Announced at the end of March 2009, the Olympus E-450 digital SLR refreshes the company’s E-420 model which preceded it by just over a year. The most noticeable difference is that Olympus’ E450 includes several of the “art filter” modes which first appeared on the prosumer-oriented Olympus E-30, and have since appeared on various of the company’s other digital SLRs. The modes on offer in the E-450 are “pop art”, “soft focus” and “pin hole”, and are enabled by the camera’s newer TruePic III+ image processor. The benefit of putting the effects in-camera isn’t only in reducing the need for editing on a computer. Olympus points out that when enabled, the effects are taken into account at the time of exposure, with resulting adjustments being made to exposure, focus, tonal range and color rendering. Note that the E-30’s “pale & light color”, “light tone” and “grainy film” modes apparently aren’t included in the lower-cost E450.
As with the E-420, the Olympus E-450 has an effective resolution of ten megapixels from a Live MOS image sensor, and accepts Four Thirds-mount lenses. ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 1,600 equivalents, controlled automatically or manually. Exposure modes include Program Auto (with program shift capability), as well as both Aperture- and Shutter-priority and a fully Manual mode. There are also a generous eighteen scene modes to keep things approachable for beginners, and a Scene Program AE mode that operates on a subset of five common scenes. Images are metered with Olympus’ 49-point Digital ESP multi-pattern metering, with center-weighted and spot options also on offer. Where the E420 had a spot area of 1% viewfinder coverage according to manufacturer spec, the E-450 is said to have a 2% spot. Focusing modes include either three-point Phase Detection, or 11-point contrast detection using information from the camera’s image sensor when in Live View mode.
The E-450 offers shutter speeds ranging from 1/4,000 to 60 seconds, plus a bulb mode. This allows for exposures as long as thirty minutes – much longer than the eight minute maximum of the previous E-420 model. Burst shooting is possible at a speed of 3.5 frames per second, and the camera improves on its predecessor in this area too. Although the speed is unchanged, the E450’s burst depth of eight frames in Raw mode compares favorably to the six-frame burst of the E-420. As with the ‘420, the Olympus E450 is capable of shooting at its full burst speed for the full card capacity when in JPEG large / normal mode, at least when using SanDisk’s Extreme III 1GB cards.
Images can be framed or reviewed on a 2.7″ LCD with 230,000 dot resolution, and the E-450 also offers a TTL viewfinder with 95% field of view. The focusing screen in the viewfinder is fixed, but the eyepiece cups are interchangeable and there’s a diopter adjustment for eyeglass-wearers. As well as a hot shoe for external flash strobes, the Olympus E-450 includes an integrated popup flash that has a guide number of 12 meters at ISO 100. Red-eye reduction, slow-sync (first / second curtain) and manual modes are offered, and the E-450 is now capable of +/-3EV of flash intensity control – up from +/-2EV in the E420. Another important feature offered by the E-450 include Olympus’ well-received Dust Reduction system, which helps control the effects of dust on the image sensor.
The Olympus E450 draws its power from a proprietary BLS-01 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, rated as good for 500 shots when using the optical viewfinder. Images are stored on Type-I or Type-II CompactFlash cards including Microdrives, as well as on xD-Picture cards. Connectivity options include NTSC / PAL video output, and USB 2.0 High-speed with which the camera can be connected to a computer.
The Olympus E-450 ships from July 2009. Pricing is set at $699 for a kit that includes the ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 and ED 40-150mm f4.0/5.6 Zuiko zoom lenses.