View Full Version : Bodies / Media E-1

10-03-2005, 09:35 PM
The flag ship model of the 4/3 system.
http://www.olympusamerica.com/e1/e1_img/body_parts/e1-body-2.jpg (http://www.olympusamerica.com/e1/sys_body_spec.asp)
\"What else can I say, this is my favorite camera that I have ever owned\" - Tony

10-03-2005, 09:36 PM
Web reviews:

10-03-2005, 09:37 PM

First Light
10-10-2005, 05:55 PM
Preface: I purchased my E-1 primarily because I wanted to switch to the FourThirds (4/3rds) lens system and I needed a camera with a higher burst capacity. I knew that the E-1 was not the camera that I ultimately wanted but I\'m hoping that the next 4/3rds pro body will be. So my comments are not sugar-coated. They reflect what I hope is an honest assessment of the good and bad of the E-1. Overall, I\'m happy with the camera and would not trade it for a different system. The quality of the ZD 4/3rds lenses are outstanding.

4/3 mount – This was the first dSLR designed for the 4/3rds lens system. As the only interchangeable lens system designed specifically for digital image sensors it offers many advantages over systems that were adapted from 35mm film (legacy) cameras. The lens image circle matches the 4/3-type image sensor so it is not cropped. The light strikes the image sensor at an optimized angle. Lenses are smaller than comparable legacy lenses with an identical focal angle (FA) and maximum aperture (f-stop).

Ultrasonic dust remover – This feature cannot be touted enough. It works automatically whenever you turn on the camera and it works great!!! I didn\'t realize how important it was when I purchased my E-1. Now I don\'t know how I could survive without it. I also use a Canon 20D on occasion and it has terrible dust problems even though great care is always taken.

Image quality – Excellent color. Olympus is \"king\" of flesh tones. Great color saturation and contrast (in default settings).

Burst speed – The buffer in the E-1 can hold 12 shots in any mode. That means it can shoot 12 raw or raw+jpeg or tiff pictures before it needs to pause to off-load data to the CF card. This blows away the competition until you raise the price several thousand dollars. Don\'t be confused by Canon and Nikon consumer and prosumer cameras that claim to be able to shoot more shots continuously—their claim is valid only for mid-quality jpegs. None of them can keep up with the E-1 with the larger raw or raw+jpeg files.

Viewfinder – If you know much about viewfinders, you\'ll appreciate the expense and high-end engineering that went into the E-1 viewfinder. It provides 100% field of view (FOV) with a 0.96x magnification and 20mm eye relief. This is amazing for a camera with an image sensor that is half the size of a 35mm film frame. Even with the decent 20mm eye relief, I still find it difficult to see the status display at the bottom with my glasses but it is way better than most dSLR cameras. Plus, it has interchangeable focusing screens. Olympus offers two: a standard FS-1 and one with grid lines, the FS-2. Third parties like Katz Optics also offer custom-made split-prism focusing screens for the E-1. You can see well enough to manually focus with this camera!!!

Body quality – The weather/dust sealed magnesium alloy body is very well made. It is at the same time both rugged and nicely ergonomic. The memory card door, battery door and connector door are all weather sealed as well. If you add an optional vertical battery grip (HLD-2) it makes a weatherproof seal to the body and its battery door is also weather sealed.

White balance – The E-1 offers two great features that provide superior white balance (WB ). First, it includes an external WB sensor that is able to respond to light from a wider angle than a TTL-only system. This produces better auto-WB. Second, the manual WB controls are more extensive than most and are listed in degrees Kelvin which is very handy.

Firewire (1394) port – A fast firewire port is included in addition to a USB port. The firewire port is great for quickly downloading pictures and for tethered remote camera control from the Olympus Studio software.

JPEG quality – The quality of Olympus JPEGs has always been very high. The SHQ mode offers a slight 1:2.7 compression ratio which produces better-looking JPEG images than competitors.

Pixel mapping – All image sensors age and as they do one or more pixels will go bad. This can result in tiny spots appearing in your pictures. By provided a \"Pixel Mapping\" feature the E-1 can map around these bad pixels so they do not affect your pictures. This is a great feature and prevents you having to send your camera to a service center once a year.

