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You are hereHome > Best Digital Cameras > Olympus EVOLT E-330 DSLR


   

Olympus EVOLT E-330 Review

Review Date: Oct 16, 2006

Category: Advanced Amateur - Prosumer

Olympus EVOLT E-330

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2006 

IMAGE QUALITY

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 has the image quality and flexibility that advanced amateur photographers desire in a digital SLR but seems to be also targeting the beginner amateur photographers who want to make the jump to a Digital SLR with its Live View LCD and Scene Modes. It has 7.5 megapixel resolution on a 4/3 in. (17.3 x 13 mm) Live MOS Sensor, and can be purchased body only or with the 14-45mm (28-90mm, 35 mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Lens kit.

3x Optical Zoom
14-45mm f/3.5-5.6
Wide-angle 28mm Tele 90mm
Wide-angle 14mm
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 45mm
(90mm, 35mm equivalent)

Four Thirds Systems Mount

One of the advantage of a dSLR is the ability to use interchangeable lenses suited for specific jobs. The lens mount system used in the Olympus E-330 is based on the Four Thirds open standard which means that, besides the Olympus Zuiko digital lenses created for the EVOLT digital SLRs, you can also use other Four Thirds lenses, such as the Sigma 4/3-System lenses. Leica is also promising to design and manufacture more 4/3-Systems lenses. Here is a list of compatible Four Thirds lenses.

What is not visible outwardly but is another exclusive feature of the Olympus E-330/Panasonic L1 is the Dust Reduction System. With SLR cameras that use interchangeable lenses, dust can enter the camera and settle on the image sensor everytime the lens is changed. A Supersonic Wave Filter is positioned in front of the image sensor and everytime the camera is switched on, this filter generates supersonic vibrations at a rate of around 30,000 per second to shake off dust and other particles from the sensor. The dust is collected by a dust absorption section below the filter. This ensures the quality of the images is not compromised by dust on the image sensor.

"Macro"
Macro
45mm (90mm), Program, ESP+AF, 1/50 sec., F6.3, ISO 100
Sharpened in Photoshop Elements

The actual macro capability is a function of the lens you use, and the included Zuiko lens allows you to focus only as close as 38 cm (1.2 ft.). This does not allow us to cover a small enough area for what we generally call "macro." I find that I obtain my best macro results using the lens set at maximum telephoto. If you are into macro photography, check out the 50mm f/2.0 Macro Zuiko Digital Lens which allows you to move in as close as 24 cm (9.45 in.) with a 35mm equivalent of 100mm and a large F2.0 aperture.

White Balance Indoors
AWB Manual WB

As the above two pictures show, the auto white balance (AWB) indoors under tungsten artificial light tends toward the yellow. Fortunately, there is One-Touch Manual WB that is easy to set and provides excellent results. As expected, AWB works well in natural light.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 125 ISO 160
ISO 125 ISO 160
ISO 200 ISO 250
ISO 200 ISO 250
ISO 320 ISO 400
ISO 320 ISO 400
ISO 500 ISO 640
ISO 500 ISO 640
ISO 800 ISO 1000
ISO 800 ISO 1000
ISO 1250 ISO 1600
ISO 1250 ISO 1600

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 has 13 ISO settings going from ISO 100 to ISO 400, plus the ability to "boost" the ISO up to ISO 800 and ISO 1600. [The Olympus E-300 had only 3 settings from 100 to 400, plus 800 and 1600.] The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds. At ISO 100 to 400, noise is under control. Noise is visibly present at boosted ISO 800 to ISO 1600 but are also quite usable though at the expense of detail.

Chromatic Aberrations

I have not been able to find much CA in everyday high-contrast shots, and where it is present it is minimal. The corner delimited by the red square at top right, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows minimal purple fringing. The highlights, however, are blown.

Long Shutter Speed
29mm (58mm), Manual, ESP, 60 sec., F8, ISO 100
Manual WB (3000K), Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used
Noise Reduction ON
using the 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 lens

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 60 sec. in Manual and Shutter-Priority modes (plus up to 8 minutes Bulb in Manual mode), therefore allowing night photography. Generally, with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds. When you set Noise Reduction to ON in the menu [Menu - Shooting Menu 1 - Noise Reduction - ON], the EVOLT E-330 has special noise reduction algorithm that automatically kicks in at shutter speeds at 4 sec. and longer and you'll notice a longer processing time (approx. twice as long) before the next picture can be taken.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, we decided to take a low-light indoors shot. To obtain a long exposure, I place Bamm-Bamm under my desk where it's dark.

I experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 60 sec. at F8. Even at this long shutter speed, the EVOLT E-330's noise reduction seems to be working great, producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.

We find that the AF is very responsive and images snap quickly into focus. The pop-up flash is used as an AF Illuminator to aid in focusing, so pop it up when it's dark and hard to obtain focus. The strobed light from the flash is pretty strong, so be careful not to blind your live subject(s). Of course, if you do not intend to use flash, set it to No Flash in the menu, and then you can pop it up to simply function as an AF Illuminator.

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 allows you to save an image in the RAW file format. It takes about 4 sec. to write a RAW image to memory card (I used a regular 1GB CF card) and if you select to save your image in both RAW and SHQ JPEG, it takes about 6 sec. to save both to memory card. You can specify the JPEG image quality you wish to save together with your RAW image. Note that these times do not include the extra write times you'll experience if Noise Reduction kicks in.

At SHQ, a 7.5MP image is compressed down to anywhere between 4MB and 5MB. A RAW image occupies about 13MB.

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 does not incorporate a live histogram. In Playback mode, press the Info button repeatedly to view the histogram, blinking highlights and blinking shadows.

We find the overall image quality of the Olympus EVOLT E-330 up to ISO 400 to be excellent with good details in the shadows and highlights.

The pictures in the Olympus EVOLT E-330 Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided unprocessed samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3136x2352 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version). Any of the 800x600 image that is adjusted for levels and/or sharpened in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name. Original images are never adjusted.

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod.

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

 

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