Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Olympus E-30 hands on @ Camera Action

Yes, the wait is finally over! Melbourne folks finally have the opportunity to try out (& hopefully purchase) the E-30 in local camera stores. I had the opportunity to attend the E-30 launch last night at Camera Action.

This is as best a lens buffet as you can get. The Zuiko fleet turned up in full force (save the 14-35 f2), including the biggest guns.. the 300/2.8 and 90-250/2.8

if you still didn't know, the total value of the items put on display here is approx 50,000 AUD or more

the Zuiko super high grade (SHG) series - the 90-250/2.8, 300/2.8, 35-100/2 and 150/2 (excluding the 7-14/4 & 14-35/2)

these lenses posses the best splash-/dust proof capabilities and use the most luxurious glass material to provide ultimate image quality on the E-3. oh.. another note. if you think the 35-100/2 is overwhelming, do try out the 90-250 or 300/2.8s. you definitely need a monopod - my hands were shivering after holding them for a minute.

of course, the kit lens aren't missing in action; you can see the 70-300/4-5.6, extension tubes, teleconverters, and flash guns

Lucas Tan (Professional Products Manager for Olympus Australia and former professional photographer) makes his presentation on the E-30 (with the 14-54 II). there are many things to respect about this guy - he knows a ton about zuiko lenses, and he's always available to help, unlike some other camera salespersons you see around.

A very informative presentation was made regarding the E30's art filters, internal digital level sensor, multi-aspect ratios, multi-exposure and improved contrast detect AF. impressive indeed.

ps: Ananda feels the live view on the E330 he recently acquired (as a matter of fact, yesterday) has even faster AF as compared to the E-30. I am yet to confirm this fact.

I had a nice chat with him, and we talked about several important things regarding the 4/3rds system.

14-35/2 - from december 2008, none of the 14-35 lenses produced will have AF problems. those manufactured earlier than this time frame *may have a risk of running wild, so if it does, send it back to your nearest service center for a free checkup / repair. even so, i'd be careful when purchasing 2nd hand lenses of ebay / forums.

I know one Olympus user on the cameralabs forum who endlessly brags (aka bullsh*ts) about his 12-60 SWD, how much money he paid for it, how perfect it is, etc etc. If you haven't tried out the 14-35 f2, you are missing out.. BIG TIME! This lens is the 'flagship' of the Zuiko Digital system, and is most the perfect and only f2 zoom lens among all other camera systems (unless Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony decide to come up with anything smarter)

14-54 II - I quote that the newer lens is almost identical to its predecessor, so if you've got the mark 1 version of this lens.. keep it!! would you want to pay a few hundred dollars extra for its newer sibling? i wouldn't.

e-3 replacement - so far there has been NO news yet, but a replacement is on its way (of course!)

e-30 image quality has been improved, but if compared with the E-3, you have to look very closely to see them. you can see my previous post here for details. If you are a Nikon D90 user and you're happening to read this, this post (and this whole blog, for God's sake) isn't for you. OF COURSE we can't compare ISO 3200 on the E-3 with the D90; its clean as! the D90 is light-years ahead in terms of low light ISO performance.

No one wasted any time trying out the lenses. here, its the 35-100/2 mounted on the E-30 with the HLD-4 battery grip. this lens feels better balanced with the grip attached.

I didn't have a lot of time to test out the other features of the E-30, so I just tested out the art filters. I like *some of them, but one thing which i disliked was the inability to adjust aperture & shutter speed while using the art filters. ISOs are still adjustable, at least.


For pixel peepers (come on.. you know who you all are!) here are several FULL sized uploads of jpegs from the E-30. since the apertures / shutter speeds aren't adjustable, I'll include them for your reference. I used a FL-50 on bounce flash mode to get more light into the pictures. The lens used was a 12-60SWD instead of the 14-54 II, simply because it was available on the camera at that time.

*As for the descriptions, I'm just pulling them right of the E-30 brochure. Their 'sophisticated' use of English does humor me sometimes.

