Archive for May 3rd, 2010
Wickersham’s Conscience was pretty enthusiastic about the Olympus E-30, the company’s most recent addition to the E-series digital single lens reflect camera. After all, it got excellent reviews from Digital Photography Review and Amazon. It seemed like an ideal back-up camera, replacing my somewhat dated E-500 as the emergency backup SLR. Shucks, from the strength of the reviews, it might even supplant the E-3.
The reality was disappointing. Overall, the photo quality is distinctly inferior to the E-3, and perhaps to the E-500. Most notably, lenses that shoot crisply and sharply on the E-3 are just a bit soft on the E-30.
WC has done all obvious stuff: reset the camera, checked with Olympus America for firmware updates (there weren’t any), and tried tweaking settings. Nothing seems to help. At this point, it’s kind of a bust. WC finds it impossible to get really crisp photos. When you photograph birds, that’s simply critical.
As an exercise, WC set up a 300mm f2.8 lens on a tripod, and took the same photo, at the same exposure, with the E-3 body and with the E-30 body, after resetting both camera to their default settings, with both cameras in “portrait” mode. Using Photoshop CS4, WC cropped both images by 50% and examined the results. The E-3 image was noticeably crisper. More importantly, after running his usual sharpening drill, the E-3 image was significantly sharper.
This, as they say, is an unexpected result. The E-30 has 12.3 megapixels, as against the E-3′s mere 10.1 Mpx. And the E-30 presumably benefits from newer technology in both firmware and sensors. Yet there it is; for avian photography, at least, the E-30 is a distinctly inferior camera.