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Old Nov 22, 2011, 3:20 AM   #1
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Default Canon SX40 or Olympus E-PL1+14-150?


I'm looking for insight for my next digital camera decision. I've set a ~400 € budget looking to buy a good quality, future-proof digital camera without stepping into pricey DSLRs with their absurdly pricey accessories.

I'm aware that I'm comparing two different kinds of cameras, which is why I'm looking for advice. My budget allows for any ultra-zoom camera and out of the ones I've read about I like the Canon SX40 best. The Olympus E-PL1 is the only micro 4:3 I can afford that comes with a decently ranged lens. So, what am I trying to compare?

● Canon PowerShot SX40, 28 mm² CMOS-type censor, (35mm eqv) 24~840 (35×) f/2.7~5.8 lens at 385 €
● Olympus E-PL1 with M. Zuiko lens, 225 mm² CMOS-type sensor, (35mm eqv) 28~300 (11×) f/4~5.6 lens at 449 €

Of course, in order to provide advice, you'll need to know what I want to do with the camera:

● Lots of tourism: outdoors architecture and indoor dark scenarios is what I take most, followed by natural landscapes in my local forests. I'd rarely need as much tele as the SX40 provides, though it's nice to have for the occasional picture. I like the SX40 lens specs better, more due to its wider angle at 24mm eqv than its tele 840mm eqv end and being much faster at wide angles.

● I'm concerned with the ability shoot hand-held with low light in high ISO. Obviously, the reason why I'm interested on the E-PL1 is the decently-sized sensor.

● More often than RAW, I want quality, ready to archive JPEGs off them, with decent (i.e. low, conservative) compression. I've seen lots of quality cameras reducing their effectiveness brutally due to bad NR or JPEG codecs (hello Fuji).

● While I take mostly pictures, I want to record high-resolution video with it as well. This is important because I'm not buying a dedicated camcorder. Both cameras do 720p30, but the Canon also shoots 1080p24. It's also supposed to have better IS but some reviews praise the E-PL1 more for IS.

● As lazy as I am for post-production, I like HDR images with absurdly unrealistic tone mappings. Ideally I'd like some sort of fast in-camera HDR composition mode for JPEGs, but as both cameras lack that, I'll be ok with bracketing, which both support, and perhaps taking single RAW files. The SX40 doesn't dump RAWs because Canon thinks at 385 € I haven't paid enough for that (ah, corporations), but the CHDK for it is being developed and it looks like I'll be able to unlock that functionality. I'll see if I can setup an automated script for bracketed JPEG, bracketed RAW or single RAW files with dcraw and other tools on my GNU/Linux workstation.

● Size and weight don't matter at all to me, even for tourism. Camera speed and interface comfort matter (I think both are not awfully slow but take 0.5s at AF).

● I don't pretend/expect to be an amateur photographer, at all. I'm a random person who takes pictures. However, I like the manual controls of my SX100, and I'm not scared by options, power features, having to read or Maths, so disregard complexity as I'll study what I need to take advantage of any camera I buy.

Any suggestions on what should I go for? Thank you very much in advance.
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Old Nov 22, 2011, 4:06 AM   #2
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Hi- purely from a convenience perspective,the SX40 has the clear upper hand with that extreme zoom range in one lens- and the IS is very good. It also performs pretty well in low light- probably the best bridge camera in this regard.
If the extreme zoom range is not quite a deal breaker,maybe the Panasonic DMC FZ150 might be worth looking into also. It is a very fast performer(focusing AND shooting),the video quality by all account surpasses that of the Canon,has a bigger LCD screen,RAW capture,better design/handling/build quality etc and stilll has a pretty useful 25- 600mm reach.
I own the SX40 and am very happy with it- but the FZ150 is definitely worth a look.
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Old Jan 6, 2012, 6:22 PM   #3
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Default easy

I have both. Admittedly I have only had the SX40 for 12 hours, but for what you want the EPL1 is the way to go. Much larger sensor, better performance at high ISO (the SX40 is OK up to 800, but then starts to show the grain), and better lens quality. I also use the 9-18 mm (not in your price range) and it is a great bit of glass. I use the EPL for UW photograpy and I shot three front covers for diving magazines with it in 2011. I bought the SX40 for a safari trip where i want max zoom capabilty. It also has low compression on JPEGs - a file will output at around 7 to 9 Mb. I have the 70 300 4/3rd lens and adapter for the EPL1 ad whilst it is good it doesn't get me as far (600mm equivalent). And the Electronic View Finder for it would have cost 220 USD, the SX40 only cost £&( USD and has one built in. Granted, it is a small, cheap EVF, but it is good enough for what I want. Messing around today the SX40 is impressive at full zoom - the IS and the Digic 5 processor are excellent. Files output small though - 3 to 3.5 Mb. But for what you want - EPL everytime.
Hope that helps.
PS i bought a 2nd hand EPL 1 on ebay last week as a spare (UW photography means you end up flooding gear when you do 200 to 300 dives a year) and picked one up for 200 USD - works a treat.
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