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Olympus E-30 Review

To sit happily with the company’s flagship and much higher-priced DSLR the Olympus E-30 had to forgo a few bells and whistles — but then it added a few that should delight photographers with high ambitions but little skill.

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The Olympus E-30 has 12.3 million pixels on its Live MOS sensor — two megapixels and a bit more than the E-3!

The E-30 is smaller and lighter than many maker’s top end models… that’s how Olympus does things. With relatively few external controls, the LCD menu options will take you pretty well anywhere you want to go.

Using the Four Thirds system you can attach lenses from companies such as Leica, Panasonic and Sigma… oh and Olympus of course!

Olympus E-30 Features

oly_e-30-back.jpgLive View is available on the 6.9 cm LCD screen, backed up by a bright optical finder that gives you a rundown on the camera’s status: aperture, shutter speed, ISO setting, meter setting and shot count.

The camera can shoot at a rate of five full res frames for as long as you hold down the button and your memory card keeps writing.

You can also preset the rate of shooting anywhere from one to four frames per second.

Art Filter Selection: I’ve often looked with suspicion at DSLRs that have scene modes that have little more appeal than sheer novelty but in the Art Filter selection, the camera sure pressed my buttons.

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Choose from Grainy B&W (pictured above), Pop Art (pictured above), Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone and Pinhole. Two that took I particularly liked were Grainy Film and Pinhole… having messed around with colour to B&W conversion in Photoshop I fell upon the E-30’s approach with some excitement. The results are stunning.

There are other scene modes: Children, High and Low Key, Candle Light etc… ideal for the less courageous and with limited experience.

A feature not seen often is multiple exposure: the E-30 can shoot a final, layered collection of two, three or four shots. The brightness of each can be set to half, a third or fourth of the final single exposure. You can also begin with a RAW image and layer extra shots over it. Then, if you’re really adept, you can compress your layer of four and lay another four over it!

The E-30’s maximum image size of 4032×3024 gives a sharp 34×26 cm print at 300 dpi. The camera also offers other aspect ratios: like 4:3, 3:2, 6:6, 5:4, 16:9 and more. The images are written to memory as uncropped RAW images, complete with a suggested border indicating the chosen aspect ratio. A nice touch.

Image stability has four settings: on and off plus one each for panning a moving subject with the camera panning horizontally or panning vertically (some call this tilting). This allows you to capture a moving subject minus the shake but with a desirable blurring of the background.

Auto focus is well treated and uses an eleven point detection system plus the option of single frame AF detection (S-AF), continuous subject tracking (C-AF) plus manual focus. Each of these can be manually fine tuned.

The shutter speed range runs from 60 seconds to 1/8000 second — plus Bulb for time exposures. Flash sync is at 1/250 second.
Image capture can be in RAW or JPEG or RAW+JPEG, with the latter in variable qualities; Live View’s brightness level and frame rate can be adjusted; face detection is available.

And one final novelty: a Level Gauge can be called up in the viewfinder and LCD screen. You would be surprised at how often you shoot pictures off level. I was!

Comment

An easy camera to use. The exposure metering is right on the button and the auto focus system very responsive.
Art Filters are a winning feature and the options in flash are worth investigating… first and second shutter curtains plus the ability to control output manually.

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Image quality: very, very good. But you will be a little surprised at the noticeable barrel distortion in the 14-42mm kit lens.

Olympus E-30 Specifications

  • Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels.
  • Metering: ESP multi-pattern; centre-weighted; spot.
  • Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.00mm.
  • Memory: xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash cards.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 4032×3024, 3200×2400, 2560×1920, 1600×1200, 1280×960, 1024×768, 640×480.
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
  • Flash: Auto, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction slow sync, first and second curtain sync, forced on and off, manual.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC.
  • Dimensions: 141.5×107.5×75 WHDmm.
  • Weight: Approx. 655 g (minus battery).
  • Current Prices: The Olympus E-30 is currently priced at Amazon at $949.95 (body only) and $1,049.95 (body plus f3.5-5.6/14-42mm kit lens.

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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