Olympus E-330 EVOLT Review
Artificial light White Balance
Thankfully the E-330 didn't suffer the same 'variable incandescent white balance' issue we saw on the E-500, results were consistent but very often too warm (towards red) for my liking. The incandescent preset seemed to go a little too far the other way producing an image that appeared fairly cool (towards blue). Automatic white balance under fluorescent light was better but the best results were achieved using a preset.
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.5%, Blue: -8.8%, Average
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: -0.9%, Blue: 2.9%, Good
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 0.5%, Blue: -5.0%, Average
|Fluorescent - Fluorescent 1 preset WB
Red: -0.1%, Blue: -2.0%, Good
Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots
Like the E-500 (but as an improvement compared to the E-300) the E-330 provides for timed exposures of up to 60 seconds. This is twice as long as most digital SLRs. It also features optional dark frame long exposure noise reduction, when enabled a second equal length exposure is taken immediately after the main exposure which is used to map out any fixed pattern 'hot pixel' noise from the image. Long exposures such as these suffer from a sprinkling of 'hot pixels' over the image, these are easily taken care of by enabling the long exposure NR and the resulting image has no black pitting or other artifacts.
30 second exposure
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 30 sec, F9, NR Off||ISO 100, 30 sec, F9, NR On|
60 second exposure
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 60 sec, F13, NR Off||ISO 100, 60 sec, F13, NR On|
The E-330's pop-up flash has a guide number of 13 and x-sync speed is 1/180 sec. The flash unit raises itself fairly high, enough to avoid any kind of lens hood shadow issues and also help avoid red-eye. A 'normal subject' flash shot came out looking alright although perhaps slightly under-exposed. The E-330 suffered the same fate as the E-500 with our color patch shot, it badly under-exposed it and we had to add a +1.0 EV flash exposure compensation to get anywhere near a proper exposure.
|Built-in flash (default)|
|Built-in flash (default)||Built-in flash (+1.0 EV flash compen.)|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
As we had expected the E-330 delivers well exposed images with good color and tonal range. Thankfully the metering fixes implemented in the E-500 mean that the E-330 suffers none of the under-exposure meter problems of the E-300.
Despite the switch from CCD to NMOS the results from the E-330 were extremely similar to the E-300 / E-500. This isn't that much of a surprise when we consider that the image processor / algorithms are likely to be the same. The overall appearance of images from the camera (and RAW's converted using Olympus Master) at 100% view are a little too consumer-like for my tastes, with every new digital SLR that comes along I hope for that crisp per-pixel sharpness we've seen from other digital SLRs but sadly excessive anti-alias filters mean the camera has to apply large amounts of sharpening which lead to an over-processed appearance.
One of my biggest disappointment is that the NMOS sensor offers little improvement in noise levels above ISO 400 and to make things worse it looks as though Olympus has turned up the noise reduction so high that at ISO 1600 some images actually look out of focus (check a RAW in Olympus Studio or Adobe Camera RAW confirms the detail is there). If they can't get a sensor which delivers a clean image at high sensitivities then at least invest in a higher quality noise reduction algorithm which can preserve some detail.
Jagged edge artifacts (demosaicing issues)
As with the E-500 we were aware of the way the E-330 dealt with the transition from an over-exposed area of the image to an edge or detail. These jagged artifacts are most often visible on the edge of a highlight or in fine lines (as shown below).
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