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Old Dec 3, 2006, 7:06 AM   #1
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Hello,

new member here from up north. I want to get a dSLR but would need your help choosing between those mentioned above. Just so you know, I've read pretty much all I could about budget dSLR, including forum posts by users. I went to the local camera store to get a feel of the cameras as well. Now here is my dilema : I have roughly 1000$CA to spend. I didn't like the feel of the canon, the nikons are too expensive for my budget. That leaves me with the 2 following choices :

Olympus E-500
pros
-biased towards oly (OM user)
-8mp
-dust management
-pretty good kit lenses
cons
-expensive lenses
-nightmare viewfinder (small, hard to focus manual lenses)

Pentax K100D
pros
-better autofocus
-much better viewfinder (not the best but much larger than oly, info on bottom and without tunnel effect)
-pretty good kit lenses also
-SR
-build quality seems better (may be related to weight though...)
-fairly affordable lenses (many used manual focus, new also not too bad)
cons
-no dust management
-"only" 6mp
-no easy menu nav (like main info screen on oly to change settings)


Obviously, these are biased to my preferences and based on reviews and my handling of the cameras in the store. Also, you should note that in both cases I am interested in the dual lens kit (oly with 14-45mm and 40-150mm lenses, pentax with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses), which are priced about 50$ apart here in Canada.

I mostly like taking pictures of people, landscape, cars and I wanted to try macro as well. Flash options and control is important as well. I'm not really interested in sports or nature photography so I'm not too concerned about the lack of options on the tele side for both systems.

Any comments, comparisons, suggestions or corrections are welcome and would be much appreciated as I can't make up my mind (I am thinking about this for a month now!)

Thanks for reading through this long post,
Mathieu
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Old Dec 3, 2006, 9:19 AM   #2
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Mathieu-

I hapen to own and use both cameras, so perhaps I can give you some good insights. I hope so at any rate. The biggest difference, at least to me,between the E-500 and the K100D is the IS feature. The Pentax K100d has IS (in this case, referred to by Pentax as "Shake Reduction) whereas the E-500 does not. Because the IS feature is built around the CMOS imager, you will have the IS feature available on any lens used on the camera. Considering how expensive Nikon and Canon IS equiped lens are, that is a real advantage.I do a lot of low light level shooting, handheld,at slow shutter speeds, so the IS or SR feature is an important one for me.

Secondly, the Olympus E-500 has 8mp versus the 6mp found in the Pentax 100d. For me, the difference between an 8mp image and a 6mp image is not very much at all, because I attempt to do all my cropping in the viewfinder, when I take the photo. As a result, during post processing, the cropping I actually do is minimal.

Because the cameras being considered are indeed DSLR cameras, it is only logical that we should also consider the cost of additional lenses. This is an area where the Pentax K100d shines brightly. The Pentax can use an lens ever designed for any Pentax SLR or DSLR camera. Of course, when using the M42 screw mount lenses, you will have to use an adapter (cost approximately $15 US) and not every single lens will auto focus and have auto aperture, based on their age. This gives the users access to a wide variety of lenses, many of which can be purchased on the used market at bargain prices.

In contrast, while the lenses available for the E-500 are mostly Olympus manufactured lenses, they are, for the most part, veryhigh quality lenses, but also measurablyhigher priced lenses as well. We have seen in the last year, to a year and a half, that famous third party lens makers such as Sigma and Tamron, and I believe Tokina as well (but I am not absolutely certain about Tokina) are begining to produce lenses in the 4/3 mount for Olympus DSLR cameras. However,the selection offeredis indeed small.

The final factor to be considered, once again in my view, tempered by my shooting patterns, is how do these two cameras do in low light level shooting conditions?To be perfectly honest, the Pentax K100d is average and will show some noise in images taken at higher ISO settings. However, theOlympus E-500 has measurable difficulty with noise when used atISO settings in excess of 400.

Now if you are doing mostly outdoor, family, and nature shots this becomes an area that does not concern you a whole lot. However, I do a lot of low light level shooting because I specialize in stage and theater photography. So, the low light level issue for me is probably much more important.

When I add all of the factors noted above, into the choice equation, at least for my kind of camera usage, the Pentax K100d clearly becomes my choice. However, our shooting styles might indeed be very different. So what works for me might, not necessarily work for you, Mathiew.I hope this has helped.

MT/Sarah
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Old Dec 3, 2006, 9:57 AM   #3
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Mathieu -

Welcome to the forum!

I had a nice long reply ready to go but when I clicked on "preview", I lost it! Oh well...

Here are some of my main points -

- I've owned an E-500 since October, 2005, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I've owned film SLRs so I was reasonably familiar with SLR operation but I found "RTFM" (read the friggin' manual) was a must.

