Olympus E-300 SLR Review

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Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

First Look posted 11/08/2004
First sample photos posted 12/20/2004
Final review posted 02/07/2005

Click on the E-300 to take a QuickTime VR tour

The EVOLT E-300 is the first 100% "digital-from-the-ground-up" consumer SLR system with interchangeable digital specific lenses. It features a high resolution 8-megapixel Kodak image sensor and employs the Olympus-exclusive Ultrasonic Dust Reduction system created for the professional E-1 SLR body. The EVOLT delivers the versatility, durability and performance of professional dSLRs but it's priced within the budget of consumer photgraphers.

The EVOLT doesn't look like other digital SLRs because Olympus has eliminated the bulky pentaprism found on the top of traditional SLR cameras. The EVOLT uses a new Olympus TTL Optical Porro Finder coupled with a side-swing mirror box, that gives the camera its unique "flat-top" appearance. Subjects framed within the EVOLT's optical viewfinder are 94% centered for accurate composition. And because it's an SLR, when you look through the viewfinder you're seeing the subject exactly as it will be photographed.

Most other digital SLR cameras use traditional 35mm film lenses which deliver insufficient light at the edges of a digital camera's image sensor. This can result in reduced sharpness and color definition, particularly when shooting with wide-angle lenses. The EVOLT does not have this problem, it accommodates the full line of interchangeable Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses™ designed specifically for digital capture.

You don't need a degree in photography to shoot like a pro with the EVOLT. Programmed Auto Mode lets the EVOLT do all the thinking for you and selects just the right settings for any given situation. Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Modes allow you to take control of the EVOLT to customize the camera for the ultimate in artistic expression. Select from one of the camera's 5 quick-access Scene Program Modes on the dial, or get creative with 15 Select Scene Program modes within the menu that make it easy to get the results you want, whenever and wherever you want them.

The Olympus TruePic TURBO Image Processor enhances processing speed for more responsive camera operation. More than just speeding up image data processing for the large image files generated by this 8.0-megapixel digital camera, TruePic TURBO also improves overall camera responsiveness and operating ease. The 64MB memory buffer and separate working memory lets you shoot at 2.5 frames per second up to 4 frames in either TIFF or RAW at full resolution. JPEG resolutions are also available when more shots are required.

The 1.8-inch HyperCrystal LCD monitor has 134,000 pixels and offers three times the contrast of conventional LCD monitors so captured images are displayed in vivid color on the screen with exceptional clarity. This LCD features a wide, 160° viewing angle on both the vertical and horizontal axis, ensuring excellent visibility and image quality even to a group of people next to the photographer.

Transferring images to the computer is easy with Auto-Connect USB, no software drivers required (for most computers/operating systems.) Images may also be viewed on a television using the video cable. For fast and easy PC-free printing, the EVOLT connects to any PictBridge-enabled printer via USB, you select the images to be printed on the camera's LCD.

EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR Features

  • High performance Kodak 8-Megapixel Progressive Scan CCD imager
  • SuperSonic Wave dust filter over the image sensor
  • Four-Thirds System lens mount for Zuiko Digital Specific lenses
  • Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual and Scene exposure modes
  • Selectable sRGB or Adobe RGB Color Space
  • JPEG, TIFF and RAW file formats
  • Simultaneous capture of RAW + JPEG files
  • Digital ESP, Center-weighted or Spot exposure metering modes
  • Exposure compensation ±5 steps EV in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 steps
  • 3-point (selectable) TTL Auto Focus
  • Builtin multi-mode intelligent flash
  • Hot shoe for E System TTL flash units (FL36, FL50)
  • Capture 2.5fps up to 4 frames in RAW or TIFF
  • Auto Exposure and White Balance bracketing
  • ISO range 100 to 400 with boost to 800/1600
  • White balance settings from 3,000K to 10,000K in 12 steps and 4 custom white balance settings
  • Next Generation TruePic Technology with advanced noise reduction
  • 5-level Sharpening, Contrast and Saturation controls
  • 1.8" HyperCrystal LCD monitor with 160° viewing angle
  • USB connectivity and PictBridge direct-print compatible
  • CompactFlash Type I and II, Microdrive compatible
  • High capacity Li-ion rechargeable battery and charger
  • Optional Battery Grip with heavy-duty battery pack

The EVOLT E-300 outfit includes a compact, Zuiko Digital 14 - 45mm f3.5 - f5.6 lens (equivalent to 28mm - 90mm in 35mm photography).

