In trying to get a better understanding of the Olympus Digital ESP metering concept, we
checked the User Manual and the available resources on the Internet.
However, rather than finding the answers, our level of confusion rose even
more. Here's what the User Manual states:
There are 3 ways of measuring the subject brightness: Digital ESP
metering, Center weighted averaging metering and spot metering. Select the
most suitable mode depending on the shooting condition.
Digital ESP (Electro Selective Pattern) metering:
The camera meters and calculates the light levels or light level
differences in the center and other areas of the image separately.
Recommended for shooting under conditions where there is high contrast
between the center of the screen and the area around it, such as when
shooting backlit subjects or under excessively bright light.
Center weighted averaging metering:
This metering mode provides the average metering between the subject and
the background lighting, placing more weight on the subject at the center.
Use this mode when you do not want the light level of background to affect
the exposure value.
The camera meters a very small area around the center of the subject,
defined by the spot metering area mark in the viewfinder. Use this mode
for intensively backlit subjects, etc.
Our quest for information on the E-series Digital ESP metering system
on the Internet revealed the following explanations:
From the Australian
Olympus 's Digital ESP light metering system uses a unique calculation to
set the appropriate exposure
From the Olympus
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%)
The most intriguing explanation we found in the European Olympus-Pro FAQs:
Q: What does the "ESP" mean in the "digital ESP
A: It means Electro Selective Pattern, which is to say that a scene
of dark and bright areas in the image is compared to a database of
possible image patterns for selecting the best matching exposure.
We do not know whether this behavior is typical for the E-series (we did not notice this in our review of the Olympus E-1), but it seems a problem that needs closer examination. We expect that Olympus will look into this and that this is not a design characteristic of the E-300