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Thread: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

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    The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Hi There
    After a month with the Olympus E3, and in the light of the fact that lots of users have always thought of 4/3 as a good, but ultimately flawed concept. I think in the past they have always been 'almost' cameras, but the E3 really is different. There are a number of things that Olympus have going for them with 4/3 in general and with the E3 in particular.

    First - toughness
    For travel they are incredibly tough and almost completely waterproof (some fool even took some pictures underwater with the E1). All the mid range and upward lenses are water and dust sealed. I spent a week on a windy Greek island, and every evening the camera bag would have 1/4" of powder fine grit in it - putting the lens hoods on and off took the paint off the front of the lens, but I never had a graunchy zoom or focus ring, and I never had a dust spot on the shots. Rain is a complete non-issue - you don't even need to think about it, and I don't bother to take the camera off my shoulder.

    Second - lenses
    The 'top-range' lenses are rather expensive, and rather heavy (things like the 90-250 f2.8 - equivalent to 180-500 f2.8)

    The real winners (IMHO) are the mid range lenses - they're relatively small, relatively light, and unlike any Nikon lenses I've used, you simply don't need to consider what aperture / focal length you're using. The zooms have minimal distortion, and you can shoot them wide open without any concern. the 50-200 for instance is half the size of the nikkor 70-200 and has an equivalent focal length of 100-400 f2.8-f3.5 (and it only gets to 3.5 at the very long end). The new 12-60 f2.8-f4 is such a contrast to the nikon 24-120 - you can shoot wide open at any focal length, it's faster, it's sharper from corner to corner and shows almost no vignetting.

    Third - focusing
    Nikon and Canon have the complex tracking autofocus end tied up. But the E3 on single point focusing is apparently twice as fast as Nikon. To all intents and purposes it's instantaneous, and with the new SWD lenses one hardly knows it's happened. It's also brutally accurate - something I've never found Nikon to be.

    Colour
    Evening light is a real case in point - I still feel that everything I've got out of Nikon looks like someone has been around the place with a yellow brush - The Olympus colour is fantastically good, and in evening light it simply imparts a gentle glow, rather than a crass yellow.

    In Camera image stabilisation.
    It's great - it really works, and it works with wide angle and mid range lenses - those focal lengths you use most, but which Nikon rarely covers with VR

    Live View
    I know the new Nikons have live view as well, but for me it's only really useful for:

    1. low angle shots
    2. on a tripod for macro etc.
    In these cases, if you don't have a flip and twist LCD, then it's pretty much useless, but with it . . . it's wonderful.

    Suffice to say, if someone suggested I could have my D2xs back, together with the 12-24, 17-55, 70-200 and 105 VR macro in exchange for my E3 plus 7-14, 12-60, 50-200 and 50mm macro I'd very rapidly tell them where to get off!

    Just this guy you know

  2. #2
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Hi Jono,

    That was a really interesting post, thank you. I'm looking forward to testing the E3 and my wife is considering switching to either the D300 or E3 as her primarily professional body next year.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    You make a good case, Jonoslack, for the E3 and Olympus lenses. What would you think about a used E1 as a way of moving toward the E3. One wouldn't get the sensor quality but could start buying a decent lense to begin with....(or are there downsides to the E1 that would make it better to wait?)

    Thanks,

    Irenaeus

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Most of what Jono said about the E-can be said about the E-1 as well, but there are obvious exceptions:

    - It's only 5MP. That means more limitations with regards to large prints or cropping, but a correctly exposed image looks fine even at A3 size.

    - AF is slower, and there are only three sensors, but it's very precise.

    - The viewfinder is smaller, but still very good. Those who said that 4/3 viewfinders in general where like dark tunnels, probably never tried the E-1.

    - There's no live-view.

    - High ISO isn't nearly as good, but I regularly sell photos taken at ISO 800. With correct exposure, it's not a big problem.

