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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent image quality, good resolution and detail, neutral colours
  • High quality 4x zoom lens, very fast and bright F2.0 - F2.4
  • Smooth lens controls, mechanical zoom ring is VERY welcome
  • Superb build quality, excellent "all metal" case, tactile feel to controls
  • Well designed, good ergonomics, comfortable and well balanced
  • All controls "locking" (require press and turn of dial to operate)
  • LCD live view as well as true TTL optical viewfinder
  • Excellent selection of manual control, good range of shutter speeds and apertures
  • Very fast reflexes, low lag and relatively good focus speeds
  • Flexible "re-programmable" JPEG size / quality settings
  • Good low light and long exposure performance
  • Wide dynamic range
  • Dual storage slots (support for both SmartMedia and CompactFlash)
  • Tilt-out LCD is useful and works well
  • Plenty of information on top LCD
  • Supplied lens hood
  • Time-lapse feature
  • Good connectivity: PC flash synch, wired remote, USB, AV, DC power
  • Good tripod mount, well located
  • Powerful pop-up flash
  • Flash hot-shoe
  • Manual focus (albeit fly-by-wire focus ring)
  • One-touch manual white balance
  • Wide range of preset white balances
  • Optional battery pack / portrait grip
  • Good battery life with a good set of NiMH's
  • RAW file format
  • SHQ JPEG mode (1/2.7) as-good-as TIFF quality
  • Control over internal algorithms: contrast, sharpening
  • AC Adapter / Charger included
  • Infrared remote control included


Conclusion - Cons

  • Stuck pixels (seems to be affecting quite a few E-10's)
  • Slow startup times
  • Slow image flush times
  • Slow image display and image magnification
  • Some chromatic aberrations (although not enough to worry)
  • Histogram display not automatic and not available in record mode review
  • Flat images / neutral colours may not be to everyone's tastes
  • Good continuous mode speed is let down by small 4 image buffer
  • Barrel distortion at full wide angle
  • Noise even at ISO 80 (though arguably not enough to cause problems)
  • Fastest shutter speed of 1/640 sec (may be a limitation for some)
  • Slightly aggressive sharpening algorithms
  • Poor resolution from LCD "live view" image, poorly designed status bar on LCD
  • Viewfinder let down by round eyepiece (causes vignetting) and lack of distinguishable focus screen (my eye could focus "through" the lens)
  • Supports CompactFlash Type II but doesn't support Microdrive (big let down)
  • Flash colour cast
  • Setup menu is in an obscure place
  • Histogram display in play mode is slow
  • Lack of immediate histogram display in record (image review)
  • Non-interchangeable lens (if that could be a problem to you)


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Olympus E-10: (4 megapixel professional digital SLR)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 9
Features 9
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8
Value for money 9

Without a doubt the E-10 offers excellent value for money. Even with it's US$1,950 list price it's still a good US$1,500 cheaper than it's nearest "professional" rivals, yet it steps up and takes them on for overall image quality, build and features. The E-10 looks and feels like a professional tool, to a certain degree it also performs as one, probably only let down by it's slow "digital side", the processing, buffering and writing of images.

The camera isn't without a few problems but none of these are great cause for concern, nor reasons not to go for the E-10, my only current niggle is the experience of other E-10 buyers who have had stuck pixel and other QC problems (some are even on their second or third E-10 - which is why I could only give the camera a 9 for value for money, it was certainly getting close to a 10).

If some of the speed issues and the lack of an interchangeable lens aren't big issues to you and you don't already own bags of "one brand" equipment then the E-10 should certainly be near the top of your list. Value for money? You bet.

Highly Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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