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2 33455 1/1/2007
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  • First "Four Thirds" SLR on the market
  • Much lighter/more compact than 35mm-based SLR bodies
  • 5.08-megapixel CCD delivers image resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,920 pixels
  • Frame-transfer sensor by Kodak promises better dynamic range, lower noise than conventional interline-transfer designs
  • Numerous innovations in camera and lens systems create an "all digital" SLR design

In many ways, the Olympus E-1 proves the validity of the whole 4/3 system concept. It's a very ruggedly-constructed camera, yet is much smaller and lighter than typical professional-grade digital SLRs like the Nikon D1x or Canon EOS-1D. The benefits of building to a smaller sensor size are dramatically evident in the physical bulk (or lack thereof) of the Zuiko lenses made for the E-1. Comparing them to lenses with similar characteristics (focal length and aperture) made for full-frame 35mm cameras, the 4/3 lenses are significantly smaller. The Zuiko lenses Olympus has designed for the E-1 also seem to be of high optical quality, as one would expect from their pricing. (Although I did see more chromatic aberration in the 14-54mm zoom than I had expected.) The E-1 is a solid performer too, with good shutter response and a fairly quick autofocus system. Color and tonal range area also very good, with very true colors apart from a slight tendency to undersaturate greens, and a broad dynamic range. I also liked the flexibility it provides for adjusting contrast and color saturation to suit your personal tastes. To my mind, its most prominent weakness is image noise, an area where I expected it to be particularly strong, since it uses a CCD design known for good signal/noise ratio. At ISOs below 800, its images are slightly noisier than those of competing models, but at levels above 800, the noise really takes off. For most "normal" shooting, this shouldn't be an issue, but I call attention to it because the marketing buzz for the camera (and my own initial, publicly-voiced expectations) have pointed to low image noise as a strength.

Overall, I've spent quite a bit of time shooting with the E-1, and have found myself liking the camera quite a lot. It feels good in the hand, takes good-looking pictures, and is fast and accurate to use. With its true professional-grade build quality, it's priced well above the current crop of entry-level digital-SLRs, even though it's less expensive than competing "professional" models from other manufacturers. It's clear that Olympus intends the E-1 to be a camera for the professional shooter, and in many respects it is. I do think that they've got a bit of a tough sell ahead of them though, as I found the camera to be a bit of "neither fish nor fowl." On the one hand, it doesn't have the autofocus quickness or continuous shooting speed that pro sports shooters and many photojournalists demand, while on the other hand, it doesn't compete well against sharper 6-megapixel and higher resolution cameras for the studio market. Price-wise, it's a bargain compared to the d-SLRs with pro-grade bodies, but most prospects for cameras in that category already have full kits of Nikon or Canon lenses. At the other end of the spectrum, it's pricey compared to entry-level d-SLRs like the Canon Digital Rebel and Nikon D70. While there's no comparison between the build quality of the E-1 and either of those models, it's a valid question whether an amateur shooter can justify the price differential to step up to the E-1, not only for the camera body itself, but for the pricey lenses as well. (Although Sigma's recent announcement of lenses supporting the 4/3 format will likely address this latter point.) Bottom line, the E-1 is a well-built camera with a lot of compelling benefits, but in a package that demands a commitment to the 4/3 system approach, and somewhat deeper pockets than any of the current crop of prosumer d-SLR models.

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Keywords: Olympus SLR CF Four-Thirds 6MP


Registered: November 2006
Posts: 17
Olympus E-1 review by llbeanie1
Review Date: 1/1/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 9 


excellent camera except mine had a defect to the front grip rubber

Registered: November 2006
Posts: 1
Olympus E-1 review by vaskelovo
Review Date: 11/30/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $400.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: reliable, weatherproof, excellent results from in-cam. JPEG w/minimum PP
Cons: heavy/large for what 4/3 promised but don't forget it's a pro body, auto-focus speed in low-light

This is a camera that is a pleasure to take pictures with. It inspires me to do so.
It has never let me down, everything just works.
Olympus service (in Japan) is wonderful - I bought second hand and wanted a check - everything was done speedily and they cleaned it too.
I take it with me when I travel, because of the quality of the output. The proof of the pudding (some samples) can be found here:
The "just 5Mp" (from E-1!) satisfies my needs: I don't plan to print beyond the A3. Compared with 8Mp E-500 (with minimal PP) I like E-1's output better.


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