Olympus E-3 Review
Timings & File Sizes
It's reasonable to expect a camera at this level to offer fast, responsive operation and the E-3 doesn't disappoint, feeling very snappy indeed in use - far more so than any previous Olympus DSLR. Focus speed with the new SWD lenses is superb, though there is noticeable hunting at longer focal lengths in low light. Focus with older non-SWD lenses is less impressive, and seems no faster than any other Four-Thirds camera. Continuous shooting is excellent (as long as you keep away from xD cards) and fast buffering means you'll never have to wait for the camera to catch up with you no matter how fast you're snapping.
Of course using live view slows things down noticeably, adding around 0.6 seconds to the shutter lag (and not just the shutter lag; our timings show that having live view turned on slows down most operations), but this is hardly something unusual to the E-3.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3648 x 2736 JPEG SHQ (approx. 4,9100 KB per image).
The media used for these tests were:
- 512MB Fujifilm xD-Picture Card Type H
- 2 GB Lexar Pro 133x CF card
- 4 GB SanDisk Extreme IV CF card (UDMA)
(512 MB Fuji xD)
(2 GB Lexar)
(4 GB SanDisk)
|Power Off to On *1||1.1||1.6||1.2|
|Power Off to Shot *2||0.9||1.3||0.9|
|Sleep to On||1.1||1.1||1.1|
|Power On to Off||1.1||1.1||1.1|
|Record Review RAW *3||0.8||0.8||0.8|
|Record Review JPEG *3||0.9||0.9||0.9|
|Play Image to Image RAW||<0.1||0.1||<0.1|
|Play Image to Image JPEG||~0.2||~0.2||~0.1|
Live view off / on (8 GB SanDisk Extreme IV)
As you can see enabling live view adds between a half to one second to most operations, this is primarily due to the time it takes the camera to raise the mirror, open the shutter and initialize the sensor for live view.
(Live view off)
(Live view on)
|Power Off to On *1||1.2||1.7|
|Power Off to Shot *2||0.9||2.0|
|Sleep to On||1.1||1.4|
|Power On to Off||1.1||1.8|
|Record Review RAW *3||0.8||1.4 *4|
|Record Review JPEG *3||0.9||1.4 *4|
|Record to Play (JPEG)||<0.1||0.7|
|Record to Play (RAW)||~0.1||0.7|
|*1||This is the amount of time before the status screen is shown on the LCD monitor, as shown by the next measurement you can actually take a shot fractionally earlier than this.|
|*2||To test this we turn the camera on with the shutter button depressed (manual focus mode). This bypasses the SWF cycle.|
|*3||Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.|
|*4||Obviously this figure includes the time needed for the mirror movement before the shot is taken|
Continuous Drive mode
To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/400 sec, F2.0), ISO 200. Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above. (Note that we also tested with Noise Reduction on / off without any difference in performance).
The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:
- Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was always 5.0 fps (+/- 0.01 fps) for JPEG, dropping slightly with some cards in RAW mode.
- Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
- Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held after burst (buffer full)
Burst of JPEG Super Fine images
4 GB SanDisk
2 GB Lexar
512MB Fujifilm xD (Type H)
|Frame rate (average)||5.0 fps||5.0 fps||5.0 fps|
|Number of frames||23||24||17|
|Buffer full rate||2.1 fps||2.3 fps||0.3 fps|
Burst of RAW images
4 GB SanDisk
2 GB Lexar
512MB Fujifilm xD (Type H)
|Frame rate (average)||4.9 fps||4.8 fps||5.0 fps|
|Number of frames||15||17||14|
|Buffer full rate||0.9 fps||1.6 fps||0.2 fps|
The E-3 offers significant improvements over other Four-Thirds cameras when it comes to continuous shooting, and is broadly comparable with its direct competitors. Of course compared to the 'big beasts' of the professional SLR jungle both frame rate and buffering look slightly pedestrian, but that's what you're paying all those extra thousands of dollars for. You cannot shoot indefinitely at the highest JPEG quality setting, but if you drop down to the 'N' (normal) setting you can.
File Flush Timing
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the storage card activity lamp beside the compartment door went out. Media used were the same as above.
(4 GB SanDisk)
(2 GB Lexar)
|3648 x 2736 RAW + JPEG 'SF'||3.0||2.1||8.9||15,050 KB *1|
|3648 x 2736 RAW||2.2||1.3||5.4||9,650 KB|
|3648 x 2736 JPEG 'SF'||1.4||1.2||3.8||5,400 KB|
|3648 x 2736 JPEG 'N'||0.9||0.8||1.7||2,125 KB|
|*1||File size reported here is the size of the RAW and 'SF' quality JPEG files added together.|
|*2||The E-3 begins writing around 0.3 seconds after the shutter release is pressed so you must subtract 'processing time' from the timing to get the actual write time.|
Our slight disappointment at the E-3's ever-so-slightly pedestrian write speeds is more than mitigated by the fact that the large, fast buffering makes it very unlikely most users will ever get to the point where they're left waiting. Our tests also show that the write performance varies widely according to the card in use (in this case Lexar's Pro card offers a clear advantage), so it's worth trying a few before making a major investment. Of course the xD card performance is another matter altogether, and are frankly best avoided.
USB transfer speed
To test the E-3's USB transfer speed we transferred approximately 350 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme IV 4 GB CF card.
|Olympus E-3 (MTP device mode)||2.8 MB/sec|
|Olympus E-3 (Mass storage device mode)||5.5 MB/sec|
|CardBus PCMCIA adapter||10.5 MB/sec|
|SanDisk Extreme IV USB 2.0 card reader||17.1 MB/sec|
The E-3 delivers average if not stunning transfer rates ins mass storage device mode. Switch to MTP (PTP) mode and as we've seen with other cameras the transfer rate drops by about 50%. As you can see the best performance (over three times faster) was achieved using a relatively inexpensive SanDisk USB 2.0 card reader, this would always be our recommendation.
