Welcome to another installment of "Users speak out..." This time, we're going to take a look at the Olympus Evolt E-300. The opinions will be chosen based on the value of the information (in our opinion) to our readers. We won't necessarily pick only the "positive" opinions or only the "negative" opinions. We'll pick the opinions that we think will be most helpful to you as you shop for and compare cameras. To see all opinions, click through to the product detail, and click the "View Opinions" link. To see other reviews out there on the net, see the reviews page.
The E-300 entry level digital SLR can capture images at 8 megapixels. Since it's a digital SLR, you have the option to get many different lenses and this camera can handle the full line of Zuiko Digital Specific lenses. In order to keep dust off the image sensor, the camera vibrates the image sensor to knock any dust off. A side-swing mirror lets the camera be much lower profile than other SLR cameras. You can review images on a 1.8 inch LCD and take pictures with 14 scene modes as well as many manual modes.
Now for the opinions...
So far, the one to beat for the $1000 and under price range (3/25/2005)
Pros: There is a full metal chassis interior, all aluminum alloy, which is unusual and rare in this price class, for better durability. 8mp is unique, currently, in this class and the TIFF file availability is also an Olympus exclusive. The self cleaning CCD is no gimmick having tested it for myself, shooting 140 shots without a lens in the arizona desert. Clean the CCD twice in a row, no dust ever, and it only takes half a second. No other SLR could do that, save perhaps Oly's own E-1. The optics, by the way, are outstanding, especially on their pro and semi-pro pieces... remember the 2x crop. All Oly cams have had excellent battery life and extremely fast processing, so... you should be pleased. This is the cutting edge, as was the E-1 when it came out. Watch this one closely. Someone said something about only 2.5fps in RAW... but honestly, it is exceedingly rare for the customer base this camera is aimed at to shoot RAW, let alone TIFF... they are not the photoshop Guru type, they just want family pics. This camera will deliver that and in spades. Olympus, it should also be noted, currently has the best reliability record for their Digital SLR lineup... another appealing factor. Kudos and good luck to them as they move onward... now waiting for a superPRO body to round it out. :)
Cons: If anything, the only con for this system is that it's still a growing lineup. With ony 8 lenses, some will say your extremely limited... however, in it's favor, it is a lineup that is expanding rapidly with another 8 lenses, a new flash and other accessories due within the next 10 months.
Great value for money, good image quality
Pros: Feels very good in the hand. Good kit lens, produces excellent results. Good exposure with strong midtones in program mode, does not tend to underexpose shots too much, which I like. In manual mode, shutter and aperture are set by the same command dial where switching requires pushing a button first. Not as fast as a two dial method but manageable. Supersonic wave filter gives a bit of assurance that less dirt will hit the CCD sensors. Flash power can bet set manually which is good. Battery is pretty long-lasting. Good display screen at body back despite lack of bodytop LCD. The display screen works well as you can set it to display the menus when you half depress the shutter release button. Display menu on the right of viewfinder screen can be a challenge to the bespectacled like me, but can get use to it soon by pressing face closer to the viewfinder, which sort of make it even more steady so I am not complaining. 8 MP compare to 6 MP does not really mean much more details(law of diminishing returns) but it means more room for cropping. In fact when I see potential in a picture, I will take a really high res and large picture so that I can crop for the best effect later. Overall a camera which will divide opinions. But great if good build and image quality, battery life are your top priorities.
Cons: Though not recommended for small hands as the body can be a little too thick despite its dimunitive looks. Flash light can be blocked by lens hood supplied at 14mm(28mm) so use hood and flash with care. Noise issues at iso800 and above due to less in-process noise processing by Olympus. If you require good images at high iso, please use raw format, NR and post process using software like Neat Image. Unscrewing the lens cap does not leave too much space to hold the camera at the right side facing the camera. May miss shots if you don't change lens fast enough. Though with practice this problem can be minimized greatly.
Best Value Digital Camera
Pros: This camera is 2 in 1. I am an experienced photographer, so I like the fact that you can go from auto mode to completely manual regarding the camera settings. Yet when my wife wants take pictures with this camera, all she has to do is switch to the scene mode, and this camera will set all the settings for her, and produce photos that would rival the qualiity of expert photographers. If I get the same production from this camera as I have had from my Olympus OM1, I will be very "happy camper".
Cons: "if I were King", I would have preferred the faster lens in the kit, or at least the option to purchase the camera with that in the package.
Has replaced my E1 and 20D's in my studio.
Pros: Great color and a joy to use. Like the E1 no dust. Less noise than E1 even at ISO 100. Small package with great results. After using a Nikon D1X, Nikon D70, Fuji S2, Canon 10D and 20D the E1 has been my choice for portrait and comerical work. The E300 with it's lower noise levels and 8mp CCD is now my work hourse. However I never have used the kit lens. I took the 14-54 off the E1 and have used it with the E300.
Cons: The E300 like the E1 is not the best choice for low light sports, but at this price who cares.
Superb value for money - a camera doing more then any P&S
Pros: Easy and intuitive to use like a P&S camera with the builtin 14 Scenery modes. Built like a SLR, but doesn't look like one at first sight. Functionality and expandability like an SLR. Superior Flash combination with original FL-36. Very fast and Accurate AutoFocus even in low light. Impressingly good kit-lens 14-45/1:3.5-5.6 Doesn't need to worry about dust on the image sensor as with any non-Olympus digital SLR. Unbeatable value for the money (both the camera and the kitlens are made in China).
Cons: Slightly larger & heavier then a P&S camera. You may have to read the manual in order to fully exploit the advanced parts of the camera.