This page has been formatted to facilitate printout of the review.

Use your browser's "Back" button to return to the previous page, or the links at the top and bottom of this page to navigate to related information. If you have difficulty fitting the text on this page onto your printer output, simply resize your browser window to a narrower width and print again.




Remember us when it's time to buy!

Dave here: Have our reviews been helpful to you? (Is this article you're reading right now useful?) Preparing this level of information on as many products as we do is incredibly hard work, not to mention expensive. Things on the Internet may look like they're free, but they're not. (As a lot of big dot.com companies are finding out these days.) Somewhere, somebody has to pay to produce worthwhile content. YOU can help us though, by remembering us when it comes time to make your purchase. Would you consider coming back to our site and clicking-through to one of our advertisers to make your purchase? Every dollar you spend with one of our advertisers helps us directly (in affiliate fees) or indirectly (the advertiser will keep renewing their ad contract with us). To make it easy for you to support us, here's a URL you can visit, to see all our current advertisers, with links to click on that will register your visit to them as having come from our site. It's up to you where you buy, but Mike, Mike, Kim, Yazmin, Marti and I would be really grateful if you'd help us out by choosing one of our advertisers to purchase from.

Thank you for your support!
Dave Etchells, Founder & Publisher


Visit our "Buy Now" Page:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm





Back to Full Olympus Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot Review
Go to Olympus Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot Data Sheet
Go to Olympus Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot Pictures Page
Up to Imaging Resource Cameras Page


Olympus Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot

Olympus unleashes a 1.5 megapixel speed demon: By FAR the fastest digicam we've tested to date!

Review First Posted: 1/18/2001



Must-have eBook, $20, Click Here!

MSRP $1499 US

 

*
1.5 megapixel CCD for 1,360 x 1,024 pixel images
*
10x optically stabilized zoom lens.
*
Amazing 15 frame per second continuous-mode speed!
*
"Pre-Capture" mode takes up to 5 photos before you press the shutter!
*
Dual card slots support SmartMedia and CompactFlash cards simultaneously.


Manufacturer Overview
An undisputed leader in the digicam marketplace, Olympus America Inc. offers one of the broadest consumer/prosumer digital camera lineups of any manufacturer. Its award-winning consumer products like the Camedia C-2020 and C-3030 Zoom cameras (recently updated with the new C-2040 and C-3040 models), and its revolutionary digital SLRs like the C-2500L and E-10, continue to draw praise and awards from the photographic press. Last year's introduction of the Camedia C-211 Zoom drew attention as the first digital camera/printer combo to reach retailer's shelves -- a joint effort with Polaroid that brought instant print cameras into the digital age. And its more conventional digital printers, the P-200 and P-400, were the first products to bring true, continuous-tone, dye-sublimation print quality within reach of the serious amateur photographer.

With all these innovative Olympus products making headlines last year, speed was the factor that separated the Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot from the competition. Introduced concurrently with the 4-megapixel E-10, the E-100RS was considered the "sports model" of the popular Camedia line. Its 15-frame-per-second (!) sequential shooting mode (a kind of "digital motor drive"), and 10x zoom Image Stabilizer lens, make it the perfect camera for sports and nature photographers. Though somewhat pricey compared to typical "prosumer" digicams, the $1,500 price tag makes it accessible to a wide range of pros and amateurs who need a really fast digital SLR.


High Points



Executive Overview
Clearly the fastest digital camera in its class, the Olympus Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot commands an amazing 15-frames-per-second sequential shooting rate -- enough speed to freeze every turn of a gymnast through the parallel bars, or every stride of a football player into the end-zone. (Interestingly, at 15 frames per second, the E-100RS is not only faster than any other digicam we've tested, but outstrips even high-end professional 35mm film-based SLRs.) Combine this exceptional speed with a sharp, 10x Stabilizer Zoom lens, a fast f/2.8-3.5 maximum aperture, and file sizes up to 4MB, and you've got a versatile, feature-rich camera that is perfect for shooters who are ready to get out and stop some action. The E-100RS has the look and feel of a midrange 35mm SLR, with features likened to a professional-quality, news camera with a motorized drive. At 4.7 x 3.4 x 6 inches and 1.3 pounds, it won't fit in your pocket, but it'll be the perfect tool for capturing some great photography.

The E-100RS features a large, 1.8-inch, color LCD monitor for composing and reviewing images, as well as a smaller 0.55-inch "optical" Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) that functions as a miniaturized version of the LCD. For those of us who appreciate the control provided by the LCD monitor, but miss the familiarity of SLR viewfinder, the EVF offers a very comfortable compromise. You can view all of the settings you normally see on-screen, and still follow your subject with the camera held up to your eye. (EVFs have downsides too though, including an inability to work in low light shooting conditions, and difficulty in following fast-moving action, even though the refresh rate on the E-100's EVF is quite high.) A Display button on the back panel controls whether the EVF or larger LCD monitor are engaged. The 7-70mm aspherical glass lens (equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm camera) can be used in Macro or Infinity shooting modes, with a number of through-the-lens focusing and metering options. The Image Stabilization feature helps reduce blurring caused by camera shake, a problem frequently associated with increased zoom capabilities, and a separate, 2.7x digital zoom increases the E-100RS' zoom capabilities to 27x (but also results in a lower-quality image, since it merely enlarges the center portion of the CCD image).

The E-100RS offers varying levels of exposure control, with Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Scene Program modes. The Scene Program mode provides specific scene presets, including Portrait, Action/Sports, Landscape, Night, and Custom Program. Shutter speeds range from 1/10,000 to two seconds in Shutter Priority mode, and from 1/10,000 (!) to 16 seconds in Manual mode. Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8 in wide-angle mode, and f/3.5 to f/8 in telephoto. Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments in all modes except Manual.

There are four metering modes: Standard (digital ESP), Center-Weighted, and Spot. A Multi-Metering function bases the exposure on an average of up to eight spot-meter readings from different parts of an image. Each reading is locked with the AE Lock (AEL) button to average in a specific area of the scene. White balance options include standard Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, and Fluorescent settings, as well as a Manual adjustment. Light sensitivity can be set to Auto, 100, 200, and 400 ISO equivalents. A Sharpness adjustment provides Hard, Normal, and Soft edges around your subjects.

The camera's built-in, pop-up flash operates in Auto Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In, and two Slow Synchronization modes. Slow 1 fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure and Slow 2 fires it at the end of the exposure. A flash intensity setting adjusts the flash power from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-stop increments. Adjacent to the built-in flash, a five-pin external flash socket accommodates the Olympus FL-40 external flash, in addition to several other manufacturers' external flash units.

