Cameras

Olympus E-30 Digital Camera Review

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Introduction

The Olympus E-30 is a new 12-megapixel, mid-range SLR that introduces Art filters to modify your photographs in interesting ways. While we were impressed by the sharpness and good image stabilization of this $1200 camera, it did poorly in our lab tests.

Design

Front

Front Tour Image

Back

Back Tour Image

Sides

Sides Tour Image

Top

Top Tour Image

Bottom

Bottom Tour Image

In the Box

Box Photo

In the box you'll find:

* Camera (w/ body cap)

* Battery

* Battery charge

* USB cable

* AV cable

* Strap

* Eyepiece cover

* CD-ROM

* Instruction manual

Lens & Sensor

Below are examples of the zoom ratio we got out of a 14-54mm lens (28-108mm in 35 mm equivalent).

As with all Olympus SLRs, the E-30 uses the Four Thirds sensor format, which has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages due to its small size. First, it has a 35mm crop factor of two, which means that the focal length of a lens is doubled to get its 35mm equivalent, so you can pack a much larger zoom into a smaller space. It also has very wide depth of field, which is great for overall sharpness, but makes isolating specific elements of the composition difficult at times.

Due to the high crop factor, less of the lens's edges are used, which also accounts in part for the excellent sharpness results we found in our testing, along with minimal chromatic aberration and distortion.

However, the negatives are substantial, and for many users will outweigh the positives. Both image noise and dynamic range are unacceptably bad on this camera, and shooting at the highest ISO (3200) outputs photographs that are borderline unusable. In bright light it handles fine, but the poor dynamic range (at least when not shooting RAW) and heavy noise levels are a considerable drawback.

The sensor is vibrated at high speeds every time the camera starts up in order to knock off any dust that may have landed on it. This slows down the startup time slightly, but only to an average of 1.6 seconds.

Related content

Viewfinder

The viewfinder isn't going to blow anyone away on this machine. It provides a decent 98% field of view, at approximately 1.02x magnification. The diopter's tucked away on the left side, and alters the focus from -3.0 to +1m-1.

The eyecup can be removed and replaced with other models, including a magnifier, available for purchase from Olympus. The compatible eyecups are the EP-5, 6 and 7. The EP-5 is the standard, the EP-6 and 7 are both larger and useful for people with glasses, and the magnifier is called the ME-1 (and will set you back around $40).

The E-30 also ships with an eye-piece cover, to prevent light leaks during long exposure work. Some higher end full-frame SLRs have a built-in iris to prevent any leakage, but it's not something you generally find on a camera of this price point.

Display(s)

The big drawback of the E-30 screen is its comparatively low resolution. On a point-and-shoot, 2.7' and 230,000 pixels may be fine, this pales in comparison to the Nikon D90's and Canon 50D's 920,000-dot displays. The one major LCD advantage this camera does offer, though, is the way the screen is articulated, pivoting out from the camera body horizontally and rotating vertically. Coupled with the decent Live View system, this is an especially worthwhile feature. The ability to frame shots at awkward angles, while holding the camera above your head, or without needing to keep your eye squashed against the viewfinder provides lots of shooting freedom, and represents one of the few hardware advantages Olympus holds over its competitors.

The LCD is one of Olympus' HyperCrystal II screens, which allow some light to pass through the outer layer, then bounce back, providing greater brightness in sunlight. The brightness of the screen can be set to 15 levels, and the color balance can likewise be tweaked to 15 steps You can control what's shown on the LCD using the info button.

When using the quick menu, a huge amount of information is displayed. By using the four-way controller, you can navigate to any icon on the lower half of the screen and alter that setting.

Secondary Display

The monochrome LCD on the top of the camera is much like that you'd see on any other mid-range SLR. It shows all the salient details of your current mode, or any shooting controls you're currently altering.

Secondary Display Photo

The basic but useful monochrome LCD

Flash

The E-30 sports a hot-shoe that offers full functionality with TTL-Auto and Super FP flashes. Other strobes will fire, but their brightness can't be altered. Also, if the flash requires more than 250V, it can damage the camera. The E-30 can also handle Olympus wireless flashes via the infrared receiver on the grip.

