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Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR Camera Revolts Against Tradition and Redefines What an SLR Can Be


100% "Designed-for-Digital" SLR for All Consumers Packs Dust Protection and an 8-Megapixel Imaging Sensor into Innovative Compact, Low-Profile "Flat-Top" Body for World-Class Image Quality

The Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera has remained essentially the same in both form and function for decades, becoming the high-performance workhorse of choice for both amateur and professional photographers worldwide. But much has changed since the first film SLR debuted all those years ago. Today, the pervasiveness of digital technology has forever altered photography, freeing Olympus from the limitations of traditional film SLR camera designs to be more innovative when building the next generation SLR for the digital age.

The result is the Olympus EVOLT(TM) E-300 Digital SLR, the first 100 percent "digital-from-the-ground-up" consumer SLR system with interchangeable digital specific lenses. Incorporating a newly designed compact body featuring the Dust Reduction system pioneered on the professional E-1 SLR body, the EVOLT delivers the versatility, durability and reliable performance of an SLR that isn't just for the pros - now it's for photographers of all skill levels at a price they can afford.

Designed To Break the Mold

The EVOLT looks like no other digital SLR. Because it is not bound by the conventions of traditional SLR film camera designs that have remained static for more than 30 years, the EVOLT has a radical new body shape that reduces height by eliminating the bulky pentaprism commonly found on the top of traditional SLR cameras. In place of the pentaprism design, the camera incorporates the new, exclusive Olympus TTL Optical Porro Finder coupled with an exclusive side swing mirror box, that gives the camera its unique "flat-top" appearance and makes it more compact for greater portability.

Subjects framed within the EVOLT optical viewfinder are 94% centered for accurate composition. And because it's an SLR, when you look through the viewfinder you're seeing through the lens itself what will be photographed.

A new built-in flash mechanism that slides the EVOLT flash forward as it pops up also contributes to the camera's low overall height and makes it possible to achieve both an adequate angle of illumination and a low profile body design. In addition, because the flash slides to the front of the camera body, it offers broad, even flash coverage without the shadow vignette from the lens when shooting close up.

A Digital Lens For The Digital Age

Most other digital SLR cameras use traditional 35mm film lenses on digital bodies. But since those lenses are based on designs from the beginning of the last century for film and not for pixels, they deliver insufficient light at the edges of a digital camera's image sensor. This can result in reduced sharpness and color definition, particularly when shooting with wide-angle lenses. The EVOLT does not have this problem, because it accommodates the full line of interchangeable Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses(TM) designed specifically for digital capture with smart technology that allows the lenses to communicate with the camera to ensure the best possible image quality.

Olympus dedicated digital optics paired with the 100% digital EVOLT E-300 render sharpness and contrast more consistently at any given f-stop. The lenses are matched to the Four Thirds System standard image sensor for the optimal balance between image quality, camera and lens size, and expandability. With an array of digital specific lenses to choose from that are smaller and lighter than comparable 35mm film lenses, it's easy to select the ideal instruments to bring along when you don't want to lug a lot of heavy, bulky gear.

The EVOLT E-300 outfit includes a compact, Zuiko Digital 14 - 45mm f3.5 - f5.6 Lens (equivalent to 28mm - 90mm in 35mm photography) that perfectly matches the imager so light strikes the sensor directly to ensure rich, accurate colors and edge-to-edge sharpness. Its 3.2x zoom covers the range most frequently used in ordinary photography and weighs just 10 ounces (285 grams) offering users an extremely dynamic, portable everyday-use zoom. Close-ups as near as 15 inches (38cm) are possible throughout the zoom range.

Supersonic Wave Filter Leaves Other Digital SLR Cameras In the Dust

A common problem with interchangeable lens digital SLR cameras is dust settling on the image sensor. The EVOLT features an Olympus exclusive patented ultrasonic technology, the Supersonic Wave Filter(TM), to reduce the effects of micro dust settling on the image sensor and impacting the image quality. Located between the shutter and the CCD, the Supersonic Wave Filter uses high-speed ultrasonic vibration to cause most types of dust to fall away from the image sensor so it will not appear in photographs. The filter vibrates at 350,000 times per second and is activated every time the camera powers on, or manually via a menu selection, to instantly remove the dust from in front of the image sensor. The CCD assembly is isolated from the Supersonic Wave Filter by an airtight seal to protect it even more. This unique Olympus feature gives photographers the confidence to shoot photos and change lenses in the field, just as they've always done, without the worry of images being damaged or ruined by dust on the imager.

Designed for Durability

An SLR should feel rugged enough to go out into the wilderness and even be propped up against a tree to get that perfect nature shot when a tripod isn't available. It should be strong enough to attach your largest lens without giving the impression that it could snap off at any moment. The EVOLT has an aluminum top cover on the top of the camera for extra-added protection, and a die-cast aluminum chassis inside to assure durability. The lens mount is steel and is designed for rugged use, so you can have confidence in your camera no matter where you take it or what lens you use.

