Olympus E-3

Last update: Review & Sample Photos @ Pocket-Lint (19 April’12)

The Olympus E-3 is a 10 megapixel professional DSLR (announced 16 October’07) features a built-in image stabiliser to stabilise all lenses, 5fps sequential shooting with 19 image RAW buffer, 5x/7x/10x magnified view for precise focusing – especially for macro shots, ISO 100-3200, Supersonic Wave Filter, Dual memory slot, pop up flash and a 2.5”/6.4cm pop-out LCD with live view.

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Overall Rating: ★★★★½ | Check Availability

Olympus E-3 News

02 November’07: Free HLD-4 power grip & E-System pro backpack promotion
Free HLD-4 power grip Promotion: All existing owners of an Olympus E-System D-SLR camera, who also purchase the new E-3, are eligible to receive a HLD-4 power grip free of charge. (Read more)
E-System pro backpack promotion: This special promotion is open to all customers who purchase an Olympus E-3. (Read more)

Olympus E-3 Reviews

Pocket-Lint reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The camera provides a level of control and build usually only available on professional level DSLRs with excellent images, however higher ISO do show a lot of digital noise and the as you pump the ISO the dynamic range tends to degrade quite a bit.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

PCAuthority reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Build quality is generally incredibly high. The controls are all close to hand, with simple shortcuts to alter ISO, shooting modes, EV and everything else you’d expect from a top-drawer camera. In fact, the ergonomics are almost perfect.”
Rating: ★★★★★

Megapixel reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Although the E-3 supports light sensitivity settings up to ISO 3200, photo quality drops off long before that setting is reached. This shot at ISO 500 is OK at a reduced resolution, but at 100 percent, noise is evident as the photo showing the eye detail illustrates.”
Rating: ★★★★½

BuynShoot reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Comfortable grip pads (so comfortable they are almost unnoticed) appear in all of the relevant places and combine well with the E-3’s grip section on the body to make for a comfortable hold overall.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

PCWorld reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Overall, I enjoyed using the E3. It feels comfortable in the hand, its magnesium body looks and feels durable–ready for extensive time in the field–and operating the controls is quick and efficient.”
Rating: ★★★★½

CameraLabs reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“we’d say it’s not the camera for you if you regularly shoot at 800 ISO or above, and like to push the tonal range of your RAW files. Equally, while the E-3’s AF system has enjoyed a impressive upgrade which can be supremely quick under the right conditions, we found its tracking of moving subjects less reliable than Canon and Nikon’s semi-pro models”

Rating: ★★★★½

TrustedReviews reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“What the Olympus E3 brings to the table is excellent images, a great build quality, and a lovely user experience..For the majority of general-purpose photographers, the Olympus E-3 is a great all-round high-end enthusiast model rather than a Pro model, but it’s an absolute joy to use.”
Rating: ★★★★½

Olympus E-3 Tips & Tricks Video by JonVideo

PCMag reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“With ISO settings going all the way up to 3200, the E-3 showed very little noise until about ISO 1600. To test a camera’s ability in this area, I generally shoot in a dimly lit bar or restaurant. The camera performed exceptionally well in this environment, though at 3200 noise started to become noticeable..”
Rating: ★★★★☆

LetsGoDigital reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The image quality the camera is offering is excellent, although not belonging to the top. At high ISO noise is visible and the dynamic range decreases fast. It requires correct exposure but the E-3 tends to overexpose somewhat.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

MacWorld reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The Olympus E-3 is a very good camera and one that deserves serious consideration. More than any other mid-range DSLR on the market right now, though, you need to handle the E-3 before buying. Its size and weight are formidable enough that you’ll want to be sure that you like its handling.”
Rating: ★★★★☆

ThinkCamera reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The Olympus E-3 balances up its pros and cons into something of an equilibrium – to the point where excellent features are weighed down by standards that ought to be higher. Primarily it’s the tricky layout, interface and buttons that are off-putting.”
Rating: ★★★½☆

CNET.uk reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The Olympus E-3 is a truly excellent camera. Straightforward controls, accessible control panels, a compact frame and feature-rich live view make this a more consumer-friendly camera th an the price would suggest. Meanwhile excellent image quality, a clever feature set and unstoppable burst shooting are attractive to the professional and prosumer market. ”
Rating: ★★★★½

CNET reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
” The good: Excellent photo quality; fast performance; solid, dust- and splash-proof body; flip-and-twist LCD; large, 100 percent coverage viewfinder; built-in wireless flash controller. The bad: Relatively low resolution for the price; smallish LCD, some clunky design aspects. The bottom line: Despite some interface quirks and a slightly awkward design, the Olympus E-3 fares quite well against its midrange dSLR competition. ”
Rating: ★★★★☆

DCRP reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“All things considered, the Olympus E-3 is a solid midrange digital SLR, in more ways than one. It does almost everything well, with just a few weaknesses, most of which have easy workarounds. If you’re an enthusiast looking for a powerful D-SLR that doesn’t mind if it gets a little bit wet, then I can highly recommend taking a look at the E-3.”
Rating: N/A