** Unless you've a fast internet connection, I wouldn't recommend you loading the images at full size!

*** These pictures shouldnt be reproduced without giving credit to the author (which is me.. duh)


Ordinary, everday scenes are transformed into colourful pop. This effect enhances colours, making them stronger and more vivid, creating high-impact pictures that express the joyful, light-hearted feeling of the pop art style.

This setting produces a very steep tone curve and pushes saturation to the max. I wouldn't really use it for portraits, but it should work wonders on colourful subjects.

f 2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, 2.27 mb

if you look at the images at 100%, u'll notice a phenomenal amount of 'noise' (even though its at ISO 200), which is a direct result of pushing saturation and contrast to produce this look.

f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO 200, 2.25 MB


The reality in front of you is enclosed in flast gentle light like a flashback in a cinematic film, floating serenely in its own world, creating a sense of deja vu or a landscape in your memory.

OK, the language here isn't great, but i get what youre' trying to say!

f3.1, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, 2.74MB


The soft tone creates an ethereal, otherworldly atmosphere. the result is a beautifuly fantastic style, which renders the subject as if it is veiled in heavenly light, without obscuring details such as the hair and flower petals.

f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO 200, 2.11 MB

if you've got a lady friend who's really concerned about her appearance, this filter works wonders!

f 3.6, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, 2.19 MB


Creates a picture with a gentle feeling like one taken under artificial lighting. Both the shade and highlight areas are rendered very softly to provide a sophisticated feeling

f2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, 2.57 MB

I like the fact that this filter lightens up the shadows without losing highlight detail. Thumbs up from me.


This effect reduces the peripheral brightness like an image seen through a pinhole, and the unique colour tone offers a style with an air of secrecy one feels when lost in another dimension or space.

f3.6, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, 7.60 MB

If you are a toy camera enthusaist, I guess you wouldn't be impressed with this filter. Real toy camera pictures are rarely perfect; they're not exposed properly, there's light leakage, and the colours go wacko, which is contrary to the 'delicate' sepia tone and even vignetting produced by the E-30.


This effect recreates the feeling of reality evoked by grainy, high contrast monochrome pictures. The strong presence and dramatic atmostphere make the subject impressive, in a style that emphasizes the individuality of the photographer and the theme of the picture.

f 3.2, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, 8.64 MB

Not a bad filter i reckon. My experience with B & W film is non-existent, so I do not know how does this filter match up to 'the real deal'. Do excuse the large file size. I was hoping it would be smaller considering no colour information is retained.

What do I think of the E-30 now?

If you've had an E-3 for a while, the E-30 will feel right at home. Not many things are different about it. the Delete, info, menu and live view button underneath the swiveling LCD screen are a bit cramped, and so is the ON /OFF button. But otherwise, everything is where it should be.

There are so many friggin' buttons on the E-30 for each specific function so that you won't have to dig deep into the menu to find out what exactly that you need. The menu system is as deep as the E-3 IF you're not familiar with this camera; you need to go deep to activate certain features like the multi aspect ratio, AF point sensitivity, flash sync speeds, etc.

All in all Olympus has come up with a very good product for the 'advanced amateur' market and those who're are keen to explore their artistic side without wanting to go through all those post-processing rituals. Only time will tell if this SLR will truly make an impact among Olympus fans / amateur photographers alike.

The Olympus E-30 is available from CameraAction in these packages:

E-30 + 14-42 = $ 1729
E-30 + 14-42 + 40-150 = $1885
E-30 + 14-54 II = $ 2275


RikyRoad said...

Brandon. Thanks so much for the wrap up and glowing remarks. Nicely done.
BTW. I love my 12-60 and would never travel without it but your comments re the 14-54 have pricked my interest. I’m going to give that a second look.

idavis said...

great overview. it looked like an exciting event, especially with all that shg glass on the table. can't wait for my 35-100 to arrive. i really appreciate that you take the time to really document your photo walks and events.


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