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Olympus E-30 review

Serious mid-range player or a bit of a gimmick?

Our Verdict

This is a great upgrade for existing Olympus E-series users. Those who are more interested in pixel peeping and cheap lenses may not like it. But if you enjoy creative photography then the Olympus E-30 is great camera that deserves a closer inspection.

For

  • Swivel screen
  • Packed with features

Against

  • Doesn't push the pixel count
  • Heavy

Perhaps Olympus should have called it 'The Morph' because that's what the E-30 is: it's the perfect morph between the Olympus E-520 and the company's top-end E-3 professional model.

The E-30 shares many of the E-3's key features at a price more suited to these straightened times.

Dominating the back of the body is a 2.7-inch LCD that swivels and twists in almost any direction; when used with the Live View mode, it's the perfect way to get low, creative shots.

Bigger LCD

The LCD is a bit larger than the E-3's but the same resolution. The general control layout is similar to the E-3, except for a large mode dial which includes settings for the E-30's new art filters. A large LCD status panel sits on the E-30's top-plate, next to a bright pentaprism viewfinder, and two thumbwheels provide control settings.

Everything is beautifully screwed together but if we have one complaint it's the small power switch that might have been better placed near the shutter release.

The E-30 is a bit of a surprise when you pick it up; it's heavier than you might imagine but this is a camera that's been built to pro standards and although it isn't as splash-proof as the E-3, it's still a serious piece of kit that doesn't feel mass produced or plasticky in any way.

True colours

At the heart of the E-30 is a new 12.3MP Live MOS image sensor from Panasonic. The sensor produces excellent colours, thanks to the True Pic III+ image processor.

Okay, so the noise levels are still not quite as good as those from DSLRs with larger sensors, but Olympus has cleverly managed to make any noise appear almost like film grain and it's the combination of great colour and grain that makes the E-30's images appealing.

If you're the type of photographer who pixel peeps and dreams of producing mural-sized prints, then you may not be happy with the E-30 – or any Four-Thirds design, for that matter. However, if you really enjoy taking creative photos, then the E-30 will delight; it'll certainly please Olympus owners looking to upgrade.

Art filters

Built into the E-30 is a series of art filters that Olympus claims will extend the user's creativity. These effects aren't designed to replace post processing in Photoshop but they're there for people who want to take, say, soft focus, grainy or pin-hole images in-situ.

A few other effects are included, and as much as the purists will sneer at them, they're pretty good and well worth experimenting with.

The E-30 can also produce multiple exposures 'in camera' and even offers the choice of nine different aspect ratios. This all adds up to a feeling that Olympus has really tried hard to provide something extra that's a bit different for those who want to take their photography to the next creative level.

Quality lens

Olympus will also be shipping the E-30 with the new Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II zoom for around £1,200. With the E-30's 11-point biaxial autofocus, the lens is a highly competent performer, capable of producing some really punchy shots.

There are heaps of other features on board this innovative DSLR, including CCD image stabilisation, a highly effective dust-removal system and wireless lash control for up to three lash guns. There's even a handy digital spirit level in order to make sure that your landscape shots are straight.

It's fair to say that the E-30 has just about everything you'd ever want from a DSLR, bar the proverbial kitchen sink. Mind you, we wouldn't be surprised if Olympus plans on including one of those in the next version...

Via PhotoRadar

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Effective Camera Resolution12.3 Megapixel
USBYes
Product FamilyE
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom5x
Brand NameOlympus
Screen Size6.9 cm (2.7")
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)655 g
Minimum Focus Distance250 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4032 x 3024
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Total Camera Resolution13.1 Megapixel
Camera AssemblyBody with Lens Kit
Memory Card SupportedCompactFlash (CF) Card, xD-Picture Card, Microdrive
Height107.5 mm
Width141.5 mm
Depth75 mm
Autofocus Points11
Product SeriesE
Focal Length12 mm to 60 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelE-30
Product NameE-30 Digital SLR Camera
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberN3224392
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

For many, the pursuit of artistic expression is the essence of creative photography. With the Olympus E-30, this objective is closer to reality than ever. The stunning new model joins the ranks of the Four Thirds System-based E-System line-up, incorporating an inspiring range of Art Filters that support the photographer's vision. These enable moods to be conveyed that are otherwise only possible through the use of special lenses, add-on filters or via complex image processing techniques.

Package Contents
  • E-30 Digital SLR Camera
  • ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Lens
  • BLM-1 Li-Ion Battery
  • CB-USB4 USB Cable
  • CB-VC2 Video Cable
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Instruction Manual
  • Warranty Card
  • BCM-2 Battery Charger
  • BC-1 (Body Cap)
  • Software CD-ROM
  • EP-5 Eye Cup
Display Resolution230000 Pixel
Limited Warranty2 Year