Olympus E3 Review
Olympus E-3 Flash
The Olympus E-3 features a built-in, pop-up flash, which operates in either Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow synchronization, Fill-in, Slow synchronization, Manual, or Off mode. Flash control modes consist of TTL Auto (TTL pre-flash mode), Auto, and Manual (with full, 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 power output settings). First or second curtain synchronization options are available. To release the flash from its compartment, press the flash button on the top panel to the left side of the pentamirror housing. Close it again by pushing the flash head back down. The Olympus E-3 also has a top-mounted hot shoe for attaching an external flash unit, as well as a PC-sync connector for non-dedicated flash units, studio strobes, etc.
Flash exposure compensation can be set to three stops lower or greater, in 1/3-stop increments, and there is a 3-shot flash bracketing feature as well.
The Olympus E-3's built-in flash has a Guide Number (GN) of 13 meters or 43 feet at ISO 100. Maximum sync speed is 1/250s. Super FP shooting with shutter speeds up to 1/8,000s is available with Olympus FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-50, and FL-36 external flash units.
A Wireless mode lets the Olympus E-3 work with compatible remote flash units with wireless capability, specifically the Olympus FL-50R and FL-36R. Four separate control channels are available for wireless operation, to allow multiple photographers to work wirelessly in the same area without interfering with each other. There is also support for controlling three separate groups with individual control for flash mode and flash intensity per group.
Flash Test Results
Coverage and Range
A fairly powerful flash, but poor coverage at the widest angle setting of the 12-60mm lens we tested with. Our indoor shots required an average amount of positive compensation in the normal flash mode.
|12mm equivalent||60mm equivalent|
|Normal Flash, +0.7 EV||Slow-Sync Mode, +0.3 EV|
Coverage. Flash coverage was somewhat uneven at wide angle, with the lens blocking part of the flash and some rather dark corners, though results at telephoto were more uniform. (This may not be a fair test, in that very few on-camera flashes (none?) are set up to cover the field of view of a 24mm equivalent wide-angle lens.) In the Indoor test, the Olympus E-3's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting, requiring an average +0.7 EV positive exposure compensation boost. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode resulted in a more even exposure and a brighter overall image at +0.3 EV, though the longer shutter time resulted in an orange color cast from the ambient studio lighting.
ISO 100 Range. Flash power remains pretty strong to about 15 feet at wide angle, though there is some minor exposure variation along the way. At telephoto, the flash exposures were dim even at 6 feet, but brightness didn't fall-off all the way out to the 16-foot point. Again, there were some minor exposure variations.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Manufacturer Specified Flash Range. The E-3's flash is rated with a GN of 13m at ISO 100. That works out to about 10.8 feet at f/4, the maximum aperture at full telephoto for the 12-60mm SWD lens we were using. Results were dim at this distance and aperture, perhaps indicating that the flash isn't quite as powerful, or that the lens isn't quite as fast as Olympus says it is.
Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.