Including Centurion  



Introduction: OM vs. iS
Although this site is dedicated to the Olympus OM System, and the Olympus iS cameras are certainly not a part of it, I decided to add a page that describes both the iS cameras and the Centurion because many Olympus OM users are attracted to them, and buy one as an addition to their OM equipment. The reason can be that most users of the OM System feel they don't need a complete new professional Auto Focus System, but just want to have a camera ready for their occasional need for AF.

Olympus never made a serious professional AF model for the OM System. The 35-70mm/F4 stand-alone AF lens that turns any OM body into an AF camera, the OM-707 AF, as well as the in-focus control of the OM-30 and the Power Focus mechanism of the OM-101 can be seen as finger practices in the development of AF, or industrial momentums from the eighties. In practical terms there is not much use for them anymore. The AF zoom lens and the in-focus mechanism of the OM-30 don't operate at all in dim light situations, conditions where AF may be useful. Besides the zoom lens is rather slow. The OM-707 and OM-101 just lack too many features and ruggedness to be useful for serious use. This is where the iS cameras fill the gap. Although they can't compete with modern AF cameras like the Canon EOS-1n or Nikon F5, the top models from the iS-Series, and specifically the iS-3000, certainly have enough qualities to satisfy most if not all the needs expected from an AF camera.

The 35mm film format iS cameras and the APS film format Centurion cameras belong to a group of cameras that were commonly called 'Bridge Cameras', because they were supposed to bridge the gap between compact P&S cameras and Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras, combining properties of both words: TTL viewing and metering of the SLR combined with the ease of operation of the P&S camera. Technically speaking they really just are SLR cameras with a fixed zoom lens, a construction that allows them to be built more compact than normal SLR cameras. The concept of the bridge camera was marketed by a few manufacturers, but only Olympus was really successful with their iS-Series; all models from other manufacturers were discontinued. Olympus uses the term ZLR, Zoom Lens Reflex, for the concept. This term is more appropriate, since the advanced iS models hardly can be compared to P&S cameras. The term bridge cameras does suit the simple line of iS cameras as well as the Centurion. The concept is also applied in the top models of the digital Camedia line, like the E-10 and E-20, extending the meaning of the word 'bridge camera' even a bit further.

Before the iS-Series was marketed, Olympus tried the concept of a compact AF camera with a built-in zoom in the AZ-300 & AZ-330 Super Zoom cameras, which really were finder cameras with a built-in zoom in the viewfinder. The true predecessor of the iS Series however is the AZ-4 Zoom, which was a true SLR /  ZLR model. This camera was manufactured by Ricoh who also marketed it using their own name as the Ricoh Mirai.

Predecessors of the iS Series. Left to right: Olympus AZ-300 Zoom, Olympus AZ-4 Zoom and its twin, the Ricoh Mirai

When you pick up an iS-3000 for the first time, a few things will strike you immediately. First, its futuristic design look, typical for all iS models. It doesn't look like an SLR camera at all, with its streamlined body that integrates seamless with the lens. Many people think it is a video camera, or maybe a digital photo camera. This is emphasized by the huge LCD panel on the back. One could easily mistake it for a small TV monitor. The shape of the camera does not only look good, it also feels good. Your hands shape naturally around it, making it very easy to steady the camera. It should be no problem for most people to steady the camera enough to allow a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. at the maximum focal length of 180mm.

All iS and Centurion cameras share the same futuristic design look in a very compact, sleek body. There are no bulky, square or protruding parts. A couple of tricks have been applied.  First of all the ZLR concept itself omits the lens bayonet and lens flange that are necessary in SLR cameras with exchangeable lenses. This means that the lens can be positioned more closely to the mirror. Second it allows a telescopic zoom construction of the lens, similar of what can be found in compact P&S zoom cameras. When the camera is switched off, the lens is fully retracted to make it as compact as possible. Third the cameras don't use the conventional pentaprism, but an optical novelty consisting of a condenser, normal prism and two additional mirrors, folding the light path in an M-shape. This allows the prism to be made much flatter. Finally the film path has been modified to an S-shape, which allows the camera to be built much more narrow than conventional SLR camera. It is just as if the left hand side of the camera is missing.

The S-shaped film path and M-shaped light path contribute to the camera's compactness

The lenses all have a varifocal design probably due to their telescopic construction. It means focus changes when the focal length is changed. For MF lenses this can be a bit cumbersome, for the iS and Centurion AF cameras where the focal position is controlled by switches that can't be operated simultaneously while focusing it is not very disturbing.

The various iS models

Like with the OM System, Olympus developed two model lines for the iS-Series:
an advanced line, targeted at the serious amateur, consisting of:
- iS-1000 (1990, now discontinued; US: iS-1; Japan: L-1) 
- iS-2000
(1991, now discontinued; US: iS-2; Japan: L-2)
- iS-3000 (1992; US: iS-3; Japan: L-3)

and a simple line, consisting of: 
- iS-100 (1994, now discontinued; US: iS-10; Japan: L-10)
- iS-100s (1996; US: iS-10s; Japan: L-10s)
- iS-200 (1997; US: iS-20; Japan: L-20)
- iS-300 (1999; US: iS-30; Japan: L-30)
- iS-21 (2000 [?])

The advanced line gives full control of, and information about shutter speed and aperture, so these cameras really can compete with normal SLR's. These models have the huge LCD panel on the back. The iS-3000, the only advanced iS model currently available, is also the most developed one, with a larger zoom range, better controls, faster Auto Focus, more exposure modes and a better flash, which includes a longer flash working range and Super FP flash (synchronization at all shutter speeds). The iS-2000, released only a couple of months earlier, remarkably has some features the iS-3000 lacks: a super macro mode (39 cm subject distance at 70mm zoom position), a jack for the M.Remote Cords (yes, the cords for the Motor Drives and Winders of the OM System!), and the optional 1:1 Macro Converter. The latter can be used on the iS-3000 with a 55->49mm step-down ring, however.

The simple line models are smaller and lighter, offer less control of exposure, display no shutter speed or aperture number information in their Program Modes1 and can therefore be seen as advanced P&S cameras. They have a normal, small LCD panel on top, and a very intuitive user interface thanks to their Direct Mode Select Buttons. The iS-300 is the most developed model in this line, with predictive AF, exposure compensation, integrated lens cap and a better flash, which includes a longer flash working range, a longer pre-flash AF assist working range, Super FP flash (synchronization at all shutter speeds) and Auto Colour-Balancing Flash (detection of the wavelength of fluorescent or other artificial lighting to produce a more natural colour balance). The US version, the iS-30 DLX, also features a built-in panorama mode. The iS-200 and iS-300 have a more silent shutter and film advance than the other iS cameras, although these cameras aren't very noisy either. The Centurion is also very quiet.

The iS-100 and iS-100s are almost identical; the difference is the more powerful flash of the iS-100s and the introduction of the Manual Long Time Mode.

The new iS-21, only released in a few countries, is a hybrid between the iS-200 and iS-300; from the first it inherits its weaker flash, from the second it inherits Super FP Flash and Predictive AF. Unlike these models it does not have an integrated lens cap or Panorama Mode.

