Olympus E-450

    leadpic_E-450

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    Olympus E-450

      In summary

      The latest entry-level DSLR camera from Olympus boasts an affordable price tag and provides above-average image quality.Announced at the end of March, the Olympus E-450 follows hot on the heels of the E-620 and replaces the E-420 at the entry level of the company's DSLR line-up. Its specifications are almost identical to the E-420, but the E-450 adds three of the Art Filters that were introduced last year with the E-30 and boasts an upgraded image processor. Sensibly, sensor resolution has been kept at 10-megapixels and the top sensitivity setting is ISO 1600. . . [more]

      Full review

      leadpic_E-450
      PR-EdChoice-web-100

      Announced at the end of March, the Olympus E-450 follows hot on the heels of the E-620 and replaces the E-420 at the entry level of the company's DSLR line-up. Its specifications are almost identical to the E-420, but the E-450 adds three of the Art Filters that were introduced last year with the E-30 and boasts an upgraded image processor. Sensibly, sensor resolution has been kept at 10-megapixels and the top sensitivity setting is ISO 1600.

      The first thing that strikes you when you unpack the E-450 is how small and light the camera is. Even with battery, card, neck strap and 14-42mm kit lens, it barely tops 700 grams (which is less than many DSLR lenses). The 2.7-inch HyperCrystal II LCD monitor is the same as on the E-420, which is a pity when so many manufacturers are offering higher-resolution screens these days.

      E-450-back-w-hands

      A view of the E-450 showing how small it is compared with average-sized hand. (Source: Olympus.)
      The relatively low-resolution monitor is one of several features suggesting the E-450 has been built to a price to attract entry-level buyers stepping up from a compact digicam. Another is the ‘made in China' labels on the camera body and kit lenses. Fortunately, build quality is good for the camera's price point and, although the kit lenses have plastic mounting plates, the plate on the camera body is solid stainless steel.

      The camera body is almost the same size and weight as the E-420 - and the E-410 before it and, like its predecessors, is made largely of plastic. The overall design and control layout is virtually unchanged. Despite its rubber coating, the grip is small and not particularly comfortable for users with larger hands or limited dexterity.

      E-450+14-42mm_Front

      Front view of the Olympus E-450 with the 14-42mm kit lens. (Source: Olympus.)

      E-450_Back

      Rear view, showing the LCD monitor and main button controls. (Source: Olympus.)

      E-450_Top

      Top view with the mode dial and additional control buttons. (Source: Olympus.)

      Tried-and-proven features like the Olympus SSWF dust reduction system are also included, aand, like the E-420, the E-450 lacks the sensor-shift stabilisation provided with the E-520 and new E-620 models. It also can't record video.

      The viewfinder is the same as the E-420's and relatively small and cramped, despite providing roughly 95% field-of-view coverage and 0.92x magnification. The eyepoint is approximately 14 mm and dioptre adjustment of -3.0 to +1 dpt is available. Looking through the viewfinder you see the same central metering circle with three superimposed AF points.

      The central point is a cross-type sensor, while the others are linear and detect horizontal detail only. When you half-press the shutter button, the centre of the selected AF point glows red. Ranged down the right side of the viewfinder window is an LCD status display showing the selected aperture and shutter speed values, AF confirmation, flash status, white balance, AE lock, exposure compensation, metering and shooting modes and a battery check.

      The pop-up flash on the E-450 is the same as its predecessor, with an electronic mechanism that raises it automatically, when required, in the Auto and Scene modes. A button on the top panel allows it to be raised manually. Like the E-420, this flash has a guide number of 12 and X-sync speed of 1/180 second. It offers the same modes as its predecessor - and also supports wireless flash shooting with multiple flash setups. We have already covered this function in our review of the E-420.

      The battery and memory card options are the same as the E-420, with dual slots for CompactFlash and xD Picture Cards. As in the E-420, only one multi-connector port is provided. Located just below the arrow pad, it provides both USB and video our connections.