    - I've been told, but I haven't been able to verify this in a quiet room, that the E-3 is slightly noisier than the E-1.

    Until recently, my plan has been to buy an E-3 and an E-510 as backup, but since I'm so happy with my E-1, I'll probably skip the E-510. The E-1 is so much more of a camera, and the ergonomics are much more similar to the E-3.

    What I do consider, is to buy one of the PanaLeica lenses with OIS, to get image stabilization. They are rather expensive, and not weather sealed, but optically, they are first rate, particularly the 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5.

    So is the E-1 an interesting way to start a 4/3 system? If you do photography for photography's sake, I would say yes. You'll soon forget that it's an "old" camera. If you regularly need larger files or the bulk of your photos are taken at high ISO, the E-510 is probably a better solution.

  5. #5
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Irenaeus View Post
    You make a good case, Jonoslack, for the E3 and Olympus lenses. What would you think about a used E1 as a way of moving toward the E3. One wouldn't get the sensor quality but could start buying a decent lense to begin with....(or are there downsides to the E1 that would make it better to wait?)

    Thanks,

    Irenaeus
    It may not be a bad idea, see this if its helpful:

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...s/e1-2nd.shtml

  6. #6
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post

    - I've been told, but I haven't been able to verify this in a quiet room, that the E-3 is slightly noisier than the E-1.
    Yes, the E1 is quieter.

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Irenaeus View Post
    You make a good case, Jonoslack, for the E3 and Olympus lenses. What would you think about a used E1 as a way of moving toward the E3. One wouldn't get the sensor quality but could start buying a decent lense to begin with....(or are there downsides to the E1 that would make it better to wait?)

    Thanks,

    Irenaeus
    HI Irenaeus
    I'd think it was an excellent move - it's a lovely camera,quiet with excellent image quality. I've got lots of A2 sized prints that look splendid.
    As you say, it's a good way to start - try and get the mid range lenses, they do seem to be worth the extra (even if it's just for the weather sealing).

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Irenaeus,

    Depending upon your specific needs, you might also look at either the E410 or E510 for an inexpensive way to dip your toes into the 4/3 waters...

    I have E1 and E410 --- and rarely use my E1 now... E1 has better viewfinder, more 'pro' layout of buttons and dials, and is an overall much better build of camera.... but E410 is faster and has better IQ - although it's a bit trickier to get the IQ (it is set up for 'consumer' tastes)....

    Personally, I've become addicted to E410's tiny size - I'm waiting to see how much of the E3 improvements end up in this year's smaller cameras...

    I use the mid range lenses that Jono mentioned on both E1 and E410 without any problems..... but if you do take a look at either E410 or E510, don't overlook the kit lenses -- they are so tiny and so cheap and are surprisingly good (but not as good as mid range lenses) - they are perfect travel and 'party' lenses (when you don't want people to get uptight)...

    doreen

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by dmpbyrdwatcher View Post

    Personally, I've become addicted to E410's tiny size - I'm waiting to see how much of the E3 improvements end up in this year's smaller cameras...
    Doreen, as a veteran tester of the E-1's weather resistant qualities, do you miss that on the 410? Has your dog learned to leave the camera bag alone?

    scott

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Hi Scott,

    I'll never live that little incident down, will I? or at least my dog won't!

    (for those who are wondering, a few years ago my E1 and lens sat in a puddle of dog pee for several days unbeknownst to me - after I realized what had happened, I washed the camera and lens -- very thoroughly -- under running water for at least 20 minutes.... I also 'crash' tested my E1 several times --- tumbling down hillsides in thick mud, with the camera crashing all the way down the hills with me --- those incidents also caused me to wash the camera and lenses vigorously under running water to remove all the trapped mud.... so I can certainly attest to its amazing weathersealing and durable build....)

    Seriously, though - I do very much miss the weathersealing on the E410.... the last few times I have used E1 have been entirely for reasons of inclement weather.... in fact, I took the E1 out for several hours recently when we were in the midst of a 9" downpour -- mostly just to see if the weathersealing would still hold up now - and it did very well (but I was totally drenched!)