1 In Aperture-Preferred AE Mode the aperture can be selected but the automatically selected shutter speed is not displayed; in Long Time (L.T.) Mode the shutter speed can be selected with a fixed aperture of F8.

All models come (or came) in two versions: with a normal back or with a fixed data back. The versions with the data back are identified by the characters DLX, QD, or DLX QD behind the type number, for instance iS-3000 DLX. Currently the versions without data back are not available in the US.

In Japan the series is labeled as 'L-Series'. This is not only reflected in the names of the cameras but also in the names of the accessories - they are labeled iS/L. There are a couple of differences between some versions:

The US version of the iS-3000 / L-3, called the iS-3 DLX, remarkably lacks Super FP Flash - flash synchronized at all shutter speeds (up to 1/2000 sec), available in Portrait Mode and Manual Mode. This is the same technology that's implemented in the F280 flash (supported by the OM-707, OM-3Ti and OM-4Ti bodies). The lack of this technology in the US models seemed to be related to patent rights Olympus had to pay for the technology to Minolta, the inventors of FP. 

Surprisingly the new US model iS-30 DLX does have Super FP flash just like the iS-300 and L-3, and it is also present in the Centurion (S) sold in the US, so the problem of patent rights seems to be solved.

Also remarkable is the built-in panorama mode of the US & Japanese models iS-20 DLX (L-20) and iS-30 DLX (L-30) which is not available in the iS-200 and iS-300.

The iS cameras hardly can be called system cameras, with their non-removable lens, built-in winder which is not upgradable to motor drive performance, fixed data back and fixed focusing screen. However their capabilities can be extended with a small array of accessories.

Tele Converters and Wide Converters
Most remarkable are the HQ tele converters that are screwed into the filter thread. Unlike normal SLR tele converters they have no serious impact on the image quality nor do they alter the overall lens speed. For the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000, that have zoom lenses that start at 35mm there are also HQ wide angle converters that change the wide angle setting into 28mm. The other iS cameras already start at 28mm. The converters expand the zoom range of all cameras as follows:

iS-1000, iS-2000 (normally 35~135mm): 28~200mm.
iS-3000 (normally 35~180mm): 28~300mm.
iS-100, iS-200, iS-300, iS-21 (normally 28~110mm): 28~160mm, 28~180mm or 28~210mm, depending on the tele converter type.

These ranges should cover most if not everything of most photographers wishes, making the iS cameras true 'all in one' cameras. Special applications such as super wide photography, super tele photography beyond 300mm and macro photography beyond life-size are not really essential for most amateur photographers. The lenses of all iS cameras have a very good performance, high resolution and low distortion. The lenses of the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000 are outstanding thanks to an Extraordinary Dispersion (ED) element in the first zoom lens group; the lenses of the iS-100, iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300 have a high resolution aspherical lens element.

Macro capabilities
The advanced models iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000 offer two ways of achieving macro: either by using the built-in macro features of the zoom, or by using one of the three available iS/L Lens Macro H.Q. Converters.

The iS-1000 has two built-in macro varieties: Macro-T (tele-macro), which is achieved by pressing the Macro Mode (which is located underneath the mode cover) once, sets the zoom lens to a fixed focal distance of 100mm while the shortest possible focusing distance is 60cm, achieving a magnification ratio of 1:3.7 (0.27x). Pressing the button twice activates Macro-W (wide-macro), which sets the focal distance at 40mm, keeping the shortest possible focal distance at 60cm. The resulting 1:12.9 ratio (0.08x) isn't exactly in the macro range, but rather gives the user the option to make close-focus shots with exaggerated perspective, as can normally only be done with fixed focal standard and wide-angle lenses. Zooming in or zooming out is not possible in both macro modes; pressing one of the zoom buttons automatically cancels the macro mode.

The iS-2000 also has two varieties. The first one,  Zoom Macro, restricts the zoom range to 35~100mm with a shortest possible focusing distance of 60cm. At 100mm this corresponds again to 1:3.7 (0.27x). The second mode is called Super Macro; it sets the zoom at the fixed focal distance of 70mm and the shortest focusing distance of 39cm, achieving a ratio of 1:3.2 (0.31x). The facts that the iS/L Lens A-Life Size Macro H.Q. Converter f=13 cm was specially designed for the iS-2000, that it is the only iS model that has a connector for wired remote operation (which is more comfortable to use than IR remote control when operated from behind the camera, allowing a much larger working distance) and that any aperture can be used when the flash is operated with the 1:1 Converter makes the iS-2000 the most versatile model for macro work.

The iS-3000 only features Zoom Macro, restricting the zoom range to 35~120mm and brings the closest focusing distance at 60cm. At the 120mm focal distance this achieves a ratio of 1:2.6 (0.38x), the highest built-in magnification of all iS models.

The iS/L Lens Macro H.Q. Converters are achromatic, which means they consists of two or three lens elements, which gives a much higher image quality than a single element lens. They are supplied with a flash diffuser screen which must be mounted on the converter when the internal flash is used. The G40 can't be used.

The iS-1000 and iS-2000 share the 2-element iS/L Lens A-Macro H.Q. Converter f=40cm. It achieves 1:2.5 (0.4x) magnifications at the 135mm zoom position and 1:10 (0.1x) at the 35mm zoom position..

The 3-element iS/L Lens A-Life Size Macro H.Q. Converter f=13 cm achieves life-size (1:1) macro (1x) at the 135mm zoom position, and 1:5 (0.2x) at the 35mm zoom position. It can even achieve larger than life-size magnifications, namely 1.3:1, when used on the iS-3000 at a zoom position of 180mm.
The lens is designed for the iS-2000 but it can be used on the iS-1000 and iS-3000 (the latter requires a 55->49mm step-down ring). The only restriction is that when you use flash, Aperture-Preferred AE Mode or Manual Mode must be used, with only one aperture available, depending on the film speed (ISO 100: F22; ISO 50: F16; ISO 25: F11). With the iS-2000 you can simply use Program AE combined with 1:1 Macro Mode; besides this camera automatically adjusts the flash output according to aperture and film speed (both in Program Mode and Aperture-Preferred AE Mode), so this adds to the versatility of this camera.
The data sheet for the 1:1 Converter contains a warning that the iS-1000 may fire when the subject is beyond the working distance and not in focus. This also applies to the iS-3000, and also for the f=40cm lenses. However, with these magnifications Power Focus really is the way to go, combined with a sturdy tripod and remote shutter operation.

