Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus Digital Cameras > Olympus E1 SLR

Olympus E1 SLR

The first "Four Thirds" system (almost) sees the light of day!

<<Design :(Previous) | (Next): Optics>>

Page 4:Viewfinder

Review First Posted: 06/24/2003, Updated: 03/16/2004


The E-1 is a true SLR (Single Lens Reflex) design, meaning that the optical viewfinder shows the full image area, viewed through the main lens of the camera. A soft, rubbery cup surrounds the eyepiece for cushioning, and a diopter adjustment dial corrects the view for eyeglass wearers. (A larger eyecup is available as an accessory.) The eyepiece also has an internal shutter, so that you can block out any light leaks from the viewfinder during longer exposures. Inside the viewfinder are a set of black outlines indicating the focus areas and metering areas. An informative in-viewfinder display also tersely reports camera settings such as exposure mode, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, metering mode, exposure compensation, etc.

The E-1's optical viewfinder deserves mention for several reasons, as Olympus evidently devoted a fair bit of effort to its design. First and foremost, it's a true 100% viewfinder, showing all of the final frame area. I've never understood why this isn't more common among SLRs, but it's a simple fact that relatively few SLRs (either film or digital) have truly precise viewfinders -- most seem to top out at around 95% coverage. Second, Olympus designed the E-1's viewfinder optics to have an unusually high eyepoint, making it a pleasure to use for eyeglass wearers. Third, Olympus designed a new microprism pattern for the E-1's focusing screen, using a "deformed octagonal" structure to reduce moire in fine detail. Finally, the E-1 supports interchangeable focusing screens, allowing the user to select a screen most appropriate for their usage. Olympus will offer a choice of two screens at introduction. Shipped with the camera will be their new "Neo-Lumi-Micron Matte II" screen, using their new microprism pattern. An optional screen with a crosshair grid will be available as an accessory, as part number FS-2.

While not used for image composition, the E-1 does offer a 1.8-inch, low temperature, polysilicon, TFT color LCD monitor for image playback. Pressing the Playback button on the camera's rear panel activates the display, and immediately shows the last image taken. The Info button beneath the LCD monitor controls the image information display, which provides detailed exposure information, including the exposure mode, metering mode, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, color space, white balance, focal length, focus area, file type, contrast, and sharpness. There are also two playback options relating to exposure, a mode with blinking highlights to show specific areas of overexposure, as well as a histogram overlay display. A Playback Zoom option enlarges the captured image as much as 4x, and an Index display mode shows either four, nine, or 16 thumbnail images on the screen at one time. (Apologies - The screenshots shown here are still from the prototype E-1 that I used to produce the original version of this review: I neglected to shoot fresh screenshots from the production model. I'll try to rectify this at some point in the hopefully not too-distant future.)



Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Olympus E1 SLR!

<<Design | Optics>>

Follow Imaging Resource: