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Old Nov 5, 2006, 11:05 PM   #1
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Howdy:

I'll apologize in advance for butchering the terminology in my explanations, but our photo taking is strictly self-learned and on a hobbyist-only level. We've got a 38mm SLR and an Olympus C-4000 Zoom digital, but we are ready to purchase a dSLR (finally).

Right now, I think we have it narrowed down to the E-500 or the Canon Rebel XTI. Although the XTi has 20% higher resolution possibilities, I have been happy with my current Olympus. I don't necessarily want to jump off of a winning horse; however, the lower resolution, 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the more common 3:2 like the XTi has, and a few other things is making it seem like Olympus is pushing me to buy the XTi! Grrr, Arghhh! Even the fewer focal points in the Olympus sounds like a pain, and this is my main concern with the E-500!

I don't know the proper terminology and if this is standard on the dSLRs are not, but I have a question about focussing with the E-500. We take a lot of images of snakes. They don't make good subjects, so we usually end up "bracketing the heads" with the C-4000 LCD screen, pressing the button HALF way and keeping it depressed so that the camera autofocuses on the snakes head, and then we move the camera so that the snake is centered like we want keeping the button half way depressed. The C-4000 keeps the head in focus this way regardless of where it is in the LCD screen. THEN we depress the button the rest of the way to take the image. The head might be in the bottom right at this point, but it is still in focus.

Does the E-500 work the same way? If it does, the fewer number of focus points won't bother me - I won't need them. If it doesn't work this way, I don't know if this camera will suit my needs.

Thanks for y'all help!
KJ


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Old Nov 5, 2006, 11:34 PM   #2
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Let me say why I turn off all focus points but one on no matter which camera I use...with just the centre point turned on I KNOW where the camera will focus on.

For instance, if I'm shooting a scene at a beach with all focus points turned on, and the girlfriend is at the centre of the scene, and the camera has trouble focusing on her unicolour outfit but instead chooses to focus on the bikini clad nymph off to the side off in the distance, I'd get into a lot of trouble when the girlfriend looks at the image to see her out of focus but the nymph in focus.

As for 4:3 vs. 3:2, it depends on what you use your images for. There is no ratio that can print at every size without cropping. Just pick some of the numbers, 6x8, 4x6, 8x10. Even 35mm film format required cropping at various print sizes. Of course if you are doing mostly web stuff 4:3 is perfect for computer monitors since that's their ratio (unless you get a widescreen monitor, but no format will currently fill that).
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 12:03 AM   #3
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Let me echo the above sentiments.

This whole thing about the focus points is a mystery to me. I simply don't understand the desire to cram more and more focus points into the system and I don't understand why this is seen as an advantage. Three is more than enough for me. I've got enough stuff in my viewfinder without having to manage a half dozen focus points.

As for the aspect ratio...3x2 is more common...so who cares?

Hasselblads are 2 1/4 SQUARE. I have a Bronica ETR that is 6 x4.5 cm (4x3). Sinar makes 4x5 view cameras. Pentax and Mamiya made a 6x7 cameras. The most respected camera makers in the world have been making a variety of aspect ratios for generations. The most common photo print sizes skirt the various aspect ratios. 3x2ARfits a 4x6 paper perfectly. But 8x10 and 11x14 are closer to 4x3AR. 5X7 paper about splits the difference.

That being said, every image I've ever printed has had some minor degree of cropping done anyway. This is a non-issue for me.

Having given my opinion on those subjects, I have to say I'm not entirely sure about the nature of your focus question. I can only state that the E-500 has a large variety of focussing options and after taking about 3000 images, I've lost maybe two a focus problem (one because I used a bad setting for a subject travelling at 200mph and another because it was way too dark to focus).
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 6:36 AM   #4
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Good morning & thanks for the replies! The 4:3 bothers me ONLY because I'm getting the camera to take images of snakes for a book (not full page images, of course). From what I've been told, the publisher likes them in the 3:2 format. Sure, images can be cropped (among other things), but I do like the option of keeping things as simple as possible. I know the simplest thing is to put some "background" around the edges of the snake to give ample room for cropping, etc. That's what I plan to do. Not a real concern, but you do being up some valid points that I appreciate. Thanks.

