We test image image quality from this excellent camera.
The Olympus E-3
digital camera is an impressive unit and is Olympus’ replacement for the E-1, their ‘professional’ model. It has a decent resolution of
10Mpixels, LivePreview using the shooting sensor, a swing and tilt LCD
screen and excellent ergonomics and weather proofing. The weather
proofing I can testify to after getting soaked when a bigger than
expected wave broke over me and the camera. The camera is well and solidly constructed and offers reassurance that it will last a long time.
The swing/tilt LCD with LivePreview are extremely useful in various situations. The autofocus is fast and effective and the auto exposure system functions well.
Now for the noise tests. We ran our normal outdoor regular tests and also shot a greyscale target indoors with both short exposures and longer 15 second exposures.
Below are 100% crops from the center of the image. Starting exposure is 1/350 second at f5.6 and 100ISO.
Noise is very well controlled, as you can see from the shots above.
Short exposure noise
In the histogram displays above you can see that although the peaks are not that narrow (a function of the small sensor providing a background level of noise), they are clearly defined and there is not a lot of difference up to 400ISO or so.
15 Second exposure noise test
From examining the above we can say that the E-3 has quite acceptable noise levels at ISO levels up to 400 or even 800ISO when the exposures are short but that noise during long exposures is quite high above 100ISO.
This is not a particularly low noise camera for night work but handles daylight exposures quite well.
For those with an interest, you can examine the E-3’s infrared performance in a separate article.
For those in the US, we can recommend buying the E-3 from B&H Photo.