Shutterbug reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Low ISO image quality is superlative. My best ISO 100 to 400 JPEGs are clean, silky smooth, and finely detailed. Resolution is outstanding, color saturation, contrast, and sharpness are quite high for a very pleasing overall effect.”
Rating: N/A

Biofos reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“I cannot really express how impressed I am with this lens’ close-up ability. This is simply stunning for a ‘kit’ lens, albeit an expensive one. Close focus ability is best of any of the ZD zoom lenses I’ve tested so far and the resolution it delivers is on a par with the ZD35mm Macro..”
Rating: N/A

LuminousLandscape reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The E3 has strengths in the areas of auto focus, implementation of live view, dust reduction, internal Image Stabilization, lens line-up, and environmental sealing. It produces great, accurate JPEG’s right out of camera with even better quality possible in RAW mode. …All in all, when you weigh the positives and the negatives, the E3 is a very strong candidate in the enthusiast / pro category.”
Rating: N/A

PhotographyBlog reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“..images are well exposed, with a pleasing degree of both highlight and shadow detail maintained, plus purple fringing noticeable only under extreme magnification and if shooting in particularly contrast-y scenarios…Overall, image quality is impressive, with little or any post processing required bar possibly an application of unsharp mask.”
Rating: ★★★★½

DCViews reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“the Olympus E-3 is certainly worthy of its acclaimed professional status. In the right hands the camera has huge potential for the pro as well as the advanced enthusiast and getting to know its many options should keep you occupied during most of the Christmas holidays.”
Rating: N/A

PhotographyReview reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Photographing with the Olympus E-3 is a bit like driving a sports sedan. You may not need the speed and power most of the time, but you’re sure glad it’s there when you do. Plus, you get comfort and style with your scoot. The E-3 is more than competent for everyday shooting, and its speed and burst depth handle demanding moments with ease.”
Rating: N/A

PhotoReview.au reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Low light performance was very good for short exposures with flash at ISO settings up to 1600, where image noise became apparent. We found a relatively small increase in granularity at ISO 3200, although shots were noticeably blotchy. Resolution declined only slightly as sensitivity was increased and our Imatest assessments showed it to be acceptably high at ISO 3200.”
Rating: ★★★★½

GoodGearGuide reviews the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Pictures were crisp and sharp as you’d expect from a high-end SLR. We made several large prints of our shots and they turned out beautifully. We still give the edge to the EOS 40D in some situations, as we did encounter some minor softness and loss of detail at large magnifications, but for the most part the E-3’s images impressed.”

Let’sGoDigital has a preview of the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The Olympus E-1 may be looked upon as a semi-pro DSLR camera but got surpassed from all sides in the last few years. The one thing that remained through the years is its reliability and its solidness, features that are of indescribable value to a photographer.”

Biofos.com has a collection of previews of the Olympus E-3 ;
“ISO performance: Highest ISO is acceptable and mid ISO appears absolutely fine (to me). I was especially pleased to see ISO 800 results were well within my acceptance criteria and I’ve nothing to be worried about. I simply wish to be able to crank it up to ISO 800 without reaping any undue consequences.”

ImagingResource has a preview of the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The Olympus E-3 is by far the most advanced Olympus digital camera I’ve used, very satisfying to shoot with, and one of the more compelling SLRs launched this season. Its design, though big, is ergonomically pleasing and handsome, and it gives you a feel of confidence and control”

CNETasia has a hands-on preview of the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“Olympus claims that the E-3 has the fastest autofocus among dSLRs. While we cannot immediately verify this,we certainly did find the focusing extremely speedy compared to cameras we have used.”

PopPhoto has a hands-on preview of the Olympus E-3 and writes;
“The E-3 feels rock-solid, well balanced and easy to hold. The body, comprising a three-piece, molded, magnesium-alloy shell and impressive gasketing and weathersealing, alone puts it in pro territory…In all, the E-3 looks like the DSLR that Olympus promised to deliver to pros and advanced shooters.”

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Olympus E-3 Price Comparison

Olympus E-3 Sample Photos

Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ Megapixel
Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ TrustedReviews
Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ LetsGoDigital
Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ DCRP
Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ PhotographyBlog
Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ PopPhotoMag
Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ PopPhotoMag
Olympus E-3 Sample Photos @ Fotosite.pl

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Olympus E-3 Videos

Olympus E-3 Launch Event

Dave Etchells talks to Toshiyuki Terada of Olympus about the new Olympus E-3

Olympus E-3 User Manual

Click to view or right click and select Save Target As..(Firefox) or Save link as.. (IE) to download

– Download Olympus E-3 Quick Start Guide (PDF – 800 KB)
– Download Olympus E3 Instruction Manual (PDF – 12 MB)

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Olympus E-3 Press Release

London, 17 October 2007 – It’s here: The new flagship of the Four Thirds Standard-based Olympus E-System. The E-3 gives photographers a high-performance tool that is primed for any assignment and satisfies the most stringent demands for D-SLR photography. It represents the ultimate choice for the professional photographer and provides the highest levels of speed and image quality as well as Live View capabilities and the ultimate in reliability.