Designed for The Best Image Quality

Olympus knows that image excellence relies on the combination of a high quality digital specific lens matched to the image sensor. Of equal importance is a camera exposure mode system that's easy and automatic for the first time user and customizable to ensure the optimum results for the experienced photographer. Matched to the TruePic TURBO(TM) Image Processor for more realistic color, low noise, and lightning-fast startup and shot-to-shot times - you won't miss a photo opportunity. With the EVOLT, photographers will feel confident that their SLR delivers world-class images.

New 8 Megapixel FTT-CCD Offers More Photographic Choices

Loaded with an impressive 8 million pixels resolution, the EVOLT grants photographers the flexibility to blow up their prints to the large sizes supported by today's printers, or crop into an image to print only a section without losing clarity in the final result. Moreover, the image sensor in the EVOLT is a high-performance Full Frame Transfer KODAK KAF-8300CE CCD(TM) that delivers improved dynamic range, low system noise to capture fine image details in the highlight and shadow areas, as well as excellent color fidelity for brilliant colors.

Basic Interline CCD sensors are designed with a path or "highway" to move data. This highway takes up valuable real estate that could be used for image capture and reduces the size of the photodiode in each pixel. But the EVOLT Full Frame Transfer CCD transfers image data via a Vertical Charge Register that is a fraction of the size of an Interline highway. In fact, the active pixel area of the Full Frame Transfer CCD is 1.5 times larger than a common Interline CCD of equal size. Because each pixel uses more space to capture image data, a broader range of tonal values can be rendered in the final image.

Anti-blooming technology on each pixel, along with the exclusive Olympus TruePic TURBO Image Processor, helps to eliminate undesirable "artifacts," "stepping," "purple fringing" or "moire" in an image.

Designed for Straight Out-of-the-Box Operation

Creating a digital SLR that most anyone can pick up and start to use isn't just about making it more affordable for the masses so they'll purchase it; it's about making it easier to operate. That means embedding menus that make sense and arraying buttons on the body that are intuitive to operate; adding automatic settings for every imaginable situation; making the LCD big and bright enough so you can review a shot without squinting; and making it less of a chore to get images out of the camera and into your computer or printer.

You don't need a degree in photography to shoot like a pro with the EVOLT. Just take it home, charge the Li-ion battery with the included BCM-2 charger, and begin taking photos without even opening a manual. Instead of working to find the right settings for the subject, select from one of the camera's 5 quick-access Scene Program Modes on the dial, or get creative with 15 Select Scene Program modes within the menu that make it easy to get the results you want, whenever and wherever you want them.

Simply turn the mode dial on the top of the camera to "Scene" and choose from a range of pre-programmed Scene Select modes to achieve the optimal results for: Fireworks, Sunsets, Beach and Snow, Candle (for photography by candlelight), Landscape, Documents, and more. A new "High-Key" Scene Select mode enhances the darks and whites in an image for striking results.

Every Scene Program and Scene Select mode on the EVOLT provides a sample image and a description of what is happening to achieve the desired result. For example, choosing the Landscape setting reveals a sample of a landscape photo, and describes the appropriate f-stop, shutter speed and other settings needed to take that picture. The EVOLT could replace a library full of digital photography "how-to" instruction books.

Programmed Auto Mode on the mode dial lets the EVOLT do all the thinking for you and selects just the right settings for any given situation. Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Modes allow you to take control of the EVOLT to customize the camera for the ultimate in artistic expression.

Direct Button operation enables EVOLT users to get to the settings they want without wading through endless menus or pushing arrow buttons excessively. Instead, most custom settings can be set by pressing one of the cameras 8 direct key buttons for White Balance, Exposure Compensation, ISO, Flash Mode, Metering Mode, Auto Focus Mode, Auto Focus Frame and Recording Mode, and then turning a dial by thumb to customize the setting as desired. All settings are viewable at once on the camera's "Super Control Panel" displayed on the LCD.

Transferring images to the computer has never been easier with the Auto-Connect USB that does not require software drivers (for most computers/operating systems) for hassle-free image downloads. Images may also be viewed on a television using the video cable. When it comes time to print images, the EVOLT connects via the included USB cable to a computer. Or, for fast and easy PC-free printing, the EVOLT connects to any PictBridge-enabled printer via USB, and users select the images displayed on the camera's LCD that they wish to print.

Designed for Speed

Olympus' TruePic TURBO Image Processor enhances processing speed for more responsive camera operation. More than just speeding up image data processing for the large image files generated by this 8.0-megapixel digital camera, TruePic TURBO also improves overall camera responsiveness and operating ease. It closely integrates the image processor's engine and hardware elements to eliminate unnecessary processing tasks, accelerating the time it takes for the camera to start up, to engage the shutter release so that an image is captured, for the image processing to occur, for the image to be recorded to the media card, and for the image to play back.

The EVOLT has an image memory buffer of 64MB and separate working memory for the camera control. And the EVOLT can capture fast-paced action, shooting at 2.5 frames per second up to 4 frames in either TIFF or RAW at full resolution. JPEG resolutions are also available when more shots are required.

