Olympus is one of those brands that’s fondly thought of among photography enthusiasts, like Farley’s Rusks and Big Trak. Loads of snappers started out with an Olympus SLR and David Bailey swears by them.
This digital SLR is an evolution of the E-300 and the £900 kit comes as standard with the same excellent 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 lens. The camera body also looks similar from the front, but round the back is a huge 2.5in screen that pops out and rotates up and down.
It’s not just a gimmick for showing your mates, either, as this is the first DSLR which allows you to use the screen as a viewfinder, like you can with digital compacts.
Image quality from the 7.5megapixel sensor is truly awesome – crisp, punchy and well exposed – while the focusing is very fast and doesn’t struggle too badly in low light. Flash pics are a bit dull, although you’ll rarely get red-eye. Handling is also superb – like the Nikon D70 it suits manly hands rather than the ladylike grasp favoured by the Pentax *istDS.
Storage for pics comes via a CompactFlash/Microdrive slot and another for xD-Picture cards. Pop a 6GB Microdrive in and you’re good for about 1000 shots at Super High quality. You can’t argue with that.
One thing that puts Nikon, Canon and Pentax at an advantage is the wealth of cheap lenses offered for their cameras by manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. There’s also the secondhand market, where you’ll hardly find any Olympus Digital lenses and certainly no bargains.
But if you’re willing to splash the cash for a full Olympus set-up or only want one or two lenses, this won’t be a problem and you’ll benefit from the best digital SLR for under a grand.