E-300 Camera, Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses, and Accessories Prices:

  • EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR: $999.99 estimated street price including the 14-45mm lens ($1399 MSRP)

  • 14-45mm f3.5 - f5.6 Lens: $249.95 estimated street when purchased separate from EVOLT ($299 MSRP)

  • 40-150mm f3.5 - f4.5 Lens: $279.95 estimated street ($349 MSRP).

  • FL-36 Flash Compact: $199.99 estimated street price ($239.95 MSRP).

  • HLD-3 Battery Holder: $99.99 estimated street price ($119.95 MSRP).

  • Semi Hard Case CS3-SH (for EVOLT E-300 and 14.45mm or 14-54mm zooms): $49.95 estimated street price ($59.95 MSRP).

The optional Olympus Studio 1.2 software provides powerful digital work-flow support for digital single-lens reflex users, including professional photographers, the new package provides advanced RAW photofinishing and camera control functions. It now fully supports the E-300 single-lens reflex camera.

Physical Views

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLROlympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Canon Digital Rebel and E-300 for size comparison

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus E-300 and E-1 for comparison

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR

Differences Between the E-300 and E-1
Number of Pixels 4/3-type Full Frame Transfer CCD,
8 million pixels effective,
Primary color filter (RGB)
4/3-type Full Frame Transfer CCD,
5 million pixels effective,
Primary color filter (RGB)
Adjustable Resolutions
(Still Pictures)
3264 x 2448 (RAW/TIFF/SHQ/HQ)
3200 x 2400 (SQ)
2560 x 1920 (SQ)
1600 x 1200 (SQ)
1280 x 960 (SQ)
1024 x 768 (SQ)
640 x 480 (SQ)

