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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!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 1/18/2001

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.

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!

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