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Old Aug 4, 2008, 6:45 PM   #21
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For your stated purpose (wildlife and birds) the best thing to do is to go into an actual store and handle the models. People have already mentioned the importance of size/weight as you carry those around.

But just as important is how the camera feels in your hand. A lot of good wildlife photography is related to how quickly you can adjust to a shot. Go to a store and see which camera feels easier to handle and alter settings.
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Old Aug 4, 2008, 7:10 PM   #22
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I don't doubt that a DSLR with a "Bigma" lens would do very well at bird watching and wildlife shots. The Bigma costs about a thousand bucks. An entry level DSLR with kit lens will cost you between $500 and $800. However, if you use an Olympus SP-570 or Panasonic FZ-18 in good light (ISO 200 or under), you can take some darn good shots.There is an FZ-28 coming out soon, so that might be worth considering, too. The SP-570 is just under $400 online and the FZ-18 can be gotten for less than $300 online.

Last Thanksgiving, I went to a party at my brother's house. As the sun was sinking in the partly cloudy sky, someone spotted an owl in a tree about 100 yards away, 50 to 80 feet up. The lighting was not ideal. A relative had a Nikon D50 with a 55 - 200MM zoom lens. He couldn't zoom in enough to get a good picture. Also, he had a hard time holding the camera still enough to avoid blurriness. I used my Olympus SP-560 at full zoom (486mm equivalent) and at ISO 800 to get several decent shots. I think you could make good 5" X 7" and ok 8" X 10" prints from them.

If the OP decides that a DSLR with zoom lens is the way he wants to go, great. If he wants to experiment with one of the better bridge cameras first, that would seem to me to be a reasonable option, too.
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Old Aug 4, 2008, 8:30 PM   #23
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I do have a specific question about the Olympus E510.

Please forgive me if I do not use the correct technical terminology.I have been told that the image sensor (??) for Olympus is much smaller than Sony and Pentax. Is that something I should consider or worry about?

What has been your experience along those lines?

Is this just 'sales talk' from a Nikon/Canon salesperson?



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Old Aug 4, 2008, 8:36 PM   #24
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bp-

As a digital camera instructor who owns Olympus as well as all the other major brand names in the DSLR field to conduct DSLR seminars, no the somewhat smaller size of the Oly imager in not a big deal. The smaller sized imager makes for a 2.0 multiplier, which equates to small physical sized lenses and camera.

IMHO it is actually an advantage. But as robbo, the last poster mentioned, good ultra-zooms can also give you a great long range lens with even less weight and bulk. Getting the photo easily and conveniently is really the equation that appeals to me.

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Old Aug 4, 2008, 10:17 PM   #25
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mtclimber is correct.

The easy way to get all the different cameras on an equal footing is to refer to everything as a '35mm equivalent focal length'. A 35mm film exposure is 36x24mm. Most dSLRs, including all the ones we've talked about here,have image sensors that are smaller than that. Sony, Pentax and Nikon all use image sensors that are about 2/3 that size. That means that a lens on a 35mm film SLR would create a larger imagethan if it were on adSLR. As an example, a 100mm lens on a Sony, Pentax or Nikon dSLRwould havethe same angle of view as a 150mm lens on a 35mm film camera. So a 100mm lens would have a '35mm equivalent focal length' of 150mm. Thus, they are said to have a crop factor of 1.5.

Canon uses image sensors that are slightly smaller, so a 100mm lens would have a '35mm equivalent focal length' of 160mm. Thus, they are said to have a crop factor of 1.6.

Olympus uses image sensors that are the smallest of all the dSLRs we've discussed.A 100mm lens on an Olympus dSLRwould have a '35mm equivalent focal length' of 200mm. Thus, they are said to have a crop factor of 2.0.

Because of the smaller image sensor in the Olympus dSLRs, the bodies are smaller and lighter, and because of the crop factor, the lenses are smaller and lighter for the same '35mm equivalent focal length'.