- 19 Photographic tests
- 20 Photographic tests
- 21 Photographic tests
- 22 Photographic tests
- 23 Compared to...
- 24 Compared to...
- 25 Compared to...
- 26 Compared to...
- 27 Compared to...
- 28 Compared to...
- 29 Compared to...
- 30 Compared to...
- 31 Compared to...
- 32 Compared to...
- 33 Compared to...
- 34 Compared to...
- 35 Conclusion
- 36 Samples
|Blue and yellow in water by fireplace33|
from Ink and water
|Kylmä joki kopio by Kaappo|
from Shutter speed 1/25 or slower
|WR_2.8_13 copy copy by photoprof|
Ridiculous test incoming. What happens when you slap a $50 Yongnuo 50mm F1.8 lens onto a $12,000+ 5K RED cinema camera? One YouTuber decided to give it a shot and find out.
Drone giant DJI has released a teaser video titled 'adventure unfolds,' implying that a new folding drone is coming on January 23rd at 10am Eastern time.
Some good inspiration for current and aspiring wedding photographers out there. If you shoot images like these, you're bound to stand out from the crowd and give your clients that "wow" factor.
In his video Structure, photographer Drew Geraci shows how everyday objects become fascinating landscapes when captured in moving 4K shots at up to 1000x magnification.
The 2018 Japan BCN camera rankings are in, and the most surprising bit of news is that Canon is still outpacing Sony in the mirrorless segment, taking the #2 spot in that segment while still dominating in DSLRs.
Nikon's updated D850 firmware brings a number of smaller bug fixes, including fixing a green cast issue that was happening when users had long exposure noise reduction turned on.
Fujifilm's first 1:1 macro lens for the X-system gives a 122mm equivalent view of the world. We gave it a go shooting close-up subjects as well as some portraits – take a look at how it performs when paired with the X-T2.
According to a Reuters report, US Congress is urging US companies to sever ties with Chinese manufacturers of communication equipment.
A firm launch date is still forthcoming, but in the meantime a sample reel from Kodak's new Super 8 camera has been released.
HTC's newest handset, the HTC U11 Eyes, improves on the standard U11 by slapping a dual camera on the front for 'portrait mode' selfies with real-time bokeh simulation.
Missile scare notwithstanding, we spent a lovely few days in Hawaii shooting with Sony's newest APS-C E-mount lens. See how it measures up capturing the spectacular scenery that the Aloha State is known for.
Now that we've completed our review of Panasonic's Lumix DC-G9, we've updated its entry in our Best Cameras Under $2000 and Best Cameras for Sports & Action buying guides.
Hasselblad has introduced its next-generation multi-shot camera body, built to shoot 400-megapixel photos by using sensor-shift technology to combine up to six exposures into a single monster image measuring 23200 x 17400 pixels.
CVS is banning digitally altered beauty imagery on its store-brand beauty products, and plans to mark other brands' images as "Digitally Altered" if they're not up to snuff by the end of 2020.
Canon has announced that it will introduce a series of printers that allow users to refill the ink tanks themselves—a surprising shift that could, in theory, save customers quite a bit of money.
Adventure and lifestyle photographer Lucy Martin put together a useful little video that goes over her 18 favorite Lightroom shortcuts—a great guide for beginners.
Following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, magazine publisher Conde Nast has severed ties with both of the famed fashion photographers, and released a code of conduct for future photo shoots.
Photographer Christopher Payne captures the 'colorful world of craft and complexity' you'll find in the General Pencil Company's factory in Jersey City... and almost nowhere else.
A new feature in the Google Arts & Culture app compares your facial features to its database of thousands of artworks, finding your fine art "doppelganger."
Recently, we spent a day in Los Angeles with photographer, cook and food blogger Kylie Mazon. Join us and see how Kylie approaches the challenge of shooting lifestyle and promotional images for a downtown hotel with the Canon EOS M6.
Leica has announced a pair of short telephoto lenses for its SL full-frame mirrorless camera. The APO-Summicron-SL 75mm and 90mm F2 ASPH lenses feature an apochromatic design to reduce chromatic aberration, one aspherical element and minimum focusing distances of around 0.5m.
The Panasonic G9 is the brand's top-tier stills camera. We've updated our already large sample gallery with even more photos to enjoy.
The latest product of Huawei's collaboration with Leica is a smartphone with a great all-around imaging feature set that left us very little to complain about.
In this quick video, award-winning travel photographer Bob Holmes shares nine of his most basic and straightforward tips for finding great images, even when you're in a rut.
Gudsen has launched a new gimbal that’s aimed at mirrorless photographers. With a payload of 3.9lbs/1.8kg, the new Moza AirCross can provide stabilization to a mirrorless body even fitted with a cinema lens and a new in-handle option can provide power to Sony and Panasonic cameras.
The Lensbaby 46mm Macro Kit comprises of three stackable filters with different magnification levels, which can be combined with several of the company's "bokeh effect" lenses.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that an upcoming full-frame mirrorless camera from Nikon will sport an all-new "Z-Mount" with an extremely short flange distance of just 16mm.
A lot of people still have positive associations with the Kodak brand and its iconic logos, but it’s worth clearing something up: not everything with the Kodak name on it has much connection to a bunch of clever people in Rochester, New York.
A leaked image of a Galaxy S9 retail box indicates the new model might come with a variable aperture lens and a super-slow-motion video mode.
The portable little scanner features a 3.5-inch color screen, an integrated SD card slot for saving your scans, adapter trays for different types of film, and an HDMI port for viewing your scans directly on an external display.