Olympus E-300 SLR Review

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Olympus Evolt E300 Digital SLR

Body, Lenses & Imager

One look inside of the Evolt's Olympus Four Thirds E-System lens mount and you know something is very different. This is a closeup view of the side-swing mirror which is coupled to the TTL Optical Porro Finder. The E300 does not use the typical pentaprism on the top of the body like other SLR cameras.

Olympus Evolt E300

Here's an illustration of the "inner workings" of the Evolt's Porro Finder. Using a series of mirrors the viewfinder image is directed up to the eyelevel finder.

Digital Specific "Smart" Lenses

Olympus Zuiko Digital Lenses are designed so light strikes the camera's image sensor directly, ensuring rich, accurate colors, sharp contrasts and bright images even at the edges.

Lenses that are smart, that talk with the camera about their specific optical designs and imaging information. Lenses, particularly zoom lenses have some distortion. This is true of all manufacturers. Zuiko Digital Lenses store data in the header portion of the digital file allowing for software-assisted correction of anomalies including pin cushion and barrel distortion.

Shoot wide open or stopped all the way down and achieve superior results over 35mm film based lenses. Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses are about three times the resolution of ordinary film based lenses.

Internet-Upgradeable Firmware

The Smart Lens Design allows users to shoot with the most current firmware versions of each particular E SLR System component. Update the camera system using:

  • Internet-Enabled Computer
  • Camera Connected via USB
  • Olympus Software; one Button Update
The firmware information is collected for the lens, flash, and body and updated accordingly - no tricky file downloading or installation procedure necessary.

Zuiko Digital 14-45mm and 40-150mm

Olympus Evolt E300 Digital SLR

The Zuiko Digital 14-45mm f3.5 - 5.6 (equivalent to 28-90mm in 35mm photography) comes standard with the EVOLT E-300. Its 3.2x zoom covers the zoom range most frequently used in everyday photography, and with 12 elements in 10 groups and a weight of just 9.98 oz/285g (approx.) it offers users an extremely dynamic, portable everyday-use zoom.

A newly developed 'floating' mechanism is incorporated into the focusing system to ensure exceptionally smooth action across the entire focusing range. Close-ups as near as 15 in/38cm are possible throughout the zoom range. The lens also boasts a new multi-coating process, which minimizes ghosting and flaring as well as a reliable metal lens mount, which is designed for ruggedness that ensures confidence in any situation.

Olympus Evolt E300 Digital SLR

The Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f3.5-4.5 (equivalent to 80-300mm in 35mm photography) features a 3.8x zoom capability that provides everything from mid-range zoom power to easy-to-use full-fledged zoom. With 13 elements in 10 groups and a weight of just 15.75 oz/450g (approx), the Zuiko Digital 40-150mm Lens is meant to go anywhere. In addition, the lens employs a f3.5-4.5 brightness making it ideal for achieving effects like background blurring and perspective compression, suitable for everything from portraits to sports scenes. As with the 14-45mm lens, the 40-150mm is also reinforced by a new multi-coating process as well as a new reliable metal lens mount.

Zuiko Digital 7-14mm Ultra-Wide

Olympus Evolt E300 Digital SLR

The new Zuiko ED 7-14mm f4.0 zoom lens is the latest addition to the growing family of interchangeable lenses for the Olympus E-System. This is an ultra-wide angle zoom lens that offers a wide focal length of 7mm (14mm equivalent in 35mm photography) in a 2x optical zoom for professional photographers. The Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f4.0 follows the Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 already on the market and adds an even wider zoom to the Zuiko Digital Specific™ Lens Family. As with all lens components of the E-System, the 7-14mm lens is built on the new Four Thirds System standard.

Due out in the first quarter of 2005, the 7-14mm lens offers a 114-degree angle of view, one of the widest in the world for "100% digital specific" zoom lenses. The lens enables extraordinary, unique expression for both advanced amateur and professional photographers with the exaggerated perspective and subject depth that it brings to compositions. This is a new generation in ultra-wide angle zoom lenses that takes full advantage of the dynamism, resolution, brightness and close-up potential of the Four Thirds System standard. The dedicated digital design of the lens ensures excellent quality even at image periphery.

Four-Thirds CCD Image Sensor

Olympus Evolt E300 Digital SLR

Compare the typical 1/1.8" CCD used in most 3- to 7-megapixel cameras (far left), the 2/3" CCD used in the E-20n SLR (center) and the Evolt's 4/3 System CCD imager (far right.) The Evolt's imager has four times the spatial area of the E-20n's imager, its diagonal measurement is 22.3mm.

Kodak KAF-8300CE imager

With 8 million pixels of resolution, the EVOLT grants photographers the flexibility to blow up their prints to the large sizes supported by today's printers, or crop into an image to print only a section without losing clarity in the final result. The image sensor used in the EVOLT is the high-performance Full Frame Transfer KODAK KAF-8300CE CCD™ that delivers improved dynamic range, low system noise to capture fine image details in the highlight and shadow areas, as well as excellent color fidelity for brilliant colors.

Basic Interline CCD sensors are designed with a path or "highway" to move data. This highway takes up valuable real estate that could be used for image capture and reduces the size of the photodiode in each pixel. But the EVOLT Full Frame Transfer CCD transfers image data via a Vertical Charge Register that is a fraction of the size of an Interline highway. In fact, the active pixel area of the Full Frame Transfer CCD is 1.5 times larger than a common Interline CCD of equal size. Because each pixel uses more space to capture image data, a broader range of tonal values can be rendered in the final image.

Anti-blooming technology on each pixel, along with the exclusive Olympus TruePic TURBO Image Processor, helps to eliminate undesirable "artifacts", "stepping", "purple fringing" or "moir�" in an image.

Exclusive SuperSonic Wave Filter

(c) Olympus America with mods by Steve

A common problem with interchangeable lens digital SLR cameras is dust settling on the image sensor. The EVOLT features an Olympus exclusive patented ultrasonic technology, the SuperSonic Wave Filter, to reduce the effects of micro dust settling on the image sensor and impacting the image quality. Located between the shutter and the CCD, the Supersonic Wave Filter uses high-speed ultrasonic vibration to cause most types of dust to fall away from the image sensor so it will not appear in photographs.

The filter vibrates at 350,000 times per second and is activated every time the camera powers on, or manually via a menu selection, to instantly remove the dust from in front of the image sensor. The CCD assembly is isolated from the Supersonic Wave Filter by an airtight seal to protect it even more. This unique Olympus feature gives you the confidence to shoot photos and change lenses in the field, just as they've always done, without the worry of images being damaged or ruined by dust on the imager.

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