This isn't my image, but see http://www.cornsnakes.net/images/Pho.../emsotx002.JPG for an example of what I'm trying to describe. The head MUST be in focus for an image like this. Using autofocus with no point in the center, how can this be done with the E-500? I know how to do it, as described aboce, with my point-and-shoot C-4000. Does anyone know if it can be done the same way? If it can, I agree that the extra focal points aren't a benefit. Olympus would be getting my check this week.....lol.

By the way, my wife will do a lot of manual focussing, but my eyes are so off kilter that I have to just trust the darn thing to autofocus. This is more of a requirement for me than her, but she does things pretty much the same way I do them frequently, too.

Most of our stuff involves macro lenses and being REAL close to the subject that moves a lot (baby snakes, etc.), so it is REAL common for the camera to focus just behind the head instead of on the front of the head, etc. That's why we do it as described above. Granted, we just adjust settings to allow more of the snake to be in focus at once, but still.....

Again, thanks for the help. Anyone know if I can use the autofocus in thew E-500 as I described above?
KJ


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Old Nov 6, 2006, 9:31 AM   #5
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Yes, what you described above is using center focus, which the E-500 does.

The only real advantage I see in the multiple focus points on some other cameras is that some of them apparently can track moving subjects, where once you lock on a subject and it moves across the frame it keeps focus locked. I'm not sure how well this works in practice.

It seems as though the E500 is a leader amongst the entry level models in focus accuracy however.

From the photozone user suvey:

http://www.photozone.de/active/survey/dslroutput.jsp

The scores for the Rebel XT, D50, and E500:

CA NK OL
8.5 8.5 8.2 AF Speed - standard
6.3 6.9 6.2 AF Speed - low light
8.2 8.7 9.1 AF accuracy - standard
6.2 7.1 7.2 AF accuracy - low light

I'll add that many of the higher end Nikon and Canon lenses have "USM" (ultra sonic motor). "HSM" (hyper sonic motor) , or "SSW" (super sonic wave motor), a feature not available in Olypus lenses. This apparently does speed up focusing, as well as make it quieter in operation. But again it's something that likely wouldn't be missed much except in situations like shooting quick action or sports.

I'll also add that like Mike and Brent, I like center focus. I also like spot metering for much the same reasons. Which the Rebel XT and XTi lack.

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Old Nov 6, 2006, 9:44 AM   #6
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kenbalbari wrote:
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Yes, what you described above is using center focus, which the E-500 does.
Thanks for ALL of the information. Since it does work that way, sounds like I need to make some calls and get some package prices on the E-500. I wanted the E-330, but nobody locally has one I can try out in person. the reports of the dark (horrible, some say) optical viewfinder have me leary about buying one without trying it out first.

Anyway, time to get calling. THANKS!
KJ
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 10:56 AM   #7
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The E-330 viewfinder is slightly darker because of both the porro mirror arrangement (rather thestandard dach/penta arrangement), and some of the image is split off to the second CCD for live view (using the LCD as a viewfinder, which dSLRs aren't normally designed to do).

Of course with the benefit of live view you can hook the camera up to a monitor and never have to look through the viewfinder.
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 11:27 AM   #8
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if its the rebel xti 400 you are considering
be aware it doesnt have spot metering

do you mean you can plug into a laptop in the field
and use that for viewing the image to be taken Mike?
Riley



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Old Nov 6, 2006, 11:41 AM   #9
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Regarding the E-330 live view, I mean that you can connect a video monitor and use it as the viewfinder. I did this with the C-700 and a battery operated tv/monitor. I don't know if this could also be done via the laptop with the E-330 (as I don't own that camera).
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 1:05 PM   #10
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snakes huh...herpetologists unite!
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