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Old Nov 2, 2005, 10:57 AM   #1
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Is it any good?

OK so I have been looking into upgrading my camera to a digital SLR (currently using a Fuji S602 Zoom). I was interested in the E-300 but something was telling me to stay away... however after reading the E-500 first look it seems pretty cool - what do others think? The issue with the lenses makes me think a little - nobody can seem to explain to me if these four thirds lenses are any good or not?

Thanks, Dom
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 11:20 AM   #2
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Yes, the four-thirds system and lens are excellent. Designed from the ground up for digital. It is actually developed by a consortium of Olympus, Kodak, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Sanyo, & Sigma. Olympus was the first to market; Panasonic has been working with Olympus on a Panasonic dSLR; should be outby early 2007. Their 4/3 lens will be interchangeable with the Oly 4/3. In fact all four thirds lenswill work on any brand 4/3 system camera. The new E-500 is an excellent value, especially with the 2 lens kit. 4/3 owners have been very satisfied with their choice.
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 4:23 PM   #3
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Hi,

Thanks for the reply. One question - from the specs I noticed that the focal multiplier (is that the right terminology?) is 2x and I thought that I should be aiming towards 1x (i.e. as close to real numbers as possible). Is this a problem?

Thanks,

Dom
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 4:46 PM   #4
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Hi DomCotton: The 2x conversion was a design consideration. The digital lens were designedfor full coverage of thedigital sensor. Since the 4/3 sensoris smaller physically than the 35mm film frame, the conversion factor is what you use to equate it to what you used to use with 35 mm film lens.i.e a 14mmdigital 4/3 gives the same wide angle view as a 35mm camera with a 28mm lens. For example the 40 - 150 lens gives the same coverage as a 80-300mm lens on your 35mm camera.

If you get the E-500 with the 2 lens kit package, you get the 14-45 lens and the 40-150 lens. This is the same as a 28-90mm and a 80-300mm 35mm camera lens.
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 6:10 PM   #5
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I just got a hold of one of these bad boys a couple days ago. Everyone who's seen it here loves it! I think everyone prefers it over the 20D! It's relatively small and has a good feel. The telephoto lens is pretty nice (300mm) and the wideangle is great for closer subjects.

I hear/read it doesn't do so well (for a dSLR) above ISO400. I haven't done any testing with it, but the 1600 setting (it's highest) didn't impress me. But, I don't have much to compare to other than the 20D, which I've used a little bit as well.

Some of the camera's on my desk :-):-):-)


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Old Nov 2, 2005, 6:28 PM   #6
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Definitely the 2x is a negative factor.

It means that you will lose the ability to shoot wide angle without undo cost (if you want to shoot wider than 28mm kit lens).

Olympuslenses are expensive (although very good quality) in comparison to others.

Finally, once you buy into the Olympus system, if you ever decided to upgradeto, lets say, a Nikon or Canon as your next camera, your investment in Olympus lenses would be somewhat wasted.

Other than that, if you really like the camera, then by all means go for it.

-- Terry



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Old Nov 2, 2005, 6:32 PM   #7
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i agree with terry here...

i can't believe they went with such a small sensor.. for the lens reasons terry mentioned as well as the noise at higher ISO's..

but if you don't need super-wide angle, nor do you think you will need to use ISO's over 400, then it seems to be a well built and well featured camera...

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Old Nov 3, 2005, 2:22 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the posts guys.

Regarding the comment about investing into lenses for olympus only - I read that panasonic and others are bringing 4/3 cameras on to the market and the lenses are going to be universal (they will probably require some mount adaptor but hey who doesn't?).

The point from Dustin about the high iso's - my current camera can use up to 1600 and to be honest the highest I have ever used is 400. This has always been adequate for me and I have never hit any restrictions as yet - this is not to say that i won't in the future but as I am still an amateur this seems like a good buy to start with - especially the price for two lenses (which would probably be enough for me at the moment!).

Thanks again guys,

Dom
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Old Nov 3, 2005, 4:56 AM   #9
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DomCotton wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for all the posts guys.

Regarding the comment about investing into lenses for olympus only - I read that panasonic and others are bringing 4/3 cameras on to the market and the lenses are going to be universal (they will probably require some mount adaptor but hey who doesn't?).

