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Old Sep 7, 2007, 12:01 PM   #1
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On the paper and reviews, the Olympus E-510 is praised by most reviews, seems to offer more functions, proposes great kit lenses, and is much cheaper.

So why don't I see any around ? Most people have Canon or Nikon.

What am I missing ?
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 12:21 PM   #2
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Canon and Nikon have been making a lotof very good cameras and a lot of very good lenses for a very long time, and together hold over 85% of the dSLR market.

Olympus has made a few very good cameras and a few very good lenses on and off over the years. They currently have some good offerings, but hold less than 5% of the market.

With dSLRs, and SLRs in general, history means a lot. People that have money invested in Canon or Nikon lenses are less likely to purchase a dSLR that can't use the lenses they already have. Many people withMinolta lenses are buying Sony dSLRs because they can use the lenses they already have. People with Pentax lenses are buying Pentax dSLRs.

When Olympus introduced their dSLR, it used a new kind of lens mount (Four-Thirds), so Olympus didn't have an installed base.

Some people that are starting from scratch are buying Olympus cameras and lenses, but Olympus is fighting an uphill battle.
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 3:20 PM   #3
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On top of the history aspect Tcav mentioned, it's also an availability aspect. Because of the low market share, brick and mortar stores don't stock and advertize Oly, Pentax and Sony DSLR equipment as much as they do Canon & Nikon. So additional lenses can be tough to get a hold of for people that like to look/feel/buy from an actual person in a physical store rather than over the internet.

Also, as a whole, Nikon and Canon have a more robust system. They offer pro level cameras that majority of photojornalists, sports and willdlife photogs are using and a huge selection of lenses. Because of their market share there is also a larger offering of third-party lenses available. So, some people are swayed by that. And of course - marketing, marketing, marketing - Canon & Nikon have huge marketing engines for their DSLR products. Oly and Pentax not as much. Now, Oly and Pentax are making strides in lens offerings and we've especailly seen a large influx of ANNOUNCED 4/3 lenses so the systems may get up to what Canon/Nikon have. And please don't get me wrong - these systems have some very quality products - the Oly lenses are often BETTER than canon or nikon lenses but you have less choices at different price points and less availability.

In many respects the entry level oly cameras are better then the competition but the factors above that both Tcav and I mentioninfluence buying decisions as well. So it isn't always the BETTER PRODUCT that wins - just like it isn't always the most skilled photographer that makes the most money. It's still a business after all. And often the better BUSINESS wins even if the product isn't as good.
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 4:15 PM   #4
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Nikon and Canon dominated the film SLR market for decades before digital SLRs even were introduced, so they have a good deal of loyalty, a large user base, and alot of lenses and accesories available. And today they remain the only two serious players in the pro market. Olympus was more of a niche player in film, their OM series was popular for it's smaller size and lighter weight (and quality lenses), but they never introduced an autofocus version.

So rather than design digital cameras with sensors the same size as 35mm film, designed to use older 35mm film lenses, Olympus decided to design a new system intended to be optimized for digital. They used a smaller sensor size, which allows for a bit samller and lighter weight camera, and lower costs. The smaller image circle also helps in making high quality lenses at a reasonable cost. Canon and Nikon consumer models use a "crop" sensor which is only about 25% larger than the Olympus models, but they also offer less lenses built specifically for this size.

Overall, this system, introduced in 2003, really only now seems to be coming into it's own. The E1, which intoduced it, was a very nice camera, but also hit sort of a niche market. It wasn't a good choice for some of the biggest areas of the pro market, such as sports shooting, where performance is critical. Moreover, by not introducing a follow up model for four years now (due next month), Olympus has likely lost any small share of the pro market they did gain. The E-300, the first consumer model, had a few fans, but it's follow up, the E-500, was Olympus's only real consumer success until recently. Even so, it had some drawbacks. The sensor used was the same one as the E-300, and it's performance was quickly surpassed by Nikon (Sony) and Canon. But for awhile, the E-500 2 lens kit offered one of the best consumer values for those who didn't need great high ISO performance for low light shooting, or really fast multipoint autofocus.

