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Olympus DSLR Appreciation Thread

post #1 of 157
Thread Starter 
I have been looking through some of the camera thread and don't find anyone who particularly likes the Olympus or the 4/3 system. I don't really understand why nobody seems to like these cameras.

If you're looking for an entry level DSLR you should be looking at these cameras and even if you're an advanced photog, the E-3 is a sweet camera with some high quality glass available.

The Olympus cameras come with much more features than the comparably priced Nikons and Canons. The kit lenses are also superior. It's true that the choice of lenses is limited but if you're an enthusiast and not a pro, and you don't have gobs of money to spend, how many lenses do you need anyway?

So show some love for Olympus DSLRs!
post #2 of 157
Thread Starter 
OK, let me tell you why I like the Olympus. I have the E-510.

First and foremost, when I went to the camera store and held the Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus, the Oly just felt better in my hands. It has a nice grip, it's not too big or heavy, but doesn't feel like a toy. I like the way the controls are set up and the menu access. If I had to find fault I'd say that there is no dedicated menu screen as it shares time with the photo display. But it really doesn't bother me and contributes to the size and manageability of the camera.

The features that come with this camera can't be touched for the price. It has an excellent dust control system, in body image stabilization and live view through the LCD. Dust control is essential if you are going to be changing lenses and Olympus has a proven system.

IS allows you to go down three or four f-stops for great available light photos. There are those that argue that in body IS is not as good as in the lens. OK, turn off the IS in the body and buy a Leica or Panasonic lens for the 4/3 system. Be prepared to shell out megabucks for lenses with IS. Perhaps in the lens is better, but this works. Turn it off if you don't need it.

Live view is a bit of a novelty in my opinion but it does allow you to set up macro shots on a tripod pretty easily and you can zoom way in digitally to ensure super sharp focus. It also allows you to get some idea of how changing your settings will affect the outcome of the photo.
For normal shooting however, I never use it. Still it's nice to have in a camera you can get for less than $600 WITH two kit lenses.

The lenses themselves seem to be of very high quality. I bought mine with two kit lenses, a 14-42mm and a 40-150mm. I also bought a 50mm macro that goes down to F2 and it takes the camera to a whole new level. I will probably add the 70-300mm and I'll have an EFL of 28mm to 600mm (35mm equivalent) for about $2000. And these lenses are not junk. I'm no photography expert, so look around the web and find some comments from those more knowledgable than me and they will tell you that the Olympus "kit" lenses are much better than what you get with Canon and some entry level Nikons. The Canon and Nikon lenses that are comparable are more expensive. And if you really want to go all out with an Olympus System you can buy an E-3 body and go with the pro line of glass. So getting into the line is not a dead end.

Some people criticize the 4/3 system but it is made specifically for digital. It allows for better cropping on larger prints and it doubles the EFL compared to 35mm. Most digital cameras are 2/3 and while the sensor is bigger, it also means that the camera and lenses need to be bigger, and heavier and harder to carry along. The cynics among us would say that they only made the sensor smaller to save money. That could be true but they passed the savings onto the consumer and we also benefit from a very ergonomic camera.

The other complaint about the sensor is that it creates noise in low light at high ISOs and blows highlights because of limited dynamic range. This may be true compared to a 2/3 system but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Plus in low light conditions or for shots where half of the picutre is underexposed and the other half is overexposed, any camera is going to struggle. If you've got to bump up the ISO to 1600 to take the shot, you're probably shooting under pretty extreme and challenging conditions.

So come on people, I can't be the only one that enjoys using the Olympus line. Show some love!
post #3 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by erikzen View Post
I have been looking through some of the camera thread and don't find anyone who particularly likes the Olympus or the 4/3 system. I don't really understand why nobody seems to like these cameras.

If you're looking for an entry level DSLR you should be looking at these cameras and even if you're an advanced photog, the E-3 is a sweet camera with some high quality glass available.

The Olympus cameras come with much more features than the comparably priced Nikons and Canons. The kit lenses are also superior. It's true that the choice of lenses is limited but if you're an enthusiast and not a pro, and you don't have gobs of money to spend, how many lenses do you need anyway?

So show some love for Olympus DSLRs!
I think what you're seeing in terms of choice is the enthusiast market in Head-Fi. We love our gadgets - and lenses, and flashes, and remotes etc - and it's more to our liking when we have a large supporting aftermarket available. Trouble-shooting and tips are also easier to come by because of the large user base. Photographers are a conservative lot... we may not welcome completely new systems because they are unknowns in terms of performance, reliability, and durability. If the 4/3rds system is abandoned by manufacturers in favor of going to FF systems like it seems to be trending... photographers will be left with lenses and camera that go obsolete and no way to recoup their investment.

Quote:
First and foremost, when I went to the camera store and held the Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus, the Oly just felt better in my hands. It has a nice grip, it's not too big or heavy, but doesn't feel like a toy. I like the way the controls are set up and the menu access. If I had to find fault I'd say that there is no dedicated menu screen as it shares time with the photo display. But it really doesn't bother me and contributes to the size and manageability of the camera.

The features that come with this camera can't be touched for the price. It has an excellent dust control system, in body image stabilization and live view through the LCD. Dust control is essential if you are going to be changing lenses and Olympus has a proven system.
Features aren't everything. What are the features of the 4/3rd system that is better than the incumbent Canon/Nikon systems?

Built-in IS? Most kit lenses come with IS now, and a lot of the semi-pro/pro lenses are popping up with IS everywhere. The IS kit lenses are surprisingly good optically - the Nikon 18-55 IS is very good in build and IQ, and I would be happy using it for most circumstances. I wish the Canon 18-55IS was its equal, but it's not far behind.

Dust removal? Everyone has that, too. The dust issue is also overblown for most users - smart lens-change technique will prevent a lot of dust from entering. Keep the camera body/lens bottom pointed downwards and make gravity your friend. Cap the lens rear immediately after removal. Don't change lenses in a dust storm, obviously. Get some shelter.

Live View? Ditto. It's only useful in very limited circumstances, too. Smaller weight and size? That's arguable, because if it's too small or too light it won't be easy to hold the camera down to slower shutter speeds - which is the case for my 450D. With the larger f2.8 or faster zooms and primes it was rather difficult to handhold down to 1/10 or slower without the battery grip I added. My friend's E-410 is weirdly shaped (IMO) and harder to hold more securely, and I can't figure out the controls quickly like I can with Nikon and Canon cams that I haven't seen before.

Ergonomics may vary amongst users, so that's going to be different for everyone anyways.

The argument about less lenses for enthusiasts is also false... pro's don't use that many lenses in most situations. They tend to stick with the L zooms for most situations due to versatility - most wedding/event photographers, newspaper photographers and photojournalists I know use the Canon or Nikon pro-level f2.8 zooms on two bodies (17-40L, 16-35L, 24-70L or 70-200L IS and their Nikon equivalents) and a flash and that's it. Enthusiasts are the one driving the market for more varied, specialized zooms and primes.

To the money/# of lenses question - how many headphones do you need anyways?

The abundance of 3rd party glass is also a boon to enthusiasts - cheaper lenses for their systems, and a huge used market where they can pick and choose. 3rd party manufacturers aren't going to invest in new infrastructure all that quickly... which leaves users with little choice but to go with OEM glass which might be quite expensive.

Quote:
The other complaint about the sensor is that it creates noise in low light at high ISOs and blows highlights because of limited dynamic range. This may be true compared to a 2/3 system but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Plus in low light conditions or for shots where half of the picutre is underexposed and the other half is overexposed, any camera is going to struggle. If you've got to bump up the ISO to 1600 to take the shot, you're probably shooting under pretty extreme and challenging conditions.
Nikon/Canon's bigger sensors also have an advantage in terms of image quality and noise performance due to the larger sizes... squeezing pixels into a bigger space is a good thing when you want clear, sharp pictures. High-ISO performance is also better - I can get ISO 1600 on my 450D for most situations and be happy with the quality it provides for printing out in 8x10 or bigger. Challenging conditions it may be, but doesn't mean you should just give up (or the camera manufacturer shouldn't cater to that possibility).

Nikon/Canon are also (mostly Nikon right now... cmon Canon!) introducing higher and higher ISO performance into consumer/semi-pro DSLR's... D300's ISO 3200 is quite usable, and D700's ISO performance is just off the scale. I don't think that can be achieved with a smaller sensor.

For those times where the half the picture is over and the other is under... AEB. That's all I have to say to that.

The 4/3rds system may eventually prove to be a wonderful thing - but it still has a ways to grow before being able to challenge the old dogs for the attention of customers.
post #4 of 157
I would've really loved a small DSLR but 4/3 isn't that much smaller. micro 4/3s is coming out supposedly to make a changeable lens P&S kind of thingy.

I think the coolest thing about Olympus is the pancake lenses and the f/2.0 zooms. That's pretty neat.
post #5 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by erikzen View Post
I have been looking through some of the camera thread and don't find anyone who particularly likes the Olympus or the 4/3 system. I don't really understand why nobody seems to like these cameras.