The E-30 has a built in flash, deployed by a small button on the front of the lens. Images can be flash bracketed over 3 frames at ±0.3, 0.7 or 1 EV. This flash has a guide number of 18 at ISO 200, or 13 at ISO 100.

Flash Photo

Connectivity

The E-30 has two ports, one on the left side, and one just beneath the four-way controller. The left is for an external DC power adapter, should you chose to purchase one, and the one on the camera's back is for a proprietary USB/AV cable. We're not huge fans of proprietary connections. The cables have a tendency to be expensive to replace and hard to find. Also, when the USB cable is plugged in, the down arrow on the four-way controller is exceedingly difficult to press unless you have the hands of an elf.

Battery

The Olympus E-30 uses a proprietary lithium ion rechargeable battery. If you purchase the extended battery holder, you can use AAs for power as well. The Li-ion battery is rated for approximately 500 shots, which is a decent amount, though you can expect this to sink if you use Live View extensively.

Battery Photo

The battery has a decent life, but it will drop rapidly in Live View

Memory

Olympus has its own proprietary memory card format, xD, which you will find in all their cameras, including this one. xD cards are low capacity and high cost, so thankfully Olympus has also included a CF slot, for more standard cards. In a blatant move to push more of their cards into the consumer's hands, one of the shooting modes, Panorama assist, will only work with Olympus brand xD cards, not even xD cards from another manufacturer.

Memory Photo

We're glad they included the option for CF

Image Quality

Sharpness

More on how we test sharpness.

Image Stabilization

The Olympus E-30 uses sensor-shift image stabilization technology to compensate for shaking hands. We test this by shaking the camera at high and low frequency, both in horizontal and vertical directions, using a precisely controlled laboratory mechanism. Lo and behold, the Olympus performed remarkably well. This may be one of the few benefits of having a small sensor, in that the camera can adjust it much faster to compensate for motion.

Color

The first of our array of tests analyzes how accurately the E-30 captures color across all its color modes, unfortunately, it was mediocre across all modes, only beating the Pentax K2000. In general, it did well with flesh tones and dark colors, but for brighter hues it really struggled, especially with oranges and yellows. We test this by shooting the X-Rite color chart under 3000 lux illumination, and use the Imatest image analysis application to measure the deviation from known color values and image saturation for each available color mode. The Olympus struggled in this area, with all of its four color modes either leaning towards the inaccurate or undersaturated. We found the Muted color mode produced the best results, so used that in our in-depth testing. More on how we test color.

Below you can see full-size crops of the X-Rite color chart patches for each of the comparison models and the Olympus E-30, in their best modes. On the far left are the ideal values for each color.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

When compared to other brands of camera, the Olympus E-30 performed poorly in terms of color accuracy, only managing to beat the significantly less expensive Pentax K2000. The images were consistently undersaturated.

The overall scoring results for our color accuracy testing are shown below; taller bars indicate superior performance.

Color Modes

The Olympus E-30 has only four color modes: Muted, Vivid, Natural and Portrait, of which Muted was the most accurate, but also under-saturated. However, none of these were particularly amazing in terms of capturing a color as close to ideal as possible.

In addition to the four modes shown below, there's also Monochrome (which wouldn't provide for a very interesting addition to the chart). Each of the color modes can be tweaked for contrast, sharpness, saturation, and a custom mode can be based off of the presets with additional controls for gradation. Monochrome mode cannot be altered for saturation, but black and white filters can be added (yellow, orange, red or green) or a color tone can be thrown over the top (sepia, blue purple or green).

White Balance

We tested the E-30's abilities to handle different light sources appropriately on both automatic and custom settings, and it performed below average yet again. It did alright on auto, but was less accurate than most other cameras when a manual white balance was taken. In order to test this reliably, we shoot the X-Rite colorcheck chart in the Judge II light box, which provides tightly controlled illumination at precise color temperatures.

Automatic White Balance ()

Under incandescent/tungsten, fluorescent and daylight illumination, the E-30 tended towards the warm side, leading to slightly yellow images. This was especially noticeable under incandescent light, which is not uncommon.