The E-3 features the world’s fastest* auto-focusing speeds thanks to an advanced AF system and new ZUIKO DIGITAL SWD (Supersonic Wave Drive) lenses. Matched with shutter speeds of up to 1/8000th sec. and 5fps sequential shooting (with a 19 image RAW buffer in burst mode), the E-3 gives photographers a crucial edge to help capture that decisive shot.

Ensuring the best image quality in the widest range of situations, this new professional model also incorporates a powerful built-in image stabilisation system which is capable of compensating against the effects of camera shake to the equivalent of up to 5 EV steps. This is complemented by a 10 Megapixel High Speed Live MOS sensor and Olympus’ TruePic III image processing engine. Together with the ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses – which are custom-made for the needs of D-SLR photography – photographers can rely on optimal results each time.

Meanwhile, the camera’s Live View capabilities provide the freedom to shoot with more versatility: Whether wanting to keep eye-contact with the subject or shooting above the head or close to the ground, compositions can be framed with ease on the 2.5”/6.4cm multi-angle HyperCrystal LCD, which also faithfully displays the effect of camera adjustments in real time.

In addition to Live View, photographers can also choose to use the camera’s large viewfinder which provides 100% coverage. Like all Olympus E-System cameras, the E-3 incorporates the most effective dust reduction system available – the Supersonic Wave Filter. Reliability of the camera system is further heightened under all types of shooting conditions thanks to dust and splashproof protection of both body and most E-System lenses. Moreover, a shutter life of 150,000 operations guarantees that the E-3 will tolerate the treatment of even the most active photographer with ease.

The Olympus E-3 will be available from the end of November 2007. The body only will be available for approximately £1099, the kit with the 14-54mm lens for approximately £1499 and the kit with the new 12-60mm lens for approximately £1699. For further information call 0800 0720070 or visit www.olympus.co.uk.

Speed – never miss an opportunity

The E-3 boasts the world’s quickest* autofocus system. It is based on a fully-biaxial high-speed 11-point AF system with both horizontal and vertical sensor lines to give a total of 44 different data points from which the correct focus is accurately calculated. In addition, pixel multiplication technologies are used to boost performance in low light (-2EV at ISO 100). Meanwhile, fast shutter speeds of up to 1/8000th sec. provide the ability to freeze action dead in its tracks – no matter its pace. And giving users an advantage over the clock when every second counts, shooting speeds of up to 5fps in full Megapixel mode are possible (with 19 image RAW buffer in burst mode).

Image quality – picture perfect performance

To counteract the effects of image blur caused by shakes, the Olympus E-3 incorporates a highly advanced, built-in image stabilisation system. It is extremely effective and utilises the breakthrough Supersonic Wave Drive (SWD). This means sharper shots every time – no matter which lens is used – and less need to use a tripod as compensation up to 5 EV steps is provided. The IS system features two modes: One for shakes along both the x and y axes, while another stabilises only the y axis – which is ideal for following moving subjects during sports photography.

Significantly contributing to the camera’s excellent imaging performance is the 10 Megapixel High Speed Live MOS sensor. Its attributes for delivering high image quality are boosted even further thanks to integration of the advanced TruePic III image processor which improves noise suppression, enhances colour reproduction and enables faster processing speeds. And together with lenses from the award-winning ZUIKO DIGITAL range, the camera returns nothing less than perfect depictions.

Live View – unprecedented control

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7 Responses to “Olympus E-3”

  1. Terrance Hodgins says:

    In your review, you repeated the common line about the in-body image stabilization working with any lens:
    “This means sharper shots every time – no matter which lens is used…”
    Alas, I doubt that. I have a new Olympus E-510, and the in-body image stabilization only works with newish four-thirds lenses. There is NO support for legacy lenses. If you mount a classic manual-focus lens on the camera with an adapter, the camera immediately turns the image stabilization off. Focus confirmation is also disabled.

    You might want to check on that.

  2. Brian Mosley says:

    Terrence is correct, no support for legacy lenses (i.e. non-4/3rd standard)… however there’s plenty of good news. We had a multi-user field trial last weekend, the results of which are here :

    Hope that helps, Kind Regards

    Brian Mosley

  3. Brian, thanks for the link!

  4. Roger Cathey says:

    Is that the same Terrance Hodgins who once worked at Los Alamos? Willamette Web Weavers Terrance Hodgins?

  5. Brian Mosley says:

    Hi Terrence, you make a fair point… although the E-3 is actually the most capable 4/3rd camera available for us legacy lens users – due to the larger focusing screen and improved auto exposure performance.

    I am doing my best to encourage Olympus to add IS, FC and a split screen focusing option – but it will take some time. Thanks for keeping the issue in the limelight!

    Kind Regards

    Brian Mosley

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