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Digital Photography
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The Olympus E1 System

Rock solid engineering, unique features, easy handling, & impressive picture quality make the sensibly priced Olympus E1 System an excellent choice if you're looking for a new digital SLR.

The Olympus E1 consistently produces sharp, clean, & colorful pictures. Combine that with its durable, weatherproof, feature-laden camera body, long battery life, and strikingly comfortable handling ... you'll see why E1 owners love their cameras.

I've used a lot of cameras through the years, so it didn't take me long to recognize some special things I really like about the E1's features & styling:

Special Features

Special Features 2


The E1 uses the external white balance sensor in conjunction with an analysis of the captured image data to achieve an extremely accurate automatic white balance reading.


The red focus assist lamp projects a nearly invisible array of vertical red light beams to help the camera's focus sensors lock onto target in low-light shooting situations. Most other cameras equipped with camera-body mounted focus assist lamps use bright, annoying, & distracting white lamps.


The One-touch white balance button gives a preset white balance in difficult lighting conditions without having to navigate through complicated or confusing procedures. Simply press the One-touch button while pointing the lens at a white or photographic gray card (anything white in a pinch) and the camera instantly sets a custom white balance. This is genius. The One-touch white balance feature is sensitive to color temperatures ranging from 2000K to 10000K, up to four custom settings can be stored in memory.


The deep, well-balanced grip is the most comfortable, secure-feeling, easy-carrying camera grip I've ever used.


The offset lens mount & viewfinder: Other digital SLRs have a center-mounted lens & viewfinder. The offset mount is unique to Olympus and is the main reason why the camera's grip is so comfortable to hold, carry, and shoot with.


A magnesium alloy camera body, generally found only in cameras costing hundreds of dollars more.


Recessed click-to-adjust diopter knob: Easy to adjust, no chance of accidentally nudging it out of adjustment like the sliding diopter adjusters on many other digital SLRs.


The built-in lever-controlled eyepiece shutter blocks light out to ensure correct exposure when shooting with a remote control or the self-timer. Again, generally found only in cameras costing much more.


The right side of the camera's back is contoured to fit the natural wrap-around shape of your thumb's grip perfectly.


The sealed, single slot locking memory card compartment (Compact Flash Type I or II, including microdrives) has roomy card access with an excellent card ejection button. Memory cards can be easily inserted or removed, even while wearing gloves.

Supersonic Wave Filter

Dust, lint, or dirt particles often find their way onto a Digital SLR camera's sensor cover glass, especially when changing lenses.

Clean SensorThe Olympus E1's internal Supersonic Wave Filter silently vibrates any foreign particles off the image sensor cover glass when the camera is first powered on. The self-cleaning process takes only 1/20th of a second. The particles are disposed of in a permanent internal trap.

Other notable features:

  • Optional camera base-mounted vertical shooting grip kit & high
    capacity Lithium-ion battery.

    By itself, the E1 is compact, lightweight, easy to carry, nimble, and unobtrusive. It's the perfect size for times when you want to travel light or if you want to blend in to a crowd instead of looking like "Mister Photographer". And the standard battery is typically good for 500 to 1000 pictures between charges.

    HLD-2 & BLL-1

    With the addition of the HLD-2, the camera takes on a bold, seriously professional look. Vertical shooting controls in the HLD-2 include a shutter release button along with front & rear control dials. The additional battery capacity provides significantly longer shooting life, lasting generally two to three times longer than the standard battery. Olympus did an excellent job designing the HLD-2, the camera & grip look like built-in original engineering, not like an add-on accessory.

  • Choice of sRGB or Adobe RGB color space.
  • Multiple image formats / sizes:


    2560 x 1920 pixels


    2560x 1920 pixels

    Raw + Jpeg

    Full sized Raw file along with an associated Jpeg in any size & quality

    Jpeg - SHQ (Super High Quality)

    2560 x 1920 pixels

    Jpeg - HQ (High Quality)

    2560 x 1920 pixels

    Jpeg - SQ (Standard Quality)

    1600 x 1200 pixels

    Jpeg - SQ (Standard Quality)

    1280 x 960 pixels

    Jpeg - SQ (Standard Quality)

    1024 x 768 pixels

    Jpeg - SQ (Standard Quality)

    640 x 480 pixels

  • Interchangeable Focus Screens.

    Standard Screen

    E1 Standard matte focus screen (FS-1).

    Grid Screen

    The optional grid-lined focus screen (FS-2) is a big help when trying to shoot 'level' pictures.

  • Free downloadable firmware & software updates. The camera's firmware can be automatically updated using a direct internet hookup to the Olympus Firmware Update site when the E1 connected to a computer using either Olympus Viewer software (free, included with the camera) or Olympus Studio software (optional, additional charge software).

Impressive picture quality

Smug Satisfaction
With a smug look of pride & satisfaction
Click to enlarge: 768 x 1024 pixels, 373 KB

When I walked out to hook up the flatbed trailer hitch, chains, & power plugs to the truck, I was surprised to find that somebody had beaten me to it. She'd quietly watched me do it for years, and was clearly proud of her self-taught accomplishment.

Olympus E1 photo taken with an 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 Olympus / Zuiko zoom lens.

Camera Settings:
Raw + Jpeg SHQ, ISO 100, Programmed Automatic Exposure, +1 in-camera sharpening, -1 in-camera contrast, standard saturation (CS2), sRGB color space, Auto White Balance.

Raw processing:
Raw (ORF) file developed in Olympus Studio software, sharpening changed to 0, Exposure Compensation boosted +0.5, exported to Adobe Photoshop as a 16 bit Tiff.

Final processing:
Sharpened in Adobe Photoshop (Unsharp Mask) 250%, Radius 0.3, Threshold 4.

Scouting for picture angles
Scouting for picture angles
Click to enlarge: 1024 x 768 pixels, 376 KB

Little did I know that my daughter had the Olympus E1 pointed my way as I was getting ready to shoot some nighttime drag racing action photography with my Nikon D2H. She took this candid shot of me about a half hour before sunset as I scouted the stands for picture angles & perspectives.

Olympus E1 photo, 11-22mm Olympus / Zuiko f/2.8-3.5 zoom lens.

Camera Settings: ISO 100, Programmed Automatic Exposure, Jpeg SHQ (super high quality) image format, +3 in-camera sharpening, -2 in-camera contrast, standard saturation, sRGB color mode.

The ultra-low 1:2.7 Jpeg SHQ compression ratio produces exceptional quality.

Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns
Click to enlarge: 1024 x 768 pixels, 510 KB

I drive by a big herd of Texas Longhorns every day on the way home from work, and am always fascinated by their unique colors & patterns. I took this late afternoon picture from the side of the road through my open truck window.

Olympus E1 photo, 50-200mm Olympus / Zuiko f/2.8-3.5 zoom lens.

Camera Settings: ISO 100, Aperture Priority @ f/2.8, Raw capture, +1 in-camera sharpening, -1 in-camera contrast, standard saturation, sRGB color mode.

Post processing: Raw file developed 'as shot' in Olympus Studio software, transferred to Adobe Photoshop as a 16 bit Tiff, Sharpened (Unsharp Mask) at 250%, Radius 0.3, Threshold 4.

Easy to use Raw file processing software packages: Olympus Viewer and Olympus Studio

Either software package can process Raw files with adjustments to Exposure Compensation, Contrast, White Balance, Sharpness, Saturation, and Color Space.

Olympus Viewer software is included free with the camera. Olympus Studio software is also included with the camera as a free short-term trial version. The full version of Olympus Studio can be purchased from your authorized Olympus dealer.

Olympus Studio software offers faster processing plus computer control of the camera:

  • If the camera is connected to a computer, it can be fully controlled from the computer, images can be viewed on the computer's monitor, and the recorded images can be stored directly onto the computer's hard drive.
  • In addition to computer control, Olympus Studio also has a high speed Raw procession engine that processes & converts Raw images much faster than Olympus Viewer software.

Olympus Studio Software Screenshot

Olympus Studio Software Screenshot

At left: Screenshot of Olympus Studio's Image Processing Control Panel.

Clicking on the first box brings up the Raw Development Settings Control Panel (the one shown above). The Raw Development Settings Control Panel is strictly for Raw (ORF) exposure adjustments.

The rest of the control boxes can be used on either Raw or Jpeg files.

Distortion Correction (for pictures taken with certain lenses), Shading Compensation (vignette correction), and Noise Reduction controls are specialized for the E1.

Other controls are similar to familiar procedures in Adobe Photoshop.

More E1 lenses & accessories:

300mm f/2.8 Zuiko

150mm f/2.0 Zuiko
18-50mm Sigma
18-125mm Sigma
55-200mm Sigma
Olympus / Zuiko
Olympus / Zuiko
Sigma FT
f/3.5-5.6 DC
Sigma FT
f/3.5-5.6 DC
Sigma FT
f/4-5.6 DC

50mm f/2.0 Zuiko Macro
40-150mm Zuiko
14-45mm Zuiko
7-14mm Zuiko
& Accessories
Olympus / Zuiko

f/2.0 Macro
Olympus / Zuiko
f/2.8/3.5 Zoom
Olympus / Zuiko

f/3.5-5.6 Zoom
Olympus / Zuiko
7-14mm f/4 Zoom
(Spring 2005)

World class flash grip

The Olympus FP-1 Power Flash Grip has to be the neatest flash grip I've ever seen.

For the shooter who wants that 'All Pro" feeling, the FP-1 gives the E1 a world-class press photographer look.

Olympus FP-1 Power Flash Grip

FP-1 Power Flash Grip attached to the Olympus E1

FP-1 Power Flash Grip with optional Olympus GS-2 Grip Strap. The FP-1 can be mounted on the right or left side of the camera and has a built-in shutter release button.

FP-1 Power Flash Grip & FL-50 Flash attached to the Olympus E1 with an FLCB02 Hot Shoe Cable & an RG-1 Remote Grip Cable. The FP-1 uses four common "C" sized batteries to shorten flash recycle time & add longevity to the FL-50 flash.

Camera Specifications

Camera Type:

Interchangeable Lens Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera

Compatible Lenses:

Olympus / Zuiko Digital and aftermarket brands of Four Thirds (FT) System compatible lenses

Lens Mount:

Four Thirds (FT) mount

Camera Body:

Magnesium alloy

Storage Media:

Compact Flash Card (Type I, II), Microdrives (16 bit / 32 bit Format compatible)

Image Sensor:
4/3 Sensor

Solid-state 4/3-type full frame transfer CCD image sensor
Sensor Manufacturer / Model #: Kodak KAF-5101CE
Primary Color (RGB) microlens filter array
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Total pixels: 5.6 million
Active pixels: 5.1 million
Image output pixels: 2560 x 1920 (4.9152 million pixels)

Image Sensor Filters:

Fixed type Low Pass Filter (LPF)
Self-cleaning Supersonic Wave Filter for dirt & dust particles

Viewfinder &
Focus System:


Eye level Pentaprism "High Eye Point" type Optical View Finder
Eye Point: 20 mm
View field Coverage: 100%
Magnification: Approx. 1.0 with 50mm lens set to infinity on -1 diopter
Built-in -3 to +1 Diopter Adjustment:
Quick-return mirror
Depth of Field Preview using the DOF Preview button on body
Viewfinder Information: AF frame, AF lock, AF confirmation mark, Metering mode, Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, AE lock, Auto bracket, White balance, Exposure level indicator, Exposure compensation indicator, Exposure compensation value indication, Flash, FP flash, Number of storable sequential pictures
Eye Cup: Interchangeable (2 types), EP-1 supplied
Eye Piece Shutter: Built-in

Focus System:
TTL phase difference detection focus system
Focus Area: 3 points
Focus Modes: Single AF/Continuous AF/Manual
Detection Range: EV 0 to 19 (ISO 100)
Focus Area Selection: Automatic Selection, Manual User Selection
Focusing Screen: Interchangeable type (2 types), matte FS-1 supplied
AF Assist Lamp: built-in (red lamp) on camera body and / or built-in (red lamp) using optional Olympus dedicated flashes
AF Lock: Locked by half-press of shutter button or by customizable AE lock button

Exposure Control:

Light Metering System: TTL full-aperture light metering by 3-zone multi-pattern sensing system
Light Metering Modes: ESP, Center-weighted average (6%), Spot (2%)
Detection Range: ESP, Center-weighted average: EV 3 to 20 (50mm f2, ISO 100), Spot: EV 3 to 17 (50mm F2, ISO 100)
Exposure Mode: Program with Program Shift/Shutter Priority/Aperture Priority/Manual
P, A: 2-1/4000; S: 60-1/4000; M: 60-1/4000 & Bulb
Exposure Compensation: +/-5 steps EV in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
AE Lock: Locked by first position of shutter button or AE lock button (customizable)
Exposure Bracketing: 3 or 5 Frames in +/- 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV step

Sensitivity (ISO):

Auto ISO range: 100 - 400
Manual ISO settings: 100, 200, 400, 800, expandable to 1600 & 3200 with ISO Boost enabled.