The E-100RS offers several special-capture modes, all controlled through the Drive button on the top panel. The Sequential Shooting mode captures a series of images at 3-, 5-, 7.5-, or 15-frames-per-second, for as long as the shutter button is held down (actual frame rates vary depending on user settings and image quality). An AF Sequential Shooting mode captures images at a much slower rate, as it adjusts focus, exposure, and white balance with each shot. Auto Bracketing captures a series of three or five images with varying exposure compensation and/or white balance levels. Pre-Capture mode begins recording images at the specified sequential shooting rate as soon as you press the shutter button halfway. The camera cycles the images through its memory buffer until the shutter button is fully depressed, when the desired number of images is recorded to the memory card. Finally, the 10-second Self-Timer is also controlled through the Drive button as well as the accompanying RM-1 Remote control.

Two Movie capture modes record moving images and sound (via the camera's internal microphone or an external connection) at up to 30 frames-per-second. You can also record four-second sound clips to accompany still images. A special Function option in the Record menu allows you to switch to monochrome black-and-white capture.

The E-100RS accommodates both SmartMedia and CompactFlash (Type I and II) cards, with dual slots in its memory card compartment (not compatible with the IBM Microdrive, eve though the CF slot is physically large enough to accommodate it - possibly a power limitation?). An 8MB SmartMedia card comes with the camera, and upgrades are available separately up to 64MB. Additionally, a USB cable and three software CDs are also packaged with the camera. Software includes the Olympus Camedia Master 2.5 utility package, Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE, and Altamira Genuine Fractals 2.0 (for both Windows and Macintosh systems). An NTSC audio/video cable connects the camera to a television set for remote playback (we assume that European models come equipped for PAL timing).

Power is provided by four AA alkaline, NiMH, NiCd, or lithium batteries, or two CR-V3 lithium battery packs. A set of NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger accompany the camera, and an AC adapter is available as a separate accessory (highly recommended).

Overall, we enjoyed shooting with the E-100RS. Its flexible exposure controls handled even our most difficult testing situations, and it delivered great image quality and color. Certainly, the 10x image-stabilizer optical zoom, multiple recording modes, and quick 15-frames-per-second sequential shooting capabilities make this digicam an outstanding member of the 1.5-megapixel digicam class.


Design
The Olympus E-100 Rapid Shot (E-100RS) appears to be "all lens" at first glance, but its 10x Stabilizer Zoom lens (extending nearly 3.75 inches from the main body) is not oversized when compared to similar high-powered, auto-focus lenses. The camera body alone is reasonably compact, with a substantial right hand grip surrounding the battery and memory card compartments on one side, and a bright, 1.8-inch LCD monitor on the other. The optical viewfinder -- referred to as an Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) by Olympus -- is actually a .55-inch version of the rear-panel LCD. Located directly above the LCD monitor, it is well-protected by a large rubber eye-piece around the edges to keep ambient light out and boost the brightness of the LCD image inside.

Overall, the E-100RS measures 4.7 x 3.4 x 6.0 inches (119.4 x 86.4 x 152.4mm) and weighs 24.6 ounces (703 grams) including four AA-cell batteries, about the size and weight of a small- to medium-size 35mm SLR. Though it definitely does not fit in the compact-digicam category, we were impressed by the efficient use of real estate, and how well Olympus managed to fit all of the dials, buttons, viewscreens, and knobs into such a small amount of space (not to mention the various bulky, but necessary, compartments for batteries and storage media). The following virtual tour offers compelling evidence of the design ingenuity applied.




The most visible feature from the front of the E-100RS is the 10x optical zoom lens. The lens glass is protected by a spring-loaded, snap-on plastic cap that holds firmly in place when the camera's not in use. Although Olympus doesn't provide a cord for attaching the cap to the camera, there is a small hole in the cap that can easily accommodate one of the many cords sold by photo accessory manufacturers. The lens has a rubber grip around the outside of the barrel, providing a secure hold when you have to grasp the camera with two hands. Next to the lens is an infrared remote control receiver and the Self-Timer/Autofocus assist light. On top of the lens barrel is a well-concealed, pop-up flash that is opened by a small sliding lever directly below it.

 




The rubber hand grip, located on the right side of the camera (from the back), surrounds an interior battery compartment, which is accessible from the bottom panel, and a dual-format memory card compartment, for SmartMedia and CompactFlash Type I and II cards, which is covered by a hinged plastic door on the handle. A detailed diagram on the inside of the compartment door shows how to load and release both types of memory cards. In addition, two eyelets are provided -- one on each side of the camera -- to attach the provided neck strap.





On the opposite side of the camera, you'll find a dioptric adjustment dial next to the EVF viewfinder, a five-pin external flash connection (protected by a tiny, screw-on cap), and an input/output jack compartment with a wired remote jack (for attaching an extra accessory wired remote), a USB port, DC-In jack, external microphone jack, and the A/V Out jack. Like the memory card compartment, the input/out compartment is protected by a hinged, plastic door. Just beside the compartment door, underneath the external flash connection, is the camera's internal microphone.





The top panel of the E-100RS has several camera controls, as well as a small, black-and-white LCD control panel that displays as many as 25 camera settings indicators. Three buttons to the left of the panel control Macro, Metering, and Drive features. To the right of the panel is the Mode dial, with a Power On/Off and Reset switch underneath. The Shutter button sits in front of the Mode dial, with a Zoom lever surrounding it (doubles as an Index (W) or Magnify (T) lever in Playback mode). Behind the Mode dial is an Auto Exposure Lock (AEL) button, which can be used to lock in an exposure when you take a spot meter reading. You can also use the AEL as a Multi-Metering button by taking exposure readings from up to eight different points in the scene, and a Print button when you're preparing files for a Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compatible printer.





The remaining camera controls are located on the camera's back panel, along with the viewfinder eyepiece and LCD monitor. The 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD monitor, with approximately 118,000 pixel display, is complemented by a smaller 0.55-inch "optical" Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) that performs exactly the same as the monitor, but in miniature format. The two cannot be activated simultaneously. A Display button, to the right of the monitor and recessed into a raised plastic ridge, switches between the EVF and LCD monitor, disengaging one as it engages the other. The top button next to the viewfinder is the Flash mode/Erase button. Below that is an "Info" button that allows you to choose between full, partial, and no information displayed on the viewfinder or monitor. An Arrow Pad to the right of these two controls scrolls through menu items and recorded images (in Playback mode) using the Up and Down, and Left and Right Arrow keys. Below that is an "OK" button to set menu selections. It also serves as a Manual Focus control (in conjunction with the Arrow Pad), and a Protect key in Playback mode. The Menu button, located below the Monitor button, brings up menus for various camera functions, depending on what mode the camera is in.