The next follow on models though were again niche cameras. The E-330 was unique at the time in offereing live view capability and a tilt screen, but was until very recently priced at a premium compared to the competition. The E-400 was only released in Europe.

And, it's taken four years for the lens lineup to really get to the point where it's *near* complete. As far as quality, there's some of the better glass on the market, but if you have any specialized needs, you want to check that what you want is actually available. There's also far less third party lens support than any other mount.

So, what it comes down to, is the cameras just introduced this summer are really the first all around competetive mass market consumer models Olympus has put out in the DSLR market. That said, I think the E-510 is the best camera out there right now for under $1000, and I'm happy with the E-330 I purchased earlier this year at clearance prices.

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Old Sep 7, 2007, 8:25 PM   #5
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philgib wrote:
Quote:
On the paper and reviews, the Olympus E-510 is praised by most reviews, seems to offer more functions, proposes great kit lenses, and is much cheaper.

So why don't I see any around ? Most people have Canon or Nikon.

What am I missing ?
Ken did a great job in his assessment.


I think Olympus make great cameras and I think they make some of the very best lenses dollar for dollar. I wouldn't say they are far cheaper, but I'd say they are competitive in the market. They have been known to have great fire sales when clearing older models from the shelves.

To me, the 4/3 advantage is in both the telephoto end, and as the the focal lengths get very short (wide angle). In the telephoto end, the 2x multiplier means carrying less weight in the field. If you rarely venture far, it may be unimportant, but if you carry the equipment longer distances, it can be a big plus. As the angles become wide, the 4/3 lens mount has plenty of room for the reduced image circle of their telecentric lenses. They do a great job maintaining sharpness from the center through the edge of the image as is desired in landscape photography. Their 7-14 lens is without peer among their competition.

No camera system is best for all situations. The older Olympus cameras suffered from noisy high ISO performance. I would NOT recommend one of these if the primary uses include indoor existing light photography. The newer 410/510 cameras have made great strides in this area, in fact, they may have caught up with the competition. As the competition releases their updated models, I expect they will regain their advantage in the high ISO area once again. For me, Oly's performance isgood enough. For John G,who needs all the shutter speed he can muster shooting indoor sports and under the lights night time games. An extra stop in such circumstances can make the difference between success and failure.

I own the E500, both kit lenses (they are good), the 11-22 f2.8-3.5, the 50 f2 macro, the 50-200 f2.8-3.5, and the EC-14 teleconverter. All this equipment is very nice. The 50 f2 is one of the few lenses I consider to be flawless. The rest has an issue or two, but very good. Over all, I am very satisfied.


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Old Sep 8, 2007, 8:41 PM   #6
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Thx a lot guys, I think I am getting itnow.
Quote:
The newer 410/510 cameras have made great strides in this area, in fact, they may have caught up with the competition. As the competition releases their updated models, I expect they will regain their advantage in the high ISO area once again. For me, Oly's performance isgood enough
Fldspinger please,

Would you ownsome example of sport picture at high ISO with your 50/2 lens ?

Thx a lot

Phil
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Old Sep 8, 2007, 9:43 PM   #7
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philgib wrote:
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Fldspinger please,

Would you ownsome example of sport picture at high ISO with your 50/2 lens ?

Thx a lot

Phil

I don't do high ISO. I guess that's my point. My photography never goes beyond ISO 400 and that's why my Oly suits my needs.

This is more characteristic of my stuff.

ISO 100 137mm f3.5 1/800s (50-200 f2.8-3.5)



I should have also been more specific when I stated I considered the 50 f2 flawless, as I was referring to optically. The 50 is a slow focusing lens, which is a pity. The lens is a gem.

An uncropped frog about 1 inch long.



A 100% crop from the above photo.



In the interest of disclosure, the 50 f2 was coupled to the EC-14 teleconverter for the frogpic.



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Old Sep 8, 2007, 9:49 PM   #8
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Really nice shots Greg! Like those a lot!
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Old Sep 8, 2007, 9:59 PM   #9
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Thanks John.

Comming from you that means alot.

Greg
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Old Sep 8, 2007, 11:11 PM   #10
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Exif shows ISO 100 on the last pic, but this is still impressive fldspringer. Thank you so much for posting these pics.
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