Olympus E-3 given very low rating in "Amateur Photographer" review

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by Tony Polson, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. Tony Polson

    Tony Polson Guest

    The UK magazine "Amateur Photographer" is well known for its detailed
    and objective reviews of cameras and lenses.

    In the January 5 issue there is a review of the Olympus E-3. The
    overall rating given was 82%, which is one of the lowest ratings ever
    given to a DSLR in this magazine.

    To put this in perspective, the Nikon D3 recently received one of the
    highest ever ratings of 95%. The Nikon D300 recently received 92% and
    the Canon EOS 1D Mk III received 93%.

    The lowest rating I can recall was, if memory serves correctly, 78%
    for a Sigma DSLR.

    So an 82% rating is very disappointing indeed. The marks were given
    for specification (16/20), build/handling (16/20), performance (16/20)
    and image quality (34/40). The Nikon D3 received 19/20 for the first
    three and 38/40 for the fourth.

    The verdict begins "Although the E-3 is significantly better in some
    respects than the camera it replaces [the E-1], it doesn't really
    compete with other professional-level cameras and has some

    It goes on to state that the E-3 "cannot hold a candle to" the Nikon
    D3 and suggests that Olympus are really looking to attract enthusiast
    photographers as distinct from professionals. That would account for
    the low price compared to the Nikon D3, but the Nikon D300 would seem
    to be a very strong competitor for the Olympus E-3 in a similar price

    This review must come as a huge disappointment for Olympus and for
    Four Thirds users. It could also be a disappointment for Leica DSLR
    users, as the rumours of a Leica-badged version of the Olympus E-3
    refuse to go away. There is even talk of a range of Leica Summicron
    (f/2) fixed focal length lenses under development for Four Thirds.
    Tony Polson, Jan 8, 2008
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  2. Tony Polson

    Brute Force Guest

    So, the E-3 isn't as good as a full-frame camera costing three-to-four times
    more? Wow, that's a helluva surprise.

    'Objectivity' has obviously been deleted from the AP test criteria, judging
    from this worthless pile of bollocks.

    and suggests that Olympus are really looking to attract enthusiast
    Brute Force, Jan 8, 2008
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  3. Tony Polson

    flambe Guest

    Regardless of test results it is difficult to fathom why anyone who is
    knowledgeable about these cameras and has a real need for the capabilities
    of the D3 and knows how to use it (criterion which exclude many of the
    readers here) and, lastly, can afford the darn thing, would even consider an
    Olympus E3.
    Leica is financially beholden to Panasonic and licenses the name to
    Panasonic. Panasonic does not want to develop a proprietary mount, in order
    to use an APS-c or full frame sensor like the ubiquitous Sony product, as it
    will never attract enough market share to justify the cost. Hence when
    Panasonic bows out of the dSLR market, which economics appear likely to
    force, the question is whether the Leica name will be peddled on lenses in
    Nikon/Canon mounts. Sony already has a deal with Zeiss. Unfortunately it
    does not appear that the Leica camera company can survive without such a
    licensing deal.
    It is sad that Leica does not appear to have the resources to develop a dSLR
    in its own name compatible with its existing SLR mount.
    flambe, Jan 8, 2008
  4. Tony Polson

    Tony Polson Guest

    That's true, which is exactly why I provided the comparison with the
    Nikon D300 rather than the D3.
    There is no doubt that Leica is at risk. Its traditional market for
    rangefinder cameras and lenses is threatened by the expiry of the
    patents on the M mount which has spawned rangefinder cameras with that
    mount from Konica, Voigtländer and Carl Zeiss. More to the point, it
    has allowed other manufacturers to offer lenses with the same mount.
    Many Leica traditionalists (including me) are buying these on the
    grounds of their excellent optical performance and build quality and
    low cost. I have only one Leica lens left in my outfit, a 90mm f/2.8.
    There is a 15mm f/4.5 Voigtländer ultrawide and the remainder are all
    Carl Zeiss, 21mm f/4.5 and 35mm f/2 Biogons and a 50mm f/2 Planar.