Finally, the camera's flat bottom panel features a threaded tripod mount, battery compartment door, and a speaker to play back sounds recorded in Movie mode or audio memos recorded to accompany still images. (This is a feature that most sound-enabled digicams leave out; you can't hear what's been recorded by the camera until you play back the movie or sound-byte on your computer.) The plastic tripod mount is located just slightly off-center. Its proximity to the battery compartment rules out any quick battery changes when working with a tripod, which is more of a concern with the E-100RS than with the smaller, point-and-shot models we frequently review, as it is more suited for use with tripods or monopods. The battery compartment door is fairly easy to open: a small, sliding switch unlocks it, and a smooth forward motion opens the door so that it can pop up to reveal the battery chamber. (This is a welcome switch from many of the digicams we've reviewed, which require strong nails, nimble fingers, and a knack for opening puzzle boxes to access the batteries.)


Viewfinder
The E-100RS provides both an "optical" Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) and LCD monitor for viewing and composing images. The optical viewfinder is essentially a smaller version of the larger LCD display (0.55 inches), which enhances the digicam's electronic SLR design. The Display button on the back panel controls where the viewfinder display appears, either in the EVF or on the LCD monitor. A soft rubber viewfinder cup surrounds the Electronic ViewFinder, effectively blocking out ambient light for a clearer view of the display. On the left side of the eyepiece is a diopter adjustment dial, which adjusts the viewfinder focus to accommodate eyeglass wearers.

The 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD monitor features approximately 114,000 pixels, and is activated by pressing the Display button just adjacent to it. When the LCD monitor is activated, the optical viewfinder is automatically disabled. The monitor's information display is controlled by the Info button, which cycles through three levels. The first shows a central autofocus target only. The next level of display reports the camera settings, including exposure mode, aperture, shutter speed, memory card type, the number of available shots, and the autofocus target. The third level reports all of the same information, with the addition of the capture mode, flash mode, white balance setting, ISO setting, image stabilization system, and image quality setting. Whenever the Info button is pressed, the battery symbol appears on the screen for a few seconds, reporting the level of battery consumption.

In Playback mode, the LCD monitor can show either one image at a time, or an index display of four, nine, or 16 thumbnail images on a page. There's also a playback zoom feature which enlarges the selected image for closer viewing. Playback magnification ratios of 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0x are available. The Info button again controls the amount of image information displayed on the screen, with three levels of display. The first level is no information, which shows only the card type selected. The partial information display includes any print settings, write-protection, image quality, date, time, frame number, battery power, and memory card selected. The full information display includes all of the above, as well as exposure information such as shutter speed, aperture, and the file name. Like the Record mode, a battery symbol appears on the screen whenever the Info button is pressed, reporting the level of battery consumption for a few seconds only.

The E-100RS LCD monitor is very accurate, showing approximately 98.5 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 99.3 percent at telephoto (for both 1,360 x 1,024- and 640 x 480-pixel image sizes). In our testing, the EVF exactly matched the performance of the main LCD monitor. Since we usually like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accurate as possible, we judge the performance of the E-100RS LCD monitor to be excellent.

Our one complaint about EVFs in general is that they are essentially useless when shooting in very low light conditions. The EVF on the E-100RS seems quite a bit better than average in this respect, but still won't work at light levels nearly as low as the camera is capable of taking a picture at. Here's what we found: The EVF works fine down light levels as low as about 1 to 1/2 foot-candles. When the AF assist light is turned on, it'll work in complete darkness, but of course there's the issue of the intrusiveness of the AF light. (Not exactly a choice for candid shooting.) Interestingly, the EVF can give you a glimpse of the subject at lower light levels (down to 1/4 foot-candle or so) when the camera is running at ISO 400. We say "glimpse" though, because it's exactly that: You get a quick look at the subject when you first half-press the shutter button, after which the display again decreases in brightness. While still not as useful as a true optical viewfinder for low-light shooting, the E-100's EVF does quite a bit beter than most we've seen.


Optics
The E-100RS is equipped with a 10x, 7-70mm aspherical glass lens, equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm camera. The 10x lens features 13 elements in 10 groups, and an aperture range of f/2.8 -f/8 at wide angle (W), and f/3.5 - f/8 at maximum telephoto (T). The lens is protected by a spring-loaded, clip-on plastic lens cap, with a small eyelet for attaching an accessory lens cord (which we highly recommend). The inside rim of the lens is threaded to accept 49mm filter attachments to accommodate Olympus' line of optional lens accessories.

Focus distances for the E-100RS are from 2 feet (0.6 meters) to infinity in Normal mode, and 0.3 to 2 feet (9.1 to 60.9cm) in Macro mode. The camera provides both Autofocus (AF) and Manual focus (MF) capabilities, which are selected by pressing the OK (MF/Protect) button next to the LCD monitor. When you press the button, the Focus menu appears, and you use the Left and Right Arrow keys to highlight either AF or MF. Manual focus activates the distance scale on the right side of the screen, which you scroll through using the Up and Down arrow buttons, until the subject comes into focus. (We prefer using a distance scale with Manual focus, as it comes in quite handy when shooting difficult subjects or in low-light conditions.)

The Autofocus (AF) system operates in two modes, Normal and Spot, which are selected through the camera's Record mode menu. Normal AF bases its readings on the entire image, using a contrast detection system to determine optimum exposure. Spot AF bases its readings on the portion of the image that falls inside the central autofocus target. You can use Spot AF to focus on a specific object by placing that object in the center of the target and pressing the shutter button halfway to lock the focus, then you simply recompose the image while continuing to press the shutter button halfway. The focus (and exposure, if in Program mode) will remain locked until the shutter button is fully pressed or released. For low-light situations, the AF mode uses an AF assist light on the front of the camera to aid in setting the focus.

A Full-Time AF setting is available in the Record menu, just below the AF Mode setting. In this mode, the camera continually adjusts the focus, so that the image on the LCD screen stays in focus at all times. When this mode is turned Off, the camera sets the focus only when the shutter button is pressed halfway. Full-Time AF is great for fast shooting conditions like sports, dance, and children at play, but it requires a great deal of battery power, because the lens is constantly in motion. Therefore, it's best to use it only when conditions require fast focusing.

The Macro button on top of the camera switches the focus range from Normal to Macro. Best results are achieved in Macro mode when the lens is set to the maximum wide-angle setting (placing the lens in full telephoto changes the range to 3.3 to 6.5 feet, or 1.0 to 1.9 meters). Olympus warns that the flash may not work properly in Macro mode, because it can be blocked by the lens (a problem we did note in one of our test shots). Overall, our tests showed that the E-100RS performed well in Macro mode, capturing a minimum area of 2.84 x 2.14 inches (72.11 x 54.29mm), with great color and resolution.

