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Old Jul 20, 2011, 9:14 PM   #1
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Default Comparing a Nikon D90 to Oly E-30

Well, I've gone ahead and done it.

I've bought a refurbished Nikon D90 and it arrived from KEH.com today. I bought the body only. I borrowed a friends 70-300mm ED f4-5.6 lens Non VR version so that I could try it out.

Some observations:

First off, I received what was described as a factory refurbished camera. When I opened the box, I was looking at - what looked to be a brand new camera body. Remarkable, no scratches, nicks, no nothing.

I had decided to get it because KEH was advertising it at a really pretty fair price.

What I like;

Af focus is fast. Very fast!! and, it locks onto a moving object very quickly. This while using the 70-300mm 4-5.6. Not exactly the fastest lens on the planet.

Viewfinder is nice significantly larger and brighter than the E-30's.

Grip is very pronounced and falls into my hands nicely.

jpegs are clean, very clean. I shot up to ISO800 today and later this evening. Noise is no problem.

The protective cover over the LCD screen is practical.

What I don't like as of right now.

Body feels very plasticky. It does not seem to be as robust as the E-30. I frankly, very much prefer the feel of the E-30.

Jpegs using the 70-300mm lens are no where near as sharp as I'm used to. But then, I'm not sure that's a fair statement to make right now as I'm using a 12-60mm SWD or a 50-200mm ED lens on the E-30. Based on price, the Oly lenses should be sharper.

There's something to be said of the colors the Olympus cameras have in their OOC jpegs. No doubt, that I'll mess around with settings, post processing workflow, etc. to get what I'm used to seeing. Right now, the OOC jpegs from the D90 are lackluster.


Overall, I'm satisfied with my mini exposure to this camera. I'm not planning on returning it. My reason for buying it was to develop a set up for shooting birds. I've not been happy with the E-30's AF system and couldn't justify, in my mind, buying an E-5 for $1,700. For that, money, I can pick up the D90 + a good long telephoto zoom and end up with a system that, no doubt, has a good AF system-much better than what I have now. And, if Oly should tank, I'm that much farther down the road as far as getting another system.

For now, I'm still going to use the
E-30 for all my shooting save long telephoto shots of birds in flight.

Here are a few from today taken with the D90. Good but nothing startling.







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Old Jul 20, 2011, 9:41 PM   #2
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My daughter uses a D90, I've pushed the trigger on it a couple times and thought at the time, it sure is lighter and feels so different to the E-3, but not something I disliked. It does produce really nice files for her, I know she has a flavor of 50mm @ 1.4 as well as a short zoom.

The display is what I recall as being so much brighter and sharp compared to my E-3.

I believe in comparing, there is always something around that one may like knowing about. Many years ago when I was racing Maico and SACHS MX motorcycles I tried on Yamaha, Suzuki, and Honda just to know....... I continued racing European machines but at the time I knew why I wanted to stay with what I had; a very few years later there wasn't a choice, the Euros were gone.

Possibly the same with cameras about now, (remembering Oldsmobile and Pontiac)
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Old Jul 20, 2011, 10:49 PM   #3
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The e30 is a bit older then the d90, so it is a bit further behind in the tech department. The d90 has a decent AF system and can use all nikon lenses. So it is a good choice and not bad of a deal on a refurb. But for birding the 1.5x vs the 2x might mean bigger and longer lenses down the road.

But with the nikon, you are better off shooting raw instead for messing with the jpeg settings, it will not come close to what the oly does occ. I tried everything on a d90, d7000 and a d300s when I get to play around with them. RAW is the key if you want the rich colors in your photos.
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Old Jul 21, 2011, 7:36 AM   #4
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Hi Bob/Shoturtle,

Thanks for your comments.
I've long ago realized that there is no single camera that is perfect and the answer to everyones needs.

Olympus makes great lenses but, the E-xx series bodies have some quirks to them. Nikon makes great bodies and i'll see how their lenses are over time.

Meanwhile, I see this as just adding another tool to my toolkit. I'm not going away from Olympus anytime soon.

shoturtle,
thanks for the RAW suggestion.

Zig
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Old Jul 21, 2011, 8:19 AM   #5
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Hey, Zig, I'm glad you got what you need for BIF. I know you've been frustrated with your Oly gear for that type of photography.

FWIW, My friend Mannie Garcia, who has a national reputation as a pro tog
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannie_Garcia)
would have told you that if you need to shoot action (he's a war photographer so he knows a little about that) you need rock solid AF and high ISO, and Nikon is the only game in town for that. (His opinion of Canon, like many of my pro tog friends, is unprintable.)

Ted
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Old Jul 21, 2011, 8:32 AM   #6
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Thanks for sharing Zig. Appreciate the comparison from an Oly user.
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Old Jul 21, 2011, 9:57 AM   #7
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Zig,
Congrats on the new camera and the pics are very nice. So you're saying the focus lock is a lot faster on moving objects with the Nikon. I have had issues but related a lot of it to my lack of ability. I've gotten better with practice to lock on but my panning still needs improvement
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Old Jul 21, 2011, 10:32 AM   #8
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Always good to see honest perspective of pros/cons. I think there will always be things Oly did better - wishful thinking to believe Nikon will adapt some of those. But, I also think once you start using some of Nikon's better glass you may feel more positive about sharpness. Still, I suspect you may never feel nikon lenses live up to the Oly standard.

As to focus performance - it's always difficult or impossible for someone to appreciate a better focus system until they use it first-hand. Just think about this though - the d90 still represents nikon's 3rd tier focus system and look how good it is! But it's difficult to appreciate just from viewing photos. You have to use it to appreciate how much easier it makes your job when shooting moving subjects.

Truth be told, if someone handed me a check for $12k I'd switch from my current canon gear to nikon Really like what they're doing vs. the rest of the DSLR world!
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Old Jul 21, 2011, 11:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkurkowski View Post
Hey, Zig, I'm glad you got what you need for BIF. I know you've been frustrated with your Oly gear for that type of photography.

FWIW, My friend Mannie Garcia, who has a national reputation as a pro tog
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannie_Garcia)
would have told you that if you need to shoot action (he's a war photographer so he knows a little about that) you need rock solid AF and high ISO, and Nikon is the only game in town for that. (His opinion of Canon, like many of my pro tog friends, is unprintable.)

Ted
Hi Ted,

I'll be sure to look at the site that you've been kind enough to post.

As for my frustrations, it has more to do with Olympus' decision to pull out of
fourthirds just at a time when they (IMO) were so close to getting many of the things that frustrate us all resolved.

High ISO performance was never on the top of my list as, for the most part, there are work arounds in editing that I can deal with. That, and knowing what to do in key situations. What really had me frustrated- was Oly never really dealing with the AF system foibles.

As for Canon vs Nikon, the photography club I belong to is heavily weighted towards Canon- probably 70%. I'm probably the only guy with an Olympus.
Based on what I've seen, I prefer the Nikon.

But, truth be told, ( and I'm not blowing my own horn here) the images that I bring to the meetings at critique nights stand up very well against the others.

But, I'm not going anywhere soon. I'm still an Oly user and will be for some time.

You guys will have me to kick around here for awhile.
Zig
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Old Jul 21, 2011, 11:35 AM   #10
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Hi Tek/Eric,

Well, so far, I haven't got any hate mail from anyone as yet for going over to the dark side.

I appreciate the fact that you see this simply an attempt to post an honest appraisal. Nothing more or less.

Zig
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