But that's not the extent of the issue. Because Olympus uses a smaller image sensor to capture images with the same resolution, they are slightly more likely to introduce noise into the image, but only when the sensitivity of the image sensor is increased to near its limit. The sensitivity of the image sensor is referred to as the ISO setting, and is a component of what makes a proper exposure. The others are shutter speed and aperture, and you can usually use those settings to keep from using an ISO setting that is so high that it may create noise.
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Old Aug 4, 2008, 10:40 PM   #26
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TCav-

In all honesty, I usually really applaud your posts. However, I sincerely believe that you have made an error this time. The Ace of Spades advantage to Olympus, in my mind, has always been the higher quality, in general, of Olympus lenses that have more than made up for their only marginally smaller digital imagers.

Olympus DSLR cameras should NOT be discounted due to their somewhat smaller imager size. They remain very creditable DSLR cameras.

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Old Aug 5, 2008, 12:28 AM   #27
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Take a look at the sample pictures from all three cameras. As TCav pointed out (and I mentioned it too) at higher ISO levels, the Oly has more noise - or at least that's what I thought looking at them (while the Pentax and Sony are very similar to my eyes). That's something that might or might not be important to you, since you are interested in wildlife.

I know a number of wildlife/birders who routinely shoot using higher ISO settings so they can use faster shutter speeds (to freeze the action of birds in flight). I prefer tokeep my ISO levels low

but then I don't dovery much birding (why is it the birds are always on the other side ofa tree's trunk from me?!). Also take a look at what users are posting on the Oly board. There's noise reduction software so by looking at what others are posting, you'd get an idea not only of what the camera is capable of, but also how you might be able to improve the picture.

As TCav mentioned, exposure depends on a number of factors and ISO is only one of them. The aperture is also important and the "faster" the lens, the more expensive it will be.When youstart talking about exposure, there's a number of other things that come into play buttogo into that type of detail would require writing a book (and many have been written on this very topic).

By the way,Sigma makes the 50-500 to fit the Oly, too. That would be a 35mm equivalent of a 100-1000 lens (yes, the lens is around $1,000 and it weighs something like 6 lbs, not counting the camera. Not a lens that would appeal to everyone).

An outdoors shooter shouldn'tautomatically rule out the Oly based solely on the noise level at high ISO, but it is something that one should research carefully before buying. Just like lens availability and cost, weather sealing, etc.
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Old Aug 5, 2008, 1:01 AM   #28
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Harriet and TCav-

Whoa-wait a minute, please! The OP was talking about taking outdoor photos of wild animals. That means good outdoor light. Therefore high ISO capabilities are not a requirement.

But then, perhaps I have missed something?? Have I??

Sarah Joyce

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Old Aug 5, 2008, 3:37 AM   #29
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mtclimber wrote:
Quote:
TCav-

In all honesty, I usually really applaud your posts. However, I sincerely believe that you have made an error this time. The Ace of Spades advantage to Olympus, in my mind, has always been the higher quality, in general, of Olympus lenses that have more than made up for their only marginally smaller digital imagers.

Olympus DSLR cameras should NOT be discounted due to their somewhat smaller imager size. They remain very creditable DSLR cameras.

Sarah Joyce
Absolutely.

But they reportedly have more of a problem with noise at high ISO settings that other dSLRs.
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Old Aug 5, 2008, 3:42 AM   #30
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mtclimber wrote:
Quote:
Harriet and TCav-

Whoa-wait a minute, please! The OP was talking about taking outdoor photos of wild animals. That means good outdoor light. Therefore high ISO capabilities are not a requirement.

But then, perhaps I have missed something?? Have I??

Sarah Joyce
Absolutely.

And the OP may never happen upon that situation. But it does need to be said, much like the selection of lenses for Olympus dSLRs is smaller than for other brands. But if the OP can get what he wants from the lenses he's prepared to pay for then the selection of lenses doesn't matter. And neither does the slightly increased noise at higher ISO, if he is prepared not to venture too far on the ISO scale.

We're just letting him know ahead of time.
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