The Olympus E-30 did relatively well with daylight illumination, though not quite to the level of the other cameras we tested.

All cameras struggle with incandescent light, and the E-30 is no exception, though it dealt with the yellow light of the standard household fixtures better than most.

The E-30 scored worse under cool white fluorescent bulbs than any other camera in our test group except the Nikon D90.

Custom White Balance ()

When taking a custom white balance, you expect a high degree of accuracy from the camera. The E-30 had a tendency for its 'one touch white balance' to run slightly cool, but not hugely. While the results is worse than most other cameras on the market, the difference won't be highly visible in actual photos.

One issue we had with the custom white balance is that the only way to take a reading requires the use of the customizable Fn button on the camera. Since there's no way to take a white balance from the menu system, you have to use your customizable button for this if you want to take an accurate white balance, precluding it from other uses.

While the E-30 did relatively well when set to automatic white balance, its relatively poor custom performance pulled it quite a bit lower in the overall white balance performance comparison. In Custom mode it scored lower than any of the other listed cameras.

White Balance Options

The E-30 had 10 white balance settings, including 3 different fluorescent settings. These presets can all be tweaked along the amber-blue and green-magenta axes, either individually or all at once. Additionally, white balance bracketing can be set to either axis in two, four or six steps over three photos. If you're using Live View, one of the view options shows you four variations of your current scene with different white balance presets applied.

Interestingly, the camera has a dedicated white balance sensor on the front of the camera, sadly placed where it can easily get blocked by stray fingers. It didn't seem to give the E-30 a performance boost over cameras that don't have it, though, and it can be turned off if the light sources are substantially different between the camera and subject.

Long Exposure

With longer exposure times, the E-30 struggled with low color accuracy and high noise levels, ranking it below the four cameras we compared it to. For this test, we look at how well the camera handles long exposures in low light, testing for color accuracy and noise levels, with noise reduction both on and off. We shoot under dim 20 lux illumination at ISO 400, analyzing the X-Rite color chart using Imatest.

The results in this section have changed slightly since this review was originally published, though it did not affect the overall comparative ranking of the tested cameras. Our testing procedure calls for turning off dynamic range adjustment (which Olympus labels 'gradation') when performing any noise-related testing (this includes both the Long Exposure section and the Noise section that follows). However, the Olympus E-30 does not offer an 'off' option. In our first round of testing, we used the Auto setting. Based on reader input, we experimented with the Normal setting and determined that it does improve image noise performance in the core noise tests that follow. While still not an ideal solution based on our standardized testing procedures, we decided to rerun all the relevant tests with gradation set to Normal. This produced an improvement in our noise testing, shooting under relatively bright illumination, but under low light conditions, the original Auto setting actually produced marginally better results, by roughly 0.3%. For consistency's sake, we scored based on the Normal mode scores below. More on how we test long exposure.

The E-30 produced reasonably accurate color reproduction until the longest exposure time, 30 seconds, where it overexposed even as low as 20 lux.

The noise levels were disturbingly high across the board, and using noise reduction made matters even worse. Long exposure noise reduction works by taking a second exposure of the same length directly after the first, but with the lens closed. The logic being that the noise of the second image can then be subtracted from the first, and it will be smoother overall. The problem with this logic is that noise is inherently random, so for the E-30, it worsens the situation overall. With shooting from 1-15 second exposures, noise levels were slightly worse with Gradation set to Normal rather than Auto, which is the opposite of what we saw with high ISO noise.

As stated above, the E-30's battle with image noise let it down in this test. The photographs came out covered with the distinctive speckle of high amounts of image noise, which dragged down the score in this category, even further than its already below-average color accuracy.

Noise Reduction

With noise reduction turned off, the noise levels rapidly increase to 5% at ISO 3200. Even at ISO 400, it sits at slightly above 1.5%, which is noticeable in the images at full size. Turning on noise reduction does noticeably drop the noise levels, but at the cost of image sharpness. For an example of how this will affect your images, our Sample Photos section includes shots taken at various ISOs.