Because of its 10x optical zoom range, and the lengthy size of the lens barrel, the E-100RS features an Image Stabilization system that can be turned on and off through the Record menu (represented by a "shaking hand" icon). When shooting images at the maximum telephoto setting, the potential for blurred images caused by camera shake increases. Image stabilization helps to minimize this problem in normal shooting conditions, as well as in low light or when shooting at slow shutter speeds. (Note: Image Stabilization is ineffective when using a lens conversion kit, working with a panning tripod head, or when working with digital zoom.) While we don't have any quantitative way of evaluating lens-stabilization technology, our impression was that the system on the E-100RS was very effective, damping out even rather severe jiggling when hand-holding long telephoto shots.

A 2.7x digital telephoto feature, which Olympus calls "Super Tele," is also available on the E-100RS, extending the zoom range to 27x. We experienced good results with the 2.7x digital zoom, though resolution was slightly reduced and the overall image was soft. (Remember that digital zoom only enlarges the central portion of the CCD image, and can result in a higher noise level and a loss of resolution.) Digital zoom is activated through the Record menu, and controlled by zooming the lens past the optical zoom range. A zoom scale appears on the LCD display, with the optical zoom range marked in green and the digital zoom range in red.

Optical distortion on the E-100RS is only moderate at the wide-angle setting, as we caught an approximate 0.45 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto setting fared even better, showing only a pixel or so of pincushion distortion.


Exposure
The E-100RS offers a wide range of exposure modes, controlled via the Mode dial on top of the camera. These include Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Scene Program. In Program mode, the camera automatically controls both the shutter speed and lens aperture settings, basing them on existing light levels. Aperture Priority mode places the user in control of lens aperture settings (with an available range of f/2.8 - f/8.0 or f/3.5 - f/8, depending on the zoom factor), while the camera chooses the best corresponding shutter speed. Shutter Priority mode works similarly, except that the user controls the shutter speed (from 1/10,000 to two seconds) while the camera controls the lens aperture. Manual mode places the user in control of both aperture and shutter speed settings, and extends the shutter speed range from 1/10,000 to 16 seconds.

In both Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, the adjustable value is controlled by pressing the Up and Down keys on the Arrow Pad. In Manual mode, the Up and Down Arrows control shutter speed, while the Left and Right Arrows control aperture. In all three modes, if the camera determines that the user-set variables will result in an under- or over-exposure, the variables are reported in red on the LCD display. Finally, Scene Program mode offers a handful of special exposure setups for dealing with specific shooting situations. The four "scenes" include Portrait, Sports, Landscape, and Night.

The Portrait mode uses a large lens aperture setting to decrease the depth of field, keeping the subject in sharp focus with a slightly blurred background. The Sports mode uses the fastest shutter speed possible to freeze action. In Landscape mode, the camera uses a smaller lens aperture setting to increase the depth of field, and maintain sharp focus in both the foreground and background. The Night mode takes advantage of a slower shutter speed for capturing night and twilight scenes. You can access these Special Program scenes by setting the Mode dial to S-Prg, engaging the Record menu, and scrolling down to the S-Prg option with the Up and Down Arrow buttons. When you highlight S-Prg, use the Right Arrow key to bring up the four Scene modes, then select the one you want with the Up and Down Arrow buttons and press OK.

The E-100RS offers three metering modes that are accessed by pressing the Metering Mode button on top of the camera (between the Macro and Drive buttons). Standard mode (Digital ESP) is the default setting, and measures the exposure from readings taken at the center of the image and from the area surrounding the center. Center-Weighted metering bases the exposure primarily on a large area in the center of the image. The third option, Spot Metering, reads a very small area at the center of the frame (inside the AF target mark). A fourth option, enabled through the Record menu, is the Multi Metering function, which allows you to take exposure readings from up to eight separate points in the image and average them all to determine the best exposure. (Note: When you select the Mult Metering option in the Record menu, you must press the OK button twice to fully engage the program.)

To take Multi Meter readings, frame the portion of the subject you'd like to meter in the center AF target mark and press the AE Lock button. Do this repeatedly, up to eight times. Each new reading is marked on a brightness bar displayed across the bottom of the viewfinder/monitor, with the average of the values displayed in the center. Once you've established your metering points, recompose the image and fire the shutter. The AEL button can also be used to set the exposure for just one portion of the image, which is helpful with high-contrast or back-lit subjects. Set the Metering mode to Spot Metering. Place the important part of the subject in the center of the AF target mark, press the AEL button, and then recompose the shot. The exposure will stay locked when you fire the shutter. (Normally found only on higher-end cameras, separate exposure and focus lock functions can be very handy in some shooting situations.)

Exposure compensation is adjustable using the Left and Right Arrow buttons in all exposure modes except Manual. Adjustments are made from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments, and are momentarily displayed in the upper left corner of the monitor. An Exposure Compensation icon will remain on the information display panel until compensation is returned to the 0 setting. White balance is also adjustable in all exposure modes (including Manual), through the Record menu. White Balance options include Automatic, Daylight, Overcast, Incandescent, Fluorescent, and Manual. With Manual, the color balance is determined by placing a white card in front of the lens under existing lighting conditions, and then pressing the OK button to set the value.

The camera's ISO (light sensitivity) is also adjustable through the Record menu, with options of Auto, 100, 200, and 400 ISO equivalents. If the ISO is set to Auto in Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual exposure modes, the ISO equivalent is automatically set to 100. The E-100RS also features a Black & White recording option, accessed through the Function option in the Record menu. An Image Sharpness adjustment (somewhat hidden in the Mode Setup sub-menu) allows you to choose between Hard, Normal, and Soft edges.

A 10-second Self-Timer is activated through the Drive button, with the timer countdown triggered when you fully depress the shutter button. Once the Self-Timer countdown begins, the red Self-Timer light on the front of the camera blinks until the shutter is fired. Pressing the Drive button after it's been engaged cancels the countdown. The Self-Timer/Remote Control mode also works with the included RM-1 Remote control, which triggers a three-second countdown after pressing the remote shutter button. The Remote control works as far as 16.4 feet (5.0 meters) from the camera.


Flash
The built-in, pop-up flash on top of the E-100RS lens barrel is released by a sliding switch on the side of the flash unit. The Flash button on the back panel controls the flash mode, cycling between Auto-Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, and Fill-In Flash. (Flash Off is engaged when the flash unit is closed.) The Auto-Flash mode fires the flash automatically in backlit or low-light situations. Red-Eye Reduction emits 10 small pre-flashes before firing the full flash, to reduce the occurrence of red-eye effect. (Note: Firing the flash in Red-Eye Reduction mode takes about one second before the shutter is released, and is not available in Shutter Priority, Manual, or Sports modes.) The Fill-In Flash fires with every exposure, regardless of the existing light levels. Flash is automatically disabled when shooting in Sequence and Movie modes, as well as when using Auto Bracketing or Pre-Capture modes.

Two Slow Synchronization flash modes are available through the Record menu, for use in low-light situations. This technique combines flash with a slow shutter speed to allow more ambient light into the image (increasing the brightness of the background to more closely match the flash-illuminated subject). The E-100RS offers two Slow Synchro options: Slow 1 fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure, and Slow 2 fires the flash at the end of the exposure. Both settings produce streaking effects with moving subjects such as cars or amusement park rides. The instruction manual provides detailed illustrations of how each setting works.

An adjustable Flash Intensity setting controls the amount of light the flash emits through the Record menu (represented by a flash of lightning icon and +/- symbol in the menu listing). Flash Intensity is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. Olympus estimates that the E-100RS flash is effective from 1 to 13.1 feet (0.3 to 4.0 meters). We found the flash to be effective all the way out to 15 feet at the Normal intensity setting, with just the slightest drop-off after 11 feet.

A five-pin external flash socket is located on the lens side of the camera, protected by a plastic, threaded cap. Olympus offers an FL-40 external flash unit and FL-BK01 flash bracket as optional accessories. Most commercially available external flashes with the proper five-pin connector should work with the E-100RS, however Olympus recommends confirming that the unit will communicate with the camera before you purchase it. For non-Olympus flash owners, Olympus offers an optional (and very hard to find) adapter cable that allows attachment of a conventional PC-contact flash unit to the E-100RS. Flashes connected in this fashion won't provide any exposure adjustment options.

When the external flash is attached, both the external and internal flash units can be used simultaneously. The Flash button on the back of the camera controls the Flash mode for both units, with the same Auto-Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, and Fill-In Flash settings available for the external flash. If the external FL-40 flash is set to Auto, the flash intensity setting is also adjustable through the camera's Record menu. (When using other manufacturers' external flash units, the flash intensity adjustments may not be effective.)

Sequential Shooting
The E-100RS offers two Sequential shooting modes -- Sequential and AF Sequential -- which are available by pressing the Drive button on top of the camera's back panel. (The Drive button selects between five modes: Single Frame, Sequential Shooting, AF Sequential Shooting, Self-Timer/Remote Control, and Auto Bracket.) Sequential Shooting captures images continuously, for as long as the shutter button is held down. The maximum number of images recorded depends on the amount of available memory card space, as well as the image quality setting. You can set the maximum frame rate through the Record menu, with options of 15, 7.5, 5.0, or 3.0 frames-per-second. Actual frame rates will vary depending on the amount of image information and the exposure conditions (a slow shutter speed will hinder the frame rate). As we mentioned earlier 15 frames per second is incredibly fast for full-resolution images, unequalled by any other digicam we've tested (or even heard about) as of this writing in early 2001.

Sequential Shooting mode takes a series of images with the focus, exposure, and white balance locked from readings taken on the first shot. AF Sequential Shooting sets the focus, exposure, and white balance individually with each shot. As a result, the AF frame rates are much slower than they are in standard Sequential Shooting mode. (Note: Sequential Shooting is not available with the TIFF image quality setting.)

Auto Bracketing
Also controlled through the Drive button, the Auto Bracketing feature takes a series of images at varying Exposure Compensation and/or White Balance settings. Auto Bracketing is available in Program, Shutter Priority, and Aperture Priority exposure modes only. Once the mode is enabled, the number of images and exposure adjustments must be set through the Record menu. A series can consist of three or five images, and the images set for different levels of Exposure Compensation, White Balance, or both. These are set individually under the BKT option in the Record menu. For example, if Exposure Compensation (AE) is set to +/-1.0 x 3, the bracketing series will consist of three images, one at the currently set exposure compensation level, one at -1.0 EV, and one at +1.0 EV. White Balace (WB) can be set to Off, +/-1, +/-2, or +/-3, in arbitrary units.

Pre-Capture Mode: Negative shutter lag!
Enabled through the Record menu, Pre-Capture mode begins recording a series of images when the shutter button is pressed halfway. When this mode is activated, the number of images must also be set from one to five. Once set, the camera will continuously cycle the images through its memory buffer, for as long as the shutter button is halfway pressed. Once the shutter button is fully pressed, the camera records the number of images you've selected to the memory card, starting with the last one and counting backward. For example, if Pre-Capture is set to record five images, the camera will record the last five images captured before the shutter button was fully pressed to the memory card. The end result is uncanny: It seems as if the camera is reading your mind, to know when you're about to hit the shutter button. Available shutter speeds in Pre-Capture range from 1/10,000 to 1/30 second, so the number of frames per second will depend on the current exposure conditions. Pre-Capture also works with the Sequential Shooting mode, recording images at the designated frame rate.

Adding Sound to Images
In any still capture mode, the E-100RS Sound Record feature can be set to record up to four seconds of sound to accompany any image. In Record mode, sound memos must be recorded after the image is taken. Once you activate the Sound option through the Record menu, the microphone symbol appears on the LCD monitor and information display panel. To record sound, you capture the image as normal, and approximately 0.5 seconds after the shutter is released, you begin recording a message. Recording progress is noted on the LCD display. Subjects that are further than 3.3 feet from the camera may not be recorded clearly, in which case, an external microphone is suggested (an external microphone connection jack is provided in the side compartment, an unusual and welcome feature). In Playback mode, you can use a similar process to add sound memos to images already recorded. Simply select Sound in the Playback menu and highlight Start. The same recording progress bar appears on the LCD monitor.

Movie Mode
The E-100RS can also record moving images and sound when the mode dial is set to the movie camera symbol. In Movie mode, both aperture and shutter speed are automatically controlled. Recording begins when the shutter button is fully depressed, and ends when pressed a second time. The amount of recording time available depends on the amount of free space on the memory card, and the number of available seconds that appears on the LCD monitor. Sound is recorded through the camera's internal microphone, or via an external microphone connection (recommended for subjects more than 3.3 feet away). As with shooting still images, focus and exposure are locked with a half press of the shutter button. To continuously adjust the focus, set the focus mode to Full-Time AF through the Record menu. Movies are recorded at either 15 or 30 frames per second, with image sizes of 640 x 480 (HQ) and 320 x 240 (SQ) available.


Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a digital camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported by the manufacturer or other reviewers, and can significantly affect the picture-taking experience, Imaging Resource now routinely measures it using a proprietary testing system. The results are shown in the accompanying chart.

Given the unusual pre-capture capabilities of the E-100RS, our normal "shutter lag" measurements aren't terribly meaningful. On the other hand, the shutter lag in non-precapture mode is a good indication of how quickly the camera can complete its autofocus and exposure computations.

 

E-100RS Timings
Operation
Time (secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
3.5
A bit faster than average.
Shutdown
6.5
Depends on pending image processing.
Play to Record, first shot
2.59 
Fairly fast
Record to play (max/min res)
3.51/2.77
Fairly fast
Shutter lag, precapture mode
minus 1.6 seconds to 0.0 seconds!
Amazing!
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.28
A bit slower than average.
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.99
A bit slower than average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.21
A bit faster than average.

