Olympus EVOLT E-330 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Some oversaturation of strong red and blue tones, but pleasing overall color.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The Olympus EVOLT E-330 oversaturates reds and blues a little, and some yellows. It also undersaturates greens and blues, but results are still pleasing.

Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. In this case, the E-330 did render skin tones a bit on the pale, pink side in most cases. Still, results are reasonable.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Overall results here are pretty accurate, though some reds are pushed toward orange, and orange toward yellow. Still, overall color is quite good, closer to accurate than many.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto white balance is a quite warm, but Manual and 2,700K white balance settings produce good color, though quite a bit of positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance +2.0 EV Incandescent WB +2.0 EV
Manual White Balance +2.0 EV 2,700K White Balance +2.0 EV
 
2,800K White Balance +2.0 EV  

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was very warm with the Auto white balance setting, though the Manual and 2,7000K options both produced more accurate results. The 2,800K and Incandescent settings produced nearly accurate color, though just a hint warm overall. I felt the Manual setting had the most pleasing overall results, as the 2,700K option was just a hint pink. The Olympus EVOLT E-330 required quite a bit more than the average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +2.0 EV. Overall color is good, if a tad bit on the pink side, though the blue flowers are very dark. (A common outcome with this shot.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Bright colors overall, though a tendency toward a warm cast and high contrast under harsh lighting. Slightly better than average exposure accuracy outdoors.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Olympus EVOLT E-330 produced good overall results, though color balance was a hint warm in some cases. The camera required slightly less than average positive exposure compensation under harsh lighting, and contrast was high. Detail was limited in the shadows, with visible noise, but the highlights held onto a good level of detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution, 1,300 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
1,300 lines horizontal
Strong detail to
1,300 lines vertical

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,300 lines per picture height, with extinction at around 1,800. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail. Our interpretation of this standard is somewhat conservative. We watch for artifacts and color fringing then move back to the nearest pure part of the scale. In our opinion, detail with artifacts shouldn't be considered detail. You may see other numbers quoted elsewhere, but across the site, our reviews judge this parameter by the same conservative standard.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Reasonably sharp images overall, though slightly soft details in some cases. Some noise suppression visible in the deep shadows.

Despite evidence of edge enhancement, images from the E-330 aren't as sharp as they could be. Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the darker parts of Marti's hair here.

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 captured fairly sharp images, though details are a hint soft overall. Even in the high contrast shot above, there's only slight edge enhancement visible along the edges of the white house trim. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.)

Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop above right shows some visible noise suppression in the shadows, though quite a bit of fine detail in the strands of hair remains visible.

ISO & Noise Performance
Low to moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, higher noise with strong blurring at the highest settings.

ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
 
ISO 800 ISO 1,600  

Noise levels are low to moderate at the Olympus EVOLT E-330's lower sensitivity settings, and noise is only slightly high at ISO 400. At ISOs 800 and 1,600, noise is much higher (as you might expect), with stronger blurring.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, though details are slightly soft. High contrast and limited shadow detail, however. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and much darker conditions.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight:
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

The Olympus EVOLT E-330 produced high contrast with deep shadows under the harsh lighting of the test above. Shadow detail is somewhat limited, with visible noise as well as noise suppression. Though some areas look a little dark at +0.7 EV, I preferred it to the image at +1.0 EV, which had too many blown highlights for my preference. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16fc
No NR
ISO
100

2 sec
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4 sec
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8 sec
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15 sec
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ISO
200

1 sec
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8 sec
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15 sec
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ISO
400

1/2 sec
f3.5

1 sec
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4 sec
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8 sec
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f3.5
ISO
800

1/4 sec
f3.5

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ISO
1600

1/8 sec
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1/2 sec
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2 sec
f3.5

Low light:
The Olympus EVOLT E-330 captured usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level (about 1/16 as bright as average city street lighting at night), though images are just a hint dim at the lowest light level. Color balance is a bit warm and pinkish from the Auto white balance setting. The camera's autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to just above the 1/8 foot-candle light level even with its AF assist light turned off. Do keep in mind though, that the very long shutter times necessary here absolutely demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality, great color, great 11x14 inch prints. ISO 1,600 images are surprisingly good at 8x10, even better at 5x7.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

Output from the Olympus E-330 was good enough to produce good looking 11x14 inch prints. At 13x19, its prints were softer looking, but probably fine for wall or table display. High ISO images were also a nice surprise, with ISO 400 images holding together for very good 11x14 inch prints, and ISO 800 and 1,600 still producing a good 8x10.

Color saturation was a little bright in the reds, but good overall, with little in the way of anti-noise suppression evident. Color also doesn't fade as ISO increases, an admirable and rare trait among image sensors. A very good performance.

 

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 .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Olympus EVOLT E-330 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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