Olympus E-3 Optical Viewfinder

One of the more pleasant surprises we found in the Olympus E3 was its viewfinder. Previous Olympus DSLRs have tended to have small, tight optical viewfinders. The availability of the Live View function on recent models has somewhat compensate for this, but when you need maximum responsiveness or in very low-light , you'll need to use the optical viewfinder, and on previous Olympus Four Thirds DSLRs, it was tight and small. By contrast, the optical viewfinder on the new E3 is huge, bright, and beautiful, and it offers a true 100% field of view. (Why can't more SLRs do this?) The illustration above right shows the relative size difference between the viewfinders in the original E1 and the new E3, but really doesn't do it justice: It feels much larger when you're looking through the eyepiece. The official spec on the E-3's viewfinder magnification is 1.15x, much larger than the typical 0.9 or so found in many DSLRs.

The viewfinder eyepiece is surrounded by a soft rubber eyecup, and has a diopter adjustment dial on the left to adjust the view for eyeglass wearers. The range of adjustment is -3 to +1 diopter, and Olympus also offers DE-P3 and DE-N3 diopter compensation replacement eyecups. Below the diopter dial is a small lever that controls a shutter for blocking light from the viewfinder for preventing stray light from affecting exposure when shooting without looking through the viewfinder.

The Olympus E3's viewfinder makes good use of its larger viewing area, packing lots of operating information into a clear display across the bottom. (The difference in viewing size isn't subtle: We had the experience of squinting through the E510's viewfinder and then looking into the E3's, it was like peering through a window, vs stepping into a room.)


Viewfinder Test Results

Excellent accuracy with both the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor's Live View mode, but there was a little tilt in the optical viewfinder.

12mm, Optical 60mm, Optical
12mm, LCD (Live View) 60mm, LCD (Live View)

The Olympus E-3's optical viewfinder proved very accurate, with about 99% coverage at wide angle and telephoto (with the 12-60mm SWD lens), though it was tilted off axis from the sensor somewhat. The camera's Live View LCD mode was extremely accurate, with about 100% accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto.


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