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

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

  1. "the Oly actually produced images which were a fair
    match for the D3 and in some cases better. Of course
    ... 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."

    Little contradictions like that, where he never
    specifies what is actually better about the E-3 but uses
    weasel words to get around the simple fact that the D3
    does things the E-3 simply can't do, makes the whole
    article suspect.

    But the real kicker was the claim that the E-3 provides
    2 fstops more shadow detail. And a "hint that the E-3
    is being more generous in relative exposure or using a
    less crushed curve at the shadow end" suggests a lack of

    If Olympus actually had a sensor that size performing as
    suggested, don't you suspect there'd be a *lot* of
    discussion? I don't hear any...
    Floyd L. Davidson, Jan 9, 2008
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  2. Tony Polson

    Robert Brace Guest

    "Perfectly fine and factual" vs. "not too specific" in context. OK,
    which will it be today?
    "Mainly a depth of field thing", "enough limitations", "less than
    ideal", "pretty effective", "fair match", "little use", "around 1/30th",
    "around 1/125th", "similar 'standard' settings", "considerably more", "in
    some ways", "more impact", "less difference", "a hint", "more generous",
    "less crushed curve" are just some of the examples.
    I thought this might have been obvious as apparently did Floyd (see his
    post for a more succinct explanation), that this retreat to generalities
    where specifics are called for was poor production. I'm assuming that
    accuracy was the goal here. Perhaps that is my error.
    Robert Brace, Jan 9, 2008
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  3. Tony Polson

    Scott W Guest

    The problem with this kind of argument is if you can use the DOF of
    full frame camera at f2.8 then there is nothing that the smaller
    format can do to match it. Putting this another way, I would hate to
    be limited to shooting at f/5.6 or slower on a full frame camera. I
    am currently using a 350D, which has a 1.6 crop fractor, one of the
    things that I look forward to in a full frame camera is being able to
    use my 50mm f/1.8 lens and get full use of it.

    Scott W, Jan 9, 2008
  4. Tony Polson

    acl Guest

    I beg your pardon. For instance, "I am" is factually correct, but it's
    not specific; what am I, a dog, a pig, or what?

    Anyway I think you're misdirecting your fire.
    acl, Jan 9, 2008
  5. Tony Polson

    acl Guest

    There's no contradiction, just some non-specificity. But I won't
    defend his appraisal: all I was saying is that compared to what
    normally appears in magazines it was extremely factual and precise.
    See my other comments, for instance: pages and pages of technical
    comments in the BJP (by the "expert" named elsewhere in this thread),
    but no mention of whether they were in jpeg or not (turns out it was
    all in jpeg--but analysed professionally in a german lab, you
    see :) ).
    Yes, that obviously refers to jpegs, as nikons have a steep shadow
    part to the curve (or the ones I know of do). Not that it was actually
    specified. Although David does later state that he sees the same in
    the raw files, which I'm willing to bet is bullshit (actually I know
    it is, I've looked at raw files from the e-3 and they are linearly
    encoded-but I am not an expert camera reviewer, you see).
    Look, all I'm saying is that most of what David wrote is reasonable.
    If you compare it to the rubbish that appears in all magazines when
    they talk about technical stuff (and the more technical they look, the
    more silly they are, in my experience), it's a masterpiece.

    I know this sounds like damning with faint praise, but...
    acl, Jan 9, 2008
  6. I was responding here to a trashing of the E-3. My reports in the BJP
    certainly didn't draw any comparisons, and to be honest, it was only on
    processing a number of shots later for Alamy that the difference in
    shadow density became apparent. Since the E-3 misfocused on many shots
    in such low light (a weak point) I had only a certain number of direct

    Any preference of mine for the E-3 is purely down to size. What I
    actually want is D3 performance all the way in an E-3 size outfit :)
    And that preference is not something I've put in a report, as it's not
    typical of the target market. That is just me. At the height of the film
    SLR bulking up period, 1999 or so, I stopped using SLRs entirely and
    switched to a pair of CLEs and and pair of Fujica 645s.


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    David Kilpatrick, Jan 10, 2008
  7. I chucked out my JPEGs, which I do after completing stuff (otherwise
    with raws and JPEGs I end up with too much disk space used) but - I have
    located the specific shots where I felt that the Nikon showed less
    useful shadow detail in raw than the Oly, and also not such a good
    colour rendering at defaults. You must appreciate that when testing
    cameras I do not investigate the results and learn fine-tuning routines,
    as I would when using a camera myself regularly. The manufacturer's own
    metering, colour and processing prefs are allowed to rule - after all,
    that's what they intend. I am fully aware that I can change the Nikon
    image to resemble the Oly, it's a white balance/sat/hue thing, but that
    defeats objective testing.

    The only 'error' here is to use ACR 4.3.1 which is relatively crap but
    industry standard.

