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Old Jul 16, 2004, 11:49 PM   #1
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Have been fooling around with digital for a few years and have finally found the time to get heavily back into photography (after a 25 year break). I was thinking of going to a medium format film camera (mamiya 645 or such) but while shopping stumbled upon the Olympus E1 SLR 5.5 meg camera. My questions are:

1. Is 5 meg enough for me to be satisfied with forever (dumping $2000 into a camera I'd like to think it will meet my needs for a long time). I want to print 16 X 20 on a regular basis.

2. Is anyone out there familiar with the E1? If so your thoughts would be appreciated.

3. Any other in this range that I should be rlooking at more seriously than the E1?

Any info is much appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Jul 17, 2004, 12:05 AM   #2
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I think the Nikon D70 makes a nice DSLR.

Take a shot at and with it!
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Old Jul 17, 2004, 12:46 AM   #3
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In terms of dynamic range the E-1 beats both the Nikon and Canon cameras. The camera is just perfect.

Olympus went to 30 professional photographers and asked them to help design the camera, and it shows in using the camera.

Also, unlike Nikon and Canon lenses, Olympus' E-1 lenses are designed specifically for digital shooting. If you check out the following link in the section titled "Digital Specific "Smart" Lenses", it shows the difference between the Zuiko lenses and lenses on other digitals which spreads out the image:

The E-1 also has a supersonic wave filter which cleans off the imager each time you power on the camera so you avoid the cleaning that is complained about by other dSLR users.

I agree it's an expensive camera (Olympus is supposed to be coming out with a consumer version by the end of the year, but don't know how stripped down it will be)...I keep buying lottery tickets hoping...but it will be my next camera.

As for 5mp being enough, I've seen large prints made from the E-1, and I couldn't tell it was digital (unlike many other 8mp cameras). BTW, the E-1 has a totally redesigned imager to reduce noise by moving signal paths.
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Old Jul 17, 2004, 2:40 AM   #4
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Well, I think the E-1 is a marvelous design, and appears to be a very well made camera (even to the point of having some weather sealing).

Thismodel is part of the new "4/3" System, so it was designed from the ground up to be a Digital SLR, including the lenses used. As a result, these digital specific lenses are going to be smaller and lighter than lenses having the same 35mm equivalent focal length in competing DSLR models.

However,it's image quality does fall short of the competition (like the Canon EOS-10D) in the resolution department (detail captured) as well as in the image artifacts department, according to at least one professional reviewer.

One reviewer even noted that Moiré was present inall images (regardless of whether shooting JPEG or RAW).

I even looked at one resolution chart test, showing how much cleaner the detail was from a 5 Megapixel consumer level camera (Sony DSC-F717). The Sony did not display these typesofimage artifacts, and theE-1 did.

The E-1also appears to have higher noise at all ISO speeds, compared to the EOS-10D, with dramatically higher noise levels from ISO 800 upwards. I'm not sure if theseshortcomingsare related to the Kodak sensor being used in the E-1, or if it's something that could be addressed via a firmware upgrade.

Another drawback to the E-1 is that your lens choices will be limited (since lenses are being specifically designed for the 4/3 system). A model like the Canon EOS-10D would give you a very large variety of lenses to choose from (with competition from more than one manufacturer, too).

Now, having pointed out some of the perceived cons.. Resolution chart tests never tell the whole story, and I'll be darned if I can find any Moiré problems in any of the images taken by the E-1 in Steve's samples here.

Also, you may not need higher ISO speeds (i.e., ISO 800 or 1600) for your types of photos.

You may also appreciate the ability to have great focal range, with only a couple of smaller, lighter lenses; compared to the larger (non-DSLR specific) lenses you'd be buying for a model like the EOS-10D.

Personally, I'm impressed with the images the E-1 produces, based on the photos I've seen so far. They seem better "straight from the camera" to my eyes, compared to images from competing models (which often require post processing to bring out their best).

As for 5 Megapixels being enough. Well, that's debatable. Remember, because resolution is computed by multiplying width x height, it takes 4 times as much resolution to capture the same detail, each time you double the print size.

So, 5 Megapixels falls short of theguidelines for largerimage sizesfrom many printers. 150 Pixels Per Inch minimum isusually desired for "good" quality prints, with a noticeable increase in quality going up to 200 Pixels Per Inch. Some even advocate 300 Pixels Per Inch for "best" quality (but I personally can't see the difference, once you get to about 200).

So, a 16 x 20" print would need a 7.2 Megapixel Image to get to 150 Pixels Per Inch:

16 inches x 150 Pixels Per Inch = 2400 pixels

20 inches x 150 Pixels Per Inch = 3000 pixels

2400 pixels x 3000 pixels = 7,200,000 pixels needed (7.2 Megapixels).

However, you're not going to be viewing a 16x20 inch print from one foot away either (as you would a smaller print size).So, it's likely that these guidelines would not apply as strictly to larger prints (since you're typical viewing distance would be much further away).

You could also interpolate the image using software to prevent pixelation if needed. Of course, interpolation adds pixels (based on the value of adjacent pixels), but does not add to the detail captured.

Some subjects work better at larger print sizes, compared to others. For example: a Portrait, where your subject is represented by the majority of the image, does much better at larger print sizes; as compared to a Landscape with lots of fine detail and foilage.

To get a digital camera capable of capturing the level of detail you'd get from that Mamiya 645 you were thinking about, you'd probably need to go with something along the lines of a Canon EOS-1Ds (full frame sensor with ~11 Million Effective Pixels). Or, a less expensive option would be the KodakSLR/N (~14 Megapixels).

Since you want to print at 16x20" size on a regular basis, you may want to consider downloading a full size image or two from the sample images in reviews -picking sample images with the same subject types you'll be printing. Then, you could have them printed so you'll know what to expect.

Again, resolution charts never tell the whole story, and the dynamic range of the images does look to be outstanding. So, I've got a feeling that they probably would be acceptable at 16"x20" to most viewers (but quality is subjective, and you'll need to make the decision).

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Old Jul 17, 2004, 10:59 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the great info. This helps much!
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Old Jul 18, 2004, 10:40 AM   #6
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uwadave wrote:
... Is 5 meg enough for me to be satisfied with forever ...
Digital cameras are somewhat like computers: whenever you get one, a better one will be on the market before you get the box open. So you are not likely to find a digicam that you will be satisfied with for a long time. As pointed out above, the pixel count isn't the main issue. Things like noise, ISO range, dynamic range, lag time, ... are likely to be more important to you.

To understand the digital issues and to know which are most important to you, I suggest that you get into digital with a fairly cheap camera that you can give to someone for a birthday/Christmas/... present after you have used it for a while. Or dust off one of your chemical cameras and have a few rolls of film put on CD. That is fairly cheap when done at the time of processing, albeit at lowish resolution: ~2Mpixels. After you have figured out how to use a photo editor, you will be much more able to pick a digicam that suits your needs.
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