Olympus E-30

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Olympus E-30

Autofocus Live View with Multiple Exposure shooting lets you create artistic effects in-camera. Six Art Filters instantly give your images a variety o...

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Review of "Olympus E-30"

published 05/09/2009 | rabidbadger
Member since : 31/08/2009
Reviews : 32
Members who trust : 2
About me :
Good
Pro Fold out LCD screen, Image Stabilization, Zuiko lens quality, Picture quality, Flash options
Cons Noise in low light, Too many buttons, Badly laid out, Too many gimmicks
very helpful
Picture Quality
Range & Quality of Features
Ease of Use
Reliability
Size

"Olympus E-30. Still not up there with the big boys?"

The E-30 is Olympus's own stepping-stone between the so-called "prosumer" models (what an awful word) and the E-3 professional SLR, being loosely comparable with the likes of the Canon EOS 50D, the Nikon D90 and the Sony Alpha A-350. It shares a lot of the E-3's features and has even overtaken the E-3 in terms of resolution, offering 12mp compared with the E-3's 10.

Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on your opinion - some of its features are things that serious photographers don't really want on their cameras and definitely push the E-30 towards the hobby photographers rather than the professionals.

The E-30 doesn't share the E-3's weatherproof casing, in fact it is built from a plastic/fibre-glass composite material, which helps to keep the weight down and, surprisingly to me, doesn't make it feel cheap.

It does look like a professional SLR, especially with the optional battery-grip fitted, and I like the blue trim and button icons. Like most SLRs, available in any colour as long as it's black.

The rubberized grip on the right makes for a firm hold and all the controls are generally well placed, although there are too many buttons for my liking. Also, the control dial on the front (or "Sub dial" as Olympus call it) is a little awkward to use and the Mode Dial is on the left side, whereas I like it to be on the right.

As you aren't likely to use it without a lens attached, the weight is dependant on your choice of lens but the E-30 body is lighter then the Canon EOS 50D but heavier than the Nikon D90.

The menus are easy to read and relatively easy to use, with most of the common functions being available on the "Super Control Panel" on the LCD screen when not in Live View mode. This is displayed by pressing the Info Button.

The sheer number of buttons dotted around the cameras facades are enough to put off anyone who isn't familiar with the functions of an SLR and I would have preferred some of the functions shifted to the menus.

The battery life is very good at around 500 shots but it does take around 5 hours to charge with the standard charger (a faster one is available from Olympus). It is the same battery as the Olympus E-3, which may be a consideration for people with multiple cameras, and the optional battery-grip allows the use of AA batteries.

Image Stabilization is via CCD shift and now has 3 modes, with vertical panning being catered for. This is worth up to 5 stops of shutter speed if you believe the Olympus documentation.

Picture quality is of course dependant on the lens you are using but I have always found the Zuiko lenses to be very crisp. Of course, being a small 4:3 sensor with a high resolution, you have to expect noise problems at low light - it comes with the territory. Also, the versatility of the 4:3 system is limited by having no body-independant Auto/Manual focus switching on the lenses.

The external flash sync port is something that the lesser Olympus models don't have and the built-in flash can act as a trigger for the Olympus wireless flash system when in Remote mode.

One of the outstanding features of the E-30 is the fold-out LCD Screen. This can fold out to 180 degrees and has a rotation of 270 degrees, making it great for situations where you can't conveniently stand behind the camera. Their is a "Live View Boost" option in the menu for low-light situations and you can even change the refresh rate to make it more fluid.

Another neat feature is the ability to select from 9 different Aspect Ratio settings - 4:3 (standard), 3:2, 19:9, 6:6, 5:4, 76, 6:5, 7:5 and 3:4. This is especially useful if you are printing directly from the camera/card with no cropping software involved (JPEG images can also be re-proportioned in playback mode). Also, 4 combinations of image size and resolution can be registered for future use. RAW format is supported, as you would expect.

Live View now has a Perfect Shot Preview mode that alloows you to see what your picture would look like with different White Balance, Exposure Compensation values, etc, before you take the shot. This is much too cumbersome to use in all but the most relaxed landscape shooting scenarios and I found the multiple images that it displays much too small to be of any use.

Autofocus is 11-point and there is a Contrast Detect Autofocus mode that allows for focusing in Live View mode without having to flip the mirror down. Of course, you pay the penalty with a slower AF but this is handy when you are trying to photograph wildlife without making too much noise.

The Mode Dial has the following settings:
Art Filters/Scene
Night + Portrait
Sport
Macro
Landscape - One of 5 Scene Modes on the Dial
Portrait
Auto
Program AE
Shutter Priority
Aperture Priority
Manual
There is no place on the Mode Dial for custom settings but these can still be stored via the menu.