    These are big images, and they are in AdobeRGB so they will NOT display
    correctly on non-colour aware machines, Windoze, etc (Mac Safari may be
    OK). They will download fine, and open in Photoshop to allow a proper

    First, Nikon at 3200 -


    Second, Oly at 800 -


    I do not think it is at all unfair to pitch Oly at 800 against Nikon at
    3200, since there is a 2-stop difference in depth of field. But I am
    unfair in not stopping the Nikon down, I guess; I just used P and
    allowed both cameras to work wide open.

    And please don't come back with 'but this was at that and this was a
    that' - these are point and shoot. The cameras did the work, I just
    framed the shot. I was trying out the cameras, not my skills.

    Ref comments about the reverse issue on depth of field, Olympus do make
    f2 zooms and long lenses. These permit differential focus for those who
    desperately need it, like full length fashion outdoors. Since neither
    the Olympus nor Nikon focusing screens allow accurate viewing of depth
    of field for any lens faster than f4.5 (or so - I have no means to
    measure this) it academic unless you use live view.

    For an explanation of this phenomenon, based on Canon 40D, see:


    I am sorry if I upset a few folk by not being technically precise in all
    judgements. I have been doing this for 30 years - 'Photography', 'Photo
    Technique', 'SLR Camera', 'Creative Photography' and onwards. Around 15
    years ago I realised that all measurements are meaningless given the
    sample sizes (1 unit) we deal with and the degree of precision we can
    work to. I abandoned line-per-mm testing and these days, I just write my
    gut feelings and insights into cameras. I have no desire to run a test
    lab and prefer to continue to ponder on aspects of this stuff until
    insights become clear. I do not use 'weasel words', but I do avoid
    didactic and absolute statements about things which are by their nature
    imprecise and subject to your own personal requirements and preferences.

    If that makes me a bit vague and noncommital, so be it!


    Icon Publications Ltd, Maxwell Place, Maxwell Lane, Kelso TD5 7BB
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    David Kilpatrick, Jan 10, 2008
  8. Interesting to note that I'm not the only one who finds the "pro" cameras
    insanely unergonomic. For that much, weight, I'd shoot 6x7/6x9, thank you.

    Great taste in film cameras you've got there, by the way. If I were to shoot
    35mm, the CLE sorts of things are what I'd look for (especially now that the
    Contax G glass is available in M mount), and the Fuji 645 rangefinders are
    amazing (my GS645S has the sharpest lens I've ever used). I wish the Fuji
    6x9 cameras were 50mm and 110mm lenses instead of 65mm and 95mm. Sigh. If
    they were, I wouldn't have to bother with all this digital silliness.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jan 10, 2008
  9. Uh, no one spends US$5000 on a camera and uses it as a point and shoot. This
    idea/approach of yours is guaranteed to irritate anyone who thinks when they

    By the way, the wheel* that you have rediscovered is the point that when you
    need both DOF _and_ shutter speed, a larger format doesn't provide any
    advantage over a smaller format. Which means that if you want the advantages
    of the larger format you are going to have to think. Fortunately, people who
    buy larger format cameras plan on thinking.

    *: http://www.clarkvision.com/photoinfo/dof_myth/
    Yes. The Oly 35-100/2.0 is quite a bit larger, heavier, and more expensive
    (and not IS) than the Canon 70-200/4.0. And provides exactly the same
    photographic functionality (DOF, shutter speed, and image noise levels at
    two stops smaller and 4x the ISO on the 5D (dunno if Nikon makes a
    70-200/4.0 VR or not)).
    FWIW, you can't judge DOF (as seen on an 8x10 or larger print) on any
    viewvinder ever made, including live view screeens. And anyone who says you
    can isn't thinking straight.
    This guy is silly beyond words.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jan 10, 2008
  10. Tony Polson

    Tony Polson Guest

    Thanks David. I will watch for those reviews in BJP.
    Tony Polson, Jan 10, 2008
  11. Tony Polson

    Tony Polson Guest

    I could not agree more. One of the irritations of my Olympus E-1
    (long gone) was the inability to separate subject from background even
    with lenses used wide open. For the same angle of view, you need a
    lens fully two stops wider on Four Thirds to get the same degree of
    separation that you get on full frame 35mm. And the Zuiko Digital
    lenses are not two stops wider. So I eventually became a happy
    convert to the EOS 5D. My two 5D bodies have served me well.

    I was expecting the E-3 to offer some degree of temptation for me to
    return to Olympus and Four Thirds. But as with the E-1, Olympus has
    offered a camera body that is basically a worthy effort, but too far
    behind the competition in terms of performance.

    Within weeks of announcing the 5 MP E-1 as a competitor to the 4 MP
    Canon EOS 1D, Canon announced the 1D Mk II with 8 MP. Now Olympus
    tries to compete with pro offerings from Canon going up to 21 MP, and
    can only offer a 10 MP camera, still with significant flaws.

    The E-1 signalled the start of the Four Thirds project. I have a
    strong feeling that we will look back on the E-3 as the end.

