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-   -   Sony alpha 300 or Olympus e-510? (

Blurred_focus01 May 6, 2008 11:57 AM

I have decided to get back into SLR photography after years of point and shoots. The types of pix I take are my kids in sports, family events, and scenery - nature and architecture. After reading about and looking at a lot of DSLRs I decided I wanted at least a 10 mega pixel camera, as well as live view, sensor clean, and in-body image stabilization. (While many say lens stabilization may be better, the type of photography I will do does not justify the cost of these types of lenses - unless someone can convince me otherwise.) I have narrowed my choices down to the Sony alpha 300 and Olympus e-510.

My obvious question is which is better? Which will be a better long-term camera as I am not likely to upgrade soon? Which has a better selection of lenses - OEM and 3rd party? Since I have been out of SLR use for a while, which is easier initially while allowing me the best potential? Also, are those extended warrantees worth it for a DSLR?

I do like the feel of the 510 a little more (lighter than the a300) but I am wary of the 4-3 aspect and its longevity? Will it become obsolete like 8track and beta since it is not the mainstream? Is the 3 focal points a detriment compared to 9? Also, since it has been out for a while, is it due to be replaced soon? I would hate to buy it today for an e610 to come out tomorrow.

Price wise they are both $599 but he e510 has a 2 lens kit.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

JimC May 6, 2008 12:42 PM

My vote would be for the Sony.

The Sony has a faster 9 point Autofocus System, and from tests and images I've seen, the Sony has much better dynamic range (ability to capture a greater range of light to dark), as well as a better signal to noise ratio as ISO speeds are increased (with higher available ISO speeds).

But, I shoot with a Sony A700 now, so I'm probably going to be biased that way. An Olympus shooter may have a different perspective. ;-) Different users are going to value different things in a camera.

The Sony dSLR models can also use any Minolta Autofocus Lens ever made (and you'll find lots of lenses in Minolta AF mount from Minolta, Tamron, Sigma and others if you look at vendors of used gear like, and; as well as a wide variety of new lenses from Sony and third party manufacturers (and they'd all be stabilized on a Sony dSLR).

JohnG May 6, 2008 1:41 PM

Blurred_focus01 wrote:

The types of pix I take are my kids in sports, family events, and scenery - nature and architecture.
Let's look at each of these:

Sports: lots of aspects contribute to success here. But a lot depends on what sports you want to shoot. AF ability of the camera is always going to be in play. The edge there goes to Sony. But you also need the right lens for the job (and there is no single lens). Without the right lens, sports photos will be poor no matter what camera you're using. Slight edge to Sony in this regard - more lens availability than Oly, but availability of NEW (i.e. no used but new) lenses is still an issue with Sony and their higher end lenses tend to get very pricy. Even with the right lens you're often shooting at high ISOs so ISO 1600 and above performance is important. Again, the edge goes to Sony here. If this is going to be a big part of your photography realize this is the area that could really jack up the price on you in a hurry. And you should also realize some things may not be possible - i.e. no matter what gear you have if you want to be able to take shots of your son's HS varsity football games while sitting in the stands I'll tell you its not possible to get many good shots that way - you're just too far away in poor lighting to get good shots.

famil events: A critical success factor here is a good external flash. I honestly dont know which system has better flash sytem so I can't say which has the edge. My only point is you should budget for an external flash. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on whether one system has an edge over the other in external flash capability.

scenery - nature and architecture: well, you're very often at the wide end of things for these types of shots. I think you'd want at least 26mm equivelent at the wide end if not wider. So, the question becomes what lenses are available in each system with that width (both will accomodate length for tight shots of architecture, I'd be more worried about the wide end). Especially with architecture, distortion can really be an issue. Depending on how demanding you are I'm not sure either kit lens would be ideal for that type of work.

spudman May 6, 2008 8:55 PM

Here are some reviews for the e-510

The a300 doesn't have as many since it is brand-new.

This may not be much help, but I just purchased a SONY a300 today. I liked how it felt compared to the e-510. Everyone is different though. From what I know the autofocus in Olympus's live view is not as fast as compared to the a300's live view, but once again I liked the feel of the Sony.

Good luck.

P.S. (trusted site) has some specials on Sony right now. Up to 200$ off.

mtngal May 6, 2008 10:25 PM

To add on to something that John brought up - the two cameras have different sized sensors, with the Oly being smaller. That means that field of view you would get with the same lens would be different. Lenses for SLR cameras are expressed as mm. A 24mm lens on a 35mm film camera would give you a particular field of view. The Sony's sensor is smaller than a piece of 35mm film, so the same lens on it would give you a field of view of 1.5X 24mm - or the same field of view as a 36mm lens on a film 35mm SLR camera. That same lens on an Oly would be 2X 24mm, or 48mm. That works to your advantage when shooting wildlife because the lens appears "longer" than it actually is.

On the other hand, it works against you for architecture, where wider is better. It means that the wider Oly kit lens (14mm - 42mm) is like a 28mm - 84mm lens. The Sony's kit lens is 18-70, or like a 27-105 (about the same as far as wide angle). It's harder to go wider with the Oly - the Sigma 10-20 is $499 (B&H price), thesamefield of view as a20-40mm lens on a film SLR, while that same lens on the Sony (same price) would be like a 15 - 30, significantly wider. When I looked at B&H, the only lens I saw that would give you something similar was the Oly 7-14, equivalent to a 14 - 28, priced at $1,595.

