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Our Olympus E-300 review and ESP exposure findings revisited

You may recall that we reviewed the Olympus E-300 digital camera in February of this year. We found the E-300 to be an excellent camera, apart from a somewhat unpredictable behavior when ESP metering mode was selected. We investigated the problem further and found that an extreme bias towards the center of an image was the culprit. Olympus has recently released firmware version 1.3 for the E-300, to address this and some other problems. So we repeated our test to see whether the problem was really fixed. Here's what we found...
Our Olympus E-300 review and ESP exposure findings revisited - digital camera and photography news

Olympus E-300 ESP metering revisited

As you may remember from our Olympus E300 review in February 2005, we regularly experienced exposure problems in certain lighting situations during our test. To find out what caused this further testing was carried out. This revealed that when a subject that was significantly darker or lighter than its surroundings, occupied the centre of the viewfinder, the exposure was so strongly influenced by this dark or light object, that the image became severely over- or underexposed. This problem occurred when centre-weighted or ESP metering were selected. We even suggested that it seemed as if spot metering was applied in all metering modes, since a slight shift in camera position resulted in completely different exposure values, which is of course characteristic of spot metering. A second camera which was duly delivered by Olympus exhibited exactly the same problem.

With the introduction of firmware version 1.3 last month, Olympus state that stability of digital ESP and centre-weighted metering has been improved. As we were curious to find out if the exposure problems we experienced with earlier firmware versions would now be eliminated, we repeated the test we did with the Olympus lens cap. Placing the cap in the centre of the viewfinder and selecting all three metering modes consecutively now resulted in markedly different exposures from last time. If you look at our series of test images below you can see that, when using centre-weighted or ESP metering, the camera now behaves more in line with what other cameras "see" when determining correct exposure. After taking some more images in day to day photo situations, we are pleased to conclude that the E-300 now delivers much better results in tricky lighting situations resulting in correctly exposed images.

Should you want to update the firmware on your own E-300 to version 1.3, the procedure is actually quite simple. Make sure you have a full battery and are connected to the internet before you start. Connect your camera to a PC through the USB cable. Start Olympus Master; select image browser and click "online service" in the top menu bar followed by "update camera". Now switch on your camera and follow the steps in the menu. Everything is self explanatory and the menu will guide you through all the steps with clear pictograms and instructions while automatically installing the new firmware. Make sure you do not turn off the camera before the camera LCD screen flashes "OK" and the update is completed. The whole procedure should take no more than five to ten minutes.


Olympus E-300 (1.0) Spot metering

Olympus E-300 (1.0) Center Weighted metering

Olympus E-300 (1.0) ESP metering

Olympus E-300 (1.3) Spot metering

Olympus E-300 (1.3) Center Weighted metering

Olympus E-300 (1.3) ESP metering

Nikon D70 Spot metering

Nikon D70 Center Weighted metering

Nikon D70 Multi Pattern metering

Olympus E-300 price comparison and shopping options

In the USA buy the Olympus E-300 digital camera from:

In the UK buy the Olympus E-300 digital camera from:
August 16, 2005
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