Good service – My experience with Olympus service and Tech Support has been very good. They are usually very quick to respond. They have a special program for professional photographers where they will overnight replacement gear if you have a problem in the field.

Resolution – Although 5 megapixels (Mp) is fine for many types of shots and the resolution spec has been overblown in the marketplace, yet 5 Mp does limit your ability to shoot detailed landscapes and large group shots. For example, I recently shot a group of 350 men and I would have liked a lot more resolution for facial detail when the picture is printed larger than tabloid size. Plus it limits your ability to heavily crop and then enlarge.

Noise level at high ISO settings – Canon has demonstrated that it is possible to reduce noise to an amazingly low level at high ISO settings. This is a great advantage when shooting in low light without a flash. The E-1 isn\'t nearly as good in this area but it isn\'t bad either. If you need to shoot in low light without a flash, you may need to invest in expensive large-aperture lenses. That\'s why I purchased a ZD ED 150mm f2.0 lens.

Read/write speed – The E-1 had good speed when it was introduced, but technology has advanced much farther and it is considered very slow by today\'s standards. I\'ve tested many fast CF cards and the fastest write speed that I\'ve ever measured with the E-1 (with firmware version 1.4) is 3.28 MB/s.

Record view – The record view feature which briefly displays an image in the LCD monitor imediately after it was shot is very limited. It only shows the picture. It cannot display a histogram or highlights display. To do the latter you have to switch to Playback mode and use the Info button and main dial. This is awkward and takes too long when you need to quickly check a shot before taking another.

LCD monitor – The LCD monitor suffers in three ways: it is small (1.8 inches), it offers only 4x magnification, and it is nearly useless outdoors in bright sunlight.

No built-in flash – Some will find this a disadvantage but many professional photographers won\'t miss it.

Raw and Tiff files are not compressed – No compression is used on raw and tiff files. This results in large files that eat up more space on the CF card and computer. It would be great if Olympus used one of the lossless compression algorithms (like LZW) that have been around for decades to reduce these large files.

AF is mediocre – The autofocus (AF) system does not work as well or as fast as competing systems from Canon and Nikon. It isn\'t bad, but it could be a lot better. It has trouble in low light and images with low contrast. But all AF system have some kind of trouble here. The optional vertical battery grip (HLD-2) improves the AF speed. I use just the center focus point most of the time.

AE is mediocre – The autoexposure (AE) system is also not up to the caliber of Canon and Nikon. Like the AF system, the AE system is not bad but it could be a lot better. Note: Olympus has revamped it in their new consumer E-500 body.

C-AF is too slow without an HLD-2 – The continuous autofocus (C-AF) mode is a great feature when the optional vertical battery grip (HLD-2) is attached. I use one all the time. But the C-AF mode is too slow to be used without the HLD-2. Plus it can drain your battery quickly if you have a large lens attached (like a ZD ED 300mm f2.8 or ZD ED 150mm f2.0).

No image stabilization – So far, none of the lenses or bodies in the 4/3rds system offer any kind of image stabilization (IS). Instead, Olympus offers some \"super high grade\" lenses with very wide apertures (and equally high prices). With a wide aperture (low f-stop) more light enters the camera and so faster shutter speeds are possible. Some competitors (like Canon and Nikon) offer IS in select lenses. Another competitor (Konica Minolta) offers it in the body so it works will all of their lenses. In my opinion the absence of IS is not significant for general photography. You\'ll often get sharper photos with a good tripod and remote cable release. But for certain types of photography where you need to hand-hold a super-telephoto zoom it can be a huge help. There are rumors that Olympus will add IS to a future pro body.

Poor range of the IR remote control – The range of the optional wireless IR remote control is way too short. You can be no farther away than 5 m (16.4 ft) indoors or 3 m (9.8 ft) outdoors and you must be within +/-15° from the IR sensor. A \"pro\" camera body should have better range.

