The Olympus E-30 is the newest addition to the interchangeable-lens digital SLRs (single lens reflex) within the Olympus E-System lineup. This new 12.3-megapixel, FourThirds-compliant camera reinforces the company's commitment to the standard. Positioned as a mid-level model, this new digital SLR camera is intended for anyone who wants to express their creativity through photography, whether they are just starting out or are a professional with years of experience behind them. The E-30 is a camera that has the speed of the E-3 and the freedom to express oneself with a variety of new creative features, from Art Filters that will let you control the way the image looks from a grainy black and white film to exaggerated colors. From the ability to shoot traditional multiple exposures in Live View for a wedding photographer, to the untraditional multiple exposure of the artistic, the E-30 is the camera for the creative shooter who wants to think differently and shoot in new ways.
Review from dpreview.com
The E-30 is the long-awaited high-end enthusiast model that fills the gap in the Olympus E-Series lineup between the E-520 and the ostensibly professional level E-3. Such is the pace of change in the digital camera market that the new model leapfrogs the E-3 by offering a higher pixel count (12MP), larger screen and improved contrast detect AF system - as well as introducing several novel features including a digital spirit level, multi exposures, aspect ratio options and a handful of built-in special image effects ('Art Filters' as Olympus calls them). It loses the E-3's class-leading weather sealing and has a slightly smaller optical viewfinder, but otherwise offers almost exactly the same features and performance in a slightly lighter, very slightly smaller and - at launch - similarly priced body.
Since this review was started Olympus has fleshed out the middle of its DSLR range even more with the announcement of the E-620. The E-620 takes a slightly cut-down version of the E-30's feature set and squeezes it into an incredibly compact body that isn't considerably bigger than the E-420. The E-30, in turn has seen hints of a coming price 'realignment' to a level more consistent with its market position.
The E-30 goes head to head with the Nikon D300, Canon EOS 40D/50D, Sony Alpha 700 and Pentax K20D, and - on paper at least - offers a compelling feature mix in the most attractive Olympus body for a long time. But does it have what it takes to do battle with the big beasts of the digital SLR jungle, and does it really offer a viable alternative to the E-3? Let's find out. Compared to E-3 - key differences
Although designed to sit between the E-520 / E-620 and E-3 in the E-Series lineup the E-30 is far nearer to the latter than it is to the consumer level models - with the added beneft of a year or so of development, meaning the E-30 gets all the new toys introduced since the E-3 (most important being contrast-detect AF). The biggest differences are the body material and weatherproofing (where the E-3 wins hands down), the viewfinder (the E-3 is again the winner, though anyone moving from one of the consumer level four-thirds SLRs is going to see a huge improvement in both size and brightness) and the sensor - up from 10 to 12 megapixels. There are also a handful of new features and spec changes.
- Glass fiber reinforced plastic vs weatherproof magnesium alloy body shell
- Slightly (8mm) shorter and around 115g lighter
- Slightly smaller viewfinder with reduced frame coverage
- New 12MP LiveMOS sensor (E-3: 10.1 MP)
- Brighter and larger LCD screen
- E-30 has a mode dial
- Art Filters, multiple exposures, aspect ratio options and lots of scene modes
- No card door lock, no eyepiece shutter
- AF fine tuning for up to 20 lenses (and per AF point!)
- Built-in digital level guage
- Contrast detect (Imager) AF with face detection
- Slightly reduced raw buffer size (12 frames)
- Adds vertical panning mode to stabilizer (IS3)
The E-620 offers a lot of the E-30 condensed into a smaller, more consumer-friendly body. The viewfinder is smaller, but the cameras share the same 12 megapixel sensor, Truepix III+ processing and a great many other features. The differences between the two cameras are easier to list than the similarities:
- E-30 is larger (by around 1cm in each dimension) and around 180g heavier (body only)
- Visibly larger viewfinder with better frame coverage (E-620: 0.96x, 95%, E-30: 1.02x, 98%)
- 11-point (all cross-type) vs 7-point AF (5 cross-type)
- E-620 actually has slightly improved LCD (Hypercrystal III, vs. E-30s' version II unit)
- Two control diasl (E-620 only has one)
- Faster continuous shooting rate and larger buffer
- Fewer aspect ratio crops (3 vs. 8)
- No built-in digital level gauge
- Only allows two exposures to be overlaid in multi-exposure mode (vs. 4)
- No PC flash sync or DC-in sockets
- Slower x-sync (1/180 sec vs. 1/250 sec) and max shutter speed (1/4000 sec vs. 1/8000 sec)
- Lower capacity BLS-1 battery (7.2V 1150 mAh) vs. BLM-1 (7.2V 1500 mAh)
Olympus now offers one of the roundest, fullest digital SLR lineups on the market, with a relatively logical progression from the entry-level E-420 to the flagship E-3. Where Olympus is slightly different to other manufacturers is that you rarely see much difference in sensor resolution from model to model (we'd expect the entire range to be 12 megapixels by the end of the year - and to stay there for quite some time). Instead moving up the range gets you gradually better viewfinder, gradually more advanced features and more sophisticated controls, higher performance, and an increasingly large body design with increasingly robust construction.
And compared to some manufacturers Olympus doesn't tend to dumb down its entry level models quite so aggressively, which means that the three cameras here actually share a lot of features. The key differences for most users are going to be the viewfinder, screen, continuous shooting and physical design, though you also get gradually more customization options as you move up the range.
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