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Olympus E-3 Gordon Laing, May 2008

Olympus E-3 gallery

The following images were taken with the Olympus E-3 fitted with the Zuiko Digital 12-60mm 1:2.8-4 SWD lens. The E-3 was set to Large Fine JPEG quality, Auto White Balance, ESP with AF metering and the Natural Picture Mode with Normal Graduation; Noise Reduction and the Noise Filter were set to their ON and STD settings respectively. In-camera Image Stabilisation was enabled for all these handheld shots

The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS2 as JPEGs with the default Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS2 and saved with the default High quality preset.

The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Landscape: 4.32MB, Program, 1/400, f7, ISO 100, 12-60mm at 12mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  This first shot was taken with the E-3 and the 12-60mm lens zoomed-out to its widest equivalent of 24mm. If you're familiar with our Gallery shots, you'll see this has captured a noticeably larger area than those with 28mm coverage.

The crops give a good indication of what you can expect from the E-3 and this lens with the default settings: smooth, detailed images which look very natural, and as you'd hope at 100 ISO, no evidence of noise.

Impressively, the lens also remains sharp right up to the corners.

Landscape: 4.12MB, Program, 1/250, f6.3, ISO 100, 12-60mm at 39mm (equivalent to 78mm)

  Another shot taken under bright conditions with the E-3 and 12-60mm, this time roughly halfway through its range.

As you'll see with this lens, it performs very well throughout its focal range, and here at an equivalent of 78mm, is still delivering a very detailed image that's well-corrected up to the corners.

In terms of image processing, it's again smooth and natural without being over-sharpened.

Landscape: 4.66MB, Program, 1/400, f7.1, ISO 200, 12-60mm at 60mm (equivalent to 120mm)

    Our next shot was taken with the E-3 increased to 200 ISO, the focusing set to continuous and the 12-60mm zoomed all the way in.

The E-3 kept the approaching boat in sharp focus, although we found it could be less reliable with other moving subjects.

If you're really looking closely at the shadow areas, there's subtle processing artefacts faintly visible, but this is serious pixel peeping and we'd be more than happy using the E-3 at 200 ISO.

Portrait: 4.31MB, Program, 1/250, f10, ISO 200, 12-60mm at 60mm (equivalent to 120mm)

  For this portrait shot we zoomed the 12-60mm lens into its maximum focal length and popped-open the flash to eliminate harsh shadows.

In Program mode, the E-3 selected an aperture of f10 which unsurprisingly has resulted in a reasonably large depth of field, but opened to f4 you can effectively throw a distant background out of focus.

The crops are again smooth and detailed without being overly sharp, although again there's some subtle processing artefacts for pixel peepers.

Macro: 4.78MB, Program, 1/200, f4.5, ISO 400, 12-60mm at 60mm (equivalent to 120mm)

  For this macro shot we zoomed the 12-60mm lens into its maximum focal length, positioned it as close as it would focus and increased the E-3's sensitivity to 400 ISO.

The increase in sensitivity hasn't had a detrimental effect here. There's a small amount of processing if you're looking, but otherwise the samples are again clean, detailed and natural-looking.


Indoor: 4.34MB, Program, 1/30, f3.2, ISO 400, 12-60mm at 20mm (equivalent to 40mm)

  Our first indoor low light shot was also taken at 400 ISO, although this time with the lens at 20mm.

Many cameras underexpose this shot, but the E-3 has done a good job with the indoor lighting and the colour balance is reasonably close.

The crops do show some visible processing and noise artefacts if you're looking very closely, but the textures are quite fine and a high degree of detail remains. Again we'd be happy using the E-3 at 400 ISO.

Indoor: 4.45MB, Program, 1/15, f2.8, ISO 800, 12-60mm at 12mm (equivalent to 24mm)


For this second indoor shot we increased the sensitivity to 800 ISO. Many cameras we test underexpose this shot and the E-3 was no different, so we applied +1EV here.

Like all Four Thirds cameras, the E-3 has a physically smaller sensor than most DSLRs, so there's concern over lower quality at higher sensitivities, but this sample proves the results can actually be very good at 800 ISO.

There's certainly increased artefacts, but still plenty of detail in the crops when viewed at 100%. The built-in IS also handled the slower shutter speed.



Indoor: 4.37MB, Program, 1/80, f3.2, ISO 1600, 12-60mm at 12mm (equivalent to 24mm)

  Our final shot was taken with the E-3's sensitivity increased to 1600 ISO. As you'd expect noise levels and artefacts are noticeably increased over the 800 ISO sample and there's also blown highlights in the stained glass window.

But before you write-off the E-3 at 1600 ISO, do compare it with our Galleries for other DSLRs, where the results can be quite similar.

So overall, a surprisingly good set of results for anyone who assumed the E-3's smaller sensor would seriously compromise it at higher sensitivities.

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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