    I'm rather annoyed that the Pan-leica 4/3 lenses are not weathersealed - several times I've caught myself heading out the door with the 25mm f1.4 lens only to remember -- oh, yeah, I can't take this one out today...

    I'm just not used to having to think about the weather....

    doreen

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    HI Doreen
    Lovely to see you here
    that dog story cannot be told often enough! (is he/she still leaking on your camera gear?).
    I agree with you - the perfect 4/3 camera is the size of the 410 with the IQ, IS and weathersealing of the E3. I live in hope!

    With respect to the noise of the E3 - as Sean says, it's louder than the E1, but it's a delicious noise, and not at all distracting.

    Just this guy you know

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Doreen
    I agree with you - the perfect 4/3 camera is the size of the 410 with the IQ, IS and weathersealing of the E3. I live in hope!
    If you add the E-3 viewfinder to that list, I'm with you. Too big? No, I think it would look cool

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Thank you all for the quick and positive feedback on the E1 question. Your immediate response, Jorgen, was particularly appreciated as I was in the process of deciding whether to bid on one in auction or not. In the end, I decided to wait for the PMA to see what'll be on offer. (I'd like to see that 410/E3 combination, too, and would buy it in a heartbeat if it came out while I still had money in my pocket! "Hope springs eternal....")

    If not, or until then, you've all confirmed that the E1 would be a likely starter — especially during the winter here in Montana!

    Thanks again,

    Irenaeus

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    Hi Jono,

    That was a really interesting post, thank you. I'm looking forward to testing the E3 and my wife is considering switching to either the D300 or E3 as her primarily professional body next year.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Hi Sean, I've been seriously thinking about subscribing to your review site... I am particularly looking forward to your review of the E-3. Do you have any idea of when you are likely to publish one?

    Kind Regards

    Brian

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    Sean_Reid
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Hi Brian,

    With any luck, I'll have a review sample in February and then we'll see from there.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Thanks Sean, I'll be subscribing in the next day or so... I really like your reviewing style.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    Thanks Sean, I'll be subscribing in the next day or so... I really like your reviewing style.

    Kind Regards

    Brian
    Hi Brian
    you need to pay the dosh for Sean's site - he has a family of girls to support, and it's a tough life.


    It's really good to see you here - it's a grand site - neither grumpy nor sycophantic, and there are lots of interesting posts.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Jono,
    Have you ever owned or tried the E-330? I need a budget solution with live view and articulated LCD for product shots (standing upside down to look through the viewfinder for a couple of days is no fun), and the E-3 is a bit much for my budget right now. I wonder if the very cheap E-330 could be a usable temporary solution.

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Thanks Jono, I actually like the idea of subscribing... I like to know who's paying for my review! lol

    And yes, this looks like a high quality forum... hope I won't be bringing the neighbourhood down

    Jorgen, the E-330 is a lovely camera to use... and I would think perfect for a budget product shooting camera - where the live view will be great.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Thanks Brian, I suppose I'll give it a try.

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    just a heads up
    wrotniak has a look at E3
    http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/oly-e/e3-look.html

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Also, John Foster has a detailed review of the E-3 here :
    http://www.biofos.com/esystem/e3_tst.html

    and when the E-3 was first released, I organised a multi-user field review here :
    http://www.biofos.com/esystem/e_3ult.html

    All we're waiting for is dpreview (for the techie, pixel peeping approach) and Sean Reid (for the photographer's approach) to cover all the bases.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    how about the DMC-L1 as an intro to 4/3, followed by an E3 body (or the Digiliux 4 when it comes out) down the road? I've been shooting a D70 mostly with 105mm macro lens but my experience with my D-lux3 has me pondering a move to 4/3. The L1 kit lens is evidently quite sweet (Leica 14-50 2.8-3.5) and the L1 is dirt cheap these days...pretty much get the body for free. I shoot a mix of closeup macro and would also like long throw capabilities.

