Olympus E-100 RS review

Started Jan 7, 2003 | User reviews thread
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Barry G. Stewart
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Olympus E-100 RS review
Jan 7, 2003

First on the "Value for Money": I wouldn't have paid the $2,100 or so that
it first cam out at (though now that I've used it, I can see its value.) I
hope Olympus didn't get burned on their R&D when a lot of buyers didn't
bite until the price dropped. I want them to make a newer version of it!
I got mine new on e-bay in July 2002 for $550 U.S. — mainly to shoot
sports and anything else for the small town newspaper
(Hopestandard.com) that I freelance for. In six months, it has paid for
itself several times over with beautiful front page, feature and sports
sequence shots.
I look back at my neg-scanned film shots (Minolta 9x1) and the Oly is
significantly better most times for colour and sharpness.
• One thing I rarely did with film (indoors) was to take a chance on
shooting without a flash. With the Oly, it actually does BETTER with the
flash turned off for things like concerts and live stage productions,
where stage lighting is strong. (They often don't like you to use flash
anyway.) I shot a Christmas pageant recently and the no-flash shots
were far more dramatic than with-flash. I was hand-holding at about
200 mm and 1/30th of a second (leaned against a wall) and as long as
the actors were still, the pics turned out very nicely. Great image
stabilizer!
Last week, I took a 1/10th second portrait inside a new restaurant and it
was better than the flashed ones.
Portraits using only window light are also spectacular!
Indoor sports are tough to shoot in typical gymnasium or hockey rink
light. Lots of shoot and dump — especially for focus. (Predictive
autofocus would be a neat feature in the "next" version.)
I don't have an external flash yet, but have gotten a few good basketball
shots by using ISO 400, f2.8 and half-pressing the shutter to lock in the
readings. If the action arrives in that spot, the flash is strong enough to
give a good shot. Hockey: I go for sequences and try to stay on f 2.8 to
maximize the light.
Here's a new trick I've been playing with: use an old external flash (or
multiples) and get a slave switch to attach to the bottom ($10-15). With
some trial-and-error, you can get the e100Rs's on-board flash to trigger
the other, which can be positioned for more dramatic (or ceiling
bounce) lighting. If you hold your hand or a card (or exposed film,
apparently) in front of the Oly flash, the escaping light can still trigger
the slave flash — but the Oly's light will not be in the picture.
I've had mine flash-synching with the slave up to 1/2000th of a second!
That is incredible, when you think about the limitations of most other
cameras. 'Haven't tried a 1/300th synch at indoor sports yet. If it works —
I'll be even more pleased with my most-fun-ever camera!

Problems:

The main thing that bugs me is when I have precapture turned on
through the menu and want to quickly get a single shot with flash. There
is no external button option for getting back to a single shot with flash.
You have to go into the menu, turn off precapture and get your flash
shot.

New users that like to "point and click" like they would on a focus-free
pocket camera must retrain themselves to half-press the shutter to
allow focus, metering (and precapture) to get set up — then follow
through with the shot(s). This cuts down the shutter-lag time too.
In dim light, the half-press sends out the red focusing beam and
produces plenty of light to see what you're doing. Without the red light:
yes, you can hardly see a thing!
Still, I get a fair number of out-of-focus shots in dim light. (By dim, I'm
talking a 40 watt ceiling lamp, candles or worse...)

Barry G. Stewart's score
4.7
Average community score
4.5
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