How does the latest four thirds addition fit into the enthusiast DSLR market?
RAW And JPEG
JPEGs are inherently sharper, but this is to be expected thanks to the in-camera sharpening that is applied. With a simple sharpening process post-capture, Raw files are equally as sharp, and thus you can determine a level of sharpening to suit the shot rather than be dictated to by the camera. Raw files also maintain more detail in shadows and highlights than JPEGs, and take a warmer appearance than JPEGs straight out of camera.
Noise is well controlled up to ISO 800, but from there upwards quality does gradually fall off, with ISO 3200 barely usable. Noise is also more evident in areas of shadow and highlight at high ISO settings, with this being a particular issue with sunset or sunrise shots.
Tone And Contrast
The E-30 does a very good job at rendering the mid-tones throughout the frame, producing a pleasing appearance and a good differentiation between tones.
Colour And White Balance
In normal light conditions, white balance is regularly accurate, with colours adopting a natural tone slightly on the muted side of saturated. This changes in more challenging light, though, with the white balance showing a tendency to err on the warm side, with colours affected in a similar way.
Sharpness And Detail
Detail is good throughout the frame, with the added benefit of a slightly higher resolution evident in this regard. The quality of this detail can be somewhat adversely affected by a slight lack of sharpness throughout the frame, but this is something easily rectifiable with a simple sharpening procedure in post processing.