Finally there is the 2-element iS/L Lens B-Macro H.Q. Converter f=40cm which is specially made for the iS-3000. At the 180mm position 0.6x magnifications are achieved (1:1.7). When used with flash, the same restrictions as with the iS-1000 apply: only one aperture can be used, depending on film speed (ISO 400 : F22; ISO 200: F16; ISO 100: F11; ISO 50: F8; ISO 25: F5.6), and only Aperture-Preferred AE or Manual Mode can be used.
However, the iS-3000 features Super FP Flash in Manual Mode, and this can also be used with the macro converter. This allows you to vary the GN, which depends on the shutter speed. Since this was not documented, it took some experimenting.
I developed the following guide lines for the B-Macro Converter:

  50 ASA 100 ASA 200 ASA 400 ASA
1/2000 N/A N/A N/A F5.6
1/1000 N/A N/A F5.6 F8
1/500 N/A F5.6 F8 F11
1/250 F5.6 F8 F11 F16
1/125 F8 F11 F16 F22

As you can see, using Manual Mode and Super FP Flash on the iS-3000 with a Macro Converter gives you two big advantages compared to using Auto Flash: there are more apertures to choose from, depending on the film speed used, and you can use shorter shutter speeds, which can help eliminate ghost images which can appear with moving subjects and a sync time of 1/100 sec.

What about the simple iS models iS-100(s), iS-200 and iS-300? They don't have a built-in macro mode so their magnification range at 110mm and their minimum focus distance of 75cm is limited to 1:4.6 (0.22x). Olympus doesn't make Macro Converters for these models, but nothing stops you from using one of the A-Macro or B-Macro converters, with either a 52->49mm step-down ring or a 52->55mm step-up ring, or using one of the many (preferrably achromatic) close-up lenses available from other brands. For a listing of currently available achromatic close-up lenses, visit this site.

Very interesting for owners of OM System lenses are the tele and macro converters for the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000: since they have 49mm (iS-1000, iS-2000) or 55mm (iS-3000) filter threads, they can also be used with all Zuikos in the 50~250mm range that have these threads. 

Most useful is the B-300 1.7x converter for the iS-3000 with its 70mm front element. It can be used with medium telephoto lenses and tele zoom lenses. The loss of light depends on the lens speed and focal length, but is less than conventional converters that mount between the lens and the camera.

The macro converters are best combined with standard lenses or tele lenses that have a close-focus correction mechanism, such as the Zuiko 85mm/F2 and Zuiko 100mm/F2.
The iS-100(s), iS-200 and iS-300  have 52mm filter threads for the "C" converters which may be used with 49mm or 55mm threaded OM lenses by using step-up or step-down rings.

Winder and Auto Focus
All models have a built-in winder that automatically advances the film after loading and after each shot, and provides automatic rewinding. The winder of the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000 allows continuous shooting ('Continuous Drive') at a maximum speed of about 2 frames/sec, dependent on shutter speed and AF operation. For fastest operation with Continuous Drive the cameras should be set to Power Focus. However, if AF stays on it also works continuously, meaning that focus is not locked when the shutter is pressed halfway, which allows the camera to keep moving subjects in focus. In Continuous Drive Mode the exposure value obviously isn't locked either: before every shot it is recalculated. There is also a third drive mode: Double Exposure. When it is activated and a shot is made, the film is not advanced until a second shot is made.

All models have a single rectangular AF measuring area in the middle of the viewfinder, an AF lock which also locks exposure, and a Continuous AF option. On the iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300 Continuous AF is only available in the Stop Action Program. The iS-21 and iS-300 are the only models that features predictive AF in its Stop Action Program: on a subject moving with more or less constant speed towards or from the photographer, the iS-21 and iS-300 should be able to keep it better in focus. However since none of the simple models feature continuous drive, the usability of continuous AF is limited.

The iS-1000 and iS-100 had slower AF than their successors, the iS-2000 and iS-100s. AF speed was further improved in the iS-3000 and iS-300.

In low light situations the AF system is helped by a built-in AF assist light (iS-1000, iS-2000, iS-3000) or by pre-flashes (iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21, iS-300). It allows AF to operate even in complete darkness. The G40 flash also has an AF assist light, which is particularly needed when a tele or wide converter is used. The iS-300 has a more sensitive AF (down to EV1) than the iS-200 when it is used w/o AF pre-flash.

All models have a built-in flash, some of them very powerful compared to most SLR's. The flash system that is used is called IVP - Intelligent Variable Power. This is a modern, enhanced variant of the good old flashmatic system that can be found in rangefinder cameras from the seventies, where you have to set the Guide Number (GN) of the flash on the camera, and the camera determines the aperture dependent on shooting distance (automatic GN calculations). The old flashmatic system has the disadvantage that the flash always fires at full power and there is only one aperture available once the shooting distance is determined. The built-in flash of the iS cameras obviously is an electronic flash that can be quenched, meaning the GN can be varied, allowing multiple apertures to be selected for each distance. This makes IVP a strong alternative for TTL flash exposure: the shooting distance is much more reliable than the subjects reflectance. Very dark or very bright backgrounds or subjects can't fool this system. Because both the flash duration (GN) and aperture can be changed, the brightness of the subject can be taken into account. This greatly facilitates Fill-in Flash, a special flash mode that's available on all models in the Full Program Mode (the flash always fires and the shutter speed is fixed at 1/100 sec). In other modes only Auto Flash (the flash only fires when a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. or slower can be achieved using available light) and Auto-S Flash (same as Auto Flash but with red eye reducing pre-flashes) are available.

When the camera is set to Manual Mode the flash operates at full power. In Aperture Preferred AE the flash output is adjusted according to subject distance and the selected aperture.
In Shutter Speed Preferred AE, which is only available on the iS-3000/iS-3, the aperture is selected based on the amount of available light, and the preset shutter speed. Then the flash output is adjusted according to this aperture and the shooting distance. The flash only fires when a shutter speed of 1/100 sec or longer is set. When available light already has a strong influence on the subject, overexposure can easily happen. It is a rather unlogic combination, IVP and Shutter Speed Preferred AE. For daylight fill-in flash the Full Program or Portrait Program (using Super FP, iS-3000, iS-21 and iS-300/iS-30 only) would be a better choice; for indoor flash the Full Program or Aperture Preferred AE would be a better choice. The only application that would make sense is when you deliberately want a longer shutter speed than 1/100 sec to allow a greater influence of available light and don't want to use Manual Mode.
The iS-300 is the only model that supports Auto Colour-Balancing Flash (detection of the wavelength of fluorescent or other artificial lighting to produce a more natural colour balance).

The flash of all models except the original iS-100 is also unique because of the dual light emitting tubes. The higher tube has a wider angle and a slightly lower GN and is used for wide angle shots and close up shots, the lower tube with a higher GN is automatically selected when the zoom is set in the tele range.
The dual flash in the iS-1000 and iS-2000 has a slightly different design compared to the iS-3000. On the early models the lower tube always fires at full power (GN 20) and is only used at the tele-setting at longer distances, to extend the flash range as well as to compensate for the lower lens speed at the tele-setting. At shorter distances or when using the wide angle setting, the upper tube, which is of the IVP type, is used. This was changed in the iS-3000: here both tubes are of the IVP type, so with variable GN's (1.4~20 for the upper tube and 1.4~28 for the lower tube).

The flashes of the iS-3000, iS-21 and iS-300 are the only ones that also support Super FP, daylight fill-in flash at shutter speeds from 1/100 to 1/2000 sec. This is only available in the Portrait Program (on the iS-3000 also in Manual Mode) because the GN in Super FP Mode dramatically drops when the shutter speeds get shorter, so only large apertures can be used to get any effect from the flash. As mentioned before, the US version of the iS-3000 lacks the FP feature.

