Monday, February 09, 2009

the Olympus E-30

The E-30 is the Olympus' latest 13.1 megapixel SLR. It is basically a camera with E-3 image quality and a few nifty features (eg. art filters, in-Body AF Focus Adjustment, level gauge, larger 2.7" LCD) without the E-3's battle-ready weatherproofing and indestructible magnesium chassis.

Does the E-30 sensor really live up to expectations? Well.. lets look to DIWA ( Digital Imaging Websites Association) for the test results.

Colour fidelity

Put quite simply, this test determines how accurately does the camera pick up colours at different light sensitivities (ISO). The Delta symbol (∆) refers to the differences between the original and the measured values.

Its surprising that the E-3 sensor matches colours more accurately than the E-30 at all ISO values. The E-30 sensor shows some deviances, but it probably won't make much of a difference to most users.

Colour sensitivity

When ISO values are increased to heighten the light sensitivity of the sensor, unfortunately, noise values will increase (duh!) and colour sensitivity decreases. the The colors seen by the sensor is then compared with the sRGB color space and the percentage should be as close to 100% as possible (aka. the value should be as close as possible to 24)

Again the E-3 sensor has better colour sensitivity compared to the E-30 at iso 1600 and 3200, but not by a large degree.

White balance accuracy

This is the camera's ability to see almost correct colours under any lighting conditions at different ISOs.

Both the E-30 and E-3 produce very accurate white balance at all ISO settings.

ISO sensitivity

Put quite simply, the purpose of this test is to determine whether the defined ISO speeds match the specified ISO values in cameras (no cameras are 100% accurate by the way). The typical ISO standard for this test is a tolerance of 20-25%.

Its interesting to note that the E-30 has a very large deviation at lower ISOs (100-200). The actual measured ISO for the E-30 set at ISO 200 is ISO 147, for example.


The E-30 and E-3 are quite similar in terms of noise performance, so there's nothing to rave about here. Above ISO 800, the image is very grainy (because SNR values are less than 36 dB), so these ISOs shouldn't be used unless extreme low-light circumstances are encountered.

Dynamic range

At least 8-10 EV of dynamic range are required for acceptable image quality. The dynamic range of the E-30 at iso 1600 is the same as iso 800 on the E-3. This means iso 3200 on the E-30 is more useable than the E-3. Kudos to the E-30 for that! :)

Tonal Range

Both cameras show very good tonal range until ISO 1600, and acceptable at ISO 3200

Whew.. all those test values aside, lets see what the rave regarding E-30 art filters are all about! Images credited to Olympus

Pop Art

"Emphasizes colors and creates bright, vibrant images with a pop-art tone"

Perhaps this could be one of the most useful art filters i could use while photographing Degraves lane. Just make sure there are enough colours to make the subject stand out.

Soft focus

"Gives images a light, ethereal look and evokes a dreamy, mystical mood"

okay. i know this isn't the best example, but this is probably what you can do yourself using the lightroom presets. they're so easy to use!

Grainy Film

"Let your images take on the coarse-grained, monochrome look of a shot on black-and-white film to express an entirely new feeling of drama and presence."

This is probably not the best picture that you'd want to convert to B & W. You'd chose one with more simple forms, harsh shadows, deep blue skies (for contrast). Aside from all the bull-sh*t, i'd recommend that you use photoshop / lightroom for B & W conversion. They look better and give you more control over the final results.

Pin hole

"Reproduces the peripheral vignetting and unique color tone of photos taken with a pin hole camera"

I admit, I don't really get this effect. Other than applying heavy vignetting to the whole picture are messing around the colours a little, this is probably not my taste.

Light Tone

This filter applies a gentle touch to your images. The tonality of shadows and highlights is lightly rendered to give your image a more delicate look.

This one looks quite nice for that 'airy' feel. I like!

Pale & Light Colour

"A filter that recreates a long-lost flash of memory or a still from a classic movie.

I think this is a half-assed filter - it doesn't seem very classical to me.


Would I get an E-30? The DIWA tests show that there isn't that much of an improvement in the sensor (aside from noise performace and dynamic range), but thats it!

I've also just demonstrated that the E-30 art filters are perfectly attainable using post-processing in most commercial programs (unless you're a lazy bastard who hates photoshop).

I rather treasure the weather proofing attributes of the E-3 and a guaranteed shutter life of 150,000 clicks. Its also the same price as the E-3 at USD 1300 body only, so the E-30 has a long way to go before its pricing becomes competitive.

Otherwise, I have no doubt that the E-30 is a very capable camera with a few extra features I've said earlier, such as:

  • multiple exposure function - overlays up to four RAW images and saves it as a single image- right in the camera, for dramatic and surreal results
  • Multi-Aspect Ratio Shooting - provides nine aspect ratios including the standard 4:3, as well as 16:9 for cinematic-style images, and square format for the classic medium format camera look.
  • internal Digital Level Sensor - indicates the cameras orientation in the optical viewfinder on the control panel, and during Live View operation. It is extremely useful to landscape and architectural photographers who must ensure that horizon lines and vertical elements are properly oriented in the image
The E-30 is currently available on Adorama and B & H Photo Video at USD 1300 body only and USD 1400 with the 14-42 kit lens.


ps: For the Melbourne E-30 launch dates at Cameraaction and Michael's, refer here for your chance to win a Zuiko 25mm f2.8 pancake lens with a RRP of AUD 350.


ven said...

Will just wait for the e3 replacement instead eh?

brandon said...

analyzing recent developments, i don't think that 4/3rds sensors will undergo as much as a revamp as FF sensors (eg. ISO performance, for example). its replacement should be announced by next year i reckon.

but then again.. getting a zuiko f2 zoom lens beats getting a new camera body anytime :)

ven said...

you and your f2 lenses!!!


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