No time-lapse mode – Previous Olympus dSLR cameras (like the E-20n) allowed time-lapse photography. This feature was omitted from the E-1.

Olympus software – The software provided with the camera (Olympus Viewer) is dog slow. Even the optional \"professional\" software, Olympus Studio, is dog slow. I mean it is sloooow!!! Maybe I should say \"dead dog slow\". Olympus should abandon it and bundle Adobe software and provide better Photoshop support.

Short warranty – For such a well-built professional camera, it seems odd that Olympus covers it with just a 1-year warranty. A 1-year warranty is understandable for a consumer or prosumer camera body that isn\'t built to the high standards of the E-1 but it seems to me that the E-1 should have a 2 or 3-year warranty. By the way, you can extend the E-1 warranty for a couple of more years for a fee.

Price Paid:
Purchased new with a ZD 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 lens on eBay for about US$1200 in 2004 from a U.S. camera dealer.

Other Info:
When the E-1 was first introduced it was an exciting camera with many state-of-the-art features for its price. It\'s amazing that it is still such a strong camera today and continues to compare favorably with other professional cameras costing thousands of dollars more. However, some of its features are now dated. If I was looking for a new pro body today, I\'d be tempted to wait for the next pro body from one of the FourThirds Consortium members.

Post edited by: First Light, at: 2005/10/11 11:47

01-10-2006, 02:04 PM
Pros: Cheap, solid, quiet operation. Nice tonality in pictures, alright viewfinder. All buttons on the body. Firevire, x-sync contact, Weather seal. Solid hatches for CF card (feels like opening a safe). Handles cold weather very well.
Cons: Noisy pictures like hell. Sluggish AF. Not possible to program AF-ON button to use continous routine for focus instead of singleshot. A bit on the heavy side, albeit lighter than competition. Rubber grip will come loose, has now been replaced by a new material from Olympus. Good batterylife (when compared to D200)
price paid: About $1500
Other info:

03-24-2006, 06:01 AM
I'd have to agree with most of the points listed above, i absoloutely love the E-1 and i wont swap for another body until it breaks and its been so good id only choose the next model above it (Olympus E-1 Replacement Model?). The only problem i have with it is the playback features of horrible, truely horrible, the responce time from pressing the button to screen display is ok at around 2 seconds, but! thats if you can get it to come up at all, and then if you do manage to get it up it decides to switch itself off whenever it feels like it. Something which has been fixed in later models for obvious reasons, but all that aside i cant wait to see the super seeding model that HOPEFULLY we will not have to wait to long for.

03-24-2006, 09:39 AM
Pros: I love the E1 like crazy! In general it's just amazing all around. It's big, it's heavy (but not too heavy), it feels and is litterally built like a tank. It's completely weatherproof and has a built in sensor cleanor. I also love the look of it, especially with the batter grip attached. I could not have chosen a better camera. Especially not at the price I got it for ($1000 CA ; $840 US?). I will keep using it until the E1 replacement comes out. Even if it doesn't come out for another few years, thats fine.

Cons: Some noise issues at high ISO (no noise whatso ever though on low ISO (100-200, even 400 is pretty cleer)). Pretty bad AF, especially in low light.

Price Paid: Already mentioned...

Other Info:

12-27-2006, 06:03 AM
I've just bought this camera - yes I know it's 3 years old and technology has moved on - and I'm already a big fan. The build quality and handling are superb. Which other camera could offer this standard of build at this price (I paid about 400) - none!

I've taken a few photos, which aren't great (mostly of random household objects) and they seem a bit soft and noisy. However, I'm using the kit lens which, I've heard, is not great. The options and settings are good though - with a custom white balance that's fantastic.

It's only 5 megapixel but this isn't a concern at the moment as it's certainly capable of printing at sizes I'll be happy with. The colours are very accurate and will need little tweaking in post-processing.

I'd thought long and hard about this but the only other cameras I was considering - D80, D200, EOS 30D - were way out of budget given the features I wanted.

This is one very happy Olympus E1 user.

When I've finished working it all out I'll try and post a better review.