The E-3 is equipped with the standard PASM modes (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual), and an Auto mode, but it lacks the scene modes so beloved of the entry-level models.
Olympus has revamped its autofocus system specifically for this camera, claiming to offer the fastest autofocusing in the world – when used with the new 12-60mm lens – taking advantage of built-in motors in the new Zuiko SWD lens range. Each of the 11 AF points can be individually selected and are all biaxial, so they can detect the subject on both the horizontal and vertical axes for greater accuracy.
The AF is an improvement and pretty quick at picking out the AF points in auto mode, using the standard lenses. Individual AF points can be selected, and auto and manual focus may be combined for fine-tuning or particularly tricky subjects.
The pro spec continues with the shutter, offering a top speed of 1/8000sec and the ISO selection from 100 to 3200. The built-in flash offers a guide number of 13, but the camera also accepts Olympus hotshoe flashguns and has full wireless flash capability for multiple and off-camera flash functionality.
The back of the E-3 is dominated by the 2.5in vari-angle flip-out LCD screen, as also seen on the Panasonic L10. I prefer this type of screen for a live view monitor, as it allows the camera to be held in different positions, such as at waist height, or over the heads of crowds. Activating the live view is a simple one-button operation – which is easier than earlier versions – and an eyepiece blind prevents stray light from entering the rear of the prism.
The info button lets you view all of the shooting data, and the central OK button in the four way D-pad also make changes to the important settings using a combination of dials and the navigation pads. Or you can go into the menu and make changes, though this is a more time-consuming method. You can also make changes via the grey LCD screen on the top-plate and a combination of external buttons, making this a very customisable camera depending on your shooting circumstances or preferences.