    Anyone comment on 4/3 for macro performance vs. the prosumer Nikon? My other option would be to jump to the D300.

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    It depends how cheaply you can find the L1... I would think the E-510 is the best starting point for 4/3 right now - since it includes IS for all lenses - and the twin kit lenses are optically extremely good (as well as very compact)

    If you're thinking you'll be going for the E-3, I'd recommend get that first, and then consider an E-420 when it's released (I hope it will get IS - but even if it just gets the E-3 sensor it will be an excellent complement to the E-3)

    Hope that makes sense,

    Kind Regards

    Brian

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by nostatic View Post
    how about the DMC-L1 as an intro to 4/3, followed by an E3 body (or the Digiliux 4 when it comes out) down the road? I've been shooting a D70 mostly with 105mm macro lens but my experience with my D-lux3 has me pondering a move to 4/3. The L1 kit lens is evidently quite sweet (Leica 14-50 2.8-3.5) and the L1 is dirt cheap these days...pretty much get the body for free. I shoot a mix of closeup macro and would also like long throw capabilities.

    Anyone comment on 4/3 for macro performance vs. the prosumer Nikon? My other option would be to jump to the D300.
    Hi There
    I've always loved 4/3 for macro and closeup - the fact that nearly all of the lenses focus very close (even cheap kit lenses like the 14-42), and that there is possibly the best macro lens I've used (50mm f2), together with the slightly larger depth of field make for great pictures. The 50-200 makes a splendid (reasonably lightweight) 100-400, f2.8-f3.5 means it's fast as well.

    I agree with Brian though - consider one of the Olympus bodies, preferably with Image Stabilisation. If you like the Leica feel and build quality then the E3 won't disappoint, and the Olympus lenses are excellent (no compromises there).

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member nostatic's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    The L1 with the 14-50 lens can be had new for $800. Very tempting. While I've been fairly happy with my D70/105micro combination, it has a very narrow dof. I'd like a litte more flexibility, and the zooms I've had on the Nikon just can't focus close-up.

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    Hi Jono,

    That was a really interesting post, thank you. I'm looking forward to testing the E3 and my wife is considering switching to either the D300 or E3 as her primarily professional body next year.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Sean, I think I recall reading somewhere your wife was shoting with a 30D/5D combo. May I ask what is causing the move away from Canon´s gear?

    Thanks, Erik.

  28. #28
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Photon-hunter View Post
    Sean, I think I recall reading somewhere your wife was shoting with a 30D/5D combo. May I ask what is causing the move away from Canon´s gear?

    Thanks, Erik.
    Hi Erik,

    Yes - lack of weather sealing. The 1-series bodies are too large and heavy to interest her at all. I had a 1Ds for several years and she never even touched it.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    I have collected a number of Hexanon legacy lenses for my Olympus E-1/E-400/E-3 - and recently, with a firmware upgrade Olympus have enabled Image Stabilisation for all lenses

    I can't overstate what a huge bonus this has been for my E-3... here are a few images I took at high ISO this afternoon with the E-3 using live-view to manually focus a Hexanon 40mm f1.8 pancake lens at f2.8







    If I was starting again, I'd get myself a Leica R to 4/3rd adapter and start collecting some Leica R lenses... but the Hexanon lenses have been remarkably cheap to gather - and I'm more than pleased with their quality.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Those are some very nice portraits. Do you focus with live view hand held?

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    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: The Olympus E3 - some general comments

    Hi Jorgen,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Those are some very nice portraits. Do you focus with live view hand held?
    yes! you can zoom in to a selection on screen x5 x7 or x10... and that square can be moved to anywhere in the frame before zooming in - which makes it easy to maintain the composition for a portrait, while focusing on the eye.

    It really works very well indeed - maybe even better than AF.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

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