<Compression Rate>
SHQ: 1/2.7
HQ: 1/4 or 1/8
SQ: 1/2.7, 1/4 or 1/8
2560 x 1920 (RAW/TIFF/SHQ/HQ)
1600 x 1200 (SQ: HQ) (SQ: Standard)
1280 x 960 (SQ: HQ) (SQ: Standard)
1024 x 768 (SQ: HQ) (SQ: Standard)
640 x 480 (SQ: HQ) (SQ: Standard)
Recording Mode RAW (12bit)/ TIFF (non compression, RGB 8bit each)/ JPEG (Design rule for Camera File system)/ RAW+JPEG
Recording Format
Exif2.2/ DPOF/ PRINT Image Matching II
Memory Compact Flash Card (Type I, II)/ Microdrive Compact Flash Card (Type I, II)/ Microdrive (32bit Format compatible)
Viewfinder Optical eyelevel single lens reflex viewfinder TTL SLR
View field coverage: Approx 94%
Focusing screen: Fixed
Eye level Pentaprism "High Eye Point" type Optical Viewfinder
View field coverage: Approx 100%
Focusing screen: Interchangeable
Monitor 1.8" Hyper Crystal TFT Color CCD (Semi-transmissive), approx. 134,000 pixels 1.8" TFT Color CCD, approx. 134,000 pixels
Shutter: Type
Electronic Controlled Focal Plane Shutter
Shutter: Speed 1/4000-30 seconds (have limitation in some modes)
Bulb: up to 8 minutes by limiter
1/4000-60 seconds (have limitation in some modes)
Bulb: up to 8 minutes by limiter
Focus Mode
S-AF (Single AF)/ C-AF (Continuous AF)/ MF (Manual Focus)
Auto Focus: Type
TTL Phase Difference Detection System
Exposure (Shooting Mode) P (Program Auto with Program Shift)/ A (Aperture Priority)/ S (Shutter Priority)/ M (Manual)/ 5 selective Scene Programs/ 14 Scene Select programs P (Program Auto with Program Shift)/ A (Aperture Priority)/ S (Shutter Priority)/ M (Manual)
White Balance Auto/Preset (8 types)/Custom WB (storable up to 4 types)/One-touch Auto/Preset (12 types)/ One-touch (storable up to 4 types)
ISO Sensitivity AUTO (100-400)/ 100/ 200/ 400 Expandable to 800/ 1600 AUTO (100-400)/ 100/ 200/ 400/ 800 Expandable to 1600/ 3200
Sequential Shooting 2.5 fps
Max. frame number on sequential shooting:
- RAW, RAW+JPEG, TIFF and SHQ (up to 4 frames)
-In other recording modes, number of frames may vary depending on the shooting condition or the writing speed of data into media.
3 fps
Max. frame number on sequential shooting: 12 frames in all recording modes.
Remote Control
Optional remote control (sold separately), 0 or 2 seconds (selectable)
Self Timer
12 or 2 seconds (can be cancelled)
Remote Cable Yes/ through optional power battery holder: HLD3. Yes/ through built-in remote cable connector
Flash Mode Auto/ Red-eye Reduction/ Slow Synchronization: 1st Curtain, 2nd Curtain/ Slow Synchronization+Red-eye Reduction/ Fill-in/ Fill-in+Red-eye Reduction/ Fill-in+2nd Curtain Slow Synchronization/ Manual (FULL, 1/4, 1/16 or 1/64) Auto/ Red-eye Reduction/ Slow Synchronization: 1st Curtain, 2nd Curtain/ Slow Synchronization+Red-eye Reduction/ Fill-in/Fill-in+Red-eye Reduction/ Fill-in+2nd Curtain Slow Synchronization
External Flash Connector Hot Shoe Hot Shoe/ External Flash Connector (X-synchronization)
Selective Menu Language Japanese/ English
Additional languages can be added through web site.
Japanese/ English/ French/ German/ Spanish/ Korean
Video Signal Output
NTSC/ PAL selectable
External Connector USB connector/ DC-IN Jack/ Video Out Jack USB connector/ IEEE1394/ DC-IN Jack/ Video Out Jack/ Remote Cable connector
Power Supply Rechargeable Li-ion battery: BLM-1
- Optional AC adapter: AC-1
* Two packs of BLM-1 battery can be used concurrently through optional Power Battery Holder: HLD-3.
Rechargeable Li-ion battery: BLM-1
- Optional AC adapter: AC-1E Optional Rechargeable Li-ion battery: BLL-1
* BLL-1 can be used through optional Power Battery Holder: HLD-2.
5.77 x 3.35 x 2.52 in.
146.5 x 85 x 64 mm
(excluding protrusions)
5.55 x 4.09 x 3.19 in.
141 x 104 x 81 mm
(excluding protrusions)
Weight Approx. 580g/ 20.5oz.
(without batteries and media)
Approx. 660g/ 23oz.
(without batteries and media)
Others PictBridge-enabled

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Olympus EVOLT E-300 Specifications

