First weekend with the E-3

Started Jun 15, 2009 | Discussions
Tekmar Regular Member • Posts: 448
First weekend with the E-3

My near-new E-3 arrived in the post last Thursday, and I got to play with it over the weekend.

Background: I upgraded to the world of DSLR in December 2007 by purchasing an E-510. A few months later, I purchased a 14-54 lens that happened to have an E-1 attached, plus - at a rate of about one every two months - have expanded my collection of legacy glass.

With the 510, straight away I noted the issue with blown highlights. I adjusted exposure modes and compensated, which largely eliminated the problem and yielded me some superb images (including one magazine cover) over the past 18 months. However I was wanting more.

After waiting for the 'tweener' and being disappointed by a lack of weathersealing I waited for the 620. However, on holding both the E-30 and the 620 in the shops, neither one quite did it for me. On the other hand, the E-3 seemed too big and heavy. The logical upgrade just wasn't emerging for me.

The other week a "mint" E-3 came up on EBay and I put a bid in, and won it unexpectedly. Arguably, 1600 shutter actuations isn't "mint", but I have no complaints - the body is totally unmarked and even had the plastic protector on the top LCD.

I felt a little mixed when it arrived - after all, my 510 has performed well, and I wasn't sure I needed another camera. I took it out over the weekend. Some samples will follow in a day or so. Here's my initial impressions:

1. The size didn't bother me at all. I'm almost shocked. After finding it large and clunky in the stores, I hardly notice the extra size while I'm shooting. My 10yo daughter used it yesterday without problems; she has been playing with the 510 recently, and didn't even comment about the extra weight or bulk.

(The perfect Oly would, however, be 10% smaller and 20% lighter (and still weathersealed). I won't hold my breath.)

2. The VF, is, well, great. Manual focusing is much easier. Since I've got a lot of legacy glass this is an issue for me.

3. Feels very, very solid.

4. Auto ISO is wonderful. I turned it on straight away and have left it on, capped at 800. I haven't checked if the 510 has this, maybe I missed that page of the user manual?

5. Access to auto-bracketing via buttons makes that feature useable. On the 510, since you have to go through the menus, I never use it - it's quicker and easier to use exposure comp. I'll make sure I use it, especially after reading Wrotniak's article on highlight recovery (summary: 1 stop bracketing beats any raw processing).

6. Overall the camera feels snappy and responsive.

7. AF is wonderful. How can I be saying that after all the recent AF threads? Well, I haven't been able to fault it. With the ZD50/2, focus would lock quickly in almost every situation, even in a dim room where I could barely see. I checked for front/back focus, and it's spot on. (Haven't checked all my lenses yet). And this is with firmware .. wait for it .. 1.2.

8. I love the shutter. Not quite as smooth as the E-1, but with a firm, assured "clack" about it.

9. Two wheels are fantastic, much quicker to access key functions. And I find the positions of the front wheel compared to the shutter release to be just right for me.

10. It's early days yet, but my initial impression is that the IQ looks really good. The colours are somewhere between the E-1 and 510 with a little more punch in the reds and maybe blues than the 510. The metering/DR handling is much better than I expected - on paper (from the DPR tests) the improvement is slight but some portraits taken yesterday in the winter sun seemed to handle skintones well and highlights were controlled.

11. Ergonomics are better all around. Buttons that would be annoying to press while composing - like LiveView and Preview - are well protected. Having a top LCD is very useful.

The minuses are minor but here goes:

12. The top lcd has some fairly small text that is hard to read, for me (I'll need glasses soon). I'd prefer to be able to easily see at a glance all the key settings, especially the AF and exposure modes.

13. The DOF button can be fiddly to each. (On the 510 I have this programmed into the Fn button - but the Fn button is now available - read on).

14. The most major gripe seems to be the auto WB, although more testing is required. I was expecting a separate WB sensor to improve things, although I have learned from experience how the 510's auto WB can be fooled and allow for it these days.

Under halogen downlights (indoors) the E-3's auto WB was too warm - and I have white walls in my kitchen so there's really no excuse. With mixed daylight/room lighting the results also seemed warmer than I expected. However I did set the custom WB as a test, and got virtually the same outcome as auto, so I'm none the wiser. Maybe it's just warmer than the 510?
Outdoors, though, I could not fault the auto WB .

I'll bet you're keen to see some pics now .. will have to wait until later, sorry.

Overall, I'm very happy with the upgrade. My only problem now is: which camera to sell?

  • Steve

David Chin Forum Pro • Posts: 11,670
Very useful - thanks very much! (nt)
-- hide signature --
OP Tekmar Regular Member • Posts: 448
Re: First weekend with the E-3

OK, pics as promised .. all quite low-res though. All are OOC JPEGs except the shots done with the OMZ 300mm which needs some contrast in PP.

Candlelit. ZD50mm F4 1/30 ISO 200 -0.3ev

This was me playing with the camera on its first night

Moon – using an OMZ 300mmF4.5 plus no-name 2x converter. 1/160 sec, F11, handheld

I’ve been trying a few moon shots, but I live too close to the city to get the wonderful clear skies necessary for the fantastic shots.

My first attempt at catching droplets. ZD50mm 1/160 F13 with FL36 bounced off rear reflector. Using Tungsten WB.

Played around with this after following some links from this forum.

Emerging foliage on my acacia. ZD50mm 1/100 F6.3 ISO 320 (A), handheld, -0.3ev

Native Australian flower. ZD50mm, 1/160 F8, manual, off-camera flash on low power.

My 2nd daughter. ZD50mm, 1/30 F8 ISO 800. Maybe the WB wasn’t so bad after all?

Melbourne Zoo trip to the lion cage. OMZ 300mm, 1/125, F8 I think, -0.3ev, handheld, ISO 500. Shot through the mesh, hence the blurring in the top of the frame.

Lemur. OMZ 300mm, 1/100, ISO800, probably F8, -0.3ev. Handheld.

Brown bear, shot by my elder daughter (and through glass I think). ZD40-150, 1/250, ISO 400, F5.2, -0.3ev.

Meerkat, also by my daughter ZD40-150 through glass.

Mia. ZD40-150 @94mm, 1/200, F6.3, -0.3ev. Very pleased to see the DR hold up well with the sunlight on one side of her face. I doubt the 510 would have handled this so well.

Gorilla. OMZ300mm, 1/100, handheld, F11. ISO800, -0.7ev.

This was getting late in the day and the light was failing – hence the high ISO (was on auto) and low shutter speed. I need to go back with some better lighting.

Mandrill. OMZ300mm, 1/60s, handheld (!), -0.7ev, ISO 800.

See gorilla comment, by now the light was getting dim.

Butterfly. ZD40-150 @123mm, 1/250, F5.3, FL-36R on auto, -0.7ev

Step right up! ZD40-150 @40mm, 1/80, F5, FL-36 on auto, -0.3ev

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads