The Olympus E-1 is the first removable lens digital SLR with a lens mount and imaging system specifically designed for digital. As such it is also the first removable lens digital SLR from Olympus and marks the beginning of a whole new camera system (bodies, lenses, flashes and accessories), the 'E System'. The E-1 has a five megapixel 4/3" type (18 x 13.5 mm) CCD sensor from Kodak, it carries the '4/3' logo on the camera body and lens indicating that it is part of this standard (sensor size and lens mount). The camera system and '4/3 System' has a public history (although in private it is likely to have started much earlier) stretching back to February 2001 when Kodak and Olympus announced they would be joining forces to 'develop digital camera technology'.
The 'E System' & '4/3 System' timeline
- Kodak and Olympus join forces (13 February 2001)
- Olympus to intro 5.1 mp SLR next year? (27 April 2001)
- Olympus confirm 4/3" CCD concept camera (1 May 2001)
- Kodak 4/3 inch 5 mp CCD (31 May 2001)
- Olympus and Kodak confirm 'Four Thirds System' (24 September 2002)
- Olympus 'Four Thirds' D-SLR pictures (24 September 2002)
- Olympus 4/3 Digital SLR 'E System' (2 March 2003)
- Olympus E System from PMA (show floor) (4 March 2003)
- Olympus launches 'Four Thirds' website (11 March 2003)
It's worth noting that Fujifilm has also expressed an interest in the 4/3 system. This standard defines the size* of sensor (4/3" type, 18 x 13.5 mm) and the lens mount / lens communication protocol. In theory you should be able to use a 4/3 lens from any manufacturer on a 4/3 body.
* There has been some confusion about the exact meaning of '4/3', at one stage it was published elsewhere that this referred to the aspect ratio of the image. I can confirm that although a coincidence the 4/3 name was never meant to refer to the image aspect ratio. For more information on sensor type sizes click here.
The Olympus E-1 Key Features
- Magnesium-alloy body with environmental sealing (splash proof)
- Five megapixel 4/3" Kodak Full Frame Transfer CCD (4/3 System compliant)
- 4/3 System lens mount
- Range of four ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses initially available (smaller and lighter than 35 mm)
- TTL viewfinder with removable focusing screen
- "Supersonic Wave Filter" cleans CCD at each camera start-up (dust is shaken from CCD)
- Dual USB 2.0 (full 480 Mb/s speed) and IEEE 1394 (Firewire) connectivity
- 3-point TTL phase difference AF
- Focus-by-wire manual focus
- Manual focus after AF lock available (switchable)
- 3 bulb AF assist lamp
- 3-zone multi-pattern metering
- Program Shift in Program AE mode
- Shutter speed range of 60 to 1/4000 sec (up to 8 minutes in Bulb mode)
- Custom delay 'Anti-Shock' feature (similar to mirror lock-up on other SLR's)
- Continuous shooting 3 frames per second up to 12 frames
- Sensitivity range of ISO 100 - 800 plus 1600 and 3200 with 'ISO BOOST'
- Exposure steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 stop (EV)
- Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV
- Selectable color space; sRGB or Adobe RGB
- Wide range of white balance options, four manual presets, fine tuning
- Hybrid white balance sensor (on external surface of camera and using CCD)
- Customizable image parameters (saturation, sharpness, contrast)
- Noise reduction for ISO noise and long exposure noise (both can be disabled)
- RAW format and RAW+JPEG support
- In-camera RAW Data Edit
- Compact Flash Type I & II storage including IBM Microdrive and FAT32
- User upgradeable firmware
- 1.8" 134,000 pixel LCD monitor with anti-reflective coating
- Control Panel LCD display with backlight (panel also has anti-reflective coating)
- Flash hot-shoe and PC Sync flash terminal
- Shading compensation (removes potential vignetting)
4/3 system, size, lenses and implications
The 4/3" type sensor measures 18.0 x 13.5 mm, just slightly smaller than the size of the CMOS sensors Canon have used in their EOS-D30, EOS-D60 and EOS-10D digital SLR's. That may come as a surprise to some as it can be difficult to visualize the size of a sensor. The diagram below shows the relative sizes of various sensors compared to a normal 35 mm film negative. Indeed what's interesting is that the 4/3 sensor is exactly half the width of a 35 mm negative, vertically the measurement is different because of the different aspect ratio.
The use of a smaller sensor means that you don't need such a large imaging circle (as would be produced by a 35 mm lens), this means you can make the lenses smaller and lighter, it also means that you can build lenses tailor made for the purpose, lenses which should perform better at wide angles.
(Diagram shown to scale but much larger than in real life)
What's probably more startling is the relatively minute size of the 2/3" type sensor used in the two previous digital ZLR cameras, the E-10 and E-20. The other implication of a larger sensor is larger photodiode sizes (larger pixel pitch - a measurement of the distance from the top corner of one pixel to the next). Larger photodiode size makes for lower noise and higher sensitivity, and looking at the table below we can see that the E-1's sensor has a photodiode with four times the area of the E-20 and just smaller than the sensor used on the EOS-10D.
|Camera||Sensor||Total pixels||Pixel pitch||Sensor size|
|Olympus C-4040 Zoom||1/1.8" CCD||4.1 million||3.1 x 3.1 µm||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||1/1.8" CCD||5.2 million||2.8 x 2.8 µm||7.2 x 5.3 mm|
|Olympus E-20||2/3" CCD||5.2 million||3.4 x 3.4 µm||8.8 x 6.6 mm|
|Olympus E-1||4/3" CCD||5.6 million||6.8 x 6.8 µm||18.0 x 13.5 mm|
|Canon EOS-10D||CMOS||6.5 million||7.4 x 7.4 µm||22.7 x 15.1 mm|
|Canon EOS-1Ds||CMOS||11.4 million||8.8 x 8.8 µm||36 x 24 mm|
|Kodak DCS-14n||CMOS||13.8 million||7.9 x 7.9 µm||36 x 24 mm|
Interesting note for the future: if Kodak could produce a 4/3 type sensor with a 2.8 µm pixel pitch it would have 31 million pixels, so there is plenty of scope for expansion at this sensor size.
Lenses and the lens mount
The other thing that the four thirds standard defines is the lens mount, communication protocol and other details relating to lens, zoom and focus. This is perhaps even more important, it means that in theory a Kodak four thirds camera could use Olympus lenses and that we may see third party manufacturers such as Sigma and Tamron producing their own four thirds lenses. Acceptance and wide ranger use of this open lens mount standard is vital to the survival of the four thirds system.
|Douaumont Ossuary by Eric 54-BNF|
from Armistice Day
|Silhouette at sunset by Jill Hancock|
from Portrait Lens (around 80mm or equivalent - please check the full rules)
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.