The new E-30 DSLR from Olympus looks promising. A step up from their entry level model, the E-30 has some features - and the estimated $1,300 body-only street price - that makes it clear that it's intended for the hard-core enthusiast.
I'm totally behind the E-30's cool and useful swivel LCD, the built-in image stabilization and its "advanced" dust cleaning technology.
But what, I wonder, is the market for some of the E-30's other "features?" According to Pop Photo,
Equipped with on-board Art Filters... the E-30 makes it possible to shoot artistic photographs without the need to apply post-processing effects in the camera or on a computer. The six Art Filters include Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color (soft light and pastel colors), Light Tone (soft highlights and shadows), Grainy Film, and Pin Hole.
Who's spending $1,300 on a DSLR who wouldn't prefer the control and flexibility of applying those kinds of effects on their computers? It's not clear from the Pop Photo article if the camera also saves the unadulterated version of your photo. If it doesn't, you'd have to be nuts to take a chance on messing up a great shot with one of these filters. But even if it does, why bother? Applying any of these filters is the work of a minute in almost any photo editing software.
Not to be a grinch or anything, but wouldn't you rather the R&D folks applied their efforts to developing better noise reduction and higher dynamic range capabilities than gimmicks like this? I just don't see these as compelling or useful tools for this market. If anything, the inclusion of "features" like this make the camera feel like a less mature product for beginners, rather than an enthusiast's tool.
PS: I just tried it - it took about 45 seconds to open this image, hit "Filter Gallery," and choose this effect from one of the many offered. Plus, I had a bunch of sliders that let me dial in just the settings I wanted. That has to be more power and options than anything I could get in camera.