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Old 28th February 2008
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Ian Ian is offline
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Re: New review of E-3 in DpReview

Hi Dennis,

Welcome to the e-group forum!

I have inserted some responses below in blue:

Originally Posted by dennisg View Post
Hi all,

I have been home with the flu and read the review on the Olympus E-3 at

To start the overall rating of the E-3 is a 9 of 10 and it is highly recommended. So let's give recognition where it is due. But there were some tell-tale signs of the discussions that we have been having here at the user's group in the past several months.

Ian: I think this is an important point - some of the less than positive remarks made by Simon Joinson should be taken in context; they are relative. The camera would not have had a 'Highly Recommended' rating if there was a significant and fundamental problem with the camera.

The overall JPEG quality was found to be very good and better than the previous Olympus E models. But the Raw files suffer.

Ian: My take is that Simon finds less latitude in the RAW files than others, but there is still latitude and RAW files are still eminently usable over the very good JPEGs the camera can produce.

The Dynamic Range of the E-3 has been widen over the prior models but only on the black side of the spectrum. Thus the white side of the spectrum still gets clipped and thus when we shoot Raw files we assime we have more data to work with in Photoshop. According to the review, due to this, the JPEGS are not far behind in quality from the Raw files. According to the review, "But anyone used to pushing raw files to the limit will be disappointed with the E-3; resolution aside, there's little latitude for exposure changes; push it more than an a stop or so you'll see noise in the sahdows even at ISO 200, pull back and you'll find there's precious little highlight headroom." Again the JPEGS produced by the E-3 are very good and campare considerably well against the four other cameras the review put the E-3 up against. It is in the RAW format the there there is a significant difference.

Ian: The E-3, in my opinion, does exhibit more luminance noise than some of its rivals, but chroma noise is extremely well controlled - pretty much the best in its class (maybe except for the Nikon D300, which I haven't yet tested). Luminance grain is very easy to filter out and may even be desirable if you wish to create 'film' like images. I also recommend the use of the black level adjuster available in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW 4.x in Photoshop CS3. This can deal with noise very effectively in shadows.

If you are concerned about highlights, change you metering defaults. The E-3 recovers well from under exposure, so it shouldn't be a major concern.

Exposure or metering errors are occuring because the exposure of the shot is dependent on the point of focus in the AF point in the multi AF mode. Thus there could be differences in exposure values within the frame dependent on the focus point chosen.

In regards to the focusing issue, the review states, "New mulit point AF system seems easily confused, single point AF is a lot faster". In low light conditions it is stated that, "Foucus hunting in low light conditions". So FINALLY, there is an outside source that validates the current focusing issues being seen by users. In addition, when zooming is at the longer MM range the AF slows down as well. The report stated that inside sporting events would not be an advantage for the E-3 with a zoom lens.

Ian: The C-AF and mult-point AF system are extremely complicated. There are many options that can dictate the efficiency and effectiveness of these modes - the AF point sensitivities can be adjusted and the release priority option can mean the shutter could be tripped before AF is locked. It's even been suggested that because the new 12-60 and other SWD lenses have mechanically linked focus - even in AF mode - that some users may be inadvertently knocking the focus prior to the exposure being made. And of course there is the admitted issue with some 12-60 lense that have a faulty component in the AF.

AF speed - well, Olympus says SWD is the fastest; that may be a meaningless statement as it's all relative, but if you try the E-3 with the 50-200 SWD, it really does snap from infinity to closest focus at 200mm (400mm equivalent) - I've never experienced AF speed like that on any other lens of that telephoto range. Yes, it's slower with non SWD lenses, but compare it to Canon and Nikon AF and it's not distinctly slower, though I do concede that Canon USM is hard to beat for overall elegance of operation. Hunting at low light - well I found that the E-3 and 12-60 would lock focus at lower light levels than either a Canon EOS-40D or Sony Alpha A700.

It was clearly stated that this is NOT a point an shoot camera. A lot more care and finess is needed to get good results with the E-3.

With all this stated here, if I were to spend $1699 for the body, $999 for the new 12-60 zoom, extra battery, state tax here, and an extented warranty; the total out of pocket would be around $3300. This is certainly a lot of cash for what I have read thus so far in this review. If you remember, I was the one who asked why the photo magazine have not picked up on these issues and now they are clearly pointed out.

So, if I were at the Riviera, site seeing the Alps, attending a pro soccer match, what and hiow should I use the capabilities of this camera based on what was stated in the dpreview review of the E-3? Years ago you chose the film for color and grain, the lens, camera body and you set the f-stop and opening and you were on your way. All that mattered then was who was processing and printing your prints? Today we do it all via the digital photo venue. Thus how much time is spent setting and reviewing settings and how much time is spent "Taking the Shot"? It may be that we have finally come against issues that instead of helping us, is really slowing us down!

I strongly recommend that you visit and read the entire review of the E-3. It has 34 sections and is done quite completely and is very informative before you respond. I still would like to purchase the E-3, but I still have some reservations. When there are repetitve output problems, that is a photographers worst nightmare!!

Dennis Goldensohn

Ian: You only need to check the results produced by E-3 users shown here, on,, and, yes, even dpreview, to see that there are many many photographers getting remarkable results from their cameras in all sorts of conditions. I spoke to Simon briefly about his E-3 review the other day and he says it's a very good camera but it's big problem is the Nikon D300. There is plenty of evidence to suggest the D300 is a remarkably good camera. And that's fine and dandy, but not everyone wants to buy a Nikon. The E-3 can do a few things the D300 can't (articulating screen, more usable live view (I challenge anyone not familiar with a D300 to work out how to switch LV on without the manual!), Zuiko lenses, among a few). The E-3 is a very good camera in its own right and a great alternative to a D300 and several other cameras to a good number of people.
I hope my comments are useful.

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