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Olympus E-30 - Evolutionary Expressivity
Descending upon New York City, in less than two hours, we entered the larger than expected Photo Plus East exhibition. Our focus of the show was a one hour meeting with Japan’s DSLR product manager, Mr. Terada, in which we came prepared to quiz him on the future direction of (Micro) Four Thirds. To our surprise, the meeting began with the signing of an NDA; and thus our silence until now.
This is all probably obvious by now. The meeting was actually about a new product many of you have been excited to learn more about: the Olympus E-30.
Enter The Olympus E-30
Designed to fit the Olympus line up of DSLRs, it sits nicely in between the E-520 and the E-3. Before we get to the juicy bits, here are the primary specifications:
You may now say, how do the E-3 and E-30 differentiate themselves?
The Juicy Bits
As we all heard at Photokina earlier this year, the E-30 was supposed to be a camera for the “artistic”. It turns out that the meaning behind this is the introduction of several “art filters” built into the hardware itself. The idea behind this is two-fold.
With this information out of the way, the following contains the list of art filters built into the E-30:
Honestly this is a great idea. Just recently we were discussing with fellow photo enthusiasts the pains of post-processing in the digital world and an almost yearning for the days of dropping off photos at the photo lab for simplicity sake. While this doesn’t quite solve that problem entirely, it does allow for some common yet elaborate post-processing steps to take place within the camera itself.
...and while this is a great idea, we hope to see improvements in the future before the competition gets to it. When asked whether these art filters can be applied to RAW files within the camera itself, the answer provided was “no” because the art filters themselves rely on the camera exposing the images differently depending upon the filter selection. We think they should seriously consider this for this first release of the E-30.
The other area for improvement we caught occurred when we queried whether the E-30 can receive a firmware upgrade that would change or add art filters into the camera’s arsenal of productivity. The answer to that was also “no” because the filters are a part of the hardware itself and therefore not upgradeable via this method. This is truly unfortunate because it expandability would allow Olympus to stay ahead of the competition in this regard.
In any case, this feature is here first and it does get Olympus ahead of the competition in terms of out-of-camera usage of images.
Other items of note are also clever and very usable in day-to-day use of the camera. Olympus has built into the E-30 an easy to use leveling gage for both pitch (vertical) and roll (horizontal). Never again will your horizon be anything but horizontal.
Keeping in line with their focus on out-of-camera results, the E-30 also allows you to choose from many different aspect ratios: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 6:6, 5:4, 7:6, 6:5, 7:5 and 3:4.
Perhaps this last feature of the E-30 should have been included in the “art filter” section above however we have chosen to give it mention at the end of the article. Olympus has built into the E-30 the ability to create multi-exposure images, of up to four, directly within the camera. You may have to see it to really grasp how well it works but we’ll do our best to describe it here.
After selecting multi-exposure mode, you take your first photo. Once the first photo is taken, you can see it via the Live View screen combined with what you are about to shoot (i.e. the camera overlays the new image on top of original image). Snapping the shutter then seals the deal. While we wished we had examples to show you, we’re also glad we don’t because the Olympus crew used us as models during the demonstration. :-)
If you like what you’ve seen and read, and you are in the market for something that competes with the Canon 50D and Nikon D90, or if you are looking to upgrade your current Four Thirds camera, then you may want to check out the Olympus E-30 in stores this January 2009. Some may not yet appreciate all of these new-to-DSLR features but most will find a good portion of these new features useful in day-to-day shooting. This is certainly an evolutionary camera!
Price estimated at $1299 USD
P.S. Micro Four Thirds
We arrived at PPE with the intention to drill Mr. Terada on a list of Micro Four Thirds questions which was mostly sidelined by an unexpected NDA at the beginning of the meeting and a nearly 1 hour demonstration of the forthcoming E-30. In any case, we have the following two tidbits to pass along:
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