Images are generally well exposed. I sometimes had to use exposure compensation or the highlight and spot metering to bring detail out of shadow or reduce highlights blowing in higher contrast conditions. In more average conditions lighting, the camera produces perfect exposures. The tonality is smooth too, with excellent gradation. Overall the Auto White Balance and the presets produce accurate colour.
Olympus Zuiko lenses are usually very good and combine with the camera to capture detail very well, to produce perfectly acceptable 9x12in 300dpi prints with plenty of detail. This is aided when shooting hand-0held and although I wouldn’t recommend the 5-stop allowance quoted by Olympus, a 3-stop slower shutter speed is achievable.
At low ISOs images are pretty noise free and very smooth, but raising the gain produces some noise, especially from ISO 400 and increases more as the ISO is raised. While noise is visible it’s an improvement over earlier models, but fails to compete with some similarly priced models such as the Nikon D300.
What the Olympus E3 brings to the table is excellent images, a great build quality, and a lovely user experience, but fails to match the innovation of the E-1, or even other models from the Olympus range. Instead it’s taken the best bits, refined them and put them all into a very usable camera.
The Four Thirds system continues to grow, as does its legion of fans and the E3 is a great addition to the line and I’m sure will be on many Olympus users wish lists. For the majority of general-purpose photographers, the Olympus E-3 is a great all-round high-end enthusiast model rather than a Pro model, but it’s an absolute joy to use.
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