The last two features that I am going to talk about fall into the "useless gimmick" category as far as I'm concerned. The first is the number of Art Filters that are available via the Mode Dial. These allow you to apply a Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale Light & Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film or Pinhole filter to your pictures. I know not everyone has a copy of Photoshop but please!!! There are millions of software packages out there than can give you this kind of processing. It's the sort of thing you would expect to find on a mobile phone, not a supposedly serious SLR.

Another thing I don't see the point of is the level indicators - these are digital "spirit levels" that appear in the viewfinder. Very useful if you have completely lost your sense of balance or your job is a strange combination of photography and brick-laying.

Given that the E-3 is only a couple of hundred pounds more expensive, and some of the features on the E-30 are, in my opinion, worse than useless, I would go for the E-3 every time. For the price, I think the Canon EOS 50D and the Nikon D90 are both more attractive prospects.

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Product Information : Olympus E-30

Manufacturer's product description

Autofocus Live View with Multiple Exposure shooting lets you create artistic effects in-camera. Six Art Filters instantly give your images a variety of creative looks. Features like Face Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology and In-body Image Stabilization ensure clear, crisp images in any shooting situation. It all adds up to a DSLR for photographers who want to express themselves more artistically.

Product Details

Product Type: Digital camera - SLR with Live View mode

Product Description: Olympus E-30 - digital camera

AV Interfaces: Composite video/audio

Memory Card Slot: CompactFlash Card, xD-Picture Card

Display: LCD display - 2.7"

Supported Battery: 1 x Olympus BLM-1 Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1500 mAh ( included ), 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1500 mAh ( included ), 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1050 mAh ( included )

Dimensions (WxDxH): 14.2 cm x 7.5 cm x 10.8 cm

Weight: 0.66 kg

Image Processor: TruePic III+

Sensor Resolution: 12.3 Megapixel

Lens System: 3 x zoom lens - 14 - 42 mm - f/3.5-5.6 Four Thirds, 3.9 x zoom lens - 14 - 54 mm - f/2.8-3.5 Four Thirds, 5 x zoom lens - 12 - 60 mm - f/2.8-4.0 Four Thirds

Focus Adjustment: Automatic, manual

Image Stabiliser: Optical (image sensor shift mechanism)

Camera Flash: Pop-up flash

Viewfinder: Optical - fixed eye-level pentaprism

Min Focus Distance: 25 cm, 22 cm

Environmental Parameters

Humidity Range Storage: 10 - 90%

Humidity Range Operating: 30 - 90%

Max Storage Temperature: 60 °C

Min Storage Temperature: -20 °C

Max Operating Temperature: 40 °C

Min Operating Temperature: 0 °C

Battery

Details: 1 x Olympus BLM-1 Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1500 mAh ( included ), 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1500 mAh ( included ), 1 x Li-ion rechargeable battery - 1050 mAh ( included )

Battery Type: Olympus BLM-1

Exposure & White Balance

Exposure Range: EV 1-20 ( ISO 100 )

X-sync Speed: 1/250sec

White Balance Bracketing: Yes

Auto Exposure Bracketing: 5 steps in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps

Exposure Compensation: ±5 EV range, in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps

Min Shutter Speed: 30 min

Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec

White Balance Presets: Sunlight, tungsten light, shade, overcast, fluorescent light (cool white), fluorescent light (daylight), fluorescent light (warm white), 3000K - 7500K

White Balance: Custom, automatic, presets

Special Effects: Sepia, Monotone, Black & White Red filter, Black & White Yellow filter, Vivid, yellow, green, red, Custom Effect, Black & White Orange filter, soft focus, Black & White Green filter, Muted, portrait, orange, Grainy Film, Light Tone, Pop Art, Pale & Light Colour, pin hole

Exposure Modes: Automatic, manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority

Exposure Metering Zones: 49

Exposure Metering: Multi-segment, centre-weighted, spot

Light Sensitivity: ISO auto (200-800), ISO 100-3200, ISO auto (200-3200)

Miscellaneous

Body Material: Glassfibre reinforced plastics

Included Accessories: Battery charger, dust cap, body cap, lens cap, shoulder strap, USB cable, video cable

