|*||8.0-megapixel resolution for 3,264 x 2,448 images.|
|*||Interchangeable lens mount fits full range of ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses.|
|*||Unique digital SLR design.|
|*||Full range of manual and automatic exposure control.|
|*||Top-mount hot-shoe for more powerful external flash.|
|*||Extensive image adjustment tools for creative results.|
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The Olympus E-300, also known as the Olympus EVOLT is the latest entry in a line of digital SLRs based on the “Four Thirds” standard developed jointly by Olympus and Kodak, first announced in fall of 2002. The first Four Thirds camera was the Olympus E-1 SLR, aimed at the professional market, but the new Olympus E-300 brings the Four Thirds system down to a price range accessible to amateur and “enthusiast” shooters. The new model uses the same lenses and sensor format as the original E-1, but offers an impressive 8-megapixel resolution, and will ship with a new ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-45mm lens.
Where the E-1 was a pretty conventional looking digital SLR, the new Olympus E-300 EVOLT has a more boxy design, resulting from its use of a Porro-type viewfinder system that does away with the large pentaprism/mirror bulge on the camera’s top. Many functions and features are the same as on the E-1, including the unique “Supersonic Wave” filter that literally shakes dust off of the sensor chip, addressing a common problem with digital SLRs.
We were impressed with the rugged construction of the new Olympus E-300, and its solid feature list. It offers good image quality, with high resolution and smooth tonality, and as of this writing is the lowest-priced 8 megapixel digital SLR on the market. (The just-announced Canon Digital Rebel XT will carry the same retail price, but Olympus has given notice of its pricing intentions, in the form of a $100 rebate that went into effect just as we were updating this review to full production status, dropping the E-300’s price well below that of the new Rebel.) Read on for a full description of the Olympus E-300’s features, operating modes, and a detailed analysis of its performance.
With the price of digital SLRs finally within reach, should you stick with the All-in-one digicam or move up to an SLR? Why buy a high-end digicam when digital SLRs are so close in price? Do digicams still have a purpose? What are the pros and cons? An avid photographer, I spent some time thinking about that myself. Come see what I discovered about.
- 8.0-megapixel (effective) CCD with Supersonic Wave Filter delivering image resolutions as high as 3,264 x 2,448 pixels.
- Digital SLR design and true optical viewfinder.
- 1.8-inch, color, Advanced Super View LCD display for image review.
- Lens mount accommodates full range of Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses.
- Manual and automatic focus modes, with adjustable AF area and Single-Shot and Continuous settings.
- Shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds, with a Bulb setting (8 minute limit).
- Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes, plus 14 Scene modes.
- Spot, Center-Weighted, and Digital ESP metering systems.
- Auto Bracketing and Sequential Shooting capture modes.
- Adjustable White Balance with 11 settings, including a manual adjustment, Kelvin temperature range, and a bracketing option.
- Variable ISO setting, with ISO equivalents from 100 to 1,600 (800 and 1,600 available when enabled in menu).
- Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, Monochrome, and Graduation image adjustments.
- Adobe RGB and sRGB color space options.
- Built-in sliding pop-up flash with six operating modes.
- Hot Shoe for attaching external flash units, compatible with Olympus’ own line of dedicated flash units for better-integrated exposure control.
- JPEG, uncompressed TIFF, and RAW file formats.
- Images saved on CompactFlash cards and Microdrives (no card included; not compatible with xD cards).
- USB cable for fast connection to a computer. (USB auto-connect for driverless connection to Windows Me, XP and 2000, and Mac OS 8.6 or greater.)
- Video cable for connection to a television set.
- Optional remote control.
- Power from rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (battery and charger included) or optional AC adapter.
- Software CD with Olympus’ Camedia Master utility software (includes QuickTime and USB drivers).
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format)/PictBridge compatibility and print settings.