Noise is spread across colors and gray (luma). While all of these areas are unusually high, luma is a particular culprit, and breaches 6% noise at ISO 3200. More on how we test noise.

ISO Options

Below you can see 100% crops for each of the cameras at every available ISO. The E-30 runs the gamut of ISO 100 to 3200, in 1/3 or 1 EV. The camera features ISO bracketing for three shots, in ±0.3, 0.7 or step.

Dynamic Range

In dynamic range, once again the E-30 underwhelmed with a very poor result, far below any of the other cameras we tested. Dynamic range is a measure of a camera's ability to record a wide range of darks and lights within a single image. A camera with a wide dynamic range will be able to capture both highlights and shadows without losing either, where one with a poor dynamic range will struggle. We test dynamic range by photographing a Kodak step-chart at various apertures across all ISOs, and we use Imatest to analyze the results by distinguishing the individual steps of grey within the chart.

The E-30 has a dynamic range adjustment setting called Gradation, which can be set to Normal, Auto, High Key or Low Key, but not turned off entirely. After our initial review was published, including data gathered using the Auto setting, we re-tested the camera with the Normal setting, and still found a disappointingly low dynamic range. When comparing Auto and Normal settings, the Normal has a slightly better dynamic range at ISO 400 and below, but slightly worse above that.

At the highest ISO settings, the dynamic range results are very small; the extremely high noise levels in the test images severely limits the dynamic range the camera can accurately capture. However, the procedure used is our standard testing procedure, and scored under the same system as every other camera we test. The bottom line is that the E-30 had much less dynamic range at these levels than all of the other cameras we have tested in our new rubric. Switching the Gradation to Normal widens the range somewhat, but not by a huge amount.

Even at ISO 100, the E-30 only managed a dynamic range of 4.49 stops in our test; significantly less than other cameras. If you shoot on RAW this increases to 6.72, a resounding endorsement for shooting uncompressed if ever there was one. It's difficult to say why the difference between RAW and JPEG is so high; it may be due to some sort of built in noise reduction that the user cannot control, or even some issue with the JPEG compression. At ISO 3200, our results show a range of less than a single stop, though this is result is not directly accurate, as likely due Imatest's trouble differentiating different gray steps due to the high amounts of noise. More on how we test dynamic range.

When compared to other cameras at ISO 200 (the lowest ISO found across all the comparison cameras), you get a feel for just how poorly the E-30 does when trying to capture the gamut of light levels. It's less than half that of the much less expensive Canon XS, to say nothing of the Nikon D90.

Yet again, the small sensor haunts the Olympus E-30. Its dynamic range was exceedingly poor, dropping below a single stop at ISO 3200. This is due in to the extreme levels of noise, which cause difficulty when trying to ascertain dynamic range, as steps can easily be obscured.

Noise Reduction

With noise reduction turned off, the noise levels rapidly increase to 5% at ISO 3200. Even at ISO 400, it sits at slightly above 1.5%, which is noticeable in the images at full size. Turning on noise reduction does noticeably drop the noise levels, but at the cost of image sharpness. For an example of how this will affect your images, our Sample Photos section includes shots taken at various ISOs.

Noise is spread across colors and gray (luma). While all of these areas are unusually high, luma is a particular culprit, and breaches 6% noise at ISO 3200. More on how we test noise.

ISO Options

Below you can see 100% crops for each of the cameras at every available ISO. The E-30 runs the gamut of ISO 100 to 3200, in 1/3 or 1 EV. The camera features ISO bracketing for three shots, in ±0.3, 0.7 or step.

Focus Performance

The Olympus E-30 uses TTL contrast detection for focusing, when not in Live View. It has 11 focal points, shown below. The focal point can be set to any one of these, the entire range, or a cross of five points. If there's one setup you find yourself using frequently, you can set this as the 'home' autofocus point, which the camera will default to. In low light situations, the flash functions as an autofocus assist lamp by firing a brief burst of light. This illuminates very well, but is incredibly distracting for any candid shots you may be attempting to make.

If your lenses are causing you trouble, and not focusing quite right, the E-30 can store autofocus microadjustments for up to twenty registered lenses.

