The unnamed prosumer DSLR Olympus was showing as a prototype at Photokina was announced today as the E-30 DSLR. The E-30 fills a large void in the Olympus line between the $649 E520 kit and the $1699 Pro-oriented E-3.

Everyone who wondered when Olympus would migrate their fast 11 dual cross-point AF module to a consumer grade camera finally get that choice in the E-30. Olympus even claims AF speed just as fast as the E-3 when the E-30 is used with Olympus SWD lenses. Also featured is a 98% optical viewfinder with a real pentaprism, significantly upgraded from the pentamirror of the E-520/E-420.

The very useful tilt-and-swivel LCD is also migrated from the E-3 and increased in size to 2.7 inches. Olympus specifies the new LCD as 100% view in Live View mode with magnification up to 10X for fine focusing. Live View Auto Focus is also claimed to be extremely fast, which would mean this Olympus-developed feature is finally evolving into a truly useful shooting mode on the DSLR.

With the new 12.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor the E-30 will be the highest resolution DSLR in the Olympus line-up. It appears the sensor is the same used in the Panasonic G1 interchangeable lens digital that uses Live View mode for all focusing. Panansonic and Olympus claim AF speeds in Live View with the new sensor are the fastest available in any contrast-detect AF system. The speed appears fast enough to make Live View a useful shooting mode instead of just a check-list feature as it is on most current DSLR cameras.

Unique features of the E-30 include multiple-exposure capability, a Digital Leveler that will be particularly useful for architectural photography, and art filters for getting creative with the image. Image Stabilization is built into the body and it is an auto-switching two-plane system that is said to provide up to 5 stops improvement in hand-holding in low light. The E-30 also features auto-sensor cleaning pioneered by Olympus.

The E-30 will ship in January 2009 as a body only at a suggested retail price of $1299. Also shipping in January is the new 14-54mm f/2.8-33.5 II lens that supports the fast contras detect Live View AF. Fast Live View AF is also supported with 25mm f2.8 pancake lens, 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, 40-150mm f4.0-5.6, and 9-18mm f4.0-5.6.

Press Release
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  • Maxington - Friday, November 7, 2008 - link

    "Unique features of the E-30 include multiple-exposure capability, a Digital Leveler that will be particularly useful for architectural photography, and art filters for getting creative with the image."

    Does this mean unique in the Olympus linup? The digital leveler seems fairly unique, I don't get what's so unique about the other two features, unless they are a lot different than they sound.

    I still feel that the sensor is what holds Olympus back. I like their bodies, the optics, but I can't bring myself to buy a worse performing sensor. And their DSLR's aren't even smaller to match the sensor!

    Bring on micro 4/3rds and I'll take another look.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 7, 2008 - link

    Multiple Exposure as implemented on the E-30 is fairly rare in Digital SLRs. The Fuji Sx Pro and higher Nikon models offer that feature but we don't recall seeing it elsewhere.

    Of course you can create multiple exposure type images in Photoshop using layers and manual exposure adjustments for the layers to achieve a useful final exposure.

    A Digital Leveler is featured on the D3 and D700 Nikon full-frame DSLRs but we are not aware of other cameras featuring this.

    The Art Filters are fairly unique. These are a great deal more than Sepia-tone or B&W, as you can see in the Art Filter list in the Press Release on page 2. If readers are aware of other DSLRs with these features please let us know.
  • Maxington - Friday, November 7, 2008 - link

    Pentax K10D and K20D could blend multiple exposures in camera, though it looks like Olympus have extended that quite a bit.

    I suppose Olympus have extended the art filters as well, but still, that is kind of a gimmick.

    Personally I'd do all that in post processing, pretty much anyone I know with a DSLR wouldn't edit a thing in-camera.

    I hope Olympus keeps going on micro cameras, not more DSLRs which I think are finding it difficult to compete in todays market.
  • computerfarmer - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    With the same sensor as the Panasonic G1 and $500 more and many posts on this site have said the G1 was over priced. I hope I am missing something here.
  • 7thSerapHim - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    For the E-30 to compete with the D90 & 50D, it needs to be priced competitively.

    Olympus needs to do some major advertising as well!
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    It is my opinion that the actual selling price of the E-30 should be somewhere around $999 to do well in the marketplace. This would be about the same as the D90 and a great deal less than the Canon 50D.

    While Olympus has announced a $1299 price, the $1699 E-3 is actually selling for around $1399, and one major vendor even advertises $1299. If the E-30 is similarly discounted after introduction then we might see it selling for around $1000 - or even less.

    The features and specifications of the E-30 are certainly on target this time, but the market changes fast and adds new features at lightning speed. If the Live View AF is as good as Olympus/Panasonic claim that may influence more buyers to take a serious look at the E-30. The E-3 AF module and tilt-swivel LCD will also turn a few heads.

    The Olympus optics are generally superb, and we are very interested in seeing if 12.3 MP can provide competitive low-noise performance when we finally get our hands on a shipping E-30.
  • Hulk - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    "a great deal less"

    The 50d is $1199 on B&H.

    That only $200 difference.

  • teldar - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    This sounds like it could be a pretty nice camera. I was thinking there needed to be something between the 520 and the higher end models, and this sounds like it fits the bill perfectly. It'll just have to be a decision between this and the Pentax K20. Unless canon actually comes out with inbody stabilization....
  • Calin - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    This (if working correctly) would be great - not once I've took pictures that were not straight, due to my reliance of the perceived verticality of a wall on the side of the picture
  • melgross - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    With Canon having a bit of noise problems at higher ISO's with the new 50D 15 MP sensor model, I wonder how this will fare with its much smaller sensor.

    Also I'm surprised that with other companies going to high resolution LCD's, they stuck with a low resolution version.

    Normally it didn't matter. But with Live View in new cameras, it means a lot for focussing. Otherwise, there is more magnifying of the image than would be required with a high rez screen, which means more manipulation of the controls, and time taken.

    Otherwise, this looks like a nice model.

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