      Controls and Functions
      The E-450's Live View function is essentially unchanged from the E-420 and accessed by pressing the Display button just above the arrow pad. The reflex mirror is flipped up in this mode, allowing the scene to be displayed on the monitor. Users can choose from three AF systems:
      - Imager AF (the default), which uses contrast detection and focuses with the main Live MOS sensor (like a digicam). This mode is fully compatible with the following Zuiko Digital lenses: ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6, ED 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, 14-54mm f2.8-3.5II, ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 and 25mm f2.8 but also works with other lenses, albeit with marginally reduced functionality. Focusing is engaged when the shutter button is half-pressed and confirmation indicators are displayed on the LCD monitor and the system provides 11 AF areas to choose from (instead of just three).
      - AF Sensor, which combines the phase detection and contrast detection. The mirror drops to allow light to reach this sensor, momentarily darkening and ‘freezing' the image. It returns when focus is achieved or after about half a second.
      - Hybrid AF, which combines both methods, using contrast detection to achieve approximate focus and then phase detection for final focusing. (This mode can be used to achieve Imager AF with an incompatible lens.)

      Like the E-620, the E-450 is equipped with Face Detection technology, which operates in Live View mode. The system can identify up to eight human faces and will adjust focus and exposure accordingly. Olympus's Shadow Adjustment control is also included to provide even exposures with backlit subjects.

      You can also focus manually in Live View mode by setting the AF mode in the Menu to S-AF+MF or MF. Pressing the Info button lets you enlarge a section of the frame for focus checking. Each time you press this button the image is magnified more, to a maximum of 10x. Magnification can also be achieved by turning the command dial.

      The new camera also offers the Olympus Perfect Shot Preview, which enables users to set adjustments and view effects on the LCD before taking a shot. Compared with the E-620, a reduced set of in-camera Art Filters is provided with the E-450, which offers only the Pop Art, Soft Focus and Pin Hole options. As in the E-620, they are selected via the mode dial and essentially non-adjustable.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The 10-megapixel sensor in the new camera appears to be carried over from its predecessor. Manufactured by Panasonic, it promises a wide dynamic range, superior white balance performance and excellent colour accuracy. With a maximum image size of 3648 x 2736 pixels, each photosite measures approximately 4.7 microns square.

      Coupled to the sensor is a new TruePic III Plus image processor, which is also used in the E-620. It's a step up from the TruePic III processor in the E-420 and Olympus claims it can lower image noise by ‘one step' to reduce graininess in images shot at higher ISO settings. It also underpins the camera's 3.5 frames/second burst speed (which is the same as the E-420's).

      In burst mode, JPEG capture appears to be ‘unlimited' as we noticed no slowing with a burst of 20 shots. The buffer claims a limit of eight ORF.RAW frames but only slowed after a burst of 9 frames and six RAW+JPEG pairs in our tests. Raw files are losslessly compressed. Typical file sizes are the same as the files produced by the E-420, as shown in the table below.

      Image size

      Image quality

      Compression

      Approx. File size

       

       

      3648 x 2736

      ORF.RAW, 12-bit

      lossless

      11.0MB

      JPEG Super Fine

      1:2.7

      6.8MB

      JPEG Fine

      1:4

      4.7MB

      JPEG Normal

      1:8

      2.2MB

      JPEG Basic

      1:12

      1.5MB

       

      3200 x 2400

      JPEG Super Fine

      1:2.7

      5.3MB

      JPEG Fine

      1:4

      3.7MB

      JPEG Normal

      1:8

      1.7MB

      JPEG Basic

      1:12

      1.1MB

       

      2560 x 1920

      JPEG Super Fine

      1:2.7

      3.6MB

      JPEG Fine

      1:4

      2.2MB

      JPEG Normal

      1:8

      1.1MB

      JPEG Basic

      1:12

      0.7MB

       

       

      1600 x 1200

      JPEG Super Fine

      1:2.7

      1.3MB

      JPEG Fine

      1:4

      0.8MB

      JPEG Normal

      1:8

      0.5MB

      JPEG Basic

      1:12

      0.3MB

       

      1280 x 960

      JPEG Super Fine

      1:2.7

      0.8MB

      JPEG Fine

      1:4

      0.5MB

      JPEG Normal

      1:8

      0.3MB

      JPEG Basic

      1:12

      0.2MB

       

