How does the latest four thirds addition fit into the enthusiast DSLR market?
One of the main claims on release of the E-3 was that it was the fastest focusing DSLR in the world. This claim was, of course, according to a survey conducted by Olympus and was true when used with a specific lens. However, the general consensus was indeed that the E-3 was an incredibly fast-focusing camera. The same can be said with the E-30 ? it?s incredibly prompt at selecting one of its 11 AF points, and, more often than not, accurate.
Another traditional benefit within the Olympus system of cameras is image stabilisation. The stabilisation is very effective, performing well towards the five-stop advantage Olympus claims it will allow you. What?s more is that the image stabilisation is customisable to support panning either horizontally or vertically, by switching off either the horizontal or vertical image stabilisation ? a nice touch if you find yourself panning and want that extra step towards sharpness.
The live view system of the E-30 is also impressive. With the obvious bonus of the articulating LCD screen, I found myself using it more than ever before. In addition, the E-30 presents a genuinely usable autofocus system within the structure of live view, meaning you won?t be left yearning to put the camera to your eye while using the LCD to compose.
As is often the case with the performance of a DSLR, it?s not all good with the E-30. During the test I found the metering system to be somewhat of a challenge. Whenever the light fell on the challenging side of good, the E-30 had a tendency to either under- or overexpose. This results in you having to take matters into your own hands with some creative exposure compensation, and on a camera at this price point that comes as a disappointment.
And as regards the art filters, it really is quite mystifying that Olympus has chosen to make these the marquee feature of its new DSLR, especially given that it is pitched above entry-level. The E-30 is much closer to the E-3 than it is the E-520, for example, so one can only assume that Olympus has taken the approach so as to reinforce the differences between the E-30 and E-3. The art filters are a drain on the camera buffer, taking some five seconds to process a simple ?art filter? shot. What?s more is that these art filters offer no form of customisation within each specific filter, meaning that the more advanced user has no option to further their creativity with them.