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Olympus E-300 eVolt 4/3 DSLR Digital SLR Test Review
© 2004 KenRockwell.com

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The buzz on this started in the fall of 2004. It is a brilliantly compact DSLR using the 4/3 format sensor. I have not used one yet. It's slated for release on 15 January 2005 and you can order it today for $1,000 with a 14 - 45mm (28-90mm) lens.

Olympus, unlike Canon or Nikon or Pentax or Minolta or Leica or anyone, has a history of setting the world on its ear with brilliantly different miniaturized camera designs every decade or so. The OM system was one of these, and so are the XA and other series of earlier cameras. The E-300 may be one of these as well. It uses a slick sliding horizontal reflex mirror to save a lot of space.

On the other hand, the very limited selection of only expensive lenses make this not that interesting for me compared to Canon and Nikon.


8 megapixels

Magic ultrasonic sensor cleaner-offer

2.5 FPS

only three AF points

ISO 200, 400 and 800. 100 and 1,600 available in trick modes (Also possibly only 100 - 400 with 800 and 1,600 in trick modes). This is bad; all the competition go to 1,600 or more directly and look great doing it.


Built-in flash and hot shoe for external flash

Takes standard CF cards.

Compact, lightweight mirror finder

Here's the factory's website and some more info here, in Japanese of course.



Olympus has a history of introducing innovative tiny cameras, so this is just what we'd expect. Consider it if you want tiny.

Clever innovations are the small size and the magic CCD dust cleaner-upper. Big minuses are the lack of a full line of lenses.

The Canon 20D and Nikon D100 and D70 do more for probably a lot less. The 8MP vs. 6MP has no effect on image quality (more here), the dust eliminator is nice however Nikon's D70 also has that licked, and the E-300's low ISOs will give less sharp photos due to less depth of field and motion blur compared to the 20D and D70.


Consider this if size is paramount. If you need flexibility in a system with many options and long future system life then go Canon or Nikon instead. No one knows if this new Olympus format or system will grow or even be available 5 years from now.

By all means get the camera with the 14 - 45 mm standard lens, or get the 11 - 22 mm and the 50 - 200 mm pair instead. You have few choices and I find this limiting enough not to have much personal interest in the E-300 as you can read on the lens page.

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