The 11.8-megapixel Olympus E-3 replaces the E-1 as Olympus's range-topping 'professional standard' digital SLR.
Handling & Performance: Page 1
Magnesium Alloy Body
As befits a camera at this price point and with pro spec, the E-3 is encased in robust magnesium alloy, which lends weight and bulk to the model. It’s also dust and splashproof, which you’d expect from the company that makes the various mju ‘tough’ compact models. It’s still not a big camera in relation to its peers, and Olympus has always managed to squeeze a lot into a small frame. The right-hand grip is comfortable and a thumb rest at the back and finger overhang at the front ensure a secure grip. At key grip points, the shell is covered in a non-slip rubberised material to further add to the comfort and safety.
The back of the E-3 is dominated by the 2.5in vari-angle flip-out LCD screen, which we’ve seen on the Panasonic L10 recently. We feel this is the right type of screen for a live view monitor, because it easily allows the camera to be held in different positions, such as at waist height, allowing you to literally ’shoot from the hip’. Activating the live view is achieved by a simple one-button operation – which is easier than on earlier versions – while an eyepiece blind prevents stray light from entering the rear of the prism.
Pressing the Info button lets you view all of the relevant shooting data, and also make changes to the important settings using a combination of dials and the navigation pads. Alternatively you can go into the menu and make changes there, though this is a more time-consuming method. There’s also the option to view and make changes via the grey LCD screen on the topplate.
Disappointingly, the LCD screen has a 230,000-dot resolution, which pales in comparison to those of the Sony Alpha 700 and Nikon D300. The image displayed is sharp enough, though at high magnification I prefer the better detail of the other models.
The menu itself is well laid out, with five sub menus to change camera settings, review options and camera set up. There’s a set of options to change the colour modes, including Vivid, Muted and Portrait, as well as Monochrome and Custom. You can also change the gradation from fine to normal and also allow for high and low-key images.