    The M8 digital rangefinder camera is now available off the shelf in
    most Leica dealers with waiting lists having disappeared. The latest
    price increase did not seem to stick with many M8 bodies currently
    available at the old price. It is a flawed camera and problematic to
    use given the need for UV/IR filters to solve excess sensitivity to IR
    and the need to deal with the problems that the filters themselves
    cause. The problem was the need for compatibility with existing Leica
    M lens designs, many of which are fundamentally incompatible with the
    requirements of digital capture.

    It is probably fair to say that the M8 rescued Leica from oblivion but
    there is a need for a better M9 very soon. Ironically, the results
    with Carl Zeiss ZM lenses on the Leica M8 are particularly good,
    because the Zeiss lenses are much nearer to telecentric than all but
    the newest Leica M glass.

    The Leica point and shoot digitals are merely re-badged Panasonic
    models. There is very little Leica DNA in them, if any, yet the Leica
    models sell at a huge price differential to the almost identical
    Panasonic versions. Robbery, if you ask me. I bought Panasonic. ;-)
    Leica did develop a DSLR, which consisted of the R9 digital/film
    camera body and the Digital Modul-R digital back with 10.2 MP. It was
    co-developed with Imacon and produces excellent results with Leica R
    lenses. However it is out of production and will not be made again.
    Tony Polson, Jan 8, 2008
  5. Tony Polson

    Brute Force Guest

    That's very real benefit of bad 'reviews' (I used inverted comma's because
    the AP scribbling seems ludicrously partisan, even by the standards of a
    photographic press in thrall to advertisers)

    Yep, AP are right in saying that it's not 'pro' system - but it's a decent
    amateur system that needs to come down to a decent amateur price.
    Unfavorable reviews have that effect.

    I see that the slide has already started in the UK, and it's possible to
    pick up an E-3 with an equivalent body price of £870, after knocking off the
    lowest possible price of the 14-54mm

    Good start - but there is still a lot of room for further reductions - c'mon
    Olympus me beauties! - don't make the mistake that you did with the E1.
    leaving them to rot in warehouses because of the absurd price, finally
    selling them for next to nothing as outdated curios.

    Let's see the body only price of the E-3 at £499. You know it'll get there
    eventually, so why drag out the agony? ;)
    Brute Force, Jan 8, 2008
  6. Tony Polson

    RichA Guest

    Only camera that got a worse review was the stupid Panasonic L10 and
    its $700 kit lens, 78%, which puts it in P&S territory. But the one
    reviewer on that magazine HATES the 4/3 system as a whole.
    The one thing that bothers me about all of this is that reviews rarely
    reflect real-life. Give two photogs the E-3 and D300, send them on a
    group of varied photo assignments and see which camera delivers the
    RichA, Jan 8, 2008
  7. Tony Polson

    Pete D Guest

    Give two photogs the E-3 and D300, send them on a
    ROFL, the D300 of course all things being equal, every time under every
    Pete D, Jan 9, 2008

  8. Tony, I don't know if you read the BJP, but the before Christmas issue
    contained my field tests of the E-3 and D3 together - used side by side.
    Far from not holding a candle, the E-3 could achieve at ISO 800 what the
    DS needed ISO 3200 to get - admittedly, D3 3200 is pretty much equal to
    E-3 800.

    One thing I did not mention, since these were two reports and not a
    comparison, was that the E-3 has LOADS of shadow detail even in virtual
    darkness compared to the D3, which clips the shadow end and drops three
    quarter tone levels drastically in pursuit of amazing apparent noise
    immunity. The E-3 shadows look to have two stops more in them than the
    D3 when lighter tones are like for like, whether looking at JPEGs or
    working from raw.

    I'd rate the E-3 preferable to, say, a Canon 40D, Nikon D300 or Sony
    A700. After using it my feeling was that if Sony (which I use now)
    disappeared tomorrow, Olympus would be the system I'd switch to. Before
    using the E-3, Pentax would have been my choice. I prefer relatively
    small cameras and lenses, and both Canon and Nikon equate quality with
    size. If you want top glass you get huge glass, and that works against
    my approach to subjects, travel, and anonymity.


