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Olympus Camedia E-100 Rapid Shot

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

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

Camedia E-100RS Sample Images

Review First Posted: 1/18/2001

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)


Outdoor portrait: (845k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Olympus E-100 Rapid Shot's white balance system handles the challenge well. We shot samples of this image with the automatic (865k), daylight (867k) and manual (842k) white balance modes, choosing the manual setting for our main series. Both automatic and daylight settings produced similar cool results, with the automatic setting just a hint greenish. Overall color balance looks very nice, though the blues of the model's pants and flowers have just a slight purplish tinge. (Many digicams seem to have trouble with this blue, the E100 a bit less so than many, but still not quite getting it right.) The highlight areas of the skin tones are a little yellowish, but not too bad. Resolution looks great for a 1.5 megapixel camera, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the image. The entire image is very crisp as well, although we feel that the default image sharpening on the E100 is a little heavy-handed. Excellent detail in the shadow areas, with only a moderate amount of noise present. Our main shot was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure adjustment, which gave us the best exposure in the shadow areas without losing too much detail in the highlights (though the brightest highlights in the flowers and shirt collar show some loss of detail). The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.7 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 800
F/ 6.3
(814 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(845 k)
0.7 EV
1/ 650
F/ 4.5
(866 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 500
F/ 5
(859 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 500
F/ 4.5
(860 k)
1.7 EV
1/ 650
F/ 3.5
(824 k)



 
Closer portrait: (861k)
The E-100RS again performs very well in this closer, portrait shot, without any perspective distortion, thanks to its 10x lens. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in close-up shots like this and the availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting close-up people shots.) Continuing with the manual white balance setting, we again shot our main image with a +0.3 EV exposure adjustment. Usually, this shot requires less exposure compensation than the wider one above, but the E-100RS seemed to want about the same amount. (Although the highlights are "hotter" here than in the photo above.) Resolution is again excellent given the 1.5 megapixel sensor, with nearly all of the fine details visible around the model's face and in her hair visible, although in this shot, the heavy-handed nature of the E100's default sharpening is more evident. The individual strands of the model's hair are crisp enough to be counted, but every pore and facial imperfection are strongly visible too. Noise is moderate in the shadow areas, actually quite restrained. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.3 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 650
F/ 6.3
(790 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(861 k)
0.7 EV
1/ 650
F/ 4.5
(836 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 500
F/ 4.5
(819 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 500
F/ 4
(809 k)



 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (680k)
The E-100RS' flash does an excellent job of illuminating the subject without creating odd highlights or harsh shadows. We first shot with the camera's pop-up flash with no flash exposure compensation, which produced this (679k) reasonably well-lit image. Next, we boosted the flash exposure compensation to +0.3 EV (680k) which brightened the image slightly, improving the white value of the shirt without washing out the overall color balance. We also tried boosting the flash exposure compensation to +0.7 EV (689k), but found that this made the flash a little too bright and slightly washed out the color. Finally, we shot with the slow synchro (664k) flash mode, set the flash exposure compensation to +1.0 EV, and the main exposure compensation to +0.3 EV, which produced this (664k) more softly lit image. Color balance looks pretty good throughout, though shadow areas of the subject appear slightly bluish in this shot, which gave more weight to the color balance of the ambient tungsten lighting. All of the images we shot had an orangish warm cast in the background, due the amount of ambient light allowed into the image. (Overall, we prefer this behavior in a camera, as opposed to those in which the ambient lighting is completely overpowered by the flash. You could achieve that effect with the E-100RS if you ran it in manual exposure mode, with a fast shutter speed.) Overall, the E-100RS's flash performs very well. (The E-100RS also has a connector compatible with Olympus' FL-40 external flash unit, but we didn't have one to use for this series of tests.)


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (651k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the E-100RS' white balance system does a great job. We tested the automatic (650k), incandescent (650k), and manual (644k) white balance settings, again choosing the manual setting for our main series. The automatic white balance setting produced a very pink cast, while the incandescent setting resulted in a warm, yellowish image. With the manual white balance setting, color balance looks very good overall, though the blue flowers have a purplish hue and are slightly dark. Skin tones are slightly muted, but the white shirt looks pretty good. Overall, the E-100RS' manual white balance option did an exceptionally good job of compensating for the very strong color cast from the incandescent lighting. We chose a +1.0 EV adjustment for our main shot, as anything beyond that lost some of the detail in the white flowers, and less compensation resulted in a rather dark image. However, we also felt that the +1.3 EV (652k) adjustment looked nice, though some of the highlight areas are just beginning to lose detail, and the skin tones are even more undersaturated. Noise remains moderate throughout the image. We also snapped sample images at the 100 (641k), 200 (755k), and 400 (850k) ISO settings. The 100 ISO setting appeared slightly brighter than the others, and had the lowest noise. As you might expect, noise steadily increased with the 200 and 400 ISO settings. Overall, a very good performance on a very tough subject. The table below shows a range of exposure adjustments from zero to +1.7 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 25
F/ 2.8
(679 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 20
F/ 2.8
(680 k)
0.7 EV
1/ 13
F/ 2.8
(645 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 10
F/ 2.8
(651 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 8
F/ 2.8
(652 k)
1.7 EV
1/ 6
F/ 2.8
(688 k)



 
House shot: (826k)
NOTE that this is the "new" house shot, a much higher-resolution poster than we first used in our tests. To compare the image of the E-100RS with previously tested cameras, here's a shot of the original house poster in the automatic (807k) white balance setting.

We shot this series with the automatic white balance setting, as it produced pretty accurate results. Color balance looks good, though maybe a touch undersaturated. Resolution is again very nice, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree limbs, shrubbery, and details of the house front, although the heavy-handed in-camera sharpening is again evident in the form of a coarsening of the finest details, and visible "halos" along contrast boundaries. (See the white trim against the darker bricks in the central gable of the house.) The entire image is very crisp, which increases visibility of the details in the shrubbery. We noticed moderate noise in the roof shingles and shadow areas on the front of the house. In-camera sharpening shows up as about a pixel or two of a halo effect visible around the light and dark edges of the white trim that lines the roof. We also shot with the 100 (823k), 200 (821k), and 400 (831k) ISO settings. The exposure darkened slightly with the 400 setting, and took on a slightly magenta cast at both 200 and 400 settings. Noise heartily increased with the 200 and 400 settings, which could be partly to blame for the magenta cast. Still, an excellent job overall. The table below shows the full range of resolution and quality settings.

Resolution/Quality Series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(4093 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(826 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(342 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(189 k)



Sharpness Series
We also shot with the E-100RS' adjustable sharpness setting, noticing that the Hard setting brightened the exposure somewhat. The sharpness setting also appears to affect the contrast slightly. Overall, we personally much prefer the more understated sharpening seen in the "soft" setting than what the other options produce. For work with critical detail, we'd recommend you shoot in "soft" mode, and apply sharpening more precisely using Photoshop(tm) after the fact.

Hard
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(799 k)
Normal
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(828 k)
Soft
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(839 k)



 
 
Far-Field Test (811k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

We shot this image with the automatic (191k), daylight (180k), cloudy (191k), and manual (189k) white balance modes, choosing the manual setting for our main series. The automatic setting resulted in a slightly cool image, while the cloudy setting produced a very warm cast. Both the manual and daylight settings actually produced similar results. Color balance looks pretty good throughout, though maybe a hint warm. This shot is a strong test of detail, given the practically infinite range of fine detail in a natural scene like this, viewed from a distance. Resolution looks good, with a lot of fine detail visible in the tree branches against the sky, as well as in the shrubbery in front of the house and in the house front details. The overall image appears slightly softer than in our other test shots, due to the distance between the camera and the subject. We also judge a camera's dynamic range in this shot, comparing how well the camera holds detail in both the shadow and highlight areas. The E-100RS shows a reasonably good tonal range, capturing most of the stronger details in the very bright bay window area. The dark shadows of the wooded areas and the front entrance show fairly good detail as well. Noise is moderately low throughout the image, and mainly noticeable in the shadows. We also shot with the 100 (811k), 200 (749k), and 400 (841k) ISO settings. As you'd expect, noise level increases slightly with each ISO adjustment, though noise at the ISO 400 setting appears only moderately high. We also noticed some vertical bands in the roof at the 200 and 400 ISO settings (a hint of this is also barely visible at the 100 ISO setting). It also appears that the amount of detail in the bright bay window area decreases with the 200 and 400 ISO settings.

The vertical bands we noticed at higher ISO settings appear to be the result of charge leakage on the CCD, as the signal from very bright portions of the image is shifted off the chip. (Or alternatively, as the signal from darker portions of the image shifts past brightly-illuminated areas of the array.) The lighter bands appear in the roof of the house, directly above long, very bright areas such as the white gutter just to the right of the central gable, or above the bright trim on the middle window of the second floor. We've only rarely seen this sort of a charge-transfer problem in prosumer digicams, and suspect it might have to do with the extremely high clock rate used to get data off the E-100RS' CCD. The effect is only barely noticeable at ISO 100, but is visible at ISO 200, and obvious at ISO 400. We're not sure what to make of this phenomena, in terms of whether (or to what extent) it would affect normal shooting. In our photos, it seemed to take a pretty high light level occurring over a fairly long stretch of pixels to trigger the effect. We saw no sign of it for instance, in our "Davebox" test, in which the shiny pot lid reflects the lights directly back into the camera's lens. On the other hand, that is perhaps a more modest light overload: We're not sure what would happen with high-intensity stadium lights in an arena setting.