Type Interchangeable lens digital SLR camera
Body Die-cast aluminum chassis, aluminum top cover, polycarbonate
Lens Mount Four-Thirds mount
Media CompactFlash Card, Type I or II, Microdrive
Image Sensor
Type Kodak KAF-8300CE 4/3-type Full Frame Transfer CCD
Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm
Number of Pixels 8.15 Megapixels (total)
8.0 Megapixels (effective)
Aspect Ratio 4:3
Filter Array Primary color filter (RGB)
Dust Protection Fixed-type Low Pass Filter with Supersonic wave filter
Image Quality,
Size & Resolution
RAW: Approx. 13.5MB (3264x2448)
TIFF: Approx. 23.3MB (3264x2448)
JPEG SHQ: Approx. 6.1MB (3264x2448) 1/2.7
HQ: Approx. 4.3MB (3264x2448) 1/4
HQ: Approx. 1.9MB (3264x2448) 1/8
SQ: Approx. 5.9MB (3200x2400) 1/2.7
SQ: Approx. 4.1MB (3200x2400) 1/4
SQ: Approx. 1.9MB (3200x2400) 1/8
SQ: Approx. 4.0MB (2560x1920) 1/2.7
SQ: Approx. 2.4MB (2560x1920) 1/4
SQ: Approx. 1.2MB (2560x1920) 1/8
SQ: Approx. 1.4MB (1600x1200) 1/2.7
SQ: Approx. 0.9MB (1600x1200) 1/4
SQ: Approx. 0.5MB (1600x1200) 1/8
SQ: Approx. 0.9MB (1280x960) 1/2.7
SQ: Approx. 0.6MB (1280x960) 1/4
SQ: Approx. 0.3MB (1280x960) 1/8
SQ: Approx. 0.6MB (1024x768) 1/2.7
SQ: Approx. 0.4MB (1024x768) 1/4
SQ: Approx. 0.2MB (1024x768) 1/8
SQ: Approx. 0.2MB (640x480) 1/2.7
SQ: Approx. 0.2MB (640x480) 1/4
SQ: Approx. 0.1MB (640x480) 1/8
Recording Format JPEG, TIFF (RGB 8bit), RAW (12bit), RAW+JPEG
File Format DCF, DPOF compatible / Exif 2.2 compatible, PRINT Image Matching II compatible
Type Eye-level single lens reflex viewfinder
Viewfield Coverage 94% centered horiz./vert.
Magnification Approx. 1.00 with 50mm lens set to infinity on -1 diopter
Eye Point 20mm on -1 diopter
Diopter Adjustment Built-in, -3.0 to +1.0
Focusing Screen Fixed (Mat Screen with AF/Metering marks)
Mirror Side swing quick-return mirror
Viewfinder Information AF frame, AF confirmation mark, Exposure mode, Exposure compensation value, AE lock, Metering mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, White balance, Flash
Depth of Field Preview No
Eye Cup Built-in EP-3
Type TTL phase difference detection system
Focus Modes Single / Continuous autofocus, Manual
Detection Range EV 3 to 17 (ISO 100, temperature 20°C)
Focus Area 3 points
Focus Area Selection Auto, Manual
AF Assist Lamp Uses builtin flash or AF-assist lamps on Olympus external flashes
AF Lock Locked by first position of shutter button or OK button (customizable) (customizable)
Exposure Control
Light Metering System TTL full-aperture light metering by 3-zone multi-pattern sensing system
Metering Modes Digital ESP, Center-weighted average (60%), Spot (2%)
Detection Range ESP, Center-weighted average: EV 1 to 20, Spot: EV3 to 17
Exposure Control Program with Program Shift / Shutter Priority / Aperture Priority / Manual Scene Program (Portrait, Macro, Landscape, Night Scene, Sports)/ Scene Select (Portrait, Macro, Land Scape, Night Scene, Sports, Landscape & Self Portrait, Night Scene & Self Portrait, Fire Work, Sun Set, High Key, Document, Manor Shot, Beach & Snow, Candle)
Exposure Compensation +/- 5 steps EV in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 steps
Exposure Bracketing Selectable from 1. 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps, 3 frames
One Shot Bracketing 3 or 5 Frames in +/- 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV step ( selectable ) In addition to exposure bracketing
Auto ISO (100 - 400)
Manual ISO 100, 200, 400, boost to 800/1600
Type Electronically controlled focal plane shutter
Shutter Speed P, Ps: 2 - 1/4000 sec.
A,S,M: 60 - 1/4000 sec.
Bulb (up to 8 minutes, requires BHLD3 and RM-CB1)