If you're looking for an entry level DSLR you should be looking at these cameras and even if you're an advanced photog, the E-3 is a sweet camera with some high quality glass available.

The Olympus cameras come with much more features than the comparably priced Nikons and Canons. The kit lenses are also superior. It's true that the choice of lenses is limited but if you're an enthusiast and not a pro, and you don't have gobs of money to spend, how many lenses do you need anyway?

So show some love for Olympus DSLRs!
When I was shopping for my first D-SLR I made sure to include the Olympus in the list of cameras to consider. I wanted all options open, so I considered everything.

After only 15 minutes of using the (at the time) new Olympus E-500, it was obvious that it was an utter piece of crap compared to the Nikon. No competition.

The nikon was built better, felt better, was easier to use, had MUCH quicker response, had an much larger lens kit to buy into, took nicer pictures....... the list goes on.

If you buy anything OTHER than Nikon or Canon, you better REALLY want to. After being in the photo hobby for a few years and seeing what I've seen and buying what I've bought, I wouldn't buy anything but Canon or Nikon. Anything else and your just limiting yourself.

My poor friend bought a Pentax. He liked that it had shake reduction built into the camera and all these 'nifty' features. The poor guy finally realized just how limited he was in terms of lenses. Even though he still likes the camera, I think he now regrets buying into Pentax. You're buying the DSLR for the lenses first and foremost. You're buying into an optics company.
And if I may be so rude, built in shake reduction (if not augmented with lens shake reduction) is utter rubbish because you can't see the effect through the lens. It doesn't give you, the photographer, the confidence you need when taking pictures.

A lens hobby is a sort of investment. Buy into the pentax system, or the Olympus system, and you get nothing for resale value on lenses and whatnot.
The nikons and canons hold their value MUCH better. I couldn't afford not to own a nikon or canon.

If your serious, you buy Nikon, Canon, or Fuji for APS-C or APS sensors.
Not to say that the Olympus is a bad camera, just that there are better options out there for most.
post #6 of 157
I thought this was a Olympus DSLR Appreciation Thread, not a why I dislike Olympus thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post
After only 15 minutes of using the (at the time) new Olympus E-500, it was obvious that it was an utter piece of crap compared to the Nikon. No competition.
Wow. You were able to conclude that the E-500 was a poor camera from a 15 minute exam? How many photos did you take and examine with the camera?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post
A lens hobby is a sort of investment. Buy into the pentax system, or the Olympus system, and you get nothing for resale value on lenses and whatnot.
The nikons and canons hold their value MUCH better. I couldn't afford not to own a nikon or canon.

If your serious, you buy Nikon, Canon, or Fuji for APS-C or APS sensors.
Not to say that the Olympus is a bad camera, just that there are better options out there for most.
What happens when Nikon drops the DX line in a few years? This is a real possibility. Where would your investment be then?
post #7 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by lan View Post
I would've really loved a small DSLR but 4/3 isn't that much smaller. micro 4/3s is coming out supposedly to make a changeable lens P&S kind of thingy.

I think the coolest thing about Olympus is the pancake lenses and the f/2.0 zooms. That's pretty neat.
Yeah, looking forward to hearing more about this line, shades of Pen F! No optical viewfinder bothers me though.
post #8 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by roastpuff View Post
If the 4/3rds system is abandoned by manufacturers in favor of going to FF systems like it seems to be trending... photographers will be left with lenses and camera that go obsolete and no way to recoup their investment.
That's a fair point and in a way I did take a chance. I thought the positives outweighed this IMHO of course. With Leica and Panasonic adopting the standard I felt it was pretty safe for the short term anyway. Even if they discontinue the 4/3 system tomorrow it doesn't mean my camera stops working.

Perhaps this is the wrong place to talk about Olympus because Head-Fiers are some of the most sophisticated gadget users out there. But there are many of us on Head-Fi who think that spending a well thought out $2000 on a headphone system can be a pretty enjoyable experience. By the same token a complete Olympus system, including 4 or 5 decent lenses, hot shoe flash, bag, media cards, remote, a couple of good filters, can be had for around $2000. It's not the best you can get but it is arguably the best you can get for the money.


Quote:
Features aren't everything. What are the features of the 4/3rd system that is better than the incumbent Canon/Nikon systems?

Built-in IS? Most kit lenses come with IS now, and a lot of the semi-pro/pro lenses are popping up with IS everywhere.
I agree, features aren't everything. I like to shoot manual much of the time, but as you go up the line for Nikon and Canon they start to include more features so there has to be some value placed on them.

Few of the entry level DSLRs have in body IS. I understand the argument that in lens IS is better, but the trade off are comparably more expensive lenses and more weight.