There are five focus modes available, in combination between auto and manual.

Long Exposure

With longer exposure times, the E-30 struggled with low color accuracy and high noise levels, ranking it below the four cameras we compared it to. For this test, we look at how well the camera handles long exposures in low light, testing for color accuracy and noise levels, with noise reduction both on and off. We shoot under dim 20 lux illumination at ISO 400, analyzing the X-Rite color chart using Imatest.

The results in this section have changed slightly since this review was originally published, though it did not affect the overall comparative ranking of the tested cameras. Our testing procedure calls for turning off dynamic range adjustment (which Olympus labels 'gradation') when performing any noise-related testing (this includes both the Long Exposure section and the Noise section that follows). However, the Olympus E-30 does not offer an 'off' option. In our first round of testing, we used the Auto setting. Based on reader input, we experimented with the Normal setting and determined that it does improve image noise performance in the core noise tests that follow. While still not an ideal solution based on our standardized testing procedures, we decided to rerun all the relevant tests with gradation set to Normal. This produced an improvement in our noise testing, shooting under relatively bright illumination, but under low light conditions, the original Auto setting actually produced marginally better results, by roughly 0.3%. For consistency's sake, we scored based on the Normal mode scores below. More on how we test long exposure.

The E-30 produced reasonably accurate color reproduction until the longest exposure time, 30 seconds, where it overexposed even as low as 20 lux.

The noise levels were disturbingly high across the board, and using noise reduction made matters even worse. Long exposure noise reduction works by taking a second exposure of the same length directly after the first, but with the lens closed. The logic being that the noise of the second image can then be subtracted from the first, and it will be smoother overall. The problem with this logic is that noise is inherently random, so for the E-30, it worsens the situation overall. With shooting from 1-15 second exposures, noise levels were slightly worse with Gradation set to Normal rather than Auto, which is the opposite of what we saw with high ISO noise.

As stated above, the E-30's battle with image noise let it down in this test. The photographs came out covered with the distinctive speckle of high amounts of image noise, which dragged down the score in this category, even further than its already below-average color accuracy.

Chromatic Aberration

At wide-angle you see the most chromatic aberration, which occurs midway between the center of the lens and the edges. Unsurprisingly, the image is sharpest at the very center of the image, though it drops off as you move away from the middle, and climbs again towards the corners.

Zooming in to 26mm, the chromatic aberration drops across the board, and the sharpness increases, but maintains a similar pattern of losing sharpness in the area half-way between the center and the edges.

Finally, at a maximum zoom of 54mm (110mm in 35mm equivalent), the chromatic aberration evens out across the entire lens. The sharpness stays remarkably high at this point, in keeping with the overall excellent resolution provided by the lens.

Distortion

The E-30's lens had absolutely minimal distortion. At 14mm (equivalent to a 28mm in 35mm photography) there was 0.61% barreling, and at 26mm (52mm equivalent) there was 0.44% pincushioning. For sake of comparison, the Nikon D90 had between 2.5% and 3% distortion at every zoom range shooting with an 18mm-62mm lens.

Usability

Buttons & Dials

The control scheme on the E-30 is generally laid out well, and the buttons all feel highly resilient, as if they'll take many, many presses without complaint.

The menu system has a series of tabs running along the left side, each of which offers a page or two of options, some of which lead to even further choices. It's not a bad menu system, but the lists can be a bit long, so getting to the desired choice can be a chore. The system would also benefit from a higher-resolution screen, which would make the menu sharper, but it's still reasonably bright and easy to read.

Instruction Manual

The Olympus E-30s manual is pretty decent. It's well laid out with clear illustrations and a good table of contents and index. Where it fell short was adequately explaining some of the features (like gradation), and in placing the table of contents after the basic guide, so you have to hunt for the contents page before you can start looking for what you really need.

If you're looking for more information, Olympus has a series of online tutorials for their SLRs at Olympus Digital School. There aren't any specifically for the E-30 yet, but there are some good general lessons on the site (though a few border on advertorial).

Handling

The camera has a pleasant heft behind its 23oz (without lens) weight, giving it a certain stability and solidity. It also has a good, deep grip to wrap your mitts around, so you won't be dropping this camera because of a stiff breeze. The button layout is pretty good, though we found the rear dial placed just a tiny bit further away from our thumb's natural resting position than we would have liked. The Delete button is also placed far from the right hand, making it impossible to erase bad images with only one hand. One other small problem is that when the USB cable was plugged into the back of the camera, it became difficult to press the down button on the four-way pad.

Handling Photo 1

The E-30 has a pleasant heft to it

Handling Photo 2

Buttons & Dials

The control scheme on the E-30 is generally laid out well, and the buttons all feel highly resilient, as if they'll take many, many presses without complaint.

Buttons Photo 1

In addition to buttons, toggles and dials, the E-30 has a couple of neat controls and options tucked away. The level gauge reads an acceleration sensor in two directions to let you know when your camera has a perfect level both vertically and horizontally. If you're doing tripod work, or you don't have access to a spirit level, this could come in handy. If you're shooting in a setup where the vibrations must be kept to a minimum, the anti-shock option lets you set a time delay between the mirror being raised and the shutter released to stop any chance of motion. This can be set to between one and 30 seconds.

The E-30 also allows for a decent level of customization. The most evident is the Fn button, which can be set to face detection, one-touch white balance, test picture (takes a photo and shows it on the LCD, but doesn't save), My Mode, Depth of Field preview, switch to a saved autofocus point, switch to manual focus, shoot in RAW, or show the level gauge. Unfortunately, the need to take manual white balance readings is usually far more pressing than the usefulness of these other features, and using the Fn button is the only way to take a white balance reading, so you'll probably end up leaving it on that option the majority of the time. My Mode includes two groups of custom shooting settings that can be saved at a time, always a handy option. The camera can set the dials and focus ring to work in either direction, if you have a preference. There's also an option to alter how long after pressing a control button that you have to change the related setting (if you hit ISO, for example, you have three seconds by default to alter the sensitivity level). In the custom menu, you can set this alternatively to five or eight seconds, or else hold, where you have to keep the button depressed in order to alter a setting.

Buttons Photo 2

Display(s)

The big drawback of the E-30 screen is its comparatively low resolution. On a point-and-shoot, 2.7' and 230,000 pixels may be fine, this pales in comparison to the Nikon D90's and Canon 50D's 920,000-dot displays. The one major LCD advantage this camera does offer, though, is the way the screen is articulated, pivoting out from the camera body horizontally and rotating vertically. Coupled with the decent Live View system, this is an especially worthwhile feature. The ability to frame shots at awkward angles, while holding the camera above your head, or without needing to keep your eye squashed against the viewfinder provides lots of shooting freedom, and represents one of the few hardware advantages Olympus holds over its competitors.

The LCD is one of Olympus' HyperCrystal II screens, which allow some light to pass through the outer layer, then bounce back, providing greater brightness in sunlight. The brightness of the screen can be set to 15 levels, and the color balance can likewise be tweaked to 15 steps You can control what's shown on the LCD using the info button.

When using the quick menu, a huge amount of information is displayed. By using the four-way controller, you can navigate to any icon on the lower half of the screen and alter that setting.

Secondary Display

The monochrome LCD on the top of the camera is much like that you'd see on any other mid-range SLR. It shows all the salient details of your current mode, or any shooting controls you're currently altering.

Secondary Display Photo

The basic but useful monochrome LCD

Viewfinder

The viewfinder isn't going to blow anyone away on this machine. It provides a decent 98% field of view, at approximately 1.02x magnification. The diopter's tucked away on the left side, and alters the focus from -3.0 to +1m-1.

The eyecup can be removed and replaced with other models, including a magnifier, available for purchase from Olympus. The compatible eyecups are the EP-5, 6 and 7. The EP-5 is the standard, the EP-6 and 7 are both larger and useful for people with glasses, and the magnifier is called the ME-1 (and will set you back around $40).

The E-30 also ships with an eye-piece cover, to prevent light leaks during long exposure work. Some higher end full-frame SLRs have a built-in iris to prevent any leakage, but it's not something you generally find on a camera of this price point.