The flash capabilities of the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000 can be expanded by the powerful dedicated G-40 flash. It does not support FP flash and can only be mounted on these three models (including their US counterparts). Vice versa, no other flash units can directly be mounted on these cameras because the size of the hot shoe is different, but a special module for non-dedicated flashes, fired off-camera is available.

More info about IVP Flash vs. Manual Flash is available on the Flash Modes with OM & iS Cameras page.

Light Metering System
The light metering system is identical on all models. The light is measured TTL. In all program modes ESP (Electro-Selective Pattern) is used: the center and the edges of the frame are measured separately, and when large differences are found an automatic correction is applied. This is a simplified form of matrix metering and it can deal efficiently with difficult light situations such as back lit subjects. It is the same technique that's used in the OM-40. In all other modes (Aperture Preferred AE, Shutter Speed Preferred AE, Manual Mode, when applicable for the various models) center-weighted average light metering is used. The light readings can be overruled by the single Spot Meter. The spot reading is cancelled either by pressing the spot button again, or by taking the shot. There is no memo function for it, so to freeze the settings one should switch to Manual Mode (when applicable). The Spot Meter works in all modes, except in the Long Time Exposure Mode (L.T.) of the simple models where it shares the same button (see: User Interfaces), or when the flash is activated.

The iS-1000, iS-2000, iS-3000 and iS-300 feature exposure compensation: +/- 4 stops on the advanced models and +/- 2 stops on the iS-300. The iS-100, iS-100s, iS-200 and iS-21 miss this important feature that not only gives more control in difficult lighting situations, but also is the only way to change the film speed, since none of the iS models have a DX-code overrule option. Changing the film speed is not only necessary when you want a faster film that needs to be push processed, it is also needed when you use a film that has a speed that is not supported by the camera. The iS-3000 is the only model that covers the full range of standard DX speed codes, as can be read in the iS/L camera features table. On other models, non-supported film speeds will be rounded down to the next lower speed that is supported, and the only way to set its real speed is to use exposure compensation. The Kodak Portra 160 films for instance are only correctly set at 160 ASA by the iS-3000. Without compensation the iS-1000 and iS-2000 will set it at 100 ASA, the simple models will set it at 125 ASA.
Unlike OM cameras, exposure compensation works in both ways even at the limits of the supported DX speed, so the speed range of the iS-3000 can be changed from its automatic range of 25~5000 to a compensated range of 3~40.000. This upper limit however is theoretical since the fastest film currently available is 3200 ASA.

Exposure Modes
The program modes that are available on all models are not only interesting for beginners. You can compare them to the preset buttons of a car radio: a fast way to select a programmed value, with the end result in mind rather than focusing on the exact values of aperture and shutter speed.

The Portrait Program selects the widest possible aperture, to obtain minimum depth of field. If the flash of the iS-3000 or iS-300 is activated, it automatically switches to Super FP Mode when the shutter speed is shorter than 1/100 sec.

The Sport Program (or 'Stop Action Program' as it is called on the simple models) selects the shortest possible shutter speed, and thus the widest aperture, giving much the same reading as the Portrait Program. On the iS-2000 and iS-3000 it also automatically sets the drive (and AF) to continuous. On the iS-300 AF becomes predictive in the Stop Action Program.

The Night Scene Program automatically applies a negative exposure compensation of one stop (-1) to avoid dark skies to be washed out and light points to be burnt in. It can also be used with flash to get a balanced exposure of foreground and background.
On the iS-3000, the Night Scene Program can be combined with Zoom Exposure. This lets you zoom during exposure, giving intriguing streak effects. To activate, first select the Night Scene Program and the starting position of the zoom. Then press the shutter release button halfway, which locks the zoom, exposure and focus. Then, while pressing the correct zoom button (which is the tele zoom button if you started in the wide angle position), push the shutter release button. The zoom botton should not be released untill the shutter is closed. Zoom exposure is only available if the shutter speed is 1/30 sec. or slower. Zoom exposure can also be combined with flash.

The Landscape Program automatically sets the smallest aperture that still allows hand-held photography, to obtain a larger depth of field. This program has an interesting feature: if the Auto Focus System can't detect any vertical lines it can focus on, the lens is automatically set to infinity. In all other modes the AF signal blinks and the camera blocks.

The Standard Program (or Full Program) is a good choice for subjects where neither the aperture (depth of field) or the shutter speed really matter, as long as camera movements are frozen. This mode is especially interesting even for the advanced photographer because it's the only mode where auto daylight fill-in flash at 1/100 sec. is available. In this mode the working range of the flash is much higher than with Super FP. Besides it is available on all iS models, while Super FP is only available on the iS-3000, iS-21 and iS-300 / iS-30 DLX.

The longest shutter speed that can be selected in the program modes varies with film speed. With 25 ASA film loaded in the advanced models it is 10 sec in the Night Scene Program and 15 sec in other programs; with 400 ASA film it is 0.17 sec in the Night Scene Program and 1.15 sec in other programs.

All models have exposure modes for advanced control of aperture or shutter speed.

The Long Time (L.T.) Mode on the iS-100s, iS-200 and iS-300 really is a Manual Mode with a fixed aperture (F8) that extends the Night Scene Program with selectable shutter speeds (1 sec. ~ 60 sec.).

Aperture Preferred AE is available on all models. It allows more control of depth of field. The aperture is set and the camera selects a shutter speed. Only the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000 show the value of this shutter speed. Unfortunately no iS camera has a depth of field control button.

Shutter Speed Preferred AE is only available on the iS-3000. It allows more control of the way movement is frozen or emphasized in the picture. The shutter speed is set and the camera selects an aperture. This aperture value is shown.

Manual Mode is available on the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000, for full control of both aperture and shutter speed. With flash photography the flash (including the G40) also switches to manual mode.

User Interfaces

The user interface of all simple models (iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21, iS-300) is very intuitive thanks to the Direct Mode Selection Buttons, which makes them very easy and fast to operate even for complete beginners. The user interface of the advanced models is not difficult, but is much less intuitive, requires some studying before you are acquainted to it, and needs more buttons to be pushed. The iS-3000 is easier to operate than the iS-1000 or iS-2000.

