Olympus today announced the second ever Four Thirds System digital SLR, the new E-300 (to be know in North America as the 'Olympus EVOLT E-300'). This digital SLR features an eight megapixel 4/3 size CCD, it has unique TTL Optical Porro Finder (mirrors instead of glass prisms) viewfinder which uses a sideways swinging mirror system. Although Olympus hasn't yet announced pricing we can derive from the specifications and design that this camera will be aimed at point lower than the E-1, in the consumer D-SLR market.

Phil: I can't help but think that the North American name is a mistake, it really doesn't mean anything to me nor does it stir any emotion, I really don't understand why it can't just be called the E-300 (other than to try and guard against grey imports).

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Press Release (Olympus UK):

The power to create perfect photos

Introducing the Olympus E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus has a well founded reputation for revolutionising the design and construction of cameras. By challenging the accepted methods and form of camera production great strides have been made in developing the next generation of products for photographers. Olympus has done this most recently with the introduction of the E-system, Digital SLR products that are based on the revolutionary FourThirds technology. The Olympus E-1 was the first product in this series. Now we have the next step in Digital SLR evolution with the introduction of the Olympus E-300.

This 21st century development of Digital SLR products by Olympus mirrors the advances that were made with the Olympus OM-1 and OM-10 in the 1970s. These 35mm SLR cameras transformed picture taking by providing cameras that packed startling performance into a light, compact and affordable body that was loved by millions. And now we are set to see another favourite with the launch of the compact and newly designed Olympus E-300 Digital SLR.

Based on the TIPA Award-winning FourThirds Standard, The Olympus E-300 comes in a kit featuring a new 14–45mm ZUIKO DIGITAL zoom. The impressive features of the kit include:

  • Lighter, smaller and more powerful lenses
  • A Supersonic Wave Filter to ensure dust does not interfere with image quality
  • Nearly telecentric optics construction draws maximum performance from the camera’s Full Frame Transfer CCD
  • The TruePic TURBO image processor boosts picture quality and processing speed
  • The Olympus E-300 kit includes a 14–45mm ZUIKO DIGITAL zoom

The eight million pixel Olympus E-300 Digital SLR combines innovative design, stunning performance and a tempting price to bring digital SLR photography to the masses. The traditional penta prism has been replaced by a TTL Optical Porro Finder to enable a lean, more appealing, compact look. This is the ideal everyday companion for enthusiastic photographers.

Innovative design

The size and shape of the Olympus E-300 is strikingly different. But the camera doesn’t just look good. It is lighter and more compact than other digital SLRs, and the lean design has enabled the inclusion of a built in flash. In addition, the E-300 is
based on the TIPA award winning FourThirds Standard, enabling keen amateurs to have a professional standard digital SLR that they can take and use almost anywhere.

Picture quality…

A Full Frame Transfer CCD (FFT CCD) ensures the Olympus E-300 captures more image data. Compared with Interline Transfer, which is used in the majority of digital SLRs, the FFT CCD has a larger pixel area, as well as bigger photodiodes and transfer channels. As a result, the CCD captures more electrons, to deliver a higher signal/noise ratio and a wider dynamic range. The end result is greater exposure latitude, more detail and less noise. The TruePic TURBO image processor further contributes to picture quality and helps speed up the image recording process.


It is virtually impossible to prevent dust entering an SLR when swapping lenses, but even minute particles can ruin shots if they land on the CCD. The E-300 offers an ingenious solution, which saves users the time and cost of cleaning the chip. The Supersonic Wave Filter generates ultra-high-speed vibrations to dislodge dust from the CCD so that it can be captured on a special adhesive panel. This function operates automatically at start-up, but may also be used manually.

The Olympus E-300 digital SLR – additional features:

  • 8.0 million pixels
  • User-friendly menu plus full manual operation
  • Single AF, continuous AF and manual focusing
  • Digital ESP, centre-weighted average and spot exposure metering
  • Scene programme and scene select programme modes
  • Records to CompactFlash cards and Microdrives
  • Compatible with the complete range of Olympus E-System lenses*:
    • NEW! ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-45mm (28-90mm) f3.5-5.6 (from November 2004)
    • NEW! ZUIKO DIGITAL 40-150mm (80-300mm) f3.5-4.5 (from November 2004)
    • ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-54mm (28-108mm) f2.8-3.5
    • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50-200mm (100-400mm) f2.8-3.5
    • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 50mm (100mm) f2.0 Macro
    • ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm (600mm) f2.8
    • ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm (22-44mm) f2.8-3.5
    • NEW! ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 150mm (300mm) f2.0 (from October 2004)
  • Compatible with new accessories including ZUIKO DIGITAL 40-150mm (80-300mm)* lens f3.5-4.5, FL-36 external flash and HLD-3 power battery holder
  • An underwater case will be available from beginning of 2005