Image Stabilization

The Olympus E-30 uses sensor-shift image stabilization technology to compensate for shaking hands. We test this by shaking the camera at high and low frequency, both in horizontal and vertical directions, using a precisely controlled laboratory mechanism. Lo and behold, the Olympus performed remarkably well. This may be one of the few benefits of having a small sensor, in that the camera can adjust it much faster to compensate for motion.

Shooting Modes

For the shooting modes, the usual suspects are all here: Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program Shift, and Auto.

Focus

The Olympus E-30 uses TTL contrast detection for focusing, when not in Live View. It has 11 focal points, shown below. The focal point can be set to any one of these, the entire range, or a cross of five points. If there's one setup you find yourself using frequently, you can set this as the 'home' autofocus point, which the camera will default to. In low light situations, the flash functions as an autofocus assist lamp by firing a brief burst of light. This illuminates very well, but is incredibly distracting for any candid shots you may be attempting to make.

If your lenses are causing you trouble, and not focusing quite right, the E-30 can store autofocus microadjustments for up to twenty registered lenses.

There are five focus modes available, in combination between auto and manual.

Recording Options

One of the features Olympus is really pushing on the E-30 is the vast array of image sizes and shapes, as they've adopted a number of aspect ratios beyond their maximum 4:3. The E-30 can additionally be set to 3:2, 16:9, 6:6, 5:4, 7:6, 6:5, 7:5, or 3:4. If you're using Live View, the image on the LCD will be cropped to the appropriate proportion, but not if you use the viewfinder.

In 4:3 ratio, the E-30 lets you chose which resolutions you want to assign to Medium and Small image sizes, as well as any of four compression levels (superfine, fine, normal and basic). Four combination of image sizes and compression levels can be bookmarked, and then can easily be selected through the quick menu.

Other Controls

While shooting, the camera can inject two types of digital effects. The first is accessed in Panorama mode, located in the Scene Modes menu, and only works with Olympus xD cards. In this mode, you chose a direction to pan, and then snap a series of shots, which can then be stitched together using Olympus software. The problem with this is that there's no image overlay to show you where your previous shot ended, and this functionality can easily be replicated with third party software.

The second is multiple exposures, which overlays two, three or four images over one another to create a composite. You can set the gain to either auto (which turns the brightness to 1/n, where n is the number of frames) or full. This editing can also be done in Playback with previously taken images, as long as they're RAW files.

Speed and Timing

The Olympus has a standard array of self-timers, but doesn't have the level of customization you see in some Canons, where you can set the length of the timer and number of shots to be taken when the time is up.

In addition to the above mentioned five frames per second high-speed continuous mode, there's also a low speed mode. This can be customized between one and four frames per second, depending on the user's preference.

At highest speed, Olympus states the camera can take five frames per second, in our lab testing we clocked it at 4.63, within experimental error of the stated value. This holds true for both RAW and JPEG, though you will notice it starts to slow down after 10-15 shots. The following chart indicates the number of frames per second each camera can rattle off; higher numbers are better.

The Olympus has a standard array of self-timers, including remote control options, but doesn't have the level of customization you see in some Canons, where you can set the length of the timer and number of shots to be taken when the time is up.

Focus Speed

The Olympus E-30 uses TTL contrast detection for focusing, when not in Live View. It has 11 focal points, shown below. The focal point can be set to any one of these, the entire range, or a cross of five points. If there's one setup you find yourself using frequently, you can set this as the 'home' autofocus point, which the camera will default to. In low light situations, the flash functions as an autofocus assist lamp by firing a brief burst of light. This illuminates very well, but is incredibly distracting for any candid shots you may be attempting to make.

If your lenses are causing you trouble, and not focusing quite right, the E-30 can store autofocus microadjustments for up to twenty registered lenses.

There are five focus modes available, in combination between auto and manual.

Features

In the Box

Box Photo

In the box you'll find:

* Camera (w/ body cap)

* Battery

* Battery charge

* USB cable

* AV cable

* Strap

* Eyepiece cover

* CD-ROM

* Instruction manual

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