Olympus EVOLT E-330 Design

Following in the footsteps of the EVOLT E-300, the Olympus EVOLT E-330 is a true digital SLR, with enough bells and whistles to satisfy expert photographers, yet its automatic options are quite friendly to novices as well. Featuring an interchangeable lens mount, a host of exposure controls (including full manual exposure control), and no less than 20 preset exposure modes, the E-330 falls midway between a pro digital SLR and the company's more consumer-oriented E-500. The big news about the E-330 is its Live View LCD monitor, something practically unheard of on a digital SLR. The optical viewfinder is in fact, a true optical viewfinder. However, you also have the option of enabling the LCD monitor's two Live View modes, both of which offer a view that digicam owners have grown accustomed to. The LCD monitor also features a vertical tilt option, which is extremely useful in framing shots at high or low angles. A plastic and aluminum body surrounds the E-330's aluminum die-cast chassis, which weighs in at a hefty 2.1 pounds (950 grams) for the camera, lens, CF card, and battery. Measuring 5.5 x 3.4 x 2.8 inches (140 x 87 x 72 millimeters), the Olympus E-330 is quite a handful, but about what you'd expect for this level of camera.

The front of the Olympus E-330 features the lens mount, self-timer LED / IR remote sensor window, and the lens release button. The medium-sized handgrip is covered with a textured, leathery material that clings to your fingers as they wrap around the camera.

Visible on the right side of the camera is the Compact Flash and xD-Picture Card compartment, as well as one of the eyelets for attaching the neck strap. The media compartment opens from the rear panel, with a hinged, hard-plastic door that snaps shut securely.

On the opposite side of the camera is the second neck strap eyelet, as well as the shared USB/Video Out connector compartment. The compartment is protected by a flexible, rubbery flap tethered to the camera. Also visible on this side is the diopter adjustment on the left side of the optical viewfinder eyepiece.

The Olympus E-330's top panel has just a handful of controls on it, including the Shutter button, EV button, Power switch, and the Mode and Control dials. Also on the top panel are the pop-up flash unit and external flash hot shoe. A small blue LED flashes when the camera is powered on, indicating that the SSWF (Super Sonic Wave Filter) is operating.

The majority of the Olympus E-330's controls are on the rear panel, and are clearly and logically laid out. A series of buttons lines the left side of the 2.5-inch LCD monitor, and includes the Playback, Erase, Menu, and Info buttons. Just above the top right corner of the LCD monitor are the Live View and Display buttons. Lining the right side of the LCD monitor are the AE Lock /AF Lock / Protect and Drive / Print buttons. The four-way arrow pad in the lower right corner serves multiple functions depending on the camera's operating mode. Starting with the "up" arrow and moving clockwise, the Arrow Pad buttons double as White Balance, AF, ISO, and Metering buttons. A small OK button rests in the center of the Arrow Pad. A mechanical Flash Release button is next to the pop-up flash compartment for releasing the flash into its operating position. The optical viewfinder eyepiece is surrounded by a rubbery cup that won't scratch eyeglasses, and features a dioptric adjustment dial on its left side to correct the view. On the right side of the eyepiece is a small switch that controls a shutter just inside the glass. (This is useful for long Bulb mode exposures, as it prevents any stray light from affecting the exposure. It's also recommended to close this shutter in the LCD's Live View mode, as the incidental light does alter the exposure metering according to our tests.) Also on the rear panel is a small LED next to the memory card compartment door that lights whenever the camera is accessing the card (meaning you shouldn't remove the memory card).

The bottom of the camera holds the battery compartment cover and a metal screw-mount tripod socket. The tripod socket is just far enough from the battery compartment to make battery changes easy when mounted on a tripod. The battery compartment door features a sliding lock to keep it (and the battery) in place, and a second lock holds the battery in place inside the compartment.


Olympus EVOLT E-330 External Controls

Shutter Button: Located on an angled panel atop the right handgrip, the Shutter button sets focus and exposure settings when pressed halfway and triggers the shutter when fully pressed.

Exposure Compensation Button: Behind the Shutter button, this button adjusts the overall exposure compensation from -5 to +5 EV in either one, 1/2, or 1/3-step increments. (Step size is set through the camera's menu system.) In Manual exposure mode, this button sets the lens aperture when pressed while turning the Control dial.

