Olympus E-3 Review
Top of camera controls (right)
Olympus hasn't reinvented the wheel with the E-3, and operationally it is obviously cast from the same mold as the E-1 and every subsequent E-system SLR (even users of high end Olympus compacts will find themselves in familiar territory here).
For professional users this kind of consistency of operation between models and from one generation to the next is important (something the main players know all too well, as evidenced by the remarkably slow evolution of the Canon and Nikon professional system cameras, whose basics haven't changed for almost two decades).
The fact that there hasn't been a 'professional' Olympus SLR for four years, and that this is only the second model, means that Olympus could quite easily have used the E-3 as an opportunity to re-think its entire user interface, something that might have been a good idea. By comparison the aforementioned Nikon and Canon pro systems feel more mature, more consistent and more intuitive (this is particularly true of the menu structure, more of which later). You can't help feeling that it will take a few more generations of E-System pro cameras before Olympus refines the user-interface to a point where the incredibly extensive range of features and options available are truly 'tamed' and operation becomes totally fluid. Anyway, on with the tour of the body...
The top right of the camera features the usual plethora of buttons ranged around the large, clear information LCD ('control panel'). The dedicated function buttons (WB, exposure compensation, ISO etc) can be used in conjunction with the top panel LCD or the 'Super Control Panel' display on the main color screen.
Buttons (shooting mode)
|LIGHT||Control Panel Back light
Pressing this button turns on the Control Panel back light.
Pressing the AE compensation and ISO buttons together for two seconds resets the factory default settings.
• ISO 100
• ISO 125
• ISO 160
• ISO 200
• ISO 250
• ISO 320
• ISO 400
• ISO 500
• ISO 640
• ISO 800
• ISO 1000
• ISO 1250
• ISO 1600
• ISO 2000
• ISO 2500
• ISO 3200
You can change the ISO step value (1.0 EV or 0.3 EV).
|Auto Exposure / Auto Focus Lock
The AEL/AFL button can be programmed in a variety of different ways for different focus modes (Single AF, Continuous AF and Manual Focus). It can be programmed to be momentary AE Lock or Memo/Cancel AE Lock, it can also be programmed to perform and lock Auto Focus at the same time (these modes are described later in this review). It's also used to trigger Auto Focus in Live View mode.
|Fn||FUNCTION (Fn) button
This button can be customized to perform any one of four functions (some of which require the use of the main or sub dial):
• One-touch White Balance
• AF home position (user defined 'home' position for the AF point)
• Manual Focus (to toggle AF/MF)
• RAW: switch from JPEG to RAW+JPEG or from RAW+JPEG to JPEG
• P/A/S/M (switch shooting mode)
• Test Picture (hold to take a shot without saving)
• My Mode (hold to use recorded 'My Mode' settings)
• Underwater (switch between water wide and under water macro modes)
Auto focus point
* The AF sensitivity custom function allows you to decide whether the camera focuses only on the selected AF area ('Single Area Small') or on the selected area and the surrounding area ('Normal')
Buttons (Play mode)
Although not labeled as such pressing the exposure compensation button while in play mode rotates the displayed image through 90, 180 and 270 degrees.
|Thumbnail index / zoom out
Rotate the main dial clockwise to switch to thumbnail index view, the E-3 provides a range of index views; four images, nine images, sixteen images, twenty-five images and finally a calendar view. If the playback magnification is active then turning clockwise steps out.
Rotate the main dial counter-clockwise to magnify the currently displayed image, there are a range of magnifications available; 2.0x, 3.0x, 5.0x, 7.0x, 10x and 14x. Use the multi-direction controller to move around the magnified image.
|Protect / Unprotect
Protects (or unprotect's) the current image, this sets the file system 'Read Only' flag which means you can't accidentally delete the image using the erase button, however this does not protect against formatting of the storage card (an extra 'This card contains protected images, really format?' dialog would be good).
Top of camera controls (left)
On the top left of the camera are three more buttons, all of which have at least two functions (depending on which of the command dials you turn and which mode you're in), plus the release for the pop-up flash. I used the E-3 for several months and still got confused by the button/dial combinations in this area of the camera, something that's not helped by the fact that the icons are printed up the side of the pentaprism casing, which is difficult to see when using the camera normally. Of course any camera this complex is a challenge initially, and I'm sure anyone using it exclusively for an extended period would eventually master the controls completely. It could just be easier, that's all.
Buttons (Shooting mode)
The first flash button is a mechanical release for the pop-up flash (the flash does not pop up automatically).
|Hold Button||Turn rear Dial||Turn front Dial|
| Flash mode
Hold this button and turn the main dial to select flash mode:
• Red-eye reduction
• Flash on (Fill flash)
• Flash off
• Red-eye reduction & Slow-sync
• Slow-sync (Rear curtain)
|Flash Intensity Control
Hold this button and turn the sub dial to change vary the output of the flash in auto mode (from -3.0 to +3.0 EV in 1.0, 0.5 or 0.3 EV steps).
• Program Auto
• Single shot
• Continuous H
• Continuous L
• 12 sec Self-timer
• 2 sec Self-timer
• IR remote
• IR remote with 2 sec Self-timer
• Program Auto
|*Note: pressing the AF and MODE buttons together allows you to set bracketing options.
Note also that the functions of the front and rear dials can be swapped.
Buttons (Play mode)
|Copy / PictBridge Print
Allows you to copy images between the CF and xD cards (multiple images using the marking system). If a PictBridge printer is connected to the camera via USB then you can print the currently displayed image.
