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Old Nov 1, 2008, 7:48 AM   #1
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Based on Steve's reviews I decided to buy my last two Olympus cameras, the latter being my Olympus E-500 twin lens outfit. On the whole I've been pleased with this camera but I now want to upgrade. Unfortunately I do suffer from brand loyalty but I'm currently taking more time to decide on a camera upgrade than I would when buying a car!

My shortlist is Olympus E-520, Canon D450 (UK)/Rebel XSi or a Sony A350. All are in my budget range. Rightly or wrongly I feel that the consumerNikons offer less "bang for buck" compared with other brands. If money were no object I know I would buy a top flight Nikonjust for the kudos of owning one.A bit like owning a very expensive Rollex watch. Please shoot me down in flames if you don't agree with this butit will just serve to add to my problem because I don't consider myselftoo much of abrand snob.

I desperately want to love the E-520, I have FL20 and FL36 flash units and lens filters so that is the sensible, least expensiveroute. But I have the nagging doubt that the E-520 isn't quite in the same league as my other two options. This doubt revolves around the 4/3 system with its smaller sensor leading to high ISO noise erc etc.. If I were to choose the Canon or Sony I would have to sell all my Olympus kit to replace it with like items from the other two manufacturers. However I am prepared to do this if by purchasing the Canon or Sony (or Nikon) I am going to be purchasing a significantly better camera.

I'm not a professional photographer and I'm not blowing my pictures up to A3 buta camera; both film SLR and digital point and shoot,have beenclose companions for the past 30 years so I'm not a novice snappereither.
I just want a camera that will reproduce the scenes and subjects I'm photographing faithfully and consistently.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this post and for any advice.
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Old Nov 1, 2008, 8:42 AM   #2
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The filters can be used with any dSLR, but $500 in flashes is a reason to stick with a brand. (You didn't mention any lenses you might have, but that might be another good reason.)

All three of your choices are stabilized dSLRs (Olympus and Sony via the body, Canon via the kit lens) with 'Live View'. I think the differences are resolution (the Olympus is 10MP, the Canon is 12MP, and the Sony is 14MP), high ISO performance (Olympus is worst, Sony is better, and Canon is best) and autofocus performance (again, Olympus is worst, Sony is better, and Canon is best.)

If you won't be shooting moving subjects or in low light, and 10MP is enough, then the Olympus is a good choice.

If you don't mind image stabilization in the lens instead of the body, the Canon is a great camera. But optical image stabilization makes lenses bigger, heavier, and more expensive. If you plan to have mulitple lenses, optical image stabilization can run into some serious change.

But that is not to say that sensor shift image stabilization is less expensive. Olympus' and Sony's lenses can be pricey. But Sony has an edge here. Sony dSLRs can use the many used lenses made for Minolta film and digital SLRs, and they will all be stabilized. Since the 4/3 mount is new, Olympus doesn't have a large selection of used lenses. And while there is a large selection of used lenses for Canon dSLRs, very few are stabilized.

So, as always, Ithink it comes down to what you want to shoot. And how the cameras feel to you.

BTW, what is it about your E-500 that makes you want to upgrade?
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Old Nov 1, 2008, 10:18 AM   #3
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Every manufacturer has pros/cons.

The biggest drawbacks to Oly cameras are:

1. Less dynamic range compared to others

2. More noise at high ISOs (which by the way aflicts all the sony cameras except the 700 as well)

3. Less affective focus tracking than competition and less accurate in low light (without focus assist).

4. Greater depth-of-field at similar Field of View (realize though this is relative and only impacts certain styles of shots)

5. Less lens options - not as many as other brands BUT enough to cover all the bases and the Oly lenses are some of the best in the business so quality is there.

The only reason to worry about the above is if you really take a lot of photos where the above limitations come into play. For certain every other manufacturer has their downsides. I would only recommend a switch to another system if you're photography is adversely affected by the above. For instance sports shooting (focus / high ISO)or wedding work / large scale landscape (dynamic range). Switching to another system is expensive. And you'll find the kit lenses from the other systems aren't as good as the Oly lenses - you can get high quality lenses but you'll have to pay more.

What do you shoot? That will help determine if another system is significantly better for that style of shooting.
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Old Nov 1, 2008, 1:58 PM   #4
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It sure if a fun problem to decide which DSLR to buy!

You've narrowed your choices to two excellent cams in my mind, the Canon E520 and the Rebel XSi.

However, your choice should be made easier by realizing these are two different cameras aimed at two different types of buyers (at least in my mind).

I consider the Rebel XSi a very high end serious amateur camera, and to some extent the price reflects it. Ideally you'd look at this cam if you want great image quality and responsiveness. The price of the XSi is at the high end of the budget DSRL offerings, but it's really head and shoulders above the budget crowd.

The E420 and E520 are nice budget offerings. If you want a very serviceable camera for the amateur at a great price, these two models are right on. The 420 is also much smaller than the XSi so they won't weigh down your neck when your traveling and taking a day's worth of photos. Plus, Olympus has a great 25mm pancake lens for this camera which is VERY cool.

The noise supression isn't class leading on the Olympus, but they are pretty good. I think JohnG is right in saying the dynamic range isn't quite as good as the XSi.

If you can re-use your existing Olympus lenses, or buy the 420 or the 520 with the two lens kit, it's a great deal.

So it really comes down to how much you want to pay, how serious an amateur you are, how good you want your photos to look, and size/weight considerations.

Personally I wouldn't feel bad wanting either of these cams. I'd be pretty happy buying either of them for different reasons.

There's a tendency to overbuy when one doesn't feel confident in their selection. To be honest, you could look at the E420 in a two lens kit, add the 25mm pancake and you have a budget amateur heckuva setup.

Or you could buy the XSi with the kit lens, add one or more lenses and a flash later and be into the sport for $1,000 US and have a high-end amateur to semi-pro setup.

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