If architecture and wide angle isn't that high on your list of priorities, then this difference might not be important.

kgh1959 May 7, 2008 8:11 PM

I too was considering the same models of cameras, I had all but purchased the Olympus when I received a flyer in the mai from Sony advertising their new models. After doing some further research I decided that the A300 may be a better choice and with the deals Sony has going on for Mothers Day (until May 10th), I purchased the A300K, Hvl-F42AM Flash, SAL-75300 Zoom Lens, and Case, for just a little more then the Olympus. Everything I have read gives the Sony a slight advantage over the Olympus, but since I am just getting into the dslr camera's I can't really give any advice. If your in the market and like the Sony the sale is over on the 10th of may, I was able to save $380.00 on my purchases.

TCav May 8, 2008 6:27 AM

Lenses for both the Sony and the Olympus can be very expensive (compared to what's available for other brands), but the Sony has a better selection (OEM, third party, and used) than the Olympus. If you would consider the Pentax K200D, which also meets the criteria you mentioned, it's selection of lenses is smaller than the Sony's, but larger than the Olympus', and while it doesn't have as many longer lenses as the Sony, it does have more shorter lenses, some of them are very good, and they are less expensive than the equivalent Sony lenses.

But you should give significant weight to your perception of how the camera feels to you. If you can't comfortably hold the camera, if you can't quickly locate the controls and command, you will miss some once-in-a-lifetime shots.

And I think an extended warranty on a dSLR is not a good idea.

Blurred_focus01 May 9, 2008 7:36 AM

Thanks for all the advice. I bought the Sony a300 from a local store for the same amount as the e-stores ($599). I also bought a 4GB 200x CF card ($69) and Lowepro A100 sling bag ($69). What really suprised me was that the CF card and bag were less in the store than on-line by $10-15 each. I did find some CF cards for less but there were off brands from e-stores that were not rated very high. I also bought it from the local store because they include a dSLR training class, reduced costs advance classes, and free photos for a year.
I did not buy the extended warranty but I am tempted because it covers everything, to include some cleanings, plus a complete replacement within 3 years if the camera is destroyed.
I did not buy an additional lens but I want to and need to. I need a telephoto and I was wondering if these 70-300 lenses are worth it or is that too big a range for the focal length? I found a Tamron 70-300 for $159 and I was wondering is this good or am I better off with the Sony 70-300 for $229? I was also looking at and they have some used (e.g., Minolta AF 70-210 'beercan') and some 3rd party (e.g., Tokina). Any opinions on which lens?
Also, while I don't need it know, I was thinking of getting flash. Is there a big difference or advantage between the 36, 42 and 56? I have no clue what they are referring to in the tech specs on these. Has anyone ever bought anything from nvwdirect? They have the flash for a lot less and their rating on resellerrating is not bad?
Looking forward to becoming active on here now that I have a nice camera.

JimC May 9, 2008 7:57 AM

Blurred_focus01 wrote:

I did not buy an additional lens but I want to and need to. I need a telephoto and I was wondering if these 70-300 lenses are worth it or is that too big a range for the focal length? I found a Tamron 70-300 for $159 and I was wondering is this good or am I better off with the Sony 70-300 for $229? I was also looking at and they have some used (e.g., Minolta AF 70-210 'beercan') and some 3rd party (e.g., Tokina). Any opinions on which lens?

The Sony 70-300mm and Tamron 70-300mm you're looking at have relatively mediocre optical quality, especially on their longer end where they tend to get a bit softer. CA Chromatic Abberations) can also be a problem with these lenses, causing purple fringing at high contrast edges. That's going to be a common problem with most budget lenses like that, regardless of manufacturer. But, you may find the optical quality to be fine for what you want to shoot (especially if stopping down the aperture a bit from wide open in good light), depending on desired viewing/print sizes.

A higher quality lens that's readily available at vendors like is the Minolta 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Macro. Make sure to get an APO version of this lens (the non-APO versions are cheap for a reason). The APO versions of it sell for around $300 in Excellent Condition with hood and caps (a bit less for non-D versions, and a bit more for the latest D version, which gives information on focus distance to the camera for flash exposure purposes).

For lens questions, I'd start a new thread in our Konica Minolta / Sony Alpha dSLR Forum, and let members know what kind of photos you want to take with a zoom, as well as the conditions you plan on using one in (for example, daytime in bright light is one thing, and night sports under the lights is something else entirely, requiring much brighter lenses than the ones you're looking at).

TCav May 9, 2008 8:39 AM


And to supplement what JimC said, the cheaper third party 70-300 lenses aren't very good, though the Sony/Minolta, Sigma 'APO' and Tamron 'Di LD' versions are better. As far as used lenses goes, the 100-300 APO that JimC mentioned, and the Beercan are very good.The Beercan is faster at f/4.0, but shorter at 210mm.

And, yes, we have ventured outside the What Camera Should I Buy? forum.

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