- 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
Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and as usual, we booked interviews with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma.
At this year's CP+ show in Yokohama, we sat down with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Canon. Topics of conversation included Canon's ambitions for high-end mirrorless cameras, and the importance of responding to the demands of the smartphone generation.
We were recently able to follow local frame builder Max Kullaway as he created one of his AirLandSea bikes. Here are our picks of the photos we got, as the project progressed from bare tubes all the way to rideable bicycle.
On paper, the Sony a7 III is a tempting option for photographers who've been considering a switch to full-frame mirrorless. But how does its image quality stack up? We compare it to the Mark II and a few of its other peers.
Erez Marom shares the details behind this beautiful aurora photograph, captured on Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway, on a moonless evening.
Google Lens uses artificial intelligence and 'computer vision' to identify and provide information about businesses, landmarks and other objects using your phone's camera. And now it's available for iPhone users, too.
The company posted a record quarterly revenue of $2.08 billion for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. That represents incredibly healthy year-over-year growth of 24 percent.
In the job posting, the Times' describes this role as "one of the most important and high-profile jobs in visual journalism." If you're looking for a high profile job in photojournalism, you could do a lot worse than being Photo Director at The Gray Lady.
According to a recent report out of South Korea, Samsung is increasing production of its ISOCELL image sensors in a bid towards market leadership for image sensors. To reach this goal, Samsung will have to dethrone current market leader Sony... no small task.
In this video, large format photographer Ben Horne shows off the incredible resolving power of 8x10 slide film by pixel peeping a massive 709.6-megapixel drum scan of one of his landscape shots. And you thought 100MP medium format was big...
Photographer Wendy Teal tells the heart-breaking story of a wedding she shot at a hospital on just 24-hours notice. The mother of the bride had been given one week to live, and Wendy responded to the couple's desperate social media plea for someone to capture their special day.
This tiny little plug-and-play VR/AR camera for Android phones uses a pair of greater-than-180° FOV fisheye lenses to offer both 360° video/photo capture and 360° livestreaming at 1440p resolution.
Syrp has announced the Magic Carpet Pro: a slider that offers filmmakers an 'infinitely extendable' range thanks to built-in track levers that let you connect lengths of track without the use of tools.
At CP+ we sat down with executives from several major manufacturers. Among them was Kenji Tanaka, of Sony, who talked to us about the a7 III as well as its plans to attract more pro shooters – without ignoring APS-C and entry-level customers.
How do you shoot macro photography on an 18x24cm large format wet plate camera? You 'connect' two large format cameras together! That's how wet plate photographer Markus Hofstaetter did it, and you can read about the whole process in this article.
The Fujifilm X-H1 is a top-of-the-range 24MP mirrorless camera with in-body stabilization and the company's most advanced array of video capabilities. We've tested the X-T2's big brother extensively to see how it performs.
Motorsports photojournalist Jamey Price recently flew to Canada with Lamborghini for the car company's Winter Accademia 2018, where clients get to drive the latest Lamborghini supercars on snow and ice. Yes... it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
For the Pixel 2 smartphone's Motion Photos feature, Google built on its existing Motion Stills technology by adding advanced stabilization that combines software and hardware capabilities to optimize trimming and stabilization.
This "high-capacity advanced spider tripod" system can handle a maximum load of 65kg / 143lbs thanks to its reinforced design and 8-layered carbon fiber legs.
Photographer William Briscoe captured the beautiful two-for-one timelapse just outside Fairbanks, Alaska on January 31st, braving -31°F (-35°C) temperatures to get the shot.
"After his camera was stolen from his room in the orphanage, he switched to an iPhone for his photography, reasoning that the image quality of a big, heavy camera was less important than the freedom of a cell phone. 'Quality? Screw it, I’d sketch things with a pencil if I could draw,' he wrote in a blog post."
Chinese manufacturer Vivo has announced some AI-powered Super HDR tech to compete with Google's HDR+ system. Both systems combine multiple images to create a final shot with more dynamic range and less noise, but Super HDR claims to do so more intelligently.
The YouTube channel JerryRigEverything recently tore down (or rather, tore apart...) the new Samsung Galaxy S9, giving us the closest look at yet at the new smartphone's camera hardware.
The Leica l Model A, dating from between 1926 and 1927, comes with a card signed by Earhart herself. Unfortunately, this is the only 'proof' that the camera really did belong to her.
The Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE is a budget-friendly option for users of Sony's a7-series that are looking to get into the 35mm focal length.
The 'semantic image segmentation model' categorizes every pixel in an image and assigns it a label, such as “road”, “sky”, “person” or “dog.” And now, Google has released its latest version as open source, making it available to any developers whose apps could benefit from the tech.
Huawai is teasing the upcoming P20 smartphone's low-light and zoom capabilities in a couple of tongue-in-cheek teaser videos on YouTube.
Fuji's latest firmware update for the GFX 50S adds two new features: a focus stacking mode, and a 35mm format mode that takes 30.5MP photos using the center portion of the camera's medium format sensor.
The crash has raised serious questions about 'startling safety gaps' in the doors-off photo tour industry. After a brief safety video, passengers are strapped in with heavy-duty harnesses and given only a knife to cut themselves loose in case of emergency.
For the first time in five years, Adobe is raising the price of some Creative Cloud subscription packages. The good news for photographers: The $10/month CC Photography plan that includes Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, and Lightroom Classic CC will stay the same.