- Kit lenses are an exceptional value. The 40 - 150 mm (80 - 300 mm in 35 mm speak) is outstanding for the price. And the 14 - 45 mm (28 - 90 mm) is excellent, although many eventually move over to the 14 - 54 mm (nearly legendary in Oly circules.) All the Oly DSLR lenses were designed from the ground up for digital cameras. And with other manufacturers finally jumping on board the 4/3 format, this should improve lens selection. In the long run, I'll probably only have three lenses for my E-500 (I plan to keep it a while!) - the 11 - 22 (22 - 44 mm), the 14 - 54 mm (28 - 108 mm), and the 40 - 150 mm (80 - 300 mm). The 14 - 54 mm has superb macro capabilities, almost as good as a true macro lens.

- The "Dust Buster" works! Don't know about the other newer entries in this area but I never worry about dust when changing lenses "out in field."

- The view finder is not a problem for me. Yes, it could be bigger but I don't find it a problem (and I wear glasses.) I normally use the info screen on the back along with the various hot buttons to make adjustments.

- Oly colors are excellent - deep (well saturated).

- Ergonomics are superb. I tried my sister's Canon D-Rebel last fall at a family wedding and did not like it at all. (Plus I took better pictures!) The E-500 fits my hands just right. Weight is nice too. Reasonably light so that my wrist isnot too tired at the end of a long walk taking pictures.

Either camera will take solid pictures. Take your time to learn the camera and you'll be well rewarded with fine pictures.

Paul in Virginia
Olympus E- 500 C- 730
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stoney_g/sets

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Old Dec 3, 2006, 5:25 PM   #4
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Thank you Sarah and Paul for taking the time to read and answer my questions. However I have a few more questions for Sarah (as you own both).

How would you compare the 2 cameras's viewfinders in use? Do you find dust to be a problem at all with the pentax? Did you have a chance to use manual lenses with both cameras? If so, how would you rate ease of focusing and general compatibility? And last one, I use the flash a lot (I would buy a 'real' flash). Which of the 2 you find more reliable as for flash exposures?

Thank you again,

Mathieu
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Old Dec 3, 2006, 6:28 PM   #5
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Mathieu-

On the Pentax K100d, I have had no viewfinder problems at all. Manual focusing with older lenses is quite easy. I use the Sigma EF 500 DG ST (PA-PTTL) Flash.

MT/Sarah
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Old Dec 3, 2006, 10:07 PM   #6
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I wouldn't worry about dust, or make whether a camera has it or not a deal breaker. Dust is inevitable, and even cameras with dust removal (which is a bit of a misnomer, as the dust remains in the body) will eventually need cleaning. Sensor cleaning is not difficult, and by being careful during lens changes will not need to be done all that often.
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Old Dec 3, 2006, 11:41 PM   #7
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I have the K100D and don't find dust to be much of an issue. The menu system takes getting used to (falls under the category of "read the manual"). I went from a Sony F717 to the Pentax DS and didn't have much problem (other than having to read the manual several times).

As far as Pentax goes (I have the K100D), true manual lenses work quite well - today I enjoyed taking pictures at the LA Auto Show with a 24mm 2.8 lens bought new in 1980. It is a manual lens - set the aperture on the ring and focus manually. With SR I didn't worry about not using a flash. I wear glasses and contacts, and I'm old enough to need bifocals and don't usually have a problem. If its windy, I'm wearing contacts and my eyes are watering I can always trust the camera - it beeps at you when it thinks things are in focus.

Your question about manual lenses and the Oly brought up a question of mine - as I understand the Oly system, the lenses have been designed for the digital camera, not for previous film cameras (I don't have one and don't know that much about the system). Are any of them true manual lenses, or are they auto focus/auto exposure lenses that allow for manual focusing? Not that it makes any difference or would be a discriminating factor, just wondering.
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Old Dec 4, 2006, 3:00 PM   #8
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mtngal,

for oly and manual lenses : they sell adapters to be able to use almost any manufacturers manual lenses on the 4/3 system. Since I've been an olympus OM user for some time, I do have a few (not enough to keep me from changing brand) manual lenses I could use with the camera. That's the reason why I was wondering about manual focus and the e-500.
I believe all the new ZD lenses are autofocus but can be focused manualy.

Mathieu
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Old Dec 4, 2006, 4:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for the information - I wondered about that. Having a number of lenses on hand that you can use is a very compelling reason to buy a camera. I think viewfinders are individual things - I'd go to a camera store and try to manually focus something.
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Old Dec 4, 2006, 9:10 PM   #10
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Also Mathieu-

Please keep in mind that when you use an adapter, everything becomes manual. Are you ready for that?

MT/Sarah
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