Friday, March 5, 2010

E-3 Update

After having used the E-3 for a week or two, a few things have come up worth mentioning.

a) Like all upper-level cameras (semi-pro, whatever you want to call this category), this camera has two control wheels. One in the back by the right thumb, one in the front by the index finger below the shutter. More or less ideally placed, depending on the size of your hands, these can, and are by default set up to, control the shutter speed and aperture. Which dial controls what is customizable, and since I shoot manual, this is exactly what these dials do. I set it so the back one controls aperture, and the front one the shutter speed. It seems most intuitive this way. It's entirely possible to control this camera with the main LCD off, if you're shooting consistently good exposure, but I prefer to get at least one test shot to see the histogram to decide what "proper exposure" is.

b) it's definitely weather sealed! Everything that could be an entrance to the camera (card door, battery door) has gaskets. On top of this, the metal -sorry, magnesium alloy- construction is extremely rugged. It screams "indestructible" all over it. I already took it for a spin in the recent heavy-wet snow storm we had, and all I have to say is that I probably didn't get the camera wet enough to get any idea of the sealing. The cold was not an issue.

c) ISO noise. Much better than the E-500. Full stop. Definitely visible at ISO 1600, but not ugly like the E-500 used to get. And using the ISO 1600 noise for black and whites is just simply amazing. Yes, I actually said that. Black and whites by nature should be a little noisy. No? Get yourself some ISO 800 or 1600 B&W film. Shoot the roll and have it developed. Look at the picture. Nice right? Ok, point made. Sure, this is purely taste, and partly me trying to excuse the 4/3rd format's noise, but I try to draw positive from every situation.

That said, yes I fully agree it's a good bit noisier than some other cameras, especially in the next class up (think Nikon D700, Canon 7D or 5D MarkII etc). I also think that a properly exposed photo (in this case, just avoid underexposure at all cost) in combination with the right compromise between noise tolerance (how much you think is acceptable) and noise filtering in Photoshop or a dedicated noise filtering package can yield really good results. In either case, use RAW and turn any in-camera filtering off. If you use JPEG for the Olympus colors, still turn off noise filtering, and set sharpening to a minimum (do these in Photoshop afterwards). I can't stress enough that this is my personal opinion, and please take all this with a grain of salt.

Also, noise is next to non-existant in the lower ISOs (100 - 400) and only visible at a per-pixel level at ISO 800. I rarely shoot at much higher than ISO 100 anyway, so this is really not an issue. I do have a strong desire to go shoot nighttime photos now though, and I never had this with my E-500.

On a side note, The dynamic range of this camera is greatest at ISO 100 (all digital cameras have the greatest dynamic range at their base ISO). This means that at ISO 100, it can record almost 10 stops of difference between the darkest shadow it can record and the lightest highlight. The dynamic range falls to just under 9 stops at ISO 400. Very usable for almost any purpose I'd say. (That said, if you want ridiculous dynamic range, give that piggy bank a good shake, re-fy your house and car, and get the Leica S2. Otherwise, many of the DSLRs we all know and use are pretty much in the same ball park at the moment)

All of the past 2 weeks worth of "contribution" to this blog from the day I got the E-3 are taken with said camera, and ultimately the viewer of the photos is the judge. I say it was a great step forward.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the updates on the E3. I'm living vicariously through you. *L* Glad you are enjoying it.