 

In "normal" operation, the E-100's shutter response isn't terribly quick, and it's full autofocus lag time is actually a bit slower than average. For sports or other fast-paced situations though, the combination of the ultra-high speed "motor drive", and the incredible precapture mode means you should never miss a shot for being too slow on the shutter button!


Operation and User Interface
The E-100RS offers so many features and controls that its user interface appears somewhat daunting at first. We admit to having to refer to the manual quite a bit to get to know the camera. However, once you understand the basic operation, changing settings is a snap. The camera's electronic SLR design means that it relies quite heavily on the LCD menu system. However, many of the basic controls, such as exposure compensation, flash, aperture, and shutter speed can be adjusted by using the camera's various control buttons without resorting to the menu system. We especially appreciated the Drive button, which controls many of the camera's capture modes, including single frame capture, sequential shooting, self-timer, and auto bracketing. Metering, macro mode, autoexposure lock, optical zoom, and the LCD information display is also controlled externally.

The LCD menu system is nearly identical to that of other Olympus digicams, and it's very straightforward (though somewhat lengthy). The menus are navigated by the Arrow buttons, and the OK button confirms any menu selections. Our only complaint with the LCD menu is that it encompasses several pages, making it necessary to scroll through several lists of options to find the one you're looking for. We also noticed that some settings are slightly hidden. Image sharpness and image quality are part of the separate Mode Setup menu, which controls basic camera functions like sleep time, sounds, file naming, and screen brightness. However, the E-100RS Instruction Manual is very easy to follow, with detailed diagrams and illustrations of all menus and control buttons, as well as helpful hints.


Control Enumeration


Shutter Button: Located on the top right of the camera, just over the hand grip, the shutter button sets focus and exposure when pressed halfway. When precapture mode is enabled, half-pressing the shutter button starts the continuous cycling of images through the camera's buffer memory. When fully depressed, the shutter button releases the shutter.


Zoom Lever: Encircling the Shutter button, the Zoom lever slides back and forth between the Wide Angle (W) and Telephoto (T) positions, to control the amount of optical zoom. When the 2.7x digital zoom (Super Tele) is enabled, sliding the control toward the Telephoto setting controls the amount of digital zoom. In Playback mode, the Zoom lever controls the Index Display mode and playback Enlargement function. Sliding the lever toward wide-angle (W) brings up the Index Display, while sliding it toward telephoto (T) engages the Enlargement zoom.


Mode Dial: Behind the Shutter button is the Mode dial, which controls the camera's operating modes. The dial is notched all the way around for easy turning. Available settings are:



Power Switch: Located under the Mode dial, the power switch turns the camera on and off. A Reset setting reactivates the camera once it has gone to "sleep."


Macro Button: To the left of the small status display on the camera's top panel, this button switches the lens from Normal to Macro mode, changing the focal range to 0.3 to 2.0 feet (9.1 to 60.9cm) at wide-angle, and 3.3 to 6.5 feet (1.0 to 1.9 meters) at maximum telephoto.


Metering Button: Directly below the Macro button, this button controls the camera's metering mode:



Drive Button: Just below the Metering button, this button controls the camera's capture modes:




Pop-Up Flash Release Switch: This sliding switch is located on the side of the pop-up flash compartment, and releases the flash.


Diopter Adjustment Dial: Located on the side of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, this dial adjusts the focus of the viewfinder to accommodate eyeglass wearers.


Flash/Erase Button: On the camera's back panel, to the right of the viewfinder, this button controls the internal Flash mode (and that of the FL-40, if connected). Options include Auto-Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, and Fill-In Flash (which fires the flash with every exposure). In Playback mode, this button erases the currently displayed image, with an option to cancel.


Info Button: Below Flash/Erase, the Info button controls the amount of information displayed on the LCD monitor in either Record or Playback mode. Pressing the Info button cycles between no display, partial display, and full information display (reporting all the exposure settings in Record mode, and all the exposure settings plus the file names in Playback mode).


Arrow Pad: To the right of the Flash and Info buttons, the Arrow Pad has four small arrow buttons, each pointing in a separate direction: Up, Down, Right, and Left. In Aperture and Shutter Priority exposure modes, the Up and Down buttons control either the aperture or shutter speed. In Manual mode, the Up and Down buttons control shutter speed, while the Left and Right buttons control the lens aperture setting. In Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Scene Program, and Movie modes, the Left and Right Arrow buttons control exposure compensation, from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. All four arrow keys are used to navigate through menu options and settings adjustments. In Playback mode, the Left and Right buttons scroll through captured images.


AE Lock /Print Button: Directly to the right of the Arrow Pad, the AEL button locks the exposure reading in any Record mode. In Playback mode, pressing this button calls up the DPOF Print Order screen, which allows you to set the currently displayed image or all images for printing in Digital Print Order Format. The second Print Order screen allows you to set the number of prints for each image, whether or not to print the date and time, and cropping instructions.


MF/OK/Protect Button: Below the Arrow Pad, this button confirms all menu settings and selections. In any Record mode, pressing this button pulls up a small Focus menu, allowing you to choose between Autofocus (AF) and Manual Focus (MF). In Playback mode, pressing this button write-protects the currently displayed image, preventing it from being accidentally erased (except through card formatting). Write-protection appears as a key symbol on the viewfinder screen. Pressing the button a second time cancels the Protect function.


Display Button: Located on the right of the LCD monitor and outlined by a raised plastic rim, this button alternates the image display between the Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) and the LCD monitor.


Menu Button: Just below the Display button, the Menu button engages the menu selection display in any camera mode.


CompactFlash Release Button: Inside the memory card compartment, beside the CompactFlash slot, this button releases the CompactFlash card so it can be removed.


Battery Compartment Switch: In the center of the battery compartment door, on the bottom panel of the camera, this button locks and unlocks the compartment door.


Camera Modes and Menus

Movie Mode: Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera symbol, this mode allows the camera to record moving images with or without sound. Recording begins when the shutter button is fully pressed, and ends when the shutter button is pressed again. Aperture and shutter speed are automatically controlled, but the majority of the remaining exposure variables are available.

Scene Program: Noted on the mode dial as "S-Prg," this mode offers four shooting scenarios:


Manual Mode: Manual exposure mode, marked on the mode dial as "M," places the user in control of both shutter speed and aperture. Available shutter speeds range from 1/10,000 to 16 seconds, and aperture settings range from f/2.8 to f/8.0. All other exposure variables are available to the user, with the exception of exposure compensation and auto bracketing.

Shutter Priority Mode: Indicated by the "S" on the mode dial, Shutter Priority mode allows the user to set the shutter speed (from 1/10,000 to two seconds) using the Up and Down Arrow buttons, while the camera selects the best corresponding lens aperture. All other exposure variables are available.