Images Designed to Be Viewed and Shared with a New HyperCyrstal(TM) LCD Monitor

A new HyperCrystal LCD monitor with 134,000 pixels offers three times the contrast of conventional LCD monitors (in-house comparison) so captured images can be beautifully displayed in vivid color on the screen with exceptional clarity. Because photos are for sharing, the EVOLT LCD features a wide, 160 degree viewing angle on both the vertical and horizontal axis, ensuring excellent visibility and beautiful image quality even when everyone huddles around the camera to see what you've created.

Designed to Do More

Once one feature is mastered, there are a seemingly endless number of other features just waiting to be explored. Because the EVOLT is designed for the ultimate user-friendly experience, you can choose to let the camera make all the decisions, or take control for a new level of customization and performance.

-- AF: The EVOLT dedicated auto focus system uses three AF points (Left, Center, Right) that can all be active automatically or individually with manual frame selection. When automatic target zone selection is active, a superimposed display confirms the relevant target zone. Focus modes are set via a manual switch on the camera body for Single AF, Continuous AF, and Manual Focus operation. To ensure successful focusing in the darkest environments, the EVOLT utilizes an AF illuminator built into the flash.

-- Three Metering Systems: Users are offered a choice of Digital ESP (Electro Selective Pattern) metering, center-weighted average metering, or spot metering. Olympus' widely acclaimed proprietary Digital ESP metering calculates the best light values under complex lighting conditions.

-- Simultaneous RAW and JPEG Image Data Recording: A choice of three data recording formats is offered: RAW, TIFF, and JPEG. If desired, image data can be simultaneously recorded in RAW and JPEG with the RAW+JPEG format.

-- Contrast, Sharpness and Tone Curve Controls: Contrast can be set to any of five levels, and sharpness can be set to any of seven levels. So whether users want pro-quality tonal fidelity or sharp vibrant colors, they can customize each image to suit their preference.

-- A Choice of Two Color Space Settings: Users can choose from two color space settings according to their needs: sRGB, which is the standard for Windows(R) environments and inkjet printer output, and Adobe(R) RGB, which is widely used for commercial applications.

-- White Balance: White balance settings from 3000K to 7000K can be set in 12 steps using button and dial controls, with +/- 7-step fine-tuning available for all settings. A one-touch white balance function allows users to store and retrieve up to four frequently used white balance settings at the touch of a button. By initially reading the light separately for the CCD, the camera can see a dramatic increase in speed without loss of accuracy.

-- Noise Reduction: The noise reduction function uses a proprietary Olympus algorithm to detect and eliminate the fixed noise that can appear on long-exposure images.

-- High-Precision Flash Control: A wide range of flash modes is provided, including Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow Synchro (front and rear curtain), and Fill-In.

-- Histogram Information Display: Identify overexposed or underexposed areas.

-- Support for High-Capacity Memory Media: CompactFlash(TM) Type I and II cards and MicroDrive memory media are supported. The EVOLT also supports 32-bit formatting allowing the use of 4 gigabyte and larger cards.

-- Self-timer and Remote Control: The built-in self-timer offers a choice of 12-second or 2-second delay. An optional RM-1 remote control unit is available and can be used with the 2-second delay setting or for immediate shutter release. An optional RM-CB1 remote cable is also offered.

Optional Accessories

HLD-3 Battery Holder

The EVOLT can accommodate the HLD-3 Battery Holder that holds one or two BLM-1 Li-Ion batteries. With two batteries, the EVOLT can capture almost double the number of images possible with only one battery. The HLD-3 has a shutter release button located at its base to enable vertical shooting, a remote socket for use with the RM-CB1 Cable Release, and a standard tripod socket.

FL-36 Flash

Compact, lightweight and designed specifically for digital photography, the FL-36 achieves higher guide numbers than comparable SLR film cameras even while maintaining wide-angle light distribution. The Guide Number is 117 feet (36 meters) at ISO 100. You'll notice the difference when using it in combination with a wide-angle lens on the EVOLT. Accurate, 1/8-step illumination control provides the precision required by digital cameras, while minimizing illumination reduction near the screen. The newly designed energy-saving circuit improves recharge rates and enables the flash to operate on just 2 AA batteries.

The FL 36 features the FP mode for syncro at shutter speeds up to 1/4000 sec. In both FP-TTL Auto and FP-Manual modes. Standard TTL-Auto, Auto and Manual flash modes are also available.

CS-3SH Semi-Hard Case

Protect the EVOLT and its lens in style with a dedicated semi-hard leather case.

PT-E01 Underwater Housing

An underwater housing for the EVOLT that will enable users to enjoy SLR shooting underwater, is planned for release in 2005. Easy to set up, it will offer waterproof protection up to a depth of over 131 feet (40 meters).

Availability

The Olympus EVOLT E-300 Digital SLR will be available in December 2004. It includes: EVOLT E-300 Body, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLM-1), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCM-2), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS Master Editing Software, CD-ROM, Manuals, Warranty card, and System chart.

Pricing

To be determined.


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