    Icon Publications Ltd, Maxwell Place, Maxwell Lane, Kelso TD5 7BB
    Company Registered in England No 2122711. Registered Office 12 Exchange
    St, Retford, Notts DN22 6BL
    VAT Reg No GB458101463
    Trading as Icon Publications Ltd, Photoworld Club and Troubadour.uk.com
    www.iconpublications.com - www.troubadour.uk.com - www.f2photo.co.uk -
    www.photoclubalpha.com - www.minoltaclub.co.uk
    Tel +44 1573 226032
    David Kilpatrick, Jan 9, 2008
  9. Tony Polson

    Paul Furman Guest

    How did it do that?
    Paul Furman, Jan 9, 2008
  10. ROFL!

    It sounds like you misread the article: it's much more likely that it was
    saying that the E-3's ISO 800 noise was about the same as the D3's ISO 3200
    noise. Which is exactly what the physics of digital imaging would predict.
    Since the D3 has four times the sensor area, it should have four times the

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jan 9, 2008
  11. Tony Polson

    acl Guest

    It looks like he wrote the article. I don't know if he used jpegs (or,
    equivalently for this purpose, Nikon's raw converter) or not, but at
    least the Nikons I'm familiar with have a very steep shadow part to
    the curves they apply in-camera or in the raw converter (nikon capture/
    capture nx); and the jpegs desaturate the deep shadows, too.

    Anyway, I once took a trial subscription to BJP and found its
    technical articles to be slightly bizarre, eg all sorts of technical
    details by experts but no mention of whether jpeg or raw (and which
    converter) was used, or if the author analyzed the data in some other
    way etc. So I didn't actually subscribe to it. Admittedly, I like its
    non-technical articles much better.

    None of the above is to say anything negative about BJP of course,
    tastes are tastes.
    acl, Jan 9, 2008
  12. Tony Polson

    RichA Guest

    Well, I guess we'll never know because you won't see a test like that
    RichA, Jan 9, 2008
  13. Maybe he means equal in image - to get the same DoF, or to get with an
    f/5.6 lens what the E-3 could get with an f/2.8 lens?

    David J Taylor, Jan 9, 2008
  14. Tony Polson

    Doug Jewell Guest

    "This $2000 camera can't hold a candle to this $7000
    camera"[1]. Gee whiz, that's a surprise. Even the D300 costs
    25% more than the E-3, so I'd expect the D300 to be a closer
    comparison than the D3, but the D300 should still wipe the
    floor with the E3. How about comparing it to the (still
    officially current) D200, or 40D, or Sony A700?
    I don't know what planet some of these reviewers are on at
    times - There is no way a potential D3 customer would be a
    potential E-3 customer and vice-versa, so why compare the
    two? I think it is just the reviewer trying to get bragging
    rights "I've got a D3, and it's better than the E3 that you
    readers can afford, so na-na-na-na"
    Just after the release of the K10D, I saw a review in a
    magazine comparing it against the 30D. Comparing a $1500
    camera (body only) against a $2000 camera. Then to make
    matters worse, they had a Sigma 18-50 lens on the Pentax
    (Most Pentax in Australia are sold with Sigma lenses,
    because they are the same distributor), but they compared
    against the Canon 17-85IS - so they had a $200 lens on the
    Pentax, and a $1000 lens on the Canon! Not surprisingly, the
    Canon was better, but not by a big margin. But the big
    kicker was one of the comments by the reviewer, that the
    main reason he considered the Canon better, was that it's
    lens covered a greater zoom range!! I'm guessing if the
    Pentax had a sigma 18-200 then it would have won? Doesn't
    give you much faith in the reviewer, when they are testing a
    $1700 kit against a $2600 kit, and the $2600 kit wins
    because the lens has more zoom. Perhaps it was his first day
    reviewing SLRs, the day before he was probably comparing the
    $200 Kodak with the $200 Vivitar.

    [1] All prices are in Australian dollars - I don't care what
    the poms or yanks pay for them :p
    Doug Jewell, Jan 9, 2008
  15. Tony Polson

    Tony Polson Guest

    Thanks, David. I found that absolutely fascinating!

    When it comes to explaining complex technical issues in simple and
    easily understandable English, you have no equal.

    Have you read the "Amateur Photographer" review of the Olympus E-3? It
    would be interesting to know what you make of it.
    Tony Polson, Jan 9, 2008
  16. Tony Polson

    Tony Polson Guest

    I believe that the reviewer owns Olympus E-1 and E-510 bodies and a
    selection of Zuiko Digital lenses, so is hardly likely to show any
    disrespect to the E-3 that it does not deserve.