In Playback mode, pressing this button when an image has been enlarged enables the camera's Light Box Display mode, which shows sections of two enlarged images for side-by-side comparison.

Mode Dial: Protruding noticeably on the top panel, this dial controls the camera's main operating mode. Choices are Manual, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, Night Scene, and Scene modes.

Power Switch: Jutting out from under the Mode dial on the right side, this switch turns the camera on and off.

Command Dial: Behind and partially beneath the Mode dial is the Command dial, which adjusts a wide variety of settings when turned while pressing control buttons.

In Playback mode, this dial controls digital enlargement of captured images up to 14x when turned toward the right. The dial also accesses the four, nine, 16, and 25 image thumbnail index display modes, as well as a calendar display, when turned to the left.

Flash Release Button: Located on the rear panel beneath the pop-up flash compartment, this button releases the pop-up flash, an entirely mechanical operation. (That is, the camera can't automatically invoke the flash in response to the camera's exposure calculations or settings; it must be popped up by the user.)

Live View Button: Above the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button controls the LCD's Live View mode. In "A" mode, the image area is displayed on the LCD, drawn off a secondary sensor in the optical viewfinder. This latter method enables full autofocus and a true-SLR view on the LCD. In "B" mode the image is drawn directly from the capture sensor and only Manual focus is available; also, the mirror is locked up, and pressing the Info button enlarges the center of the frame 10x so you can fine tune with the lens's manual focus ring.

Display Button: To the right of the Live View button, this button controls the overall LCD display, switching between Live View and the Control Panel screen.

AE Lock / AF Lock / Protect Button: Adjacent to the top right side of the LCD monitor, this button locks the exposure and/or flash setting in any record mode. In Playback mode, this button enables or removes write protection of an individual image.

Drive / Copy / Print Button: Below the AE/AF Lock button, this button controls the drive mode in just about any exposure mode. Options are Single-Frame, Sequential, Two- or 12-Second Self Timer, and two Remote Control modes.

In Playback mode, this button lets you copy image files between xD-Picture Cards and CompactFlash cards or Microdrives. You can also direct print from the camera to a printer by pressing this button.

Four-Way Arrow Pad (White Balance, AF, ISO, and Metering Buttons) and OK Button : Made up of four buttons arranged in a circle around a central OK button, the Arrow Pad controls many of the camera's operations. The top arrow key controls the White Balance mode, while the right arrow selects the AF mode. The bottom arrow adjusts the ISO setting in conjunction with the Command dial, and the left arrow sets the camera's metering mode. Pressing the OK button while in Record mode shortcuts to the Control Panel, which lets you jump to a handful of camera settings without having to access the LCD menu system.

In Playback mode, the left and right Arrows move forward or backward through the pictures stored on the card. Up and down arrows jump through the images 10 frames at a time. All four are used to scroll around portions of the zoomed image in Zoom Playback mode.

In the LCD menu system, the Arrow buttons navigate through menu screens and select settings, while the OK button confirms choices.

Playback Button: The first button in a series lining the left side of the LCD monitor, this button switches the camera to Playback mode. The E-330 is a "shooting priority" camera, so you can return to capture mode either by pressing the Playback button again, or simply by pressing the Shutter button.

Erase Button: Next in line below the Playback button, this button lets you erase the currently displayed image, with a Yes/No confirmation screen. If pressed while the camera is in a shooting mode, the most recently captured image appears on the LCD display with an option to erase it.

Menu Button: Directly below the Erase button, this button calls up the settings menus in any camera mode.

Info Button: The final button in the series lining the LCD monitor, this button toggles the information display on and off while in Live View A mode. When Live View is disabled, this button cycles through two information screens before disabling the LCD monitor entirely.

Eyepiece Shutter Lever: Tucked on the right side of the viewfinder eyepiece, this lever opens and closes a small shutter just inside the eyepiece.

Diopter Adjustment Dial: On the left side of the viewfinder eyepiece, this dial adjusts the optical viewfinder's optics to accommodate eyeglass wearers.

Lens Release Button: Right next to the lens mount, at about the 4 o'clock position (viewed from the front), this button releases the lens from its mount when pressed, so you can rotate and remove it.


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