Olympus E-3 Review
Color reproduction is a new addition to our in-depth reviews and provides a quick overview of the general look of images from the camera as well as an ability to compare this to other cameras. Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.
As you can see the E-3's color reproduction delivers almost the same hues as the competition, in the last two years or so there has been a clear 'normalization' of color among various manufacturers. The only difference comes from slightly different tone curves and saturation selection. By Default the E-3's output is a little 'punchier' (slightly more contrasty and slightly more saturated) than most of its competitors.
|Olympus E-3||Compare to:|
Artificial light White Balance
The E-3's automatic white balance performed flawlessly in daylight and coped pretty well with mixed lighting too. In our studio tests the AWB struggled with both incandescent and fluorescent lighting (despite the much-hyped hybrid WB measurement system), and the only way to get a truly neutral result is to switch to 'one touch' custom WB (which you'll need to assign to the Fn button).
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 8.9%, Blue: -15.7%, Poor
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 4.9%, Blue: -6.7%, Average
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.1%, Blue: -11.4%, Average
|Fluorescent - Fluorescent 1
Red: 6.1%, Blue: -4.4%, Average
No complaints here; with generally good metering (though we did occasionally see some overexposure at normal portrait distances) and good flash power output, the built-in flash is a useful addition to a camera, even if it is ostensibly aimed at the professional user. Our only complaint (occasional exposure issue aside) is that a camera at this level should have a 'proper' AF illuminator; using fit-inducing bursts of flash to illuminate a scene is a far from satisfactory solution.
|Built-in flash||Built-in flash|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
The good news is that the E-3's JPEG output is superb, unusually so for a camera at this level, striking just the right balance between the subtlety of processing that high end users want and the saturated, contrasty look that gives images the requisite out of camera 'pop'. Olympus has won many fans for its rendition of colors and, when shooting outdoor scenery in particular, you can't help but be wowed by the E-3's luscious blue skies and rich green foliage. And of course there's plenty of in-camera parameters for those who want to fine-tune the JPEG output (though the range of many is limited to fairly subtle variations either side of the default setting).
Of course there are problems, though many can be overcome by the more experienced user once he or she has spent enough time with the E-3 to learn its little foibles and idiosyncrasies. Exposure (well, metering to be more accurate) isn't as reliable as we'd like from a camera at this level, and we found ourselves having to over ride the camera's decisions way too often. This is most noticeable when using the 49-zone ESP system (which seems to be far less able to deal with unusual framing and off-center subjects than we'd expect at this level. Part of the problem appears to be the link between the metering and the focus point selected (when using the multi-AF system), but the manual is far from clear on this. As we've seen with other Olympus models even the slightest re-framing of a shot can cause the metering to veer from one extreme to the other, often by two stops or more.
To be fair we tended to shoot using the center AF point only and, being in the habit of using focus and AE lock anyway, the metering issues didn't really cause huge problems in day to day photography. But it's worth noting that left to its own devices the E-3's default settings (multi AF, ESP metering) cannot be relied on to produce the results shot after shot. We've said it elsewhere and we'll say it again; the E-3 is not a camera for anyone who likes to leave everything on automatic and just 'point and shoot'.
The only other issues have been covered elsewhere in this review, but are worth mentioning here again. There is a softness / lack of resolution that robs otherwise perfect shots of the pixel-level crispness that some of the E-3's competitors can offer. Of course at normal viewing sizes we're not talking about a deal-breaker here, but if you're likely to really push your E-3 to the limit on a regular basis it could be important.
Secondly (and far more worryingly) the E-3's rather tight highlight dynamic range means that even with careful exposure there's always a danger of clipping, and it's not unusual to see hot spots on faces or to lose detail in skies. The E-3 is noticeably better than the E-410 / E-510 in this respect but, especially when shooting in challenging conditions such as the low winter sun, the stop or so of highlight detail the E-3 loses compared to the best of its competitors could make all the difference. As covered elsewhere there's a little headroom in the raw files, but not enough to bring back lost highlights in contrasty situations. Again, this makes pinpoint metering accuracy essential.
- 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
|Hot Air Balloons Over Bagan by User9320321874|
|Blue mood by darub|
from Fixed lens shootout.
|Yellow Warbler by LeeS|
from A Big Year - birds
|Waiting for the Parade by tcoker1103|
from - La Vida Loca - (Black and White Street Photography+ A Border)
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.