      1024 x 768

      JPEG Super Fine

      1:2.7

      0.5MB

      JPEG Fine

      1:4

      0.4MB

      JPEG Normal

      1:8

      0.2MB

      JPEG Basic

      1:12

      0.1MB

       

      640 x 480

      JPEG Super Fine

      1:2.7

      0.2MB

      JPEG Fine

      1:4

      0.2MB

      JPEG Normal

      1:8

      0.1MB

      JPEG Basic

      1:12

      0.1MB

      Playback and Software
      The E-450 offers a standard range of playback modes, including single and index views, slideshows and shooting data overlays. Calendar and Slideshow playback are also supported, along with rotation and DPOF tagging. Post-capture editing adjustments include shadow adjustment, red eye fix, cropping, resizing, B&W and sepia conversion and saturation adjustment for JPEG images and in-camera raw file conversion to JPEG format.

      The software bundle for the E-450 is the same as the E-420 and covered in detail in our review of that camera.

      Performance
      Photo Review was given the E-450 to evaluate as a twin-lens kit with the Olympus Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 and 40-150mm f/4-5.6 kit lenses, both of which we have already reviewed. Although the test camera proved fast and efficient with both lenses when the viewfinder was used for composing shots, autofocusing in Live View was as slow as we found with the E-420.

      Typical delay times ranged between 1.2 and 3.4 seconds before the camera could lock onto a subject and prolonged hunting was common in dim lighting. Delays were longest in Imager AF mode and slightly less in the Hybrid AF mode, while the AF Sensor mode proved the quickest (although still fairly ponderous) with most subjects.

      When the viewfinder was used for framing shots, the autofocusing system proved fast and accurate in both bright and dim lighting and we found little tendency to hunt with either of the supplied lenses. Although this camera lacks an image stabiliser, we were able to hand-hold the camera for exposures down to about 1/3 second, which is surprisingly good.
      Pictures taken with the test camera were sharp and colourful without appearing over-saturated and the sensor appeared capable of producing good results with a wide variety of subjects. Outdoor shots taken in bright sunlight showed a wider dynamic range than similar shots taken with the E-420.

      Imatest showed JPEG resolution to be slightly below expectations for a 10-megapixel camera. However, ORF.RAW files converted with Adobe Camera Raw produced significantly higher figures in our tests and met expectations for the sensor's resolution. The graph below shows the results of our tests on JPEG files taken with the 14-42mm kit lens.

      E-450_Res-vs-FL-graph

      Imatest also confirmed our subjective colour assessments, showing overall saturation levels to be modest but revealing decreased saturation in yellows and some minor hue shifts in reds and blues. Skin hues were also slightly shifted towards red.
      Low light performance was generally good for ISO settings up to 800, where image noise started to become apparent in long exposures. Noise was quite obvious at ISO 1600 and shots taken at ISO 3200 were grainy-looking. We also found a few with stuck pixels in all the long exposures. Applying long-exposure noise reduction processing eliminated most of the granularity and stuck pixels - but at the expense of image sharpness.

      Interestingly, Imatest showed only a slight deterioration in actual resolution as ISO sensitivity was increased. Raw files also fared much better than JPEGs in these tests. (All shots were taken with the 14-42mm lens set at 25mm focal length and an aperture of f/8). The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.

      E-450_Res-vs-ISO-graph

      Lateral chromatic aberration was similar to the E-620 and ranged between ‘low' and ‘moderate' through the focal length and aperture range for the 14-42mm kit lens. Interestingly, we found little evidence of coloured fringing in test shots. Converted ORF.RAW files showed lower levels of CA than JPEGs, probably because of ‘hidden' corrections that are part of Adobe Camera Raw conversion processing.
      White balance performance was similar to the E-620. The auto setting failed to totally correct the inherent cast in incandescent lighting, while the pre-set over-corrected slightly. With fluorescent lighting, the auto setting produced close-to-neutral colours and one of the pre-sets matched the light source we used. It was possible to achieve neutral colour rendition under both types of lighting with the one touch white balance control and the in-camera adjustments provided.
      Flash performance was very good and the test camera's flash was capable of illuminating an average-sized room at ISO 100. Exposures were evenly balanced throughout the review camera's ISO range and little noise was visible in shots up to ISO 1600. Even at ISO 3200, noise was relatively subdued.
      For our timing tests we used the recently-released Kingston Ultimate 266x 32GB CompactFlash card. The review camera powered up and shut down in less than a second. The new True Pic III Plus processor appears to have improved file processing times because we measured an average capture lag of 0.15 seconds when the viewfinder was used. However, autofocusing remained slow in the three Live View modes, which provided an average capture lag of 2.1 seconds.

      With pre-focusing lag times were effectively eliminated when the viewfinder was used and reduced to an average of 0.5 seconds for Live View. Both JPEG and raw files averaged 1.3 second processing times, while RAW+JPEG pairs took an estimated 1.5 seconds.
      In the high-speed continuous shooting mode, the review camera recorded 10 high-resolution JPEG frames in 2.6 seconds and took 2.3 seconds to process them. A burst of nine ORF.RAW files was captured in 2.3 seconds and processed in 5.6 seconds, while a burst of six RAW+JPEG pairs took 1.4 seconds to capture and 8.3 seconds to process.
      Swapping to low-speed continuous mode, we captured 10 frames in 2.8 seconds and this rate remained constant for JPEG, raw and RAW+JPEG settings. Processing appears to be on-the-fly in this mode as it took 1.6 seconds to process 10 JPEGs, 4.4 seconds for 10 raw files and 7.2 seconds for six RAW+JPEG frames.

      Buy this camera if:
      - You're looking for a small DSLR camera that can accept a wide range of relatively compact lenses.
      - You require sophisticated in-camera image stabilisation and effective dust reduction technology.
      - You'd enjoy a DSLR with lots of in-camera adjustments and special effects for JPEG files.
      - You want a Live View system that offers extensive preview functions plus support for autofocusing.
      Don't buy this camera if:
      - You want to shoot video (the E-450 can't).
      - You won't take advantage of the higher quality produced by shooting raw files and converting them in Adobe's Photoshop Elements or Photoshop.
      - You require faster continuous shooting speeds than 3.5 frames/second.
      - You're not prepared to grapple with the complexity of the controls and menu system.

      IMATEST GRAPHS

      JPEG image files

      E-450_PA200182_colorerror_JPG
      E-450_PA200182_colors_JPG
      E-450_PA200182_YBL74_ca_RAW
      E-450_PA200182_YAR34_cpp_JPG
      E-450_PA200182_YBL74_cpp_JPG

      Raw image files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.

      E-450_PA200182_colorerror_RAW
      E-450_PA200182_colors_RAW
      E-450_PA200182_YBL75_ca_RAW
      E-450_PA200182_YAR34_cpp_RAW
      E-450_PA200182_YBL75_cpp_RAW

      SAMPLE IMAGES

      E-450_AWB-TUNG

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

      E-450_AWB-FLUORO

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

      E-450_PA230258_close-up

      Close-up; 18mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/10.

      E-450_PA190156_night-ISO100

      30 second exposure, 25mm focal length, ISO 100, f/5.6.

      E-450_PA190159_night-ISO800

      5 second exposure, 25mm focal length, ISO 800, f/6.3.

      E-450_PA190161_night-ISO1600

      5 second exposure, 25mm focal length, ISO 1600, f/9.

      E-450_PA190173_flash_ISO100

      42mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/5.6.

      E-450_PA190172_flash_ISO1600

      42mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/80 second at f/5.6.

      E-450_PA170005_flash-portrait

      Flash portrait in auto mode (with red-eye reduction): 42mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/5.6.

      crop-from_PA170005

      Enlarged crop from the above image.

      E-450_PA180155_cat

      42mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/1000 second at f/5.6. (No flash.)

      crop-from_PA180155

      Enlarged crop from the above image.

      E-450_PA180115_trampoline

      Burst shooting (JPEG files): 42mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/1000 second at f/5.6. (No flash.)

      E-450_PA170049-fireworks1

      Fireworks: hand-held at one second; 14mm focal length, ISO 100 at f/5.6.