On the Olympus Japan web site, Olympus themselves reported some evidence of increased image noise when running the camera at its maximum frame rates, on high ISO settings. We shot a photo of the house here, with the frame rate set to 15 fps, and ISO set to 400.(920k) We scrutinized it pretty closely, and feel that yes, we can see slightly more noise in the shadows of the high-speed version, but frankly felt that the magnitude of the effect was pretty small, not to the point that we'd have thought it worthy of comment absent the prior notice published by Olympus.

The table below shows the full resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality Series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(4093 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(811 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(336 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(183 k)



Sharpness Series
We shot another series with the E-100RS' sharpness adjustments. Again, we noticed that the level of sharpness affected the contrast and brightness (in addition to sharpening), with the Soft setting appearing somewhat dim and the Hard setting a little brighter and with more contrast. Again, we personally prefer the action of the "Soft" setting to that of the default.

Hard
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(831 k)
Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(816 k)
Soft
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(716 k)



 
 
Lens Zoom Range
Wow, that's a lotta zoom! We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to show you the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, full 10x telephoto and at full telephoto with the 2.7x digital zoom enabled. The wide angle setting captures a very wide shot, showing great resolution and only a slight barrel distortion. The 10x telephoto gets incredibly close, capturing an excellent level of detail. We were very impressed with crisp, minute details in this shot. The 2.7x digital telephoto even does a fairly good job of zooming in even further without losing too much resolution or increasing the noise level. The digital telephoto shot appears a little blurry when viewed at 100 percent, but shown half size, it looks reasonably sharp. (As usual, the digital telephoto would be most useful for images intended to be printed at smaller sizes.

Wide Angle
Shutter: 1/ 650
Aperture: F5.6
(825k)
10x Telephoto
Shutter: 1/ 500
Aperture: F5.6
(800k)
2.7x Digital Telephoto
Shutter: 1/ 500
Aperture: F5.6
(766k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (776k)
We shot our main series with the automatic white balance setting, although it produced a rather cool, blue-green cast. The skin tones appear a little undersaturated, but the blue of the Oriental model's robe is nearly accurate. Resolution looks very good, with a lot of fine detail visible in the bird wings and silver threads on the blue robe. The E-100RS does a good job capturing the detail of both birds on the model's shoulder, as many digicams have trouble with the smaller bird, often washing out the details almost entirely. The flower garland, violin strings, and beaded necklaces also show a nice level of detail, although we noticed a moiré pattern on the violin strings. Noise remains moderate throughout the image, though some of it could be from the poster itself. Below is our resolution and quality series (without the uncompressed TIFF quality setting).

Resolution/Quality Series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(4093 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 60
F/ 2.8
(776 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 60
F/ 2.8
(348 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 60
F/ 2.8
(213 k)




 
Macro Shot (779k)
The E-100RS does an excellent job in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.84 x 2.14 inches (72.11 x 54.29mm), although there is noticeable barrel distortion when working this close. 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 a limited depth of field). The built-in flash (778k) 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.


"Davebox" Test Target (653k)
We shot this target with the automatic white balance setting, which produced a nice white value on the mini resolution target. Color balance looks very good overall, with only a slight undersaturation of the large color blocks. We noticed small halos around the inside of the large color blocks as well, with the strongest ones on the brighter colors. (More evidence of overaggressive in-camera sharpening.) The E-100RS has no trouble distinguishing between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart, which is a problem area for many digicams. Exposure looks about right, as the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart are completely visible up to the "B" range (another common problem area for digicams). The gradations of the vertical grayscales are also visible, though the three darkest shades nearly blend together. The shadow area of the briquettes shows excellent detail though, as does the white gauze area. Noise appears moderately low, and is mostly noticeable in the black areas and shadows. We also shot with the 100 (652k), 200 (783k), and 400 (918k) ISO settings, noticing that the noise level increased with each setting. Exposure seemed to remain the same, however. Overall an excellent performance on this test. Below is our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality Series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(4093 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 30
F/ 5.6
(653 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 30
F/ 5.6
(329 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 30
F/ 5.6
(135 k)




 
Low-Light Tests
The E-100RS performed very well in the low-light category, as we were able to capture quite bright, useable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot candles (0.67 lux), at all three ISO settings. Starting at about 1/2 foot candles (5.5 lux) and lower, we noticed a pink cast to the images, although the color cast wasn't as pronounced as we've seen on many cameras in this test, and is easily removed in an editing program. Noise is moderate at the 100 ISO setting, but features very pronounced, bright speckles throughout the image. These speckles seem to decrease somewhat with the higher ISO settings, but the overall noise level increases as well. (We direct readers to Mike Chaney's excellent Qimage Pro program, for a tool with an amazing ability to remove image noise without significantly affecting detail.) 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, so the E-100RS should handle about any low light shooting situation that you yourself can actually see in. One noticeable limitation of the E-100RS design in this regard though, is that the electronic viewfinder system really can't produce an image in conditions anywhere near as dark as the camera can actually take a picture in. We found the long lens barrel helpful for aiming the camera "gunsight style," but accurate framing is rather problematic. We suspect there isn't a good solution to this as the ultra-long ratio zoom lenses (10x in this case) really require an electronic viewfinder solution. (An optical viewfinder with that long a zoom range would be difficult and expensive to construct.) Interestingly though, the E-100RS had no problems focusing in any of our low-light tests: The autofocus assist light built into the front of the camera body appears to work very well. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each ISO setting at a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

