BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DON'T GRASP THE ENGINEERING LEAP MADE BY
GIVING THE E-3 IN BODY IMAGE STABILIZATION! MY E-3, AT ISO 200 - OUT RESOLVED MY NEW D700 AT ISO 500 IN A LOW LIGHT SELF PORTRAIT. YES, I UNDERSTAND ISO's. I SHOT THE D700 AT ISO 500
TO ELIMINATE MY MOVEMENT - IT WAS NOT COMPLETELY SUCCESSFUL. THE E-3 IMAGE WAS CRYSTAL CLEAR - SHOWING NO MOVEMENT AT 100%, AND THE D700 STILL EXHIBITED A SLIGHT MOVEMENT, THUS MAKING THE D700'S INCREDIBLE HIGH ISO ABILITY LESS USEFUL. THE D700 COLOR IN SHADOW AREAS IS SUPERIOR TO LITERALLY ANY CAMERA, BUT IF HUMAN ERROR CREEPS IN VIA. MOVEMENT, IT'S A MUTE STATEMENT.
BOTTOM LINE - THE E-3 GRABS WONDERFUL ACCURATE COLOR, CLARITY, AND CONTRAST RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX WITH LITTLE OR NO TWEAKING IN PHOTOSHOP. THE D700 WILL OUTPERFORM IT (( IF )) IT IS ON A TRIPOD,
USING PRIME LENSES, AND ... IS PRE-PROGRAMMED FOR THE CORRECT KELVIN LIGHT TEMPERATURE. THE E-3 SAW ALL OF THE ABOVE IN AUTO MODE - CORRECTLY, AND THE EXQUISITE OLYMPUS PRO GLASS & IN BODY
IMAGE STABILIZATION - OUTPERFORMED THE LOW LIGHT KING. SO... WANT A GRAB & SHOOT ? GRAB THE E-3 - YOUR WORK WILL EXCEL OUT OF THE BOX ! WANT MAX PERFORMANCE? GRAB A D700, SET OF PRIMES, AND YOUR TRIPOD ! ANY CAMERA TODAY CAN PERFORM EXQUISITELY ! THE QUESTION IS - ARE YOU WILLING TO CARRY A TRIPOD, PROGRAM IT FOR LIGHT TEMPERATURE, SWITCH PRIMES, AND SPEND LOTS OF TIME IN PHOTOSHOP?
THE E-3 REQUIRES NONE OF THE ABOVE, AND DELIVERS READY TO PRINT AFTER THE SHUTTER SQUEEZE. JUST CLICK UP COLOR EVER SO SLIGHTLY, CLICK UP SHARPNESS SLIGHTLY, AND YOU'RE DONE PERMANENTLY !
P.S. THE E-3 IS 10 MEGS, THE D700 IS 12 MEGS. THE E-SERIES ALSO HAS PIXEL MAPPING FOR BURNED PIXELS, AND THE ONLY 100% TRUE DUST SHAKER. THE NEW E-5 MUST DANCE!