      E-450_PA170099_firewroks-2

      Fireworks: hand-held at 1/3 second; 14mm focal length, ISO 100 at f/5.6.

       

      Specifications

      leadpic_E-450

      Image sensor: 17.3 x 13.0 mm Live MOS sensor with 11.8 million photosites (10 megapixels effective)
      A/D processing: 12-bit
      Lens mount: Four Thirds System
      Focal length crop factor: 2x
      Image formats: JPEG (three compression ratios), ORF.RAW, RAW+JPEG
      Image Sizes: 3648 x 2736, 3200 x 2400, 2560 x 1920, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480
      Image Stabilisation: lens-based only
      Dust removal: SuperSonic Wave Filter
      Shutter speed range: 60 to 1/4000 sec. (Bulb: up to 30 min. with limiter); X-synch at 1/180 sec.
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 5 EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: 3 frames in 0.3, 0.7, 1EV steps selectable
      Self-timer: 2 or 12 seconds delay
      Focus system: Phase-difference detection AF plus contrast-detection high speed Imager AF in LiveView; 3-point multiple AF with auto and manual point selection
      Focus modes: Single AF (S-AF), Continuous AF (C-AF*), Manual Focus (MF), S-AF + MF / C-AF* + MF (* C-AF mode is not available with the contrast detection Imager AF in LiveView mode); focus tracking is available in C-AF mode
      Exposure metering: TTL open aperture light metering with 49-zone multi-pattern sensing system; Digital ESP (multi-pattern), centre-weighted average and spot metering plus spot with highlight/shadow bias
      Shooting modes: Auto, P, A, S, M, Scene Program AE (Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sport, Night + Portrait), Scene Select AE (Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Children, Sport, High Key, Low Key, Digital Image Stabilisation, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Fireworks, Documents, Panorama* (* Available with the Olympus xD-Picture Card), Beach & Snow)
      Picture Style/Control settings: Vivid, Natural, Muted, Monotone (default setting: Natural); all adjustable through 5 levels for saturation, sharpness, and contrast; monochrome filter effects: Yellow, Orange, Red or Green filter available; Picture Tones: Sepia, Blue, Red, Green in Black & White mode
      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100 to 1600 (adjustable in 1 EV steps)
      White balance: Auto, Incandescent (3000K), Fluorescent 1 (4000K), Fluorescent 2 (4500K), Fluorescent 3 (6600K), Daylight (5300K), Flash (5500K), Cloudy (6000K), Shade (7500K), Custom
      Flash: Retractable pop up flash; GN 12 (ISO100/m); Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow sync., Slow sync at 1st curtain, Slow sync at 2nd curtain, Fill-in, Manual (1/4, 1/16, 1/64), Off; external and wireless flash control with compatible flash units
      Flash exposure adjustment: Up to ±2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Sequence shooting: Max. approx. 3.5 frames/second for 8 RAW frames or to card capacity for JPEGs
      Storage Media: Dual slots for CompactFlash card (Type I and II) or Microdrive and xD picture card
      Viewfinder: Eye-level TTL Optical with approx 95% FOV coverage, 0.92x magnification and approx. 14 mm eyepoint; dioptre adjustment -3.0 to +1 dpt
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch HyperCrystal II LCD panel with approx. 230,000 dots
      Live View modes: 100% field of view, Art filter preview, Exposure adjustment pre-view, White balance adjustment pre-view, Grid line displayable, 7x/10x magnification possible, MF/S-AF, AF frame display, AF point display, Shooting information, Histogram
      Video Capture: n.a.
      Data LCD: n.a.
      Playback functions: Single-frame, Index (4/9/16/25/49/100 frames), Calendar, Close-up ( 2 - 14x), Slideshow, Picture rotation (auto mode available); Histogram (independent luminance/RGB available), Highlight/Shadow point warning, AF frame, Shooting information
      Interface terminals: One USB 2.0 High Speed port
      Power supply: BLS-1 Li-ion battery
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 29.5 x 91 x 53 mm
      Weight: 380 grams (body only)

       

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      Rating

       

      PR-EdChoice-web-100

      RRP: $999 (with twin lens kit, as reviewed)

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • OVERALL: 9

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