Aperture Priority Mode: The next setting on the mode dial, marked with an "A," Aperture Priority mode works similarly to Shutter Priority, only the user now has control over the aperture setting (from f/2.8 to f/8 in wide-angle and f/3.5 to f/8 in telephoto setting), while the camera selects the shutter speed. As with Shutter Priority mode, all other exposure settings are available.

Program Mode: Program mode, marked as a "P" on the mode dial, automatically controls both the aperture and shutter speed. The user maintains control over all other exposure settings.

Record Menu: The E-100RS Record settings menu is available in all Record modes, and is accessed by pressing the Menu button. (Not all options are available in Movie mode.) The following Record options are available:


Playback Mode: Marked on the Mode dial with the traditional green playback symbol, Playback mode allows the user to review captured images and movies. Files can be set up for printing on Diigital Print Order Function (DPOF) devices, erased, protected, enlarged, viewed as an index, or played back as a slide show. Sound clips can also be recorded to accompany still images. Pressing the Menu button displays the following Playback menu options:



Image Storage and Interface
The E-100RS features both SmartMedia and CompactFlash (Type I and II) memory card slots. The two slots are side-by-side in a compartment on the hand grip side of the camera. You can designate which card type is to be used through the Record and Playback menus' "SM/CF" option, enabling you to keep both card types in the camera simultaneously. The dual memory card system also allows images to be copied from one card to another. An 8MB SmartMedia card comes packaged with the camera, but optional upgrades are available. with up to 64MB per card. Remember to use only 3.3V SmartMedia cards (sometimes marked simply 3V) and steer clear of the 5V type. Though the E-100RS accommodates both CompactFlash card sizes, Olympus states that the camera is not compliant with the IBM Microdrive.

Following are the approximate number of recordable images and compression ratios for an 8MB memory card:


Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
(Number of images that fit on an 8MB Card)
TIFF
Uncompressed
SHQ
HQ
SQ (High)
SQ (Normal)
1360 x 1024 Images 1 8 21 N/A N/A
Approx.
Compression
1:1 4:1 11:1 N/A N/A
1280 x 960 Images 2 N/A N/A 9 24
Approx.
Compression
1:1 N/A N/A 4:1 11:1
1024 x 768 Images 3 N/A N/A 14 38
Approx.
Compression
1:1 N/A N/A 4:1 11:1
640 x 480 Images 8 N/A N/A 36 82
Approx.
Compression
1:1 N/A N/A 4:1 9:1

 

Following is the approximate number of movie recording seconds available for 8MB and 16MB memory cards, at a rate of 15 frames per second (when the frame rate is set to 30 fps, the time is cut in half):

 

Resolution Sizes
8MB
16MB
HQ (640 x 480)
10
12
SQ (320 x 240)
24
24

 

Here's a listing of the approximate numbers of images which may be recorded in a single sequence in Continuous mode (assuming sufficient space is available on the memory card):

 

Resolution/Quality setting
Typical max continuous sequence (16MB card)
Uncompressed TIFF
n/a
SHQ
10 frames
HQ
27 frames
SQ (Normal)
>100 frames

 

To avoid damaging the media, memory cards should never be removed while the camera is on, nor should the camera be turned off while performing operations. A red light on the back panel notifies you when the card is in use. Always load the SmartMedia with the gold electrodes going into the camera first and facing the back of the camera. Release the card by pressing it down quickly, causing it to pop up slightly, so you can pull it out. CompactFlash cards should be inserted with the connector side loaded first (an arrow on the card indicates the proper loading). A small button beside the CompactFlash slot releases the card. There's also a loading and unloading illustration for both media inside the compartment door.

You can write-protect SmartMedia cards by placing a write protection sticker on the designated area. Write-protect stickers can only be used once and must be clean to be effective. CompactFlash cards cannot be entirely write-protected, but the E-100RS allows you to protect individual images in Playback mode, through the Playback menu. Protection prevents images from being accidentally erased, or manipulated in any other way, except when the card is formatted, which erases all of the images. The Erase button on the camera's back panel works in Playback mode only, and deletes the currently displayed image (with an option to cancel).

Frames are assigned file numbers from 0001 to 9999, with a preceding directory or folder number. Once 9999 is reached, the directory number goes up by one. The Playback menu allows you to reset the frame numbering sequence for new cards. Images are saved in DCF compliant (Exif Ver.2.1 JPEG compliant), or uncompressed TIFF format. Movie files are saved as Motion JPEGs, and sound clips in WAV format. Four image sizes are available: 1,360 x 1,024, 1,280 x 960, 1,024 x 768, and 640 x 480 pixels. The TIFF quality setting can be assigned to any of the resolution sizes through the Mode Setup sub-menu. JPEG quality levels are Super High Quality (SHQ), High Quality (HQ), and Standard Quality (SQ). In the Mode Setup sub-menu, the SQ quality setting can be assigned to a specific resolution size, with a High or Normal compression level. Movie file quality settings are HQ (640 x 480) and SQ (320 x 240).

Interface software and a USB cable accompany the camedia E-100RS, for high-speed connection to a computer. The USB connection is quite fast, clocking a data transfer rate of 357 KB/second in our tests.


Video Out
An NTSC audio/video cable accompanies the E-100RS, for connection to a television set. We assume that European models come equipped for PAL timing, although a note in the Instruction Manual warns that television connection may not be possible in all areas. Once connected to a television set, the camera's LCD monitor automatically switches off. All Playback menu functions are available. The Infrared Remote can also be used to control image playback. The +/- buttons on the remote control scroll through captured images, while the Wide and Tele buttons control the index display and image enlargement. Olympus notes that the image may appear off-center on some television sets, and also that a black border may appear around the image. Both are due to specific television settings, and do not affect the image.


Power
The Camedia E-100RS is powered by four AA alkaline, NiMH, NiCd, or lithium batteries, or two CR-V3 lithium battery packs. A set of four NiMH rechargeable batteries and a battery charger are provided with the camera. An optional AC adapter is available as a separate accessory, which we highly recommend for tasks like playing back images and downloading files.

An adjustable Sleep mode shuts the camera off after a certain period of inactivity, which is user-selectable from 30 seconds to five minutes. According to Olympus, if the camera is left for approximately one week without batteries, all settings will revert to the factory defaults. The current battery consumption level appears on the LCD screen when the camera is powered on, as well as when the Info button is pressed. The battery icon shows red when power is too low.

Olympus estimates that a set of fully charged NiMH batteries should provide about 50 frames of shooting or about 100 minutes of playback time.


