The E-30 shares its Image Stabilization system with its larger, older and more expensive sister model, the E-3, rather than the slightly simpler version used in the less expensive E-system models (including the newly released E-620). Olympus claims a 5-stop advantage for its premium IS system (though our tests have never shown an improvement on that scale).
The stabilization test
Twenty hand-held shots were taken of a static scene, half of those with stabilization, half without, the shutter speed was decreased by a stop and repeated (from 1/125 sec to 1/5 sec). The lens used was the Olympus 50 mm F2 (producing a 100 mm equiv. FOV), the test chart was 2.0 m away from the camera. to exaggerate the effect of camera shake the camera was only supported with one hand.
The resulting 120 images were then inspected and given a blur score from zero to three where zero represented a very blurred image and three a sharp image with no noticeable blur (see crop examples below). Obviously the amount of blur which is acceptable will depend on your personal taste and the final image size (for instance a '2: Soft' will still look fine as a 4x6 print or in a web gallery). Example crops from these four blur scores can be seen below.
|0: Very blurred||1: Blurred|
|2: Soft||3: Sharp|
Hand-held, no stabilization (50 mm lens, 100 mm equiv.)
With no stabilization we struggled to get any sharp shots at all below 1/8th of a second and couldn't be guaranteed to get perfectly sharp shots below 1/60th.
Hand-held, with Shake Reduction (50 mm lens, 100 mm equiv.)
The E-30's IS system certainly works. We didn't see anything like the 5-stop advantage that the manufacturer claims but the 2.5+ stop benefit (we're getting the same result at 1/8th with IS on as at 1/30th with it off, and getting a slightly better performance at 1/2 second with IS on than at 1/15th without), is still very good and a real benefit in many shooting situations.