    And in any case, Olympus claims that the E-3 is a pro camera, so it is
    not unreasonable to compare it with other pro cameras. However, on
    the basis of price, I thought a comparison with the D300 was more
    appropriate, which is why I included the "Amateur Photographer" rating
    for the D300 in my posting.
    Tony Polson, Jan 9, 2008
  17. Mainly a depth of field thing. Even for shots after dark, having f2.8
    depth of field on full frame produces enough limitations to be less than
    ideal. The Oly gives the same DoF at f2.8 as the D3 does at f5.6, and
    the 12-60mm lens is very good, usable wide open - and the E-3 also has
    pretty effective in-body IS. So although I was using the Nikon with
    24-70mm f2.8 at 3200, and limited the Olympus to 800 to avoid the noise
    it does produce at anything higher, the Oly actually produced images
    which were a fair match for the D3 and in some cases better. Of course
    the D3 also did some things better - shutter speeds were shorter, and
    some snaps of night-time skaters were of little use from the E-3 at
    speeds around 1/30th but good and crisp on the D3 at around 1/125th.

    The Olympus JPEGs with similar 'standard' settings did have considerably
    more shadow detail than Nikon. In some ways the D3 pix have more impact.
    I shot raw for final repro images and here there's less difference, but
    still a hint that the E-3 is being more generous in relative exposure or
    using a less crushed curve at the shadow end.


    Icon Publications Ltd, Maxwell Place, Maxwell Lane, Kelso TD5 7BB
    Company Registered in England No 2122711. Registered Office 12 Exchange
    St, Retford, Notts DN22 6BL
    VAT Reg No GB458101463
    Trading as Icon Publications Ltd, Photoworld Club and Troubadour.uk.com
    www.iconpublications.com - www.troubadour.uk.com - www.f2photo.co.uk -
    www.photoclubalpha.com - www.minoltaclub.co.uk
    Tel +44 1573 226032
    David Kilpatrick, Jan 9, 2008
  18. I may have - I don't get AP sent to me any more, they used to have me on
    a contra list. I still get Practical. I have to be careful not to read
    too many reviews before getting hands on a camera, but it has been
    useful to get Anders Uschold's reports in the 'raw German English' from
    the BJP in advance of publication. Usually what I find confirms his tech
    tests, or the other way round; I'll have a vague feeling about the way a
    camera is handling something, and he will give this a precise explanation.

    Even so, he is still testing JPEGs only though I see he has made some
    comments about this in his test of the Canon 1Ds MkIII - which comes out
    very badly indeed, as excessively noisy and suffering from detail
    rendering problems. Adam Woolfitt does a field test next week and will
    be looking at the raw conversion potential, should redress that.


    Icon Publications Ltd, Maxwell Place, Maxwell Lane, Kelso TD5 7BB
    Company Registered in England No 2122711. Registered Office 12 Exchange
    St, Retford, Notts DN22 6BL
    VAT Reg No GB458101463
    Trading as Icon Publications Ltd, Photoworld Club and Troubadour.uk.com
    www.iconpublications.com - www.troubadour.uk.com - www.f2photo.co.uk -
    www.photoclubalpha.com - www.minoltaclub.co.uk
    Tel +44 1573 226032
    David Kilpatrick, Jan 9, 2008
  19. Tony Polson

    Robert Brace Guest

    In the above explanation (asked for by Paul), could you possibly have
    used any more "weasel words"? If this is the quality of your original
    articles' pronouncements (I didn't have the pleasure of reading them), I'm
    amazed anyone would come away with any more of an "informed opinion" than
    they had going in!
    Another example of why I have learned to take any such "test reports"
    with an extra-large helping of salt.
    Robert Brace, Jan 9, 2008
  20. Tony Polson

    acl Guest

    Well I personally found his reply perfectly fine and factual. The only
    perhaps ambiguous sentence maybe is "fair
    match for the D3 and in some cases better", but then again, what
    exactly could he have said instead of that? It's a valid appraisal, if
    not too specific.
    acl, Jan 9, 2008
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