The Best Olympus Digital SLR Camera

Page updated: October 2007

Best Digital SLRs

The best Olympus digital SLR camera comes packed with features designed to help you capture even the most elusive photographic subjects.

This is true of all cameras at this level - they include features that appeal to professionals and can be leveraged by amateur photographers to take better photos.

The camera that I'll be talking about on this page is the Olympus E-3 (Release Date: November 2007).

The E-3 is the successor to the immensly popular E-1 - a pro-grade camera released by Olympus WAY back in 2003.

It was definitely time for an upgrade, and the E-3 has a significant number of improvements over the camera that preceeds it.

olympus e3 top view

Speed, Speed and More Speed

Yes, the Olympus E-3 can churn through photos at a rate of 5 per second.

But the real defining feature of this new camera is its enhanced autofocus system, which is specifically designed to lock on to any subject regardless of how much it is moving around.

The system uses 11 crosshair autofocus points, and photographers can adjust which points the camera is using depending upon the motion of the subject (horizontal, vertical, etc.)

This new autofocus system is reportedly the "world's fastest" when paired with a special 12-60mm SWD lens (also new with the release of the E-3).

All The Extras

Part of what makes the E-3 the best Olympus digital SLR is the fact that it includes all of the latest Olympus technology:

  • Dust Control - prevents dust from getting on the sensor when you change lenses
  • Live View LCD - lets you preview the shot you're about to take on the camera's LCD
  • Image Stabilization - built into the camera body, so it works with every lens you attach

It's important to note that Olympus pioneered two of these technologies: the dust control system and the live view LCD. Other camera manufacturers are now following suit, and these features are becoming more common on new digital SLR cameras.

If you'd like to get a camera with these features, but don't want to pony up for the E-3, then the Olympus E-510 will serve you well.

The E-510 doesn't have the advanced speed or autofocus system included in the E-3, but it includes a lot of additional features and can be picked up - with a lens - for less than $1,000.


olympus e-3 with hdl-4 grip

The E-3 wouldn't be the best Olympus digital SLR if it couldn't stand up to some abuse.

As it turns out, it can stand up to a LOT of abuse.

The camera has a magnesium chassis and is weather sealed to prevent dust and moisture from contaminating the delicate digital insides.

While I would not recommend dropping it in the ocean, at least you can feel comfortable taking photos in the desert, at the beach or maybe even during a light rain.

It's the Little Things

In addition to all of its marquee features, the best Olympus digital SLR includes a few small extras that are appealing to advanced photographers.

  1. Compatible with the HLD-4 vertical battery grip
  2. Wireless flash control
  3. 100% viewfinder coverage
  4. Flip and twist LCD

The battery grip serves two purposes: first, it allows you to take significantly more photos per charge, because it includes space for TWO rechargeable batteries instead of just one.

Second, the battery grip includes a shutter release button and two control dials, which make it much easier (and more ergonomic) to take photos when holding the camera vertically rather than in its usual horizontal position.

The built in flash on the Olympus E-3 can act as a wireless trigger when used with the new FL-36R and FL-50R flash units. This gives you the flexibility to have off-camera flash without requiring additional cables or wireless transmitters.

What you see is what you get when you look through the E-3's viewfinder. On many digital SLR cameras, the viewfinder only shows you 95% of what the sensor is really going to capture.

With 100% coverage, you can be sure that your precise viewfinder composition is accurately reflected in the final image.

In addition to having a "live view" mode, the camera's LCD swivels, which allows you to compose photos above your head or at waist level without having to shoot "blind".


Since the E-3 is the best Olympus digital SLR you can get your hands on, the camera and its accessories don't come cheap.

However, you do get professional quality gear for the price that you pay.

Olympus E-3 body WITHOUT lens$ 1,699.00
12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD Lens$ 1,000.00
50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD Lens$ 1,200.00
14-35mm f/2.0 SWD Lens$ 2,300.00
HLD-4 Battery Grip$ 200.00
FL-50R External Flash$ 500.00
FL-36R External Flash$ 300.00

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