Olympus EVOLT E-330 Optics

The Olympus E-330 is equipped with an interchangeable lens mount that accommodates the full range of Olympus ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses. A lens release button on the lower right side of the front panel releases the lens from the mount, and a set of alignment marks on the mount itself helps you line up the lens appropriately. Because the camera is compatible with a range of lenses, focal lengths and aperture ranges will vary with the lens in use.

The Olympus E-330 employs a three-point TTL Phase-Contrast Detection autofocus system, and the three AF points are outlined in black in the viewfinder display. Through the LCD menu, you can manually select which of the AF points you'd like to base focus on, or set the AF area to automatic selection (all three AF points active). The AF button on the rear panel lets you select Manual, Single AF, or Continuous AF modes. There are also options for Single AF and Continuous AF with Manual Focus.

When manual focus is enabled, you simply turn the focus ring around the outside of the lens to set focus. The focus indicator on the right of the optical viewfinder (a solid green circle) lights to indicate that you've achieved accurate focus. Note that this is not a true mechanical or analog focus, however. Turning the ring simply activates the camera's focus mechanism, actuating the focus motor built into the lens. Single AF mode means that the camera only sets the autofocus when the Shutter button is halfway pressed, while Continuous AF mode continuously adjusts the focus without you having to halfway hold down the shutter release (good for moving subjects).

Continuous AF uses what Olympus calls Predictive AF technology, in that the camera anticipates where the subject will move to next and adjusts focus just before it reaches that point. The modes combining Single and Continuous AF with Manual focus tell the camera to set focus with a half press of the Shutter button, but leaves the manual focus ring active so that you can fine tune the setting before pressing the Shutter button the rest of the way to trip the shutter.

The Olympus E-330 also lets you tell it whether to adhere to focus- or release-priority. In focus-priority mode, the shutter won't fire unless the subject is properly focused. Conversely, release-priority means that the shutter will fire whenever you tell it to, whether the subject is focused or not. In a nice touch, the E-330 lets you determine select focus- or release-priority independently for single-shot and continuous shooting modes. (I can imagine myself wanting to insist on focus priority for single shots, but preferring release priority for continuous shooting, to let the camera just take its best shot at tracking a moving subject, perhaps settling for slightly misfocused images, rather than missing the shot entirely.)

An AF illuminator option can be turned on through the camera's Record menu, to help the camera's AF system determine focus in dark shooting conditions. The camera actually uses light from the flash as the AF illuminator, so the flash must be upright and enabled for this option to be available.

"Supersonic Wave Filter (tm)" Automatic Sensor Cleaning
The built-in Supersonic Wave Filter was first introduced on the E-1 SLR, and has been carried forward to the E-330. This is a feature that's hard to evaluate in any sort of a rigorous, quantitative way, but that appears to work quite well, based on subjective observation.

Dust has proven to be a bane for digital SLR users from the beginning. In film cameras, the imaging surface (the film) is constantly refreshed as each new frame is advanced. Any dust that might accumulate on one frame will thus not affect subsequent ones. In digital SLRs though, the sensor surface is fixed, so any dust falling on it tends to stay there, the surface becoming increasingly dirty over time. Various accessories are available to clean CCD surfaces, but their use presents an ongoing risk of accident. (That is, while the cleaning gadgets themselves may be perfectly safe, every time you open your SLR and start sticking things inside the camera body, there's a finite risk that you'll do something to damage the sensor chip.)

In the E-1 and now the E-330, every time the camera is turned on (or commanded to do so via a separate menu setting), an ultrasonic system activates, vibrating the protective cover glass over the sensor at a frequency of 350,000 cycles/second, thereby dislodging any dust particles that may have settled on the sensor's surface. (Dislodged dust is collected and trapped in an internal receptacle, so it won't float around the mirror compartment to cause more problems down the line.) A full cleaning cycle takes only 200 milliseconds (0.2 seconds).

To set appropriate expectations for Olympus' Supersonic Wave Filter system, it's important to note that it almost certainly won't be effective against grease smudges caused by fingerprints. -- So continue to be careful about putting your fingers inside the mirror compartment when the sensor is exposed.

Lens

Zoom
A 14-45mm lens comes with the EVOLT E-330 kit, with good performance.

14mm 45mm

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 digital SLR comes with an Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-45mm lens in the bundled kit, equivalent to a 28-90mm lens on a 35mm camera. The 14mm wide angle setting is impressive, and much wider than a standard zoom lens. Results were quite good at 14mm, with strong detail throughout the frame (though details are slightly soft). Coma distortion in the trees was quite low. Results were also good at the 45mm setting, though details were again slightly soft throughout the frame.

Macro
An average-size macro area with the kit lens, though good detail and high resolution. Flash exposure was slightly dim and uneven up close.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Olympus EVOLT E-330's macro setting performed well, though macro performance will vary with the lens in use. With the 14-45mm kit lens, the E-330 captured an average minimum area of 4.60 x 3.45 inches (117 x 88 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both good, though details are a bit soft overall. The flash produced a dim, uneven exposure here, so external lighting may be the best bet for macro shots with this lens. There is noticable vignetting in both shots.

Distortion
Moderate barrel distortion at wide angle, and some barrel distortion at telephoto.

Barrel distortion at 14mm is 0.83%
Barrel at 45mm is 0.09%

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto). The Olympus EVOLT E-330's 14-45mm kit lens produced about 0.83% barrel distortion at full wide angle. This is a little higher than average, but somewhat expected at such a wide angle. At the 45mm telephoto end, about 0.09% barrel distortion was present. Though again, 45mm is still fairly wide, so some barrel distortion is expected here as well.

Chromatic aberration
Moderately low, though bright at wide angle, almost nonexistent at telephoto.

Wide: fairly low but bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: very low,
top left @200%
Tele: very low,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderately low at wide angle, showing about 4-5 pixels of bright coloration on either side of the target lines. At telephoto, the effect is quite low. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Minor softening in the corners of the frame with the 14-45mm kit lens.

Wide: A hint soft in the right
corners (upper right)
Wide: sharper at center
Tele: soft in the left
corners (upper left)
Tele: still slightly soft at center

The EVOLT E-330's 14-45mm kit lens produced slightly soft corners in a few shots. At wide angle, the right corners were only slightly soft, compared to the center of the frame. At telephoto, the left corners showed stronger blurring.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Good accuracy with both the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor's Live View modes.

14mm eq., optical 45mm eq., optical
45mm eq., Live View A 45mm eq., Live View B

The Olympus EVOLT E-330's optical viewfinder proved fairly accurate, at about 98% at wide angle and 96% at telephoto (with the 14-45mm kit lens). The camera's two Live View LCD modes were also fairly accurate, though Live View A mode was a bit under par at 93%. Live View B mode resulted in slightly over 100% frame accuracy.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Olympus EVOLT E-330 Photo Gallery .

Buy the Olympus E-330

Your purchases support this site

Buy the Olympus E-330


Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate