Rear of Camera Controls
Amazingly the E-30's rear panel is even more littered with buttons than the E-3's (thanks to the mode dial, which pushes two multi-function buttons over onto the back). This isn't a criticism; the control layout may appear daunting at first glance, but like any camera it takes nothing but a bit of practice to master (and if you prefer screen-based menu driven control you've got the Super Control Panel). Generally the buttons are slightly smaller than they are on the E-3, but that's the price you pay for a slightly smaller body. You could complain that the +/- and ISO buttons on the top are a little too close together, but since I asign the rear dial to AE compensation and use the super control panel to set ISO most of the time it didn't really bother me. Like all Olympus cameras the E-30 is highly - and I really do mean highly - customizable, so if you don't like the way things work you can change it to the way you do.
Yes it can seem over-complex, but that's partly because there's so many features, and partly because Olympus likes to include at least two ways to control everything (using the direct buttons or the control panel), and usually three (many of the options are duplicated in the seemingly endless menu system).
Starting at the top left are two buttons that are used to control autofocus mode, metering, drive mode, self timer and remote control (the last four all on a single multi function button) - as well as bracketing options, and direct printing and copying in playback mode. I'm not a big fan of multi function buttons but this is a lot less confusing than the E-3 which has too many of them hidden away in odd places.
To the right of the eyepiece are the rear control dial, 'Fn' (customizable function) and AF point buttons. To the right of the screen are the AEL/AFL and play mode buttons, the four-way controller (with 'OK' button in the middle), and IS mode button. The main on/off switch has moved to the four-way controller and - once I got used to it - I preferred this to the E-3's separate switch.
Despite being a little shorter than the E-3 Olympus has still managed to squeeze four buttons under the screen (delete, Info, Menu and Live View) - again these are a little fiddly if you're blessed with big hands or are wearing gloves, but I didn't find myself using them very often and they actually seem slightly easier to get at than the E-3's, depsite being smaller.
That all said, we're all for keeping important controls easily and quickly accessible, and like the E-3 before it, the E-30 scores points for allowing almost totally menu-free operation most of the time, and is obviously designed by people unafraid of giving serious photographers the tools they want, even if the resulting design can seem a little messy.
Buttons (Shooting mode)
|Hold Button||Turn rear Dial||Turn front Dial|
• Single shot
• Continuous H
• Continuous L
• 12 sec Self-timer
• 2 sec Self-timer
• IR remote
• IR remote with 2 sec Self-timer
|*Note: pressing the AF and metering buttons together allows you to set bracketing options.
Note also that the functions of the front and rear dials can be swapped.
|Fn||FUNCTION (Fn) button
This button can be customized to perform any one of four functions (some of which require the use of the main or sub dial):
• Depth of field preview
• Live Preview
• One Touch WB
• AF home position (user defined 'home' position for the AF point)
• Manual Focus (to toggle AF/MF)
• RAW: switch from JPEG to RAW+JPEG or from RAW+JPEG to JPEG
• Test Picture (hold to take a shot without saving)
• My Mode (hold to use recorded 'My Mode' settings)
• Level Gauge
Auto focus point
* The AF sensitivity custom function allows you to decide whether the camera focuses only on the selected AF area ('Single Area Small') or on the selected area and the surrounding area ('Normal')
In single area modes the front and rear dials or arrow keys are used to select the focus point.
|Auto Exposure / Auto Focus Lock
The AEL/AFL button can be programmed in a variety of different ways for different focus modes (Single AF, Continuous AF and Manual Focus). It can be programmed to be momentary AE Lock or Memo/Cancel AE Lock, it can also be programmed to perform and lock Auto Focus at the same time (these modes are described later in this review).
Enters a shooting priority play mode, you can return to shooting mode at any time by pressing the shutter release half-way or by pressing this button again.
|4-way arrow keys
As usual the four-way controller is used to navigate menus and the 'Super Control Panel' on the rear screen and make selections (using the OK button). The arrow keys can also be used to select AF points when using the Single Area AF modes.
Control panel setting change
In Live View mode pressing OK magnifies the image
Image Stabilization mode
'Super Control Panel' display
In Live View mode pressing INFO cycles through the various display options for the live preview image.
Enters the camera menu (described later in this preview).
Switches to Live View mode, this causes the shutter to open and the mirror to raise (hence the viewfinder can not be used in this mode). Press again to cancel.
Buttons (Play mode)
In play mode the multi-direction controller is used to browse through images, left / right move an image at a time, up / down jump ten images.
|Copy / PictBridge Print
Allows you to copy images between the CF and xD cards (multiple images using the marking system). If a PictBridge printer is connected to the camera via USB then you can print the currently displayed image.
|Protect / Unprotect
Protects (or unprotects) the current image, this sets the file system 'Read Only' flag which means you can't accidentally delete the image using the erase button, however this does not protect against formatting of the storage card (an extra 'This card contains protected images, really format?' dialog would be good).
|Fn||FUNCTION (Fn) button
In play mode the Fn button offers a fast way to magnify the image (jumps to 10x magnification view).
|Split screen mode
In play mode the AF button activates a split screen 'Lightbox' view that allows you to compare two shots side by side.
|Exit play mode
Returns to shooting mode, you can achieve the same by half-pressing the shutter release button.
Enters the camera menu (described later in this review).
Rotates through the six different levels of information display:
• No overlaid information
• Basic overlay (quality, filename, file number)
• More overlay (quality & size, date & time, filename, file number)
• Histogram with detailed information (Y, R, G, B histograms)
• Large histogram overlay
• Blinking highlights (and quality)
• Blinking shadows (and quality)
|OK||Mark / Unmark image
Allows you to mark or unmark (tick mark) images as you browse, marked images can then be deleted or copied as a batch.
|Thumbnail index / zoom out
Rotate the main dial clockwise to switch to thumbnail index view, the E-30 provides a range of index views; four images, nine images, 16 images, 25 images, 49 imagesand finally a calendar view. If the playback magnification is active then turning clockwise steps out.
Rotate the main dial counter-clockwise to magnify the currently displayed image, there are a range of magnifications available; 2.0x, 3.0x, 5.0x, 7.0x, 10x and 14x. Use the multi-direction controller to move around the magnified image.
|Protect / Unprotect
Protects (or unprotect's) the current image, this sets the file system 'Read Only' flag which means you can't accidentally delete the image using the erase button, however this does not protect against formatting of the storage card (an extra 'This card contains protected images, really format?' dialog would be good).
On the right side of the lens mount is the lens release button, on the left side the depth of field preview button. You can also opt to set the programmable Fn button to act as a depth of field button (so it would be nice if this little button was also customizable, but hey, you can't have everything). Embedded in the grip is a small red lamp (self timer and remote control indicator) plus the reciever for the optional RM-1 remote control.