Image Stabilizer

The E-510 was the first Olympus E series SLR with a shake reduction, and the E3 uses what is described as an 'improved' version. As before the E-3's system uses Gyro sensors to register camera shake, with supersonic wave drive motor then moving the image sensor to compensate.

The stabilization test

This test was first used in our Sony DSLR-A100 review, twenty hand-held shots were taken of a static scene, half of those with stabilization, half without, the shutter speed was decreased by a stop and repeated (from 1/125 sec to 1/5 sec). The lens used was the Olympus 50 mm F2 (producing a 100 mm equiv. FOV), the test chart was 2.0 m away from the camera. to exaggerate the effect of camera shake the camera was only supported with one hand.

The resulting 120 images were then inspected and given a blur score from zero to three where zero represented a very blurred image and three a sharp image with no noticeable blur (see crop examples below). Obviously the amount of blur which is acceptable will depend on your personal taste and the final image size (for instance a '2: Soft' will still look fine as a 4x6 print or in a web gallery). Example crops from these four blur scores can be seen below.

0: Very blurred 1: Blurred
2: Soft 3: Sharp

Hand-held, no stabilization (50 mm lens, 100 mm equiv.)

With no stabilization we struggled to get any sharp shots at all below 1/40th second (bear in mind that these were taken holding the camera 'single handed' so represent higher than average camera shake).

Hand-held, with Shake Reduction (50 mm lens, 100 mm equiv.)

:Like the E-510 we found the E-3's stabilization system to be pretty efficient (as long as you don't expect miracles). In the specific conditions tested here (using real camera shake) the E-3 doesn't seem to offer any advantage over the E-510, but it is marginally more effective at very slow speeds - in fact we were still getting some usable images at 1/5 second. Overall I think it's safe to say that the E-3, like the E-510, gives you a two to two and a half stop advantage over shooting without stabilization, which isn't to be sniffed at.