Compared to the Canon EOS-D30
Olympus market the E-10 as both a "high end prosumer" and professional digital camera, thus we will be comparing it to other professional digitals. The Canon EOS-D30 is, to this date, the nearest competitor to the E-10. That's a stretch, the E-10 has a list price of US$1,950 compared to the D30's list price of US$2,999 plus a decent lens and you're near to US$3,500, that's US$1,500 more than the E-10. Having said all of that the E-10 has all the Pro features, it has slightly more resolution (80 horizontal and 240 vertical pixels) and a very high quality lens, the key here will be if the E-10 can get close to the D30 then it must be doing well...
Here's how we setup the two cameras:
- Both cameras set to Auto white balance
- Aperture priority (F5.0 on the E-10, F8.0 on the D30 to compensate for DOF differences)
- Exposure compensation +0.3 EV on the E-10 and +0.7 EV on the D30 to bring the exposures as close together as possible
- Image quality: HQ (1/4) JPEG on the E-10 and LARGE/FINE JPEG on the D30
- Lens used on D30: Canon EF 28-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS
- All other settings factory default
What made this comparison a little more difficult was the difference in aspect ratio (the E-10's "monitor shaped" 4:3 and the D30 with it's film like 3:2), to compensate we ensured that the horizontal size of the scene (as a ratio of the total number of horizontal pixels) was the same. That is if you took both images, resized them to the same number of pixels horizontally and overlaid them the scene would be pretty much the same size (horizontally).
Crops below are of an 120 x 90 area of the image magnified 200%. Lighting - 2 x 800W studio lights with dichroic daylight filters bounced off a white overhead reflector (as close as you can get to "indoor daylight").
ISO 80, 1/3s, F5.0, 2240 x 1680
ISO 100, 1/2s, F8.0, 2160 x 1440
Overall the D30 is obviously much smother and cleaner with less visible noise, it also manages to steer clear of some of the CFA artifacts seen on diagonals in the E-10 images. Resolution wise it's a pretty close run thing, with only 80 extra horizontal pixels the E-10 isn't really pulling out any more than the D30. From a price / performance point of view the E-10 is obviously doing very well.
Comparison at higher ISO's
The comparisons below were taken within seconds of the images above and are designed to provide a comparison of the performance of each camera under normal light at higher ISO sensitivities. Again, a difficult direct comparison as the E-10 uses the none-standard ISO sensitivities of ISO 160 and 320 (rather than 200 and 400), however this should simply give the E-10 a slight edge.
ISO 160, 1/6s, F5.0, 2240 x 1680
ISO 200, 1/4s, F8.0, 2160 x 1440
ISO 320, 1/13s, F5.0, 2240 x 1680
ISO 400, 1/8s, F8.0, 2160 x 1440
Here's where the D30 comes into its own, keeping that silky smooth clean image, even at ISO 400 it has less noise than the E-10 was exhibiting at ISO 80. The E-10 does well though, images are still usable and resolution is maintained despite extra noise.