Electronically controlled focal plane shutter
Shutter Speed: A, S, M, and Ps modes: 60 sec. - 1/4000
In P mode: 2 sec. - 1/4000, Bulb (up to 8 minutes)
X-Sync Speed: X = 1/180 Second
Super FP (FP) synch speed up to 1/4000 Sec. for fill flash with FL 50
Shutter Release: Soft-touch electromagnetic release button
Self-timer: 2 or 12 seconds
Remote Control: Wireless by RM-1, Wired by RM-CB1

Drive System:

Drive Mode: Single or Sequential (continuous) shooting
Sequential Shooting Speed: 3.0 frames per second
Max. Frame Number of Sequential Shooting: 12 frames (TIFF, JPEG, RAW, or RAW+JPEG)

White Balance System:

Auto WB System: Hybrid detection system with white balance sensor and CCD imager
Preset WB: 12 Types (3000K, 3300K, 3600K, 3900K, 4000K, 4300K, 4500K, 4800K, 5500K, 6500K, 6600K, 7500K)
Custom Mode: 4 settings
WB Compensation: up to +/- 7 step in each 2 mired (20K) step for each Auto / Preset setting
WB Bracketing: 3 Frames with +/- 5 / 10 / 15 mired steps (50 / 100 / 150K)

Color Space:

sRGB, Adobe RGB

Flash Control:

TTL Auto FP, TTL Auto for Olympus dedicated flash, Auto, Manual
Synchronization Mode: Auto, Red-eye reduction, Slow synch, Slow synch second curtain, Fill-in flash
Standard Flash Flash Sync Speed: 1/180 Sec.
Super FP (FP) Synch Speed up to 1/4000 Sec. for fill flash with FL 50 speedlight
Intensity Control: up to +/- 2 EV in each 1, 1/2, or 1/3 EV steps
External Synch Socket: Yes (PC ISO type)

Top Control Panel Information:

Flash mode, Metering mode, Focus mode, Record mode, Aperture value, Shutter speed, Battery check, Number of storable still pictures, Image quality adjustment, ISO, Color space, White balance, Remote control, Self-timer, Exposure level indicator, Exposure compensation indicator, AF frame, Number of storable sequential pictures, Exposure compensation value indication, Auto bracket, Noise reduction, Single-frame shooting/Sequential shooting

Playback Monitor:

Low Temperature Polysilicon TFT Color LCD
Size: 1.8 inch / 4.6 cm
Pixel Count: 134,000 pixels
View field Coverage: Approx. 100%
Brightness Control: +/-7 steps
Protective Cover: Clear plastic detachable type, MC-1 supplied

Playback Options:

Display Mode: Single, Zoom (2x, 3x, 4x), Index (4, 9, 16 frames), Slide show
Information: Exposure mode, Metering mode, Shutter speed, F-stop, Compensation level, ISO, Color space, WB mode, Focal length, Focus area, File type, Contrast level, Sharpness level
Exposure Level View: Histogram, High light point warning
Video Signal Output: Yes

Image Erase / Protect Functions:

Erase Mode: Single, All, Selected
Protect Mode: Single/Selected

Image Recording System:

Type of Recording Format: DCF (JPEG), TIFF, RAW
Type of File Format: JPEG, TIFF Ver. 6.0 (Exif 2.2), RAW (12-bit)
RAW + JPEG Recording: Yes; 2560 x 1920 RAW + 2560 x 1920 JPEG; Approx. 15 MB (Combined)

LCD Camera Menu:

Screens: Record (13 items), Playback (4 Items), Custom (15 items), Setup (10 items), Languages: English (default) / German / French / Spanish / Japanese / Hangul (Korean)

Customized Settings:

Custom Reset: 4 types of reset settings

Power Supply:

Standard Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion battery Pack BLM-1, includes BCM-1 Charger
Optional Battery: SHLD-2 Grip / Base with BLL-1 Battery
Optional AC adapter : AC-1; AC 100V-240V, 50-60 Hz; DC 9V

PC Interface:

Via IEEE 1394 or USB 2.0 (USB 1.1 via USB 2.0)

Operating Environment:

Moisture & dust resistant, weatherproof / splash proof design
Operating range: 32° – 104° F (0° – 40° C), 30 – 90% humidity
Storage range: -4° – 140° F (-20° – 60° C), 10 – 90% humidity

Operating System:

Windows: IEEE 1394 Windows 98SE / Me / 2000 / XP
USB 1.1 Windows 98SE / Me
USB 2.0 Windows 2000 / XP
Mac: IEEE 1394, USB 1.1 Mac OS 9.1, 9.2, OSX and higher

Size / Weight:

Dimensions: 5.55" x 4.09" x 3.19" (141 x 104 x 81 mm)
Weight: 23 oz ./ 660 grams without batteries and memory card