Operating Mode
Power Drain
Capture Mode, w/LCD
920 mA
Capture Mode, 1/EVF
770 mA
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
920 mA
Half-pressed w/EVF
850 mA
Continuous autofocus
980 mA
Memory Write (transient)
810 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
1340 mA
Image Playback
510 mA

 

Overall, power consumption on the E-100RS is rather high, particularly when the camera is running from the internal batteries: Our measurements above were taken from the external power port: The corresponding numbers for direct battery power could be as much as 30% higher than the numbers above. Fortunately, Olympus ships the E-100RS with a very high-capacity (1600 mAh) set of NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger. As always, we recommend digicam owners have on hand at least two sets of batteries, so a second set of NiMH cells would be a wise purchase.

Given the E-100's high power consumption, you may want to consider an external battery pack for it. Take note though, that most external packs are based on NiMH cells, and put out less than 6 volts. This isn't enough to power the E-100 from its external power jack. Fortunately, a LiIon "PowerBank" is available from Maha that has a high enough voltage to power the E-100. Running about $60, this unit provides about 1400 mAh of power at a terminal voltage (under moderate load) of a bit over 8 volts. This should be enough to give you an extra hour to hour and a half of continuous running in maximum-power mode. (With the LCD enabled in capture mode.) One note - Maha makes both NiMH and LiIon versions of the PowerBank, make sure you get the LiIon model for the E-100. (Model number MH-DPB140LI.) You can order these online from Thomas-Distributing. Highly recommended!


Included Software
Three software CDs and a USB cable are provided for connecting the E-100RS to a PC or Macintosh computer to download images. All software is compatible with Windows 95/98/NT 4.0/2000 and Macintosh OS 8.6 and up. Direct camera control and image downloading are provided by an updated version of Olympus' own Camedia software package (Version 2.5) which allows you to download and save images to your hard drive, and perform rudimentary organization and correction functions. Also included in the Camedia Master package is QuickTime 4.0, for playing back movies and performing minor editing. Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE provides more in-depth image editing and manipulation tools, including creative filters and effects for enhancing digital images. The Altamira Genuine Fractals plug-in for Adobe Photoshop offers scaling technology for enlarging images without worrying about resolution. Four image encoding methods and three rendering solutions allow you to create resolution-independent images from any file size for display on the Internet or for printing. The included plug-in is intended for RGB image files, but an upgrade to CMYK is available from the Altamira website (www.altamira-group.com).


Included Hardware



Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, the following comments on Imaging Resource's camera test results are kept short, summarizing only our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Olympus E-100 Rapid Shot's "pictures" page.

As with all our published test results, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well each unit performed. You can review test images on the pictures page, to see how well the Olympus E-100RS performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

The E-100RS did very well in the color balance category, handling difficult indoor and outdoor portrait lighting tests very well. We used the Manual white balance setting throughout the majority of our testing, as it produced the most accurate results. The E-100RS reproduced the large color blocks in our Davebox target fairly accurately, though the blocks appeared just slightly under-saturated. (We also noticed this slight under-saturation in many of our test shots, particularly in the color blue and in skin tones.) Tonal handling was good, as the E-100RS captured tonal variations in the Q60 target up to the "B" range, and very good shadow detail as well. Overall, we were pleased with the E-100RS' color and tonal performance.

The E-100RS's resolution in our ISO standard test was a little hard to call visually: While good detail is present up to 600-650 lines per picture height in both vertical and horizontal directions, significant moire and aliasing appear as early as 400 lines vertically and 500 horizontally. Overall, we call it at about 550 vertically and horizontally. These numbers are about typical for a high-quality 1.5 megapixel digicam. We found the in-camera sharpening of the E-100RS a little bit overdone for our taste, but most people we showed the photos to reacted to them favorably, rating them "very sharp." (In-camera sharpening can be reduced via a setup menu option.)

With full manual and automatic exposure controls, as well as a variety of special Scene modes, the E-100RS provides flexible exposure control. In addition to standard exposure variables, the user can adjust white balance, metering, exposure compensation, ISO, sharpness, flash mode, and flash intensity.

It's extensive exposure control, plus the maximum 16-second shutter speed, gives the E-100RS great low-light capabilities. In fact, we were able to capture reasonably bright, useable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot candle (0.67 lux), at all three ISO settings. (To put the E-100RS' low light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot candle.) The biggest limitation (and it's a significant one) in low light shooting with the E-100RS is simply being able to see your subject: Since there's no optical viewfinder, you're limited by the ability of the LCD or EVF viewfinders to pick out objects in dark surroundings. In practice, we round that the EVF worked fine down to about 1/2 to 1 foot-candle (5.5 to 11 lux). Color balance was rather pinkish at the lower light levels, but looked about right at one foot candle (11 lux) and up. Noise levels stayed relatively low at the 100 ISO setting, although we noticed several bright speckles throughout images captured at the lower light levels. These speckles dissipated as the ISO setting increased, but the normal noise level increased visibly with the 200 and 400 ISO settings.

We found the LCD monitor very accurate, showing approximately 98.5 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 99.3 percent at telephoto (for both 1,360 x 1,024- and 640 x 480-pixel image sizes). The eyelevel EVF viewfinder displayed exactly the same image as the rear-panel LCD, so its accuracy was the same. Since we usually like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the E-100RS' LCD monitor does an excellent job.

The E-100RS does an very good job in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.84 x 2.14 inches (72.11 x 54.29mm). Color balance appears slightly cool, but detail and resolution both look great. The entire image is crisp and sharp, with the exception of some softness on the brooch (probably due to the limited depth of field). The built-in flash has a little trouble throttling down for the macro area, tricked by the shiny coin. We also noticed a shadow at the top of the frame, caused by the long lens barrel.

Overall, we were very pleased with the performance of the Olympus Camedia E-100RS. It offers a wide range of exposure control, which is beneficial in low-light and other difficult shooting situations. The camera produced excellent color, resolution, and quality, with moderate noise levels in most situations. The 10x optical zoom captures great close-ups, with a lot of fine detail.


Conclusion
The Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot has a lot going for it. The 10x optically stabilized zoom lens, exceptionally fast capture rate of up to 15 frames per second, and extensive exposure controls give the E-100RS the flexibility to tackle just about any shooting situation. Extensive testing in the Imaging Resource studio revealed great color and image quality, excellent low-light capabilities, minimal lens distortion, and accurate scene representation in the camera's LCD monitor. The camera's superior imaging capabilities and varying levels of exposure control should please amateur and prosumer shooters alike. The E-100RS definitely outshines its competitors in the 1.5 megapixel class!


<<Camedia E-100RS Sample Images | Additional Resources and Other Links>>

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this product? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about the Olympus Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot, or add comments of your own!



Site Map | About Us | | Advertising | Privacy Policy | Usage Policy | Home

Imaging Resource © 1998 - 2014. Material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted or otherwise used without the prior written consent of .