Camera Features Table


w/Date back









Centurion (S)
Lens 35~135mm
Elements-Groups 16 el. - 14 groups 16 el. - 14 groups 16 el. - 15 groups 11 el. - 9 groups 11 el. -  9 groups 11 el. - 9 groups 11 el. - 9 groups 11 el. - 9 groups 11 el. - 10 groups
Min. focus 1.2m / 0.6m 1 1.2m / 0.6m  1 1.2m / 0.6m 1 0.75m 0.75m 0.75m 0.75m 0.75m 0.6m9 
Filter size 49mm 49mm 55mm 52mm 52mm 52mm10 52mm 52mm10 46mm
Special element(s) ED ED ED Aspherical Aspherical Aspherical Aspherical Aspherical Aspherical
Shutter speeds 15~1/2000 sec, B 15~1/2000 sec, B 15~1/2000 sec, B 2~1/2000 sec 60~1/2000 sec 2 60~1/2000 sec 2 60~1/2000 sec 2 60~1/2000 sec 2 4~1/2000 sec
Flash synchro 1/100 sec 1/100 sec 1/100 sec3 1/100 sec 1/100 sec 1/100 sec 1/100 sec3 1/100 sec3 1/30~1/125 sec3
Focusing 4 sAF, cAF, PF sAF, cAF, PF sAF, cAF, PF sAF, cAF sAF, cAF sAF, cAF sAF, pAF sAF, pAF sAF, cAF
Finder view-field 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 85% 93% (H-type)
Viewfinder info 5 AF,PF,SF,AI,SS,
Light metering

All models: TTL light metering system; fuzzy logic ESP light metering. iS cameras only: center-weighted average light metering, spot metering.

Power source All models: Two 3V lithium batteries (CR 123A or DL 123A) (replaceable)
Exposure modes6 A,M,P,PP,NP A,M,P,SP,PP,NP A,S,M,P,SP,PP,
Exp. compens. ± 4 EV (1/3 step) ± 4 EV (1/3 step) ± 4 EV (1/3 step) N/A N/A N/A N/A ± 2 EV (1/2 step) +1.5 EV
Film speed range
(DX coded)
Continuous drive 1.8 fps 2.3 fps (PF)
2 fps (AF)
2 fps N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Flash GN 20 (Auto Tele)
15 (Auto Wide, Manual)
20 (Auto Tele)
15 (Auto Wide, Manual)
28 (Auto Tele)
20 (Auto Wide, Manual)
14 18 (Auto Tele)
14 (Auto Wide)
18 (Auto Tele)
14 (Auto Wide)
18 (Auto Tele)
14 (Auto Wide)
25 (Auto Tele)
18 (Auto Wide)
Extra's 11 ST,MM,ZM,DE,BC ST,RJ,MM,SM,
Weight 890 g. 890 g. 960 g. 615 g. 615 g. 640 g. 620 g. 650 g. 460 g.
Dimensions (w/h/d) 117x90x153mm. 117x90x153mm. 122x93x173mm. 123x88x110mm. 123x88x110mm. 123x88x115mm. 123x88x110mm. 123x88x115mm. 118x83x111mm.

1 Min. focus in Normal Mode / Macro Mode
2 Manual shutter speed range at F8: 60 sec.~1 sec.; Programmed shutter speed range: 4 sec.~1/2000 sec.
3 FP Flash: synchronized up to 1/2000 sec. in Portrait Mode (and Manual Mode on the iS-3000); not supported on the iS-3 DLX.
4 Focusing: sAF=Single Auto Focus, cAF=Continuous Auto Focus, PF=Power Focus (manual focus), pAF=Predictive Autofocus (Stop Action Mode only)
5 Viewfinder info: AF=Autofocus Frame, SF=Spot Frame, PM=Panorama Marks, AI=Autofocus Indicator, PI=Power Focus Indicator, SS=Shutter Speed, AS=Aperture Setting, SM=Spot Metering, MM=Macro Mode, EC=Exposure Compensation / Manual Exposure, FS=Flash Symbol,EI=Overexposure/Underexposure Indicator
6 Exposure Modes: A=Aperture Preferred AE, S=Shutter Preferred AE, M=Manual Exposure, P=Program, SP=Sport Program (Stop Action), PP=Portrait Program, LP=Landscape Program, NP=Night Program,LT=Long Time (Manual)
7 DX-decoding of film speed: when film with an intermediate value is used the next lower value will be used (e.g. ASA 65->50)
35mm equivalent: 31~125mm.
1m in Landscape and Night Program
When filters thicker than 6mm are used the built-on lens cap can't be closed
1 Extra's: ST=Self Timer, RJ=Remote Control Jack (electric), RC=Remote Control (Infra Red Remote Control optionally available), MM=Macro Mode, SM=Super Macro Mode, ZE=Zoom Exposure, ZM=Memo Mode for the focal length of the zoom, DA=Built-in Diopter Adjustment (-2 to +1 diopters), DE=Double Exposure Mode, BC=Battery Check, PM=Panorama Mode (US models only),LC=integrated lens cap,CHP=C/H/P Print Format Selection,iXD=iX Date recording,MRC=Mid Roll Change (Centurion S only),LI=LED Panel Illuminator,DL=Drop In Film Loading.

iS/L & Centurion Tele Converters

iS/L Lens A-200 H.Q. Converter 1.5x.   For the iS-1000 and iS-2000. Converts the 135mm tele position of the zoom into 200mm. Discontinued.
iS/L Lens B-300 H.Q. Converter 1.7x.   For the iS-3000. Converts the 180mm position into 300mm.
iS/L Lens C-160 H.Q. Converter 1.45x. For the iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300. Converts the 110mm position into 160mm.
iS/L Lens C-180 H.Q. Converter 1.7x.   For the iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300. Converts the 110mm position into 180mm.
iS/L Lens C-210 H.Q. Converter 1.9x.   For the iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300. Converts the 110mm position into 210mm.
Centurion Lens D-1.45x H.Q. Converter. For the Centurion and Centurion S. Converts the 100mm position into 145mm (35mm film format equivalent: 180mm).

All iS/L & Centurion tele converters are intended to be used with the zoom in its longest position for best optical quality. When zooming out image quality slightly deteriorates. When zooming out further vignetting gradually becomes visible until it turns into a pronounced tunnel effect, which may be used for occasional creative effects. These converters have virtually no effect on the overall lens speed, but they increase the shortest focusing distance. The internal flash can't be used with the Tele Converters or Wide Converters; on the iS-1000/2000/3000 the G-40 should be used instead.
The new iS/L Lens C-210 H.Q. Converter 1.9x is the only converter that has a lens hood. The 'C' type converters are not only available separately, but also sold in a 'kit' together with the camera. The C-160 and C-210 replace the 'old' C-180 converter.
The Centurion Lens D-1.45x H.Q. Converter is the only converter with a clip-on attachment; all iS/L converters have a screw-in attachment.


  A-200 B-300 C-160 C-180 C-210 D-1.45x

Centurion S
Magnification 1.5x 1.7x 1.45x 1.7x 1.9x 1.45x
Optical construction 4 el. - 2 groups 5 el. - 3 groups 3 el. - 2 groups 4 el. - 2 groups 4 el. - 2 groups 3 el. - 2 groups
Min. shooting range 3m 3m 1.4m 2.1m 2.5m 2m
Length 56.5mm 74.5mm 60mm 56mm 61mm 39mm
Max. diameter 73.5mm 80mm 57mm 56mm 64mm 61mm
Weight 160g 260g 85g 80g 125g 105g

iS/L Wide Converters

iS/L Lens A-28 H.Q. Converter 0.8x. For the iS-1000 and iS-2000. Discontinued.
iS/L Lens B-28 H.Q. Converter 0.8x. For the iS-3000.

Both convert the 35mm semi-wide position of the zoom into a 28mm wide angle. These converters can only be used at the shortest zoom position for normal photography. When zooming in a strong center-spot soft focus effect is achieved, which may be used for creative effects. These converters have virtually no effect on the overall lens speed, but they shorten the minimum focusing distance. The internal flash can't be used with these converters, so the G-40 should be used instead. 

While one may experiment with the iS/L tele converters to use them on various Olympus OM tele lenses and zoom lenses, the iS/L wide converters give poor results on any other focal distance than the 35mm where they were designed for. On longer lenses center-spot soft focus will occur just as on the iS/L cameras, and on shorter lenses the edges of the image will become very soft.


  A-28 B-28
Magnification 0.8x 0.8x
Optical construction 3 el. - 2 groups 3 el. - 3 groups
Min. shooting range 0.9m 0.7m
Length 35mm 39mm
Max. diameter 82mm 93mm
Weight 170g 250g

iS/L Macro Converters

iS/L Lens A-Macro H.Q. Converter f=40cm. For the iS-1000 and iS-2000. Achieves 0.4x magnifications (1:2.5) at 135mm. Discontinued.
iS/L Lens A-Life Size Macro H.Q. Converter f=13cm. For the iS-1000 and iS-2000. Achieves life-size (1:1) macro at 135mm. Discontinued.
iS/L Lens B-Macro H.Q. Converter f=40cm. For the iS-3000. Achieves 0.6x magnifications (1:1.7) at 180mm. 

These converters can be used over the entire zoom range. The highest magnifications are achieved at the long end of the zoom. They are actually achromatic close-up lenses, existing of two (f=40cm) or three (f=13cm) elements. This gives a much higher image quality, especially at the edges of the frame, than with simple close-up lenses (like the one Olympus makes for the OM System!). Only true macro lenses can do better, in terms of image quality, than achromatic close-up lenses.
When these converters are used with a flash, which is recommended for hand-held close-up and macro photography, the special diffuser screen that comes with them must be used. It must be clamped into the groove of the converter. This screen makes sure the flash light reaches the subject. Without it, the parallax of the flash beam and the shadow of the lens will cause improper flash exposure. Also, with the iS-1000 and iS-3000 the camera can't be used in Program Mode. Either Aperture Preferred AE or Manual Mode should be used. The apertures to be selected for different film speeds are printed on the screen. The iS-2000 is more versatile: you can also use Program Mode with flash, and all apertures can be used, also in Aperture-Preferred AE Mode.
With the iS-3000 you can also experiment with Super FP flash to be able to use other apertures (and also shorter shutter speeds to avoid ghost images). See the section Macro Capabilities. The Electronic Flash G-40 can't be used because its flash head can't be tilted downward.


A-Life Size Macro
Supported Camera(s) iS-1000
Optical construction 2 el. - 1 group 3 el. - 3 groups 2 el. - 2 groups
Length 9.5mm 19mm 11mm
Diameter 56mm 60mm 64mm
Rear filter thread size 49mm 49mm 55mm
Weight 67g 120g 105g

Filters can't be used with the tele-, wide- and macro-converters. None of them have a front filter thread and they should be mounted directly to the lens (w/o filters).

iS/L Flash Units

Electronic Flash G40
. For the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000.
iS/L Multi-Flash Synchro Module. For the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000.

Electronic Flash G40
The G-40 is a dedicated flash for the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000. Because the size of the hot shoe is non-standard, the flash can't be mounted on other cameras and vice versa other flashes can't be mounted on the iS cameras. However, it is possible to connect other flash units to the iS-1000, iS-2000 or iS-3000, off-camera, using the iS/L Multi-Flash Synchro Module.
The G-40 greatly extends the flash capabilities of these cameras. With its powerful GN of 40 in tele position (32 in wide angle position, the flash head is automatically zoomed), its flash head that can be tilted upwards and turned sideways for indirect flash photography, its provisions for synchronization on the second curtain, stroboscopic flash, three GN's for Manual Flash, and a special setting for the Tele- or Wide Converters, this unit is essential for serious flash photography. In combination with the Wide- or Tele Converters it is the only way to get proper flash exposure. Its built-in AF assist light is also essential with these converters in low light situations, since the AF assist light of the camera is blocked by the converters. The G-40 is also an important accessory when you do a lot of flash photography, because it uses its own set of cheap AA penlight batteries, whereas the internal flash drains the expensive 3V lithium batteries of the camera.
It can be used with the internal flash when wanted, for instance to allow the internal flash to do its red eye reducing pre-flashes (which the G-40 can't do), or as a secondary fill flash when the G-40 is used as a bounce flash. In this case, the built-in flash will automatically lower its output by 3EV, for effective fill-in ('catch light').
The G-40 works just like the internal flash with IVP (see above) when a Program Mode is selected, the flash head is in its neutral position (straight ahead) and the power switch of the flash is in its normal 'On' position (the position in the middle). So the camera controls light emission and aperture, depending on subject distance and available light.
When the camera is set to Aperture Preferred AE or Shutter Speed Preferred AE, or when the flash head is turned or tilted, or when the power switch of the flash is set to the right position (labeled T/W Converter), the G-40 changes its operating mode into computer flash, using its built-in sensor. The selected aperture, any exposure compensation and the film speed are automatically transferred to the flash. The test button can be used to check if the flash output, flash beam distance, aperture and film speed match.
When the camera is set to Manual Mode, so is the G-40, and you can select from three GN's (40, 20, 10 in tele position and 32, 16, 8 in wide position). The zoom position of the lens is normally automatically transferred to the flash, changing its flash zoom head, but this can be overruled.
The stroboscopic effect (Multi) is a special effects gadget. To activate it, the camera must be set to Manual Mode, using shutter speeds between 15 sec. and 1/15 sec. The GN drops to 7m (100 ASA), so be warned... The number of flashes that are caught on a frame, and the interval between the flashes depend on the shutter speed:

Shutter speed Nr. of flashes Interval
1/20 ~ 1/100 sec. 1 -
1/10 ~1/15 sec. 2 0.0045 sec.
1/6 ~1/8 sec 5 0.0025 sec.
1/3 ~1/4 sec. 10 0.0025 sec.
0.7 ~1/2 sec. 20 0.0025 sec.
1.5 ~1 sec. 20 0.05 sec.
3 ~2 sec. 20 0.1 sec.
6 ~4 sec. 20 0.2 sec.
10 ~8 sec. 20 0.4 sec.
15 sec. 20 0.8 sec.

The synchronization on the second curtain probably is a more useful option. It allows ghost image movement stripes to be positioned behind the subject.
A useful tip for better, softer flash light: the Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce model "OM-C" fits the G-40 flash...

multiflash_1.jpg (19706 bytes)

iS/L Multi-Flash Synchro Module
The iS/L Multi-Flash Synchro Module is the least familiar accessory for the iS-Series. This is probably because it was developed after the iS-3000 was released, and doesn't appear in its manual or brochure. Basically this module is a decapitated G-40. Instead of a flash head it has a PC synchro socket, allowing any flash to be fired off-camera (mounted on a tripod, flash stand or flash bracket, and connected with a PC flash cord).
Like the G-40, it has a battery compartment of its own, and an AF assist light. Because obviously the camera can't control the flash, only Aperture Preferred AE, Manual Mode and the Night Program make sense as settings on the camera. The flash will only fire when a shutter speed of 1/100 sec or slower is selected.
The flash can be set to either Manual Mode or Normal Auto Mode ("computer   flash"). Flashes that don't have a PC connector on their own, like the Metz 40MZ-2 (shown in the picture below), can be connected using a special hot shoe adapter that is equipped with a PC cable connector.
The module allows a selection of synchronization on the first, or on the second curtain. The latter, also reffered to as 'Follow Synchro', can only be selected when the camera is set in the Night Scene Program. It is only effective when slow shutter speeds are selected.
The external flash can also be used together with the built-in flash, to reduce red-eye or serve as a catch-light / fill-in flash. The built-in flash will have a reduced output by 3EV for effective fill-in flash.
Finally there is an illuminated Test Button. Its main purpose is to test the cable connection. The leds for the Flash Synchro Mode are automatically powered off after 30 sec of inactivity; the Test led is powered off after 60 sec of inactivity. Pressing the Shutter Release Button on the camera reactivates them.

multiflash_2.jpg (18817 bytes)
iS/L Multi-Flash Synchro Module on iS-3000, connected to Metz 40MZ-2 (equipped with Sto-Fen OmniBounce flash diffuser).

Although the iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-300 and Centurion (S) don't have provisions for an additional flash, nothing stops you from experimenting a bit. You can trigger an external flash, sitting on a tripod, or on a flash bracket under the camera, by a slave control (a special hot shoe with a light sensor). This external flash should be set to manual or to computer sensor flash. This flash won't cooperate with the internal flash, and the camera does not display the selected aperture, but when the subject distance is at the end or beyond the flash range of the camera (which is dependent on the film speed), you will know the aperture is F4.5~5.6, so either F4 or F5.6 should work as Auto Aperture setting on the flash. The influence of the internal flash can be reduced by placing or taping a diffuser on it (paper, plastic). If the flash power is insufficient to trigger the slave you can try to tape a reflector to the flash, aiming the light at the slave sensor. 
With the iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300 Aperture Priority can be used for shorter distances within the camera's flash range, but since the built-in flash already provides enough power, this can only give good results if the output of the built-in flash is reduced by a diffusor or reflector.


Other iS/L accessories

Action Case A. For the iS-1000 and iS-2000. Soft leatherette protection case. Discontinued.
Compartment Case A. For the iS-1000 and iS-2000. Hard protection case that can hold the camera and various accessoiries. Discontinued.
Action Case B. For the iS-3000.
Action Case B2. For the iS-3000.
Action Case C. For the iS-100 and iS-100s. Discontinued.
Action Case C3. For the iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300, will also hold an iS-100(s).
Case L (multi). A compartment case that can hold an iS-100(s), a teleconverter, and other accessories such as a Remote Control, filters, batteries and films. Discontinued.
Case L3 (multi). A compartment case that can hold an iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21 or iS-300, a teleconverter, and other accessories such as a Remote Control, filters, batteries and films.
Remote Control RC-100. For the iS-3000, iS-100(s), iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300. For IR triggered remote photography. The CR 1220 battery in this model can only be replaced by breaking the case open1. Its expected life span is 5 years. Discontinued.
Remote Control RC-200. For the iS-3000, iS-100, iS-100s, iS-200, iS-21 and iS-300. For IR triggered remote photography. The CR 1220 battery of this model can easily be replaced. Besides the model is weatherproof, and gives a confirmation signal when its button is pressed.
Both Remote Controls can also be used with the APS camera Centurion (S) and various other cameras from Olympus. Their working range is about 5 meter, when operated from the front of the camera (about 30cm. when operated from the rear). They provide remote operation with a 3 sec. delay; the iS-3000 can also operate without delay.
Grip Strap A. For the iS-1000 and iS-2000. Provides a better grip and safe operation. Discontinued.
Grip Strap B. For the iS-3000.
Variable Dioptric Adapter A +2 ~ 0. For the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000. Allows shooting without spectacles.
Variable Dioptric Adapter A  0 ~ -2. For the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000.
Variable Dioptric Adapter A -2 ~ -4. For the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000.
Spare parts. All loose parts that come with the cameras and converters can be ordered separately, in case they get lost or damaged. This includes the lens caps, tele- and wide converter caps (front and rear), hot shoe cap, viewfinder cap, macro converter flash diffuser and the camera shoulder straps.
iS/L Panorama Adapter. For the iS-1000, iS-2000 and iS-3000. Masks the negatives to panorama format. The Panorama Adapter can be used in the iS-1000 although it has no panorama marks in the viewfinder. Note that the iS-20 DLX, L-20, iS-30 DLX and L-30 (yes, the US & Japanese versions only!) have a built-in Panorama Mode.
In the past (i.e. in the days the iS-1000/2000/3000 were designed) you had to specify the desired panorama format in advance, before the film was printed. Current print processing machines are able to recognize masked negatives and will automatically output larger prints in panorama format, so a separate adapter to expose the complete film with a panorama mask is no longer needed. 
Panorama photography is particularly effective when used with a Wide Converter. 

Two important points must be borne in mind with the Panorama Adapter: never attempt installation or removal without the special tool and remember that the whole film will be exposed on this format unless the film is rewound prematurely.
The adapter should be installed with the Olympus name towards the film. Turn the adapter over and notice the two springs and sliding locking bar. Next, place the adapter - face up - on a dust free surface and fit the special tool into the two small holes towards the right side. Remove the camera lens cap and balance it, lens down, on a table or flat surface. Open the camera back and place the adapter into the film gate, sliding the special tool to the left to activate the locking bar. Remove the tool. Take care to avoid touching the shutter mechanism at any time. The adapter is removed by reversing the fitting process.
It is strongly recommended that film cassettes exposed in this format are identified by a special FORMAT sticker, but be careful to avoid the DX coding panels, and that a small adhesive label is affixed to the camera body as a reminder that the adapter is in use. It is also worth noting that if Quartzdate iS cameras are used with this format, the data printed on the film will not appear on the final print.


1 The two halves of the RC-100 are held together by a small amount of glue and three plastic clamps on the inside, two about 1cm. from the IR LED, about 1.5 cm. long, the third, smaller one behind the cord eyelet. Carefully making space with a small screwdriver between one of the long clamps and the small clamp may be enough to separate the two halves.

An interesting note is that some buttons on remote controls for TV's and VTR's can also trigger the RC-100/RC-200 compatible cameras. On my RC's the function 'next channel' does that...

The iS-2000 can't be triggered by the RC-100 or RC-200, but has a remote control jack instead. This can be activated by one of the M.Remote Cords (1.2m or 5m) of the Olympus OM System.

Data Backs

All models are available in a version with a fixed data back. It is not possible to have an existing model without data back serviced into a data back version. The data backs allow the imprinting of: 1) year-month-day 2) day-hour-minute 3) no imprinting 4) month-day-year 5) day-month-year.

iS/L Books

Olympus iS-1000 by Richard Hünecke, published by Focus, 1992, originally 1991 by Laterna Magica, ISBN 90-72216-26-1
Olympus iS-3000 by Richard Hünecke, published by Laterna Magica, 1993, ISBN 3-87467-511-4
Complete User's Guide Olympus iS-1000/iS-2000/iS-3000 (iS-1/iS-2/iS-3) by Ian Aston, published by Hove Foto Books, 1993, ISBN 1-874031-11-8

The Laterna Magica Series also has a book on the iS-2000. The original books are in German, but are also translated in a few other languages. The English versions are in the Magic Lantern Series.

iS/L Manuals

All manuals are in .pdf format. Right-click to download & save.

iS-100 / iS-10
iS-200 / iS-20 DLX
iS-300 / iS-30 DLX
iS-1000 / iS-1
iS-2000 / iS-2 DLX
iS-3 DLX 
iS-3000 (instructions for FP Flash; read next to iS-3 DLX instructions)

G40 flash

iS/L Multi-Flash Synchro Module
iS/L Panorama Adapter
iS/L Lens B-300 H.Q. Converter 1.7x
iS/L Lens A-Life Size Macro H.Q. Converter f=13cm
iS/L Lens B-Macro H.Q. Converter f=40cm
Remote Control RC-200

iS/L & Centurion Links

  Olympus America Olympus Europe Olympus Japan Camtech
iS-100s / iS-10 QD / L-10 YYY      
iS-200 / iS-20 DLX / L-20 YYY YYY YYY YYY
iS-300 / iS-30 DLX / L-30 YYY YYY YYY YYY
iS-3000 / iS-3 DLX / L-3 YYY YYY YYY1 YYY

1Only in the Japanese part of the site

Designers Voice at The Unofficial Yoshihisa Maitani & Olympus Cameras Homepage

iS advertisements at The Unofficial Yoshihisa Maitani & Olympus Cameras Homepage

P&S reviews by photographers 

Centurion reviews by photographers


Centurion & Centurion S

The Olympus Centurion and Centurion S cameras are APS (Advanced Photo System) cameras based on the simple line of the iS Series. 

The APS film type, launched in 1996, is slightly smaller than 35mm film (30.2x16.7mm vs. 36x24mm) and has an additional magnetic recording area next to the photo sensitive film emulsion, on which various information can be stored. The most basic information, recorded by all APS camera, is Print Format. Three formats are defined: H (HDTV), C (Classic) and P (Panorama).

The fact that the Centurion uses a smaller film format is most obvious when you hold it next to an iS camera (or any other 35mm SLR camera for that matter): the Centurion is much smaller and lighter. Smaller SLR cameras with such a zoom range simply don't exist.


The tiny one and the big one. Left: Centurion. Right: iS-3000

Olympus also made the Fujifilm Fotonex 4000ix SL camera, based on the Centurion and with almost identical technical specifications but within a slightly different shaped  body.

Centurion vs. iS

The 25~100mm zoom length of the Centurion is comparable to the 28~110mm range of the iS-100(s)/200/300 models; it is the equivalent of 31~125mm for 35mm film. Its user interface with Direct Program Mode Selection without shutter speed or aperture value indication is also very similar. The buttons and the LED panel have been moved from the top of the camera to the back.

From the iS-300 it borrows the fast, sensitive AF,  Super FP flash in Portrait Program, Diopter Correction and Exposure Compensation (although in a simplified form: only as +1.5EV Backlight Compensation), and the very quiet shutter.
From the iS-100 it unfortunately borrows the rather weak (GN ~14m), single-tube flash. 
Stripped, compared to the iS cameras, are the Long Time (L.T.) Mode, Aperture Preferred Auto Exposure, and Spot Metering: only the five Program Modes are available.
Just like all iS cameras the Centurion has ESP available light metering and IVP flash control.
New compared to the iS cameras is the LED illuminator and, obviously, APS related features.
The Camera Features Table contains the main specifications of both the iS cameras and the Centurion cameras.

APS Support

The Centurion has a rather basic support for the various features that are defined for APS. Besides Drop-In Film Loading and H/C/P Print Format Selection, both available on all APS cameras, the original black Centurion only supports iX Date & Time Recording. The Centurion S adds Mid Roll Change (MRC) to that. Besides this, the Centurion S differs only from the original black Centurion in its silver color (hence the "S").
The reason for omitting APS features like PQI (Print Quality Improvement), FTPM (Fixed Time Printing Mode), PQ (Print Quantity) and Enhanced Backprinting can be that they would require extra buttons and thus complicate the user interface, and thus would bypass the philosophy behind the Centurion.

Centurion Accessories

There are only three accessories available for the Centurion (S): the Centurion Lens D-1.45x H.Q. Converter, the Action Case 1, and the 46mm Lens Cap. The latter obviously always comes with the camera but can be ordered in case it gets lost. The Action Case 1 must be ordered separately.

The teleconverter is not only available separetely, it is also sold together with the camera in a kit.
Specifications: 3 elements in 2 groups, length 39mm, diameter 61mm, weight 105g.
It is a clip-on type teleconverter: it is mounted while pressing its two buttons, with the side labeled 'top' on top, then rotated clockwise to make a tight fit. This construction allows very fast attachment and detachment. The resulting focal length corresponds to 180mm on 35mm film. Minimum focusing distance is increased to 2m and the built-in flash should not be used.

Macro Capabilities

There is no special Macro Mode, but its close focusing distance of 60cm already gives nice results in the tele position of the zoom lens. It coveres an area of about 13x8cm. For higher magnifications close-up lenses can be used. These can be off-brand 46mm threaded lenses, but when a 46->49mm step-up ring is aquired, the iS/L Lens A Macro Converters can also be mounted. It all depends on how Auto Focus cooperates with the subject on close distance because the Centurions have no Power Focus. This step-up ring is obviously also very economic because it allows sharing filters with the OM System lenses.

Flash Capabilities

The flash is of the same IVP type as the iS cameras. It is a single tube flash with limited power. The flash range is 6.2m in the wide position and 4.9m in the tele position for 200 ASA film (8.8m / 7.0m for 400 ASA film). The flash can also be used for Focus Assist with a range of 5m (obviously independent of film speed).
The supported flash modes are: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In (only available in Full Program) and Super FP (only available in Portrait Program). The Super FP flash range depends not only on film speed but also on the amount of available light (which influences the selected shutter speed):

APS versus 35mm film

How good or bad is APS? When you're using 100 ASA or 200 ASA film, which is possible with the 25-100mm/F4.5-5.6 lens under normal lighting circumstances, you won't notice any differences between APS and the larger 35mm film format with prints up to 20x30cm. Beyond that, grain will be more visible with APS. Use only 400 ASA or 800 ASA film when you really must, for instance when you'll be doing lots of flash photography.

Click on the image of the train to get an impression of APS 200 ASA quality with the Centurion (scanned at full size with a Nikon CoolScan LS-30 (2700 DPI) - compressed image size 0.6Mb, 2882x1701 pixels). The full size picture can be printed on full A4 size without any grain disturbances.

This page was updated on januari 25, 2002