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Olympus E-1 dSLR


  • in 2001, before full frame dSLRs existed, a consortium of manufacturers including Olympus, Panasonic, Leica and Kodak got together and decided upon a new digital format which they believed would represent the best compromise in edge-to-edge image quality, compact size and price.
  • the new sensor size of 18.0 x 13.5mm (2x crop factor) was a touch smaller the 1.6x crop 22.7 x 15.1mm sensors in the Canon dSLRs of the time (EOS-D30, EOS-D60, and 6mp EOS-10D), and 1.5x crop of the 6mp Fujifilm S2 Pro while there were two expensive pro full frame dSLRs produced - 11mp Canon EOS 1Ds and the Nikon mount dSLR, the 14mp Kodak DCS-14n.
  • the sensor was some 4x larger than the sensor in the two Olympus digital cameras preceding it, the E10 and 5mp E-20 which were both using a 2/3“ sensor measuring 8.8 x 6.6mm.
  • the 1st fruit for these developments was the exciting Olympus E-1 pro dSLR released in 2003 and which became renown for its particular “Olympus colours” thanks to the Olympus jpeg algorithm and the Kodak sensor.
  • with it's announcement was a series of pro and semi pro Four Thirds lenses designed to fit this mount and featuring a new optical design to ensure “telecentricity” so that pixels towards the edge of the sensor would not have too much light fall off.
  • Olympus also realised that dSLR owners would be plagued by dust landing on the sensor and adversely impacting each image thereafter. The E-1 was the 1st dSLR to feature an automatic sensor cleaning system - and the Olympus SSWF cleaning system is still the most effect on the market. Canon and Nikon eventually adopted similar systems several years later.
  • as with all camera manufacturers entering the dSLR field, by necessity, Olympus also introduced a new digital TTL flash technology not compatible with older analog TTL flashes
  • it was a brave move, but Olympus was always going to have a big fight on it's hands to win over existing pro photographers who would have to buy new lenses and sell their old Canon or Nikon lenses. The E-1 also struggled to compete with ISO noise and AF capabilities compared with the competition, while full frame dSLRs had also just hit the scene and would prove to be where most pro photographers would put their money on.
  • Nevertheless, the E-1 was a popular camera, and Olympus did not help their cause by delaying it's replacement for so long, allowing Canon and Nikon to steam ahead in the image quality, remote TTL flash and AF capability stakes.


  • weatherproof
  • very quiet
  • lightweight
  • sensor dust removal
  • excellent lenses
  • small, light batteries
  • nice jpeg colours
  • popular for fashion, weddings, and photojournalism in particular
  • the expensive 300mm f/2.8 lens allowed hand holdable 600mm field of view - great for those African safaris!


  • higher image noise at ISO > 400
  • only 3 AF points
  • no remote TTL flash
  • 5mp sensor not competitive with Canon/Nikon offerings
  • relative lack of range of lenses


  • 5mp Kodak CCD sensor
  • 3fps up to 12 frames
  • ISO 100 - 800 plus 1600 and 3200
  • Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF) sensor cleaning
  • pentaprism optical viewfinder with removable focusing screen
  • 3 point phase difference AF
  • AF assist lamp
  • very high build pro-quality magnesium-alloy body with environmental sealing (splash proof)
  • shutter speed range of 60 to 1/4000 sec (up to 8 minutes in Bulb mode)
  • “anti-shock” mirror lockup feature
  • hybrid white balance sensor (on external surface of camera and using CCD)
  • noise reduction for ISO noise and long exposure noise reduction
  • compact Flash Type I & II storage including IBM 1Gb Microdrive and FAT32 for cards larger than 2Gb
  • top LCD info screen
  • 1.8” 134,000 pixel LCD monitor with 4x magnification playback, and blinking highlights & histogram
  • shading compensation (removes potential vignetting)
  • pixel mapping
  • wired (RM-CB1) and infrared wireless remote control (RM-1)
  • PC Sync flash terminal plus hotshoe, Olympus digital TTL flash with Super FP capability (HSS)
    • the FL-50 flash announced at the same time also supports zoom control, red-eye reduction and slow sync flash
    • optional macro twin flash and ring flash kits
    • no remote TTL capability
  • USB 2.0 and firewire
  • 1500 mAh BLM-1 Lithium-Ion battery
  • optional HLD-2 'Power Battery Holder' vertical grip ($US549)
  • 141 x 104 x 81 mm (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
  • 660 g (1.5 lb) with the 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5, it is ~25% lighter than an equivalent Canon 10D or Nikon D100 with 28-70mm f/2.8 lens and it provided much more wide angle field of view, and it was much more splash/dust proof and had a noticeably quieter shutter although had more high ISO image noise, particularly at ISO 800 and higher.
  • $US1699 body only at introduction


photo/olympuse1.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/22 01:50 by gary1

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