Editors Choice 2004: Digital SLRs

Olympus E-1

Editors-Choice-2004-Digital-SLRs
Editors-Choice-2004-Digital-SLRs

Olympus E-1

Most digital SLRs inherit their bodies-not to mention their lenses -from existing 35mm SLR systems. Not so the Olympus E-1, the first D-SLR built from scratch. This five-megapixel camera looks more like its digital ZLR cousins, the Olympus Camedia E-20N and E-10, but unlike those models its optical viewfinder shows 100 percent of the actual image area-a pro spec if ever there was one. It captures images with a five-megapixel CCD that's smaller even than the smaller-than-35mm sensors found in its competitors. It produces image quality on par with or better than those models, but the chip's size means that lenses can be made both faster and smaller. What's surprising is that the system's Zuiko lenses have image circles that seem huge relative to the sensor. This design causes light rays to strike the sensor more directly than with D-SLRs using existing 35mm lenses, the purpose to maximize image quality from corner to corner. (See Lenses, page 66, for details.) With its standard 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 zoom (equivalent to 28-108mm in 35mm), the E-1 is about a pound lighter than other D-SLRs with comparable optics. It's also more compact, though not at the expense of ergonomics, handling, or toughness. In fact, the E-1's magnesium-alloy body is impressively solid-weather-proof too, thanks to gaskets and seals that protect all controls and openings. Operating speed is excellent: up to 3fps in bursts of up to 12 shots. Equivalent sensitivity is ISO 100 to 800, with ISO 1600 and 3200 available via an "ISO Boost" feature. The camera can save images in JPEG, TIFF, and ORF (Olympus RAW) formats. About $1,500.

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