Olympus E-330 Digital SLR Review - Olympus E-330 Review

The E-330 is unusual – in fact unique – because it is the first digital SLR to offer a continuous live view on the LCD monitor.

The system is ingenious but a little cumbersome. It has two live view modes; in the normal “A” mode, a second separate CCD in the viewfinder optical path provides the monitor view with approximately 92 per cent frame coverage, which is comparable to the coverage of most optical viewfinders. In the “B” mode, the reflex mirror is locked open and the main image capture CCD provides the live view with 100 per cent frame coverage. Unfortunately this also disables the autofocus system, so it’s manual focus only. I found B mode almost unusable, mainly because of the lousy electro-mechanical focusing control on the standard zoom lens. However the A mode works a treat, and is immensely useful.

The E-330’s LCD monitor is a particularly nice one, with a diagonal size of 2.5in and a resolution of 215,250 pixels, which is nice and sharp. It is also mounted on a double hinge, allowing it to tilt about 30 degrees downward and up to 90 degrees upward. This means you can shoot with the camera held above your head, for instance shooting over the crowd at a concert, or use the monitor as a very good waist-level finder. This is my particular favourite, because before switching to digital I used to enjoy shooting on medium-format cameras. Shooting at waist level is a lot less obtrusive than holding the camera up to your eye, so it’s easier to get natural-looking candid shots. There’s also something about looking down at the finder view that I find makes it easier to compose the image. I’d have liked the monitor to tilt sideways as well for portrait format shots, but I guess we can’t have everything.

Novelty value aside, the E-330 is a very competent camera in its own right. It is exceptionally well made, and very comfortable to handle. Like the E-300 it has an impressive list of features and options. As well as program, aperture and shutter priority and full manual exposure, it has portrait, landscape, macro, action and night scene mode, and a selection of 20 scene modes, some of which confusingly duplicate the program modes.

Delving into the menu options, there are no less than five separate metering modes, including highlight and shadow spot metering, very handy for studio or portrait work where very precise exposure is vital. There are three pre-set colour modes, which can be individually customised with adjustments for contrast, sharpness and saturation, and each white balance setting can also be customised with different colour settings.

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