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Labels: CamerasBuyers Guide

1. 3.0-Inch Swiveling LCD Monitor: Video and odd-angle still shooting is made easier by the 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor, which can tilt and swivel through 270°. 2. Two Card Slots: The E-5 can use CompactFlash (including UDMA) and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. 3. Built-In Flash: Unlike most pro DSLRs, the E-5 has a built-in, pop-up flash unit (ISO 100, GN 42 in feet, 13 in meters). The hot-shoe accepts external flash units, and there’s wireless TTL flash control.

Olympus E-5

LIST PRICE: $1,699
(body only)

TOP OLYMPUS IMAGE QUALITY: Thanks to its 12.3-megapixel High-Speed Live MOS image sensor and a new TruePic V+ image-processing engine, the E-5 offers the best image quality of any Olympus camera. Fine Detail Processing technology utilizes all the information from each pixel to increase detail, reduce noise and deliver true colors and flesh tones.

RUGGED PRO BODY: Like the E-1 and E-3 pro models before it, the E-5 is a rugged pro camera, completely splash- and dustproof (as are the pro lenses). Features include a sealed, lightweight, thixmold magnesium-alloy body and a shutter tested to 150,000 cycles. Like the LCD monitor, the eye-level optical viewfinder shows 100% of the actual image area.

10 ART FILTERS: Olympus introduced the in-camera Art Filters in the E-30, and the E-5 now brings these effects to the pro model. The E-5 has 10 Art Filters, adding Dramatic Tone to filters previously introduced in the E-30, E-620 and PEN-series cameras. The filters can be applied to still images and SD and HD movies, and for the first time, can be used in all shooting modes.

QUICK AF: The E-5 improves on the E-3’s super-quick AF speed with SDM lenses. The twin cross-type, 11-point AF sensor provides equally effective performance on both vertical and horizontal axes, while a houndstooth-pattern, phase-detection sensor layout improves low-light performance. Contrast-detect AF (with Face Detection) is used for live-view shooting. The camera also includes +/-20-step AF fine adjustment.
Olympus introduced the Four Thirds System with the E-1 pro DSLR back in 2003. That model was followed by a dozen more from Olympus, including its pro successor, the E-3. Now comes that camera’s successor, the E-5, with a number of improvements on an already good camera (there was no E-2 model, nor an E-4). Along with the features highlighted here, the E-5 provides very effective Supersonic Wave Filter sensor-dust reduction (an Olympus innovation), sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses (with a claimed +/-5 EV effectiveness), 5 fps shooting, a top shutter speed of 1⁄8000 sec., an HDMI output so you can show your HD videos in HD on HDTV sets and more.

While most film-camera manufacturers adapted their 35mm SLR bodies to digital use, Olympus started from scratch, designing its DSLRs around the 17.3x13.0mm Four Thirds System image sensor. This offered a number of advantages, including lenses designed for digital photography and optimized for the Four Thirds sensor, and the potential for smaller cameras and lenses.

Four Thirds System cameras can use all Four Thirds System lenses, regardless of manufacturer. Currently, these range from a 7-14mm zoom and an 8mm fisheye to a 300mm supertelephoto. The Four Thirds sensor’s 2x focal-length factor turns these into 35mm equivalents of 14-28mm, 16mm and 600mm, respectively. There’s also a 2x teleconverter that takes that 300mm out to 600mm (equivalent to 1200mm on a 35mm camera).

STANDOUT FEATURE: The E-5 is the first Olympus DSLR with HD video capability. It can shoot 1280x720 HD and 640x480 SD video at 30 fps in AVI format with Motion JPEG compression. Mono sound can be recorded via a built-in microphone, and there’s a jack for an external stereo mic.
VERDICT: The E-5 is Olympus’ best DSLR yet, with excellent image quality and performance, and an outstanding feature set.

Olympus E-3
If you want a good, pro-rugged DSLR and don’t need video capability, the E-3 should still be available on dealers’ shelves for a time. The E-3 is a 10-megapixel model with pretty much the same body as the E-5, a smaller swiveling LCD and a number of the same features for substantially less cost (street price). List Price: $1,299 (body only).
Olympus E-30
The E-30 has the same pixel count as the E-5, but a smaller 2.7-inch swiveling LCD monitor and with a less rugged body (no splashproofing). It has lots of great features, including +/-20-step AF adjustment, a digital level sensor, creative Art Filters, slots for CF and xD-Picture cards, and lots more. Price: $999 (body only).

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