Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Equipment TestDrive: Olympus E-1
Check out the completely new digital-SLR system from Olympus
One very interesting new innovation built into the E-1 is a "Supersonic Wave Filter" that cleans the CCD at each camera startup. Dust is a serious issue with digital image sensors, but so is cleaning technique. It's not like you can go in and rub a lens tissue around (never attempt to do that unless you've been instructed by a qualified technician). To alleviate the problems of dust without risking damage to the sensor or the protective coverings, Olympus devised the Supersonic Wave Filter to actually shake dust off the CCD. It's completely safe and keeps dust from accumulating.
The E-1's autofocus system is a three-point TTL phase-difference AF system. The AF is fast and accurate, and keeps up with the camera's 3 fps maximum shooting speed. The 3 fps is good for 12 frames before the buffer fills and you're forced to slow down. The camera takes CompactFlash cards (Type I and II) and connects to the computer via USB 2.0 or FireWire.
White balance is tackled in a unique fashion as well. Color temperature is measured off the imaging CCD and from a sensor on the camera body. Then the values are combined to render an accurate white balance for the overall image. Of course, you also can set the white balance manually if you'd prefer.
The E-1 body has been built to withstand rugged use. Its magnesium-alloy construction is durable and it's sealed to protect against adverse conditions. It weighs in at 1.5 pounds and measures 5.6x4.1x3.2-inches-very compact for a camera of this kind.
Olympus is creating a complete line of new Zuiko lenses for the E-1. Currently available are a 50-200mm ƒ/2.8-3.5, 50mm ƒ/2.0 macro, 14-54mm ƒ/2.8-3.5 and 300mm ƒ/2.8. New focal lengths at the wide end are said to be on the way to round out the range. MSRP: $1,799 (body only).
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