Camera Startup

Just like the E-500 the E-330 has a very prominent reminder about its "Supersonic Wave Filter" which cleans the sensor each time the camera is powered on. With the animation enabled startup takes 2.8 seconds, with it disabled (via the Screen menu option) you save around one second; 1.7 seconds.

We assume that much of the 1.7 seconds startup has to do with the execution of the SSWF cleaning the sensor. As noted in our E-500 review surely it would be better to have the SSWF only execute once every 24 hours and automatically after the lens is changed.

(If you can't see an animation above you need the latest Flash plug-in, click here)

Live View off: Shooting information / settings changes

An example of the detailed information display which provides a summary of current camera settings and exposure. Press the OK button to access any displayed setting, move around using the 4-way controller and OK again to change.
Here an example of the ISO selection screen, this can be accessed using the method above or simply by pressing the ISO (down-arrow) button. Use the 4-way controller or main dial to change a setting then press OK to confirm (or half-press the shutter release).
Changing drive / self-timer mode. Changing Picture Mode

Live View

Obviously one of the significant new features of the E-330 is the ability to have a live 'through the lens' view displayed on the LCD monitor. The first step is deciding which of the two Live View modes you wish to use, either A Mode with the viewfinder still available but a 92% frame coverage or B Mode with the viewfinder blanked out but 100% frame coverage and magnification but no auto focus. Note that the Live View selection screen recommends closing the eyepiece shutter in A Mode (which sort of defeats the object doesn't it?), we found this essential in low light as even a little stray light through the eyepiece can through the metering way off.

UPDATE 22/06/06: With the introduction of firmware 1.2 the E-330 now provides an Auto Focus feature in Live View B mode, it achieves this by dropping the mirror (blanking the Live View), focusing and then returning to Live View. This will obviously be slower than Auto Focus in viewfinder mode.

A Mode
(full-time live view)
B Mode
(macro live view)
Method Using small CCD sensor in viewfinder chamber Using 'Live MOS' sensor with mirror up and shutter open
Auto focus Yes Yes, with firmware 1.2
Metering Normal *1 Not indicated *2
Viewfinder Available Unavailable (mirror up)
Frame coverage 92% 100%
Shutter release Normal Delayed approx. 1 sec *3
Frame assist Passport modes Golden section, Grid, Scale
Live view magnify No Yes, 10x
Depth of field Not representative Absolutely accurate
DOF preview Yes, via button Yes, via button

*1 The user manual does note that the most accurate metering is only available in this mode with the eyepiece shutter closed (because of stray light entering view the viewfinder).
*2 The E-330's metering sensor is in the viewfinder chamber and so exposure is only measured when the shutter release is pressed.
*3 Because the mirror has to come down and the shutter close before the exposure can be taken (also for metering, see *2).

Changing settings in Live View modes

In either live view mode pressing the OK button displays a semi-transparent settings overlay as shown on the left below, this not only provides a summary of current camera settings but allows you to navigate and change any setting you wish (as above).

A Mode Live View ('Full-time live view')

A Mode Live View with default information overlay. A Mode Live View with a portrait frame assist shown.
With a half-shutter press the camera focuses, indicating the AF point. After taking the image a record review is shown (notice the frame coverage difference and the slight rotation).

A Mode Live View: Low Light & Live View Boost

A Mode works fairly well in good light but as soon as you move to a situation where light levels are lower the display becomes quite dark and grainy. Olympus has provided a 'Live View Boost' option (although it's buried on the third page of the first setup menu) this does improve the brightness of the display but also introduces a large amount of noise and leaves the view flickering between color and black and white.

A Mode Live View in low light with Live View Boost switched off. With Live View Boost On.

B Mode Live View ('Macro live view')

B Mode Live View with default information overlay. B Mode Live View with a 'golden section' frame assist shown.
B Mode Live View preparing for magnify mode, you can move the magnify box around the frame. Then press OK to switch to 10x magnify mode, which is extremely useful for checking focus (in a static shooting situation).

B Mode Live View: Depth of Field Preview

One advantage of using B Mode Live View is that you can get an exact representation of focus point and depth of field on the LCD screen. In the example below (using the 50 mm F2.0 lens) the image on the left is the default live view (which will be at F2.0), on the right we are holding the drive button (customized to perform DOF preview) and it's clear to see the difference in depth of field between the two.

Live View brightness differences, A Mode vs. B Mode

As noted above A Mode has a 'Live View Boost' feature which increases the gain on the viewfinder CCD to provide a brighter image, this at the expense of noise levels in the live view and a flickering effect. B Mode (because it's using that big, sensitive Live MOS sensor) doesn't have these issues as you can see below.

A Mode Live View with 'Live View Boost' set On. (not animated, this would flicker) A Mode Live View without Boost.
B Mode Live View.  

Live View issues

Live View does on the whole work, certainly it's best in good light or in Mode B for assessing depth of field and accurate focus for macro work. It's fair to say that in Mode B you can achieve far more accurate focus point / DOF setup than you could using the viewfinder. However we did experience several issues with the E-330's Live View implementation which left us with a distinct 'if you can't do it properly, don't do it at all' feeling.

  • Dark view in low light with A Mode, noise and flickering if 'Live View Boost' is set to On
  • White balance is not applied to live view (inaccurate representation of color) in either mode
  • Brightness of live view not representative of final shot (exposure compen. ignored)
  • Reduced frame coverage in A Mode (just 92%)
  • Viewfinder eyepiece shutter recommendation in A Mode
  • Viewfinder status LCD blank when A Mode live view is active
  • Additional shutter release lag in B Mode (around 0.7 seconds)
  • Additional darkening of the viewfinder view