The Olympus E-3 is the new flagship of the Four Thirds Standard-based Olympus E-System. This long-awaited replacement for the original E-1 model offers a plethora of advanced features to tempt the professional photographer away from the competition. The E-3 boasts the world's fastest auto-focusing speeds when used in conjunction with the new Supersonic Wave Drive lenses, one of which we test out in our review (the 12-60mm SWD lens). Fast shutter speeds of up to 1/8000th second and 5fps continuous shooting with a 19 image RAW buffer ensure that you'll never miss a shot. A 10 megapixel Live MOS sensor, built-in image stabiliser which stabilises all lenses, Live View on a multi-angle 2.
5 inch LCD screen and the Supersonic Wave Filter dust reduction system complete the headline specs. Olympus have taken a long time to get the new E-3 just right, but is it a case of too little, too late? Can the Olympus E-3 compete with and even surpass the likes of the Canon EOS 40D, Nikon D300 and Sony A700? Gavin Stoker got to grips with the E-3 The 10.1-megapixel Olympus E-3 is a high-end professional digital SLR with an exceptionally fast auto-focus system, built-in image stabilization, Live View and excellent image quality.
It's a part of the Four Thirds digital SLR system, which has a smaller sensor and a different lens format from most other cameras. Back in May 2001 Olympus began to make noises about a professional five megapixel Four Thirds format digital SLR, two years after that in June 2003 they revealed the E-1. After much hinting, several 'accidental' leaks and some four and a half years, Olympus has today announced the ten megapixel E-3 professional digital SLR.
We had been promised an E-3 before embargo to enable us to produce a preview but that for reasons best known to Olympus this fell through so all we can provide you with is a press release, specs and a couple of images. Body only price will be £1099 in the UK. There is no denying that the E-3 is a hefty camera.
Coupled to the new Zuiko Digital f/2.8-4 12-60mm lens (24-120mm eq.) it weighs in at just over 1.5 kilos, which is quite a bit heavier than the old E-1. Once you start using it however, you seem to forget about the weight and the sizeable handgrip provides ample support for your right hand with your index finger resting on the shutter release. Although the Olympus E-3 has more buttons and dials than you can shake a stick at, they are all logically grouped and once you have found your way around the camera, they are quite intuitive to use.
The E-3, the flagship of Olympus' Digital SLR line, combines speed and durability in a splash-proof magnesium alloy body. Early to embrace Live View and Dust Reduction features in a dSRL, Olympus now appears to offer the fastest autofocus in the world. Body-Integrated image stabilization , a 10-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, Supersonic Wave Drive and one of the largest and most accurate viewfinders prove Olympus is not sitting on their laurels but is still an innovator in photographic technology. Though the Olympus E-3 has a 10-megapixel sensor like the E-510 and E-410, the new sensor has been improved to support the faster read speed to help enable five-frame-per-second continuous shooting. Metering options include 49-zone ESP metering, Spot, Center-weighted, and a new Highlight/Shadow spot metering mode.
Another major highlight to the Olympus E-3 is the articulating LCD on the camera back, which makes Live View mode so much more valuable. It's not the first such design to appear on a digital SLR, that distinction goes to the Panasonic Lumix L10, Olympus's Four-Thirds partner, but it's an incredibly versatile design, with the ability to face up down, left, right, and even forward, toward the subject.
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