The point from Dustin about the high iso's - my current camera can use up to 1600 and to be honest the highest I have ever used is 400. This has always been adequate for me and I have never hit any restrictions as yet - this is not to say that i won't in the future but as I am still an amateur this seems like a good buy to start with - especially the price for two lenses (which would probably be enough for me at the moment!).
I'm certainly not a sensor scientist, but I've read enough to know that the sensor size issue isn't as one-sided as some might imply. For one thing, the current Kodak 4/3 sensors are "full-frame transfer" sensors, which devote more of their actual surface to photon-capturing than APS-sized interline sensors, since the surface area doesn't require any space for circuitry; for example,

"Comparing the Kodak KAF-5101CE 4/3 sensor to say the 10D, we see that the Canon CMOS has a size advantage of only 1.6mm in the verticle dimension, and 4.7mm in the horizontal. So most of the size differential is due to the aspect ratio, 4/3 vs 3/2 [and many people crop off the ends of their 3/2 format pics to make them fit normal paper sizes]. And then we have the fact that the Kodak sensor is a full frame transfer type, using a greater amount of it's surface area to capture photons than the interline CMOS sensors. So to dismiss potential performance of a 4/3 sensor vs a APS sensor based on size is inaccurate" (http://www.photo.net/equipment/olympus/150f2).


Fundamentally, unless you have special needs (very large prints, heavy cropping on large prints), the larger sensor size of a full-frame 35mm camera like the Canon 5D will produce very little visual difference in quality, and even more so for the minimally larger APS/APS-C sensors. Ask yourself, how large are you planning to print? If A3 is acceptable, the 4/3 sensor is more than adequate.


As for wide-angle lenses, yes, the super-wide ED 7-14mm is rather expensive, but the 11-22 is no more than many wide-angle lenses for larger sensor cameras. And just compare the situation to the so-called full-frame (=35mm) digital cameras. The 35-mm equivalent "full frame" Canon 5D has just come out, and it has already developed quite a bit of notoriety for its unusually severe vignetting when used with some quite moderately wide-angle lenses designed for 35mm film cameras (see, for example, this thread on Photonet. The problem seems to be that to make a digital-specific wide-angle lens for the larger sensors requires a massive amount of glass (see Edwin Puts' comments, and that's precisely one of the reasons Olympus decided to go with the smaller sensor, since lenses could be designed specifically for it without making them any more massive than the 35mm film-camera lenses that everyone was familiar with. Yes, there are many more lenses available for the larger sensor formats, since they can use heritage film-camera lenses, but the sheer quantity of lenses does not mean they will produce equivalent quality. (Adapters are also available to allow use of heritage film-camera lenses with the 4/3 cameras, if you really want to).

As for the quality of super-wide lenses now available, the German magazine fotoMAGAZIN has issued results for designed-for-digital ultra-wide zooms. The current ranking looks like this (numbers represent total scores out of 100 for optical/mechanical quality, respectively; for this info, refer to this thread on dpreview):

1. Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/4: 93/91
2. Tokina AT-X PRO 12-24mm f/4 SD (IF) DX: 85/87
3. Olympus Zuiko Digital 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5: 85/86
4. Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4 DX G IF-ED: 78/76
5. Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM: 69/80
6. Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM: 68/71
7. Tamron SP AF 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 DI II LD-Asph. (IF): 67/73

The Olympus wides are both in the top three; as I noted, the ED 7-14 certainly isn't cheap, but if you need quality in a super-wide zoom, it's no slouch.

The one issue that concerns everyone in the Olympus camp is that of noise; yes, the 4/3 system is noiser at high ISOs than most cameras with larger sensors. But it's not a go/no-go issue unless you have specific needs that demand the frequent use of high-ISOs with a certain appearance. Note that Canon hasn't been exempt from criticism for the use of allegedly excessive in-camera noise-reduction, such that some people claim their high-ISO images have a "plasticky" appearance. (My guess is that some of that excessive smoothness is probably inherent in the high-ISO shots from just about any current camera, whether treated in-camera or with post-processing NR, due to the nature of the beast). FWIW, I've gotten very good results with ISO 1600 and the judicious use of NeatImage (or for RAW images, the NR functions in RawShooter Premium, or Silkypix).

All the current crop of digital SLRs will produce fine images, depending on your purpose and vision. Don't count any of them out based on the criteria made for someone else's kind of photographs.

{Later edit: I messed up some of the urls in the initial message so I went back and cleaned them up; they should load properly now. Sorry}.

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Old Nov 3, 2005, 12:47 PM   #10
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Wow, Norn, that was the most awesome analysis I've ever seen on this forum!

You should be writing magazine articles.

If a cam had a max ISO of 400 it would definitely not be on my list.

I shoot some indoor and late day stuff where I'm continutally using ISO800, ISO1600 or ISO3200.

I'd say about 20 percent of my shots are taken at ISO's higher than 400.

Of course, you can always compensate for ISO400 by choicing a wider aperture or slower shutter speed, but ISO400 seems pretty restrictive to me.

-- Terry


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