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Olympus E-30 review:

Olympus E-30

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The Good Art filters are great fun. Support for multiple exposures. New 14-54mm kit lens is good. Image quality is consistent.

The Bad Live view is frequently laggy. Antiquated menu system and graphics. Loud, slow autofocus in live view.

The Bottom Line For those who have already invested in the four thirds system, the E-30 is a great upgrade. It's versatile and robust for advanced photographers, yet still simple enough for a keen beginner to pick up and play with.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.8 Overall

Targeted towards enthusiasts, high-level amateurs and photo hobbyists, the E-30 finally fills the hole in the Olympus dSLR line-up between the entry-level E-420 and E-520 cameras, and the high-end, professional E-3. For the body only, expect to pay a price of AU$1,799. Throw in the new 14-54mm kit lens and the price will put a dent in your pocket to the sound of AU$2,219.

If you've held any of the previous iterations of Olympus cameras, you'll feel right at home with the E-30. Button configuration, textures and layout all remain similar to the E-520. Its stature is just a little smaller than the E-3 as the prism hump is slightly reduced, and the body itself is lighter at 655 grams.

Compared to its competitors, it is smaller than both Canon's 50D and Nikon's D90 by a fraction; this is also helped by the E-30's four thirds system which is standard on the company's dSLRs.

The E-30 takes the best bits from the E-520 and the E-3, and looks like a serious prosumer digital camera. (Credit: Olympus)

One of the most striking features of the E-30 is the free-angle LCD screen which can be rotated to sit against the back of the camera, facing outwards. We like it a lot more than similar versions that have popped up on other dSLRs like Sony's alpha series.

Flanking the screen on the right-hand side are the standard playback buttons and navigation keypad, and underneath sit a host of additional buttons including live view.

Housing a new 12.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor and a free-angle, rotating 2.7-inch LCD screen, the E-30 has clearly taken cues from many of the trends currently affecting the dSLR and compact camera market.

Of most interest to us, though, is this new feature called Art Filter. Essentially, it's a set of six preset modes which you can access through the Art/Scn option on the mode dial, and includes such options as film grain, pop art, and pinhole. It applies a range of effects to your image in-camera, rather than during post-processing, and although it might seem a bit gimmicky at first, in practice it's actually a whole lot of fun. Scroll down for some pictures of these modes in action.

The other intriguing functionality is how the E-30 supports multiple exposures. Rather than fiddling around with separate images in post-processing, the camera will automatically merge up to four frames together, in-camera.

The viewfinder covers 98 per cent of the field of view, plus the E-30 also has the ability to shoot in nine different aspect ratios, 16:9, 3:2, 5:4, 7:6, 6:5, 7.5, 3:4, 4:3 and 6:6. Olympus claims a continuous shooting rate of 5 frames per second, and a battery life of 750 shots. We bemoan the continued support for the xD format; fortunately, there is also a slot for the more standard Compact Flash.

Provided with the camera is a brand new lens from Olympus, the 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5II Standard Wide Zoom, which is splash and dustproof (note that the body of the E-30 is not).

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