* 35mm equivalent FOV in brackets

Olympus E-300 specifications

Body material • Aluminium die-cast chassis
• Top cover aluminium, rest plastic
Sensor • 4/3 type CCD (Kodak Full Frame Transfer)
• 17.3 x 13.0 mm active area
• 8.9 million total pixels
• 8.0 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
• Fixed low pass filter (anti-alias filter)
• Supersonic Wave Filter (dust protection)
Image sizes • 3264 x 2448
• 3200 x 2400
• 2560 x 1920
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 1024 x 768
• 640 x 480
File formats • RAW
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2) - three levels
Lenses • 4/3 standard lens mount
• Range of ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses available
• Effective FOV is 2x indicated focal length
Auto focus • 3-point TTL Phase Difference Detection
• Automatic or manual point selection
• EV 0 to 19 (ISO 100) detection range
Focus area selection • Automatic
• Manual
Focus modes • Single shot AF
• Continuous AF
• Manual focus
Manual focus Focus by wire
AF assist lamp • Yes, can be disabled
• Red visible light
Exposure modes • Program AE (with shift)
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual
• Scene
Sensitivity • Auto (ISO 100 - 400)
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• Expanded: ISO 800, ISO 1600
Metering modes • Digital ESP
• Center-Weighted Average
• Spot (2%)
AE Lock • AEL button
• With shutter release half-press
AE Bracketing • 3 frames
• 1/3, 1/2, 0.7 or 1.0 EV steps
Exposure steps 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV
Exposure compen. • -5.0 to +5.0 EV
• 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
Shutter speed • Program AE mode: 2 - 1/4000 sec
• Aperture, Shutter Priority mode: 60 - 1/4000 sec
• Manual mode: 60 - 1/4000 sec, Bulb
Flash X-sync speed • 1/180 sec
• 1/4000 sec (Super FP mode)
Aperture values Depends on lens: 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
White balance • Auto
• 3000 K (Incandescent)
• 3600 K (Incandescent)
• 4000 K (Fluorescent)
• 4500 K (Fluorescent)
• 5500 K (Sunny)
• 6500 K (Cloudy)
• 6600 K (Fluorescent)
• 7500 K (Shade)
• Kelvin (2000 - 10000 K)
• Custom
* All of the above can be fine tuned +/- 7 levels except manual presets
WB Bracketing • 3 frames
• 1, 2 or 3 steps
Color space • sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Image parameters • Saturation (5 levels)
• Contrast (5 levels)
• Sharpness (8 levels)
• Monochrome (B&W, Sepia)
• Graduation (High Key, Normal, Low Key)
Drive modes • Single
• Continuous
Continuous • 2.5 fps
• JPEG: maximum depends on size and compression
• RAW/TIFF: 3 frames max
Self-timer • 2 sec
• 12 sec
Flash • Slide pop-up
• TTL auto
• Guide no. 11
External flash • Hot shoe
• TTL Auto FP / TTL auto for Olympus dedicated flash
• Modes: Auto / Red-eye Reduction / Slow Syncro / 2nd Curtain Slow Syncro / Fill-in for exclusive flash
• Flash power: Up to +/- 2EV in each 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV step for exclusive flash
Viewfinder • Eye-level TTL Optical Porro Finder
• Field of view 95%
• Magnification 1.0x with a 50mm lens and -1 dioptre
• Eye point 20 mm at -1 dioptre
• Dioptre adjustment -3 to +1 ditopre
• Focusing screen: Fixed Neo Lumicron Matte
• Mirror: side swing quick return mirror
Viewfinder info • AF point
• AF frame
• AE lock
• AF confirmation
• Metering mode
• Exposure mode
• Shutter speed
• Aperture value
• White balance
• Exposure compensation value
• Flash
• Battery level indicator
• Record mode
• Number of storable sequential pictures
Control panel display • Flash mode
• Flash compensation value
• Metering mode
• Focus mode
• Record mode
• Exposure mode
• Battery check
• Aperture value
• Shutter speed
• Number of storable still pictures
• Number of storable sequential pictures
• Image quality adjustment
• Colour space
• Mono tone
• Hi/Lo key
• Colour saturation compensation value
• Sharpness compensation value
• White balance
• AE lock
• Exposure level indicator
• Exposure compensation value
• Exposure compensation indicator
• AF frame
• Auto bracket
• Noise reduction mode
• White balance bracket
• Drive mode
• Selected scene mode
• Number of pixels
LCD monitor • 1.8" TFT LCD monitor ('advanced super view')
• 134,000 pixels
• 100% frame coverage
Playback functions • Single
• Magnify (2, 3, 4, 10x)
• Index (4, 9, 16 frames)
• Slide show
• Histogram / Highlight warning
Editing • RAW development
• JPEG editing (monochrome only)
Connectivity • USB (1.1)
• Video Out (NTSC / PAL)
• Remote control (wireless / wired)
Vertical / portrait grip Optional HLD-3
Power • BLM-1 1500 mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (supplied & charger)
• Optional Power Battery Holder HLD-2 and Lithium-Ion battery
• Optional AC adapter AC-1
Dimensions 147 x 85 x 64 mm (5.8 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
Weight (no batt) 580 g (1.3 lb)
Box contents E-300 body, USB cable, video cable, Li-ion battery pack (BLM-1), Li-ion battery charger (BCM-2), shoulder strap, Olympus Master 1.1, CD-ROM, instruction manuals, warranty card.

Additional images