ISO
100
Click to see E1RL1000.JPG

664.1 KB
1/ 4
F2.8

Click to see E1RL1001.JPG

681.9 KB
1/ 2
F2.8

Click to see E1RL1002.JPG

683.7 KB
1
F2.8

Click to see E1RL1003.JPG

706.1 KB
2
F2.8

Click to see E1RL1004.JPG

694.5 KB
4
F2.8

Click to see E1RL1005.JPG

712.0 KB
8
F2.8

Click to see E1RL1006.JPG

845.5 KB
16
F2.8

Click to see E1RL1007.JPG

895.5 KB
16
F2.8

ISO
200
Click to see E1RL2000.JPG

799.2 KB
1/ 8
F2.8

Click to see E1RL2001.JPG

824.4 KB
1/ 4
F2.8

Click to see E1RL2002.JPG

822.3 KB
1/ 2
F2.8

Click to see E1RL2003.JPG

820.6 KB
1
F2.8

Click to see E1RL2004.JPG

792.6 KB
2
F2.8

Click to see E1RL2005.JPG

764.7 KB
4
F2.8

Click to see E1RL2006.JPG

893.7 KB
8
F2.8

Click to see E1RL2007.JPG

703.6 KB
16
F2.8

ISO
400
Click to see E1RL4000.JPG

638.2 KB
1/ 15
F2.8

Click to see E1RL4001.JPG

636.2 KB
1/ 8
F2.8

Click to see E1RL4002.JPG

651.3 KB
1/ 4
F2.8

Click to see E1RL4003.JPG

648.9 KB
1/ 2
F2.8

Click to see E1RL4004.JPG

883.9 KB
1
F2.8

Click to see E1RL4005.JPG

861.3 KB
2
F2.8

Click to see E1RL4006.JPG

645.7 KB
4
F2.8

Click to see E1RL4007.JPG

709.3 KB
8
F2.8




 
Flash Range Test
(This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available). Olympus rates the E-100RS' flash as effective from 1.0 to 13.1 feet (0.3 to 4.0m), which agreed well with our results. In our testing, we found the E-100RS' flash very bright as far as 15 feet from the target, but we did see a slight drop in brightness starting between 13 and 14 feet. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 15 feet from the target.

8 ft
1/ 80
F/ 2.8
(132 k)
9 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(138 k)
10 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(131 k)
11 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.8
(134 k)
12 ft
1/ 125
F/ 2.8
(132 k)
13 ft
1/ 125
F/ 2.8
(135 k)
14 ft
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(135 k)
15 ft
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(126 k)



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (732k)
The E-100RS's resolution in our ISO standard test is 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.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(4093 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(732 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(339 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(165 k)



Sharpness Series
Hard
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(770 k)
Normal
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(727 k)
Soft
1/ 160
F/ 2.8
(678 k)


Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(4093 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 125
F/ 3.2
(710 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 125
F/ 3.2
(319 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 125
F/ 3.2
(164 k)



Sharpness Series (All telephoto)
Hard
1/ 125
F/ 3.2
(730 k)
Normal
1/ 125
F/ 3.2
(610 k)
Soft
1/ 125
F/ 3.2
(670 k)



 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
The E-100RS features an electronic SLR design, meaning that the display in the optical viewfinder is a miniaturized version of the LCD monitor. Thus, we measured the frame accuracy of the LCD monitor only. We found the LCD monitor very accurate, showing approximately 98.5 percent of the final image area at wide angle (314k), and about 99.3 percent at telephoto (306k) (for both 1360 x 1024 and 640 x 480 image sizes). 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. Flash distribution looks good at both telephoto and wide angle settings, with just a slight amount of falloff around the corners and edges at wide angle.

Optical distortion on the E-100RS is low to moderate at the wide angle end, where we measured barrel distortion of 0.45 percent. The telephoto end fared much better, showing a pixel or less of pincushion distortion. (Less than 0.1 percent.) Chromatic aberration is about average, with a colored fringe of 2-3 pixels at the edges of the resolution target elements, in the corners. Coma is higher at the telephoto end of the lens' range though, with lighter edges extending as much as 6-7 pixels into the black target areas from the surrounding white regions.

 

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<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

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