    I am particularly concerned about the strong rumours that the next
    Leica DSLR will be an E-3 carrying the Leica red dot. So far, Leica's
    exposure to Four Thirds has been a licensing agreement to use the
    Leica name on some Panasonic-designed lenses, with Leica putting their
    badge on the Panasonic L1 and calling it the Digilux 3. That has been
    a low risk strategy, enabling Leica to test the market.

    But a Leica "E-3" with Leica-designed fixed focal length lenses is a
    much more serious commitment. And I fear that it is a commitment to a
    format that may not be around for much longer, putting the future of
    Leica at risk once again.

    I wish things were different. I was an enthusiastic early adopter of
    Four Thirds but the relatively small difference in performance between
    the E-1 and pro DSLR cameras at that time has now become a gulf
    between the E-3 and the competition.
    Tony Polson, Jan 10, 2008
  12. Tony Polson

    Tony Polson Guest

    I think David's reviewing style matches both the style of the British
    Journal of Photography and the style of its readership. People buying
    the BJP seem to expect this style of review.

    Personally, I prefer a more analytical review, with a stronger
    concentration on objective evaluations of performance. That is
    probably why I almost never buy the BJP*. But I find David's
    opinions fascinating, and the fact that his reviews are more
    subjective in no way detracts from their validity. It is just a
    different approach to reviewing equipment, and I welcome the fact that
    different approaches are still available to those who find them

    Heaven forbid that camera and lens reviews should concentrate on
    pixel count and peak MTF, and nothing else.

    * The BJP's review of the Leica M8 (not by David Kilpatrick, I hasten
    to add) was probably the worst camera review I have ever read. It
    made Ken Rockwell's web site look like a paragon of objectivity.
    Tony Polson, Jan 10, 2008
  13. Tony Polson

    acl Guest

    Just to be clear, I have no problem with this. I was just pointing out
    that it's specific to jpegs and the curve applied to them, that's all.
    However, saying that the only way to do objective testing is to accept
    what the ACR development team considers to be an appropriate tone
    curve is idiotic (I beg your pardon, this is not personal: I don't
    think you are stupid, only that the sentence is).

    However, see below
    Wait a minute. If I understand correctly, you're saying that, based on
    shots converted with acr at 800 for the e3 and 3200 for the d3, you
    conclude that the e3 doesn't crush the shadows as much. Well, assuming
    that acr applies exactly the same curves to different cameras, how do
    you know it applies the same curve to different iso? certainly the NR
    it applies is completely different even if the NR sliders are set to
    the same positions. And many other things. Now I understand what your
    point is, but to state that the d3 crushes the shadows more in raw is
    simply misleading (and untrue, for that matter: the raw file is
    completely linear, nothing gets crushed).

    Well ok. That's why I stopped reading magazines, though: what use is
    such info if I'm going to spend several thousand on a camera? To
    others it might, though, I don't object to that.
    Heh, ok, but did you check what the effective aperture is for eg a
    minolta xd7? Unfortunately I have no fast lens here to check, but I
    think you'd be surprised. It's hardly a new phenomenon. And, well, to
    say that this makes the existence of fast lenses academic, well, no it
    does not. Sorry.
    OK but we're not talking about that. What people are objecting to is
    different. If, while testing a camera, I used a high-contrast film,
    then developed it using a high-contrast developer and printed on grade
    5 paper, then, I think that if I wrote "well, lens X has too high a
    contrast" would not be accepted by most. It's not like measuring
    minute performance differences and basing the review on this (which is
    what you're trying to make the objectors appear to wish).
    Whether a higher contrast is achieved due to the nature of a camera or
    the raw converter is not in the slightest imprecise. And that you try
    to make all those who objected in this thread look like they're
    supporting a test of the type "measure lp/mm, S/N etc" is
    acl, Jan 10, 2008
  14. Tony Polson

    Paul Furman Guest

    I'm not sure what 10x magnified on the LCD works out to but my D200
    zooms into full size pixels or more so you absolutely can see the exact
    focus & DOF on the LCD & live view would be handy for judging this. I've
    done remote control on a laptop with more delay but similar benefits.
    I don't agree with the Oly/D3 comparison but this is a good explanation
    of how live view can be useful.

    There is the vague suggestion that a Leicaflex/Contaflex is somehow
    better than digital which seems misleading or at least confusing. The
    difference is full frame or not & heavier matte or not.

    I believe this is incorrect:

    "You may observe the slight purple and green biases given to objects in
    the foreground defocused zone and background defocused zone. This is
    common when using very wide aperture lenses on digital systems, and is a
    result of a convergent ray cone at the focal plane for close objects and
    a divergent ray cone for distant ones, and the angle at which
    image-forming rays strike the microlenses. If you want to see this
    emphasised, get a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro and use it wide open very
    close. The 85mm f/1.2 is not suffering from ‘CA’ to produce this effect,
    it’s entirely down to the structure of the sensor."

    It is a different kind of CA, maybe digital makes it more apparent but
    it's still CA: axial/longitudinal chromatic aberration vs lateral
    chromatic aberration. I see this on my Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 & 135mm f/2.
    Paul Furman, Jan 10, 2008
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