Scene Program and Scene Select: 2 - 1/4000
1/3, 1/2, 1 EV step selectable
X-Sync Speed Syncs at 1/180 sec., Super FP mode syncs up to 1/4000 sec. for fill flash
Shutter Release Soft-touch electromagnetic
Selftimer 12 or 2 sec.
Remote Control Wireless by RM-1, wired by RM-CB1 (requires BHLD-3)
Drive System
Drive Modes Single, Sequential shooting
Sequential Shooting Speed 2.5 frames per second
Max. Frames in Sequential
RAW or TIFF: 4 frames
JPEG (depends on image size and compression ratio)
White Balance System
Auto WB System Advanced detection system with CCD imager
Preset WB 12 Types (3000K - 7500K)
Custom Mode 4 settings (2000K, 2500K, 8000K and 10000K if not adjusted)
WB Compensation Adjustment -7 to +7 steps in each Auto/Preset setting
WB Bracketing 3 frames with +/- 5/10/15 MiReD steps (1 MiReD = 10° Kelvin)
Flash Control
Type TTL Auto FP, TTL Auto for Olympus dedicated flash
Built-in Flash Yes
Flash Modes Auto, Red-eye reduction, Slow synchro, Fill-in for exclusive flash
X-Sync Speed X = 1/180 Sec. or less (FP= 1/30 sec to 1/4000 sec.) (up to 1/4000 sec with "Super FP" Flashes)
Intensity Control +/- 2 EV in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps for exclusive flash
Synchro Timing 1st Curtain Synchro / 2nd Curtain Slow Synchro ( Selectable )
Multi Flash Control Yes (control built-in and ext flash independently)
Color Space sRGB, Adobe RGB
Color Saturation 5 levels
Image Adjustment Sharpness: 8 levels
Contrast: 5 levels
Control Panel Information Flash mode, Flash compensation value indication, Metering mode, Focus mode, Record mode, Aperture value, Shutter speed, Battery check, Number of storable still pictures, Image quality adjustment, ISO, Color space, Mono tone, Hi/Lo Key, White balance, Remote control, Self-timer, Exposure level indicator, Exposure compensation indicator, AF frame, Number of storable sequential pictures, Exposure compensation value indication, Auto bracket, Noise reduction, Single-frame shooting/Sequential shooting, Color saturation compensation value indication, Sharpness compensation indication value, AE bracket, WB bracket
LCD Monitor 1.8" (4.6cm) Hyper Crystal TFT color LCD (approx. 134,000 pixels). Viewfield coverage 100%. +/- 7 step brightness control
Playback Modes Single, Zoom (2/3/4/10x), Index (4, 9, 16 frames), Slide show
Playback Information Histogram, High Light Point Warning, AF frame, Exposure Mode, Metering Mode, Shutter Speed, F-Stop, Compensation level, ISO, Color Space, WB Mode, Focal Length, Focus Area, File Type, Contrast Level, Sharpness Level
Erase/Protect Erase: Single / All / Selected
Protect: Single / Selected
Menu REC1, REC2, Play Back, Custom, Setup
Menu Languages English (default), German, French, Spanish, Japanese
External Connectors Data I/O: USB 1.1 (MiniB)
Video Out: NTSC or PAL
Flash Sync: Hot shoe
Remote Cable: RM-CB1 through PS-HLD3
DC IN: Optional AC adapter AC-1
Power Supply BLM-1 rechargeable Li-Ion battery pack and BCM-2 charger (included)
SHLD-3 Power Battery Holder (optional), BLL-1 Li-ion battery
AC-1 AC adapter: AC 100V-240V, 50-60Hz; DC 9V (optional)
Box Contents EVOLT E-300 Body, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-ion Battery Pack (BLM-1), Li-ion Battery Charger (BCM-2), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS Master ver 1.0 CD-ROM, Manuals, Warranty card, System chart
Operating Temperature / Humidity 32° - 104°F (0° - 40°C), 30 - 90% humidity
Size 146.5 x 85 x 64mm / 5.7"w x 3.3"h x 2.5"d
Weight 580g / 20.5 oz. (without battery & memory card)

NOTE: These specifications are as represented by the manufacturer.

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