Dimensions & Weight

Weight: 0.66 kg

Height: 10.8 cm

Depth: 7.5 cm

Width: 14.2 cm

Memory / Storage

Supported Memory Cards: CompactFlash, xD-Picture Card, Microdrive

Image Storage: RAW 4032 x 3024 ¦ Super-fine JPEG 4032 x 3024 - 6.8 MB ¦ Fine JPEG 4032 x 3024 - 4.7 MB ¦ Normal JPEG 4032 x 3024 - 2.2 MB ¦ Basic JPEG 4032 x 3024 - 1.5 MB ¦ Super-fine JPEG 3200 x 2400 - 5.3 MB ¦ Fine JPEG 3200 x 2400 - 3.7 MB ¦ Normal JPEG 3200 x 2400 - 1.7 MB ¦ Basic JPEG 3200 x 2400 - 1.1 MB ¦ Super-fine JPEG 2560 x 1920 - 3.6 MB ¦ Fine JPEG 2560 x 1920 - 2.2 MB ¦ Normal JPEG 2560 x 1920 - 1.1 MB ¦ Basic JPEG 2560 x 1920 - 0.7 MB ¦ Super-fine JPEG 1600 x 1200 - 1.3 MB ¦ Fine JPEG 1600 x 1200 - 0.8 MB ¦ Normal JPEG 1600 x 1200 - 0.5 MB ¦ Basic JPEG 1600 x 1200 - 0.3 MB ¦ Super-fine JPEG 1280 x 960 - 0.8 MB ¦ Fine JPEG 1280 x 960 - 0.5 MB ¦ Normal JPEG 1280 x 960 - 0.3 MB ¦ Basic JPEG 1280 x 960 - 0.2 MB ¦ Super-fine JPEG 1024 x 768 - 0.5 MB ¦ Fine JPEG 1024 x 768 - 0.4 MB ¦ Normal JPEG 1024 x 768 - 0.2 MB ¦ Basic JPEG 1024 x 768 - 0.1 MB ¦ Super-fine JPEG 640 x 480 - 0.2 MB ¦ Fine JPEG 640 x 480 - 0.2 MB ¦ Normal JPEG 640 x 480 - 0.1 MB ¦ Basic JPEG 640 x 480 - 0.1 MB

Memory Card Slot: CompactFlash Card, xD-Picture Card

Lens System

Features: Internal focusing system, ED glass

Lens System Mounting: Four Thirds

Filter Size: 58 mm, 67 mm, 72 mm

Lens Construction: 8 groups / 10 elements, 11 groups / 15 elements, 10 groups / 14 elements

Zoom Adjustment: Manual

Focus Adjustment: Automatic, manual

Focal Length Equivalent to 35mm Camera: 28 - 84mm, 28 - 108mm, 24 - 120mm

Type: 3 x zoom lens - 14 - 42 mm - f/3.5-5.6 Four Thirds, 3.9 x zoom lens - 14 - 54 mm - f/2.8-3.5 Four Thirds, 5 x zoom lens - 12 - 60 mm - f/2.8-4.0 Four Thirds

Min Focus Distance: 25 cm, 22 cm

Max View Angle: 74 degree(s), 84 degree(s)

Additional Features

Flash Terminal: Hot shoe

Self Timer Delay: 2sec, 12sec

Additional Features: Direct print, USB 2.0 compatibility, RGB primary colour filter, auto power save, DPOF support, display brightness control, depth-of-field preview button, sharpness control, digital image rotation, PRINT Image Matching, PictBridge support, histogram display, cropping an image, resizing an image, saturation control, LCD live view mode, in-camera red-eye fix, shadow point display, highlight point display, contrast control, Shadow Adjustment Technology, in-camera RAW processing

Continuous Shooting Speed: 5 frames per second

Viewfinder

Viewfinder Frames: Autofocus frame

Dioptric Correction Range: -3 to +1

Magnification: 1.02x

Field Coverage: 98%

Viewfinder Type: Optical - fixed eye-level pentaprism

Viewfinder Information: Shutter speed, exposure compensation, AE lock, AF-in-focus, flash charge completion, aperture, frame counter, white balance, metering system, Exposure Mode, battery status, record mode, ISO sensitivity

Display

Display Features: Rotating

Resolution: 230,000 pixels

Type: 2.7" LCD display

Connections

Connector Type: 1 x USB ¦ 1 x composite video output ¦ 1 x DC power input

Memory Card Slot: CompactFlash Card, xD-Picture Card

Software

Software: Drivers & Utilities, Olympus Master

General

Optical Zoom: 3 x, 3.9 x, 5 x

Product Type: Digital camera - SLR with Live View mode

MPN: N3224192, N3223992, N3224292, N3224392, 262032, 262031

AV Interfaces: Composite video/audio

Sensor Features: Supersonic Wave Filter (SWF)

Sensor Dust Reduction: Yes

Field of View Crop Factor: 2

Optical Sensor Size: 13.0 x 17.3mm

Effective Sensor Resolution: 12,300,000 pixels

Total Pixels: 13,100,000 pixels

Optical Sensor Type: Live MOS

Sensor Resolution: 12.3 Megapixel

Image Processor: TruePic III+

Image Stabiliser: Optical (image sensor shift mechanism)

Image Recording Format: JPEG, RAW, RAW + JPEG

Auto Focus Points (Zones) Qty: 11

Auto Focus: TTL contrast and phase detection

Camera Flash

Features: AF illuminator, flash +/- compensation

Flash Modes: Fill-in mode, rear curtain sync, slow synchro, auto mode, flash OFF mode, red-eye reduction

Guide Number (m / ISO 100): 13

Camera Flash: Pop-up flash

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