Quote:
Dust removal? Everyone has that, too.
Do they? Perhaps, as things change quite rapidly with technology. When I was trying out cameras the comparably priced Nikons and Canons didn't have dust removal. Again my point is that yes, these other cameras have features but you end up paying more for them. Are they necessary? No, but they're nice to have for the price.

Quote:
Live View? Ditto. It's only useful in very limited circumstances.
Agreed and I pointed this out originally. Again, better to have it than not to have it.

Quote:
Smaller weight and size? That's arguable, because if it's too small or too light it won't be easy to hold the camera down to slower shutter speeds
When I add a nice high grade lens like the 50mm F/2.0 macro it adds just enough weight to feel good in the hands. I let my devoted Canon user brother-in-law try my E-510 with this lens and he was jealous.

Quote:
The argument about less lenses for enthusiasts is also false... pro's don't use that many lenses in most situations. They tend to stick with the L zooms for most situations due to versatility
Agreed, which is why the argument against Olypus because there aren't a lot of lenses available is also false. I can be very happy with 4 or 5 lenses and cover everyting from 14mm to 300mm.

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To the money/# of lenses question - how many headphones do you need anyways?
One can never have enough headphones or lenses. Between Olympus, Sigma, Panasonic and Leica there are enough lenses available to keep you happy for a long time.

Quote:
The abundance of 3rd party glass is also a boon to enthusiasts
See your note about pros not needing that many lenses.

Quote:
Nikon/Canon's bigger sensors also have an advantage in terms of image quality and noise performance due to the larger sizes
This is the biggest argument against Olympus. Not only is not standard but it may be inferior. Obviously, I think the trade off is worth it in the smaller size, lower price and greater reach in terms of 35mm equivalant focal length. Honestly, for what most of us use digital cameras for - web posting, small prints - I don't think image quality is really an issue. There are also aspect ratio advantages to 4/3 over 3/2 if you are going to print 8 x 10. A 4/3 image will need to be cropped less than a 3/2 image. So the loss of image probably negates the higher noise level. The bottom line is that any camera will shoot a noisy image under challenging conditions.

More important than how noisy a camera shoots at high ISO is can you get the ISO down to shoot with available light. Combine the E-510 with the 50mm f/2.0 and you have a pretty good camera that can be hand held at 1/30 (due to in-body IS) if second and shoot at 400 ISO or lower. This can be had for about $800, which represents pretty good value to me.

Quote:
The 4/3rds system may eventually prove to be a wonderful thing - but it still has a ways to grow before being able to challenge the old dogs for the attention of customers.
So far I'm very happy. If some day I outgrow the camera it will make a great starter kit for one of my kids. For now, I'm just going to enjoy it and hope that others can as well.
post #9 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lan View Post
I would've really loved a small DSLR but 4/3 isn't that much smaller. micro 4/3s is coming out supposedly to make a changeable lens P&S kind of thingy.

I think the coolest thing about Olympus is the pancake lenses and the f/2.0 zooms. That's pretty neat.
The 25mm pancake is on my short list. If I get it by the time the next meet rolls around I'll be sure to bring it so you can try it out. I'm sure you'd like the 50mm macro f/2.0 as well.
post #10 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post
You're buying the DSLR for the lenses first and foremost. You're buying into an optics company.
I'm not sure how many lenses you really need and a lot depends on how much money you really want to spend. Yes if you buy Canon or Nikon you can buy hundreds of lenes, and if you buy Olympus you can buy 50. I thought about that and figured I'd only really need 5 or 6 lenses max. When I shot 35mm I had two lenses - a prime and a telephoto. Zoom lenses in the 70s and 80s were either too expensive for a kid to afford or not very good quality and not worth buying. I was raised on using your feet as your zoom.

None of the professional or amatuer reviews I've read about Olympus questions the quality of the glass and in fact many reviewers have remarked at what good quality the Olympus lenses have compared to the same price level for Canon and Nikon.

Quote:
and if I may be so rude, built in shake reduction (if not augmented with lens shake reduction) is utter rubbish because you can't see the effect through the lens. It doesn't give you, the photographer, the confidence you need when taking pictures.
You're not being rude and you're entitled to your opinion. The fact that you can't see it in the viewfinder could be a hinderance, but that doesnt' mean it doesn't work. When my daughter was having her first dance recital, my father was shooting with the D80 and I had my E-510. I could zoom in closer, with less light and get a more usable image than he could because of the in body IS. Of course, if he had IS in the lens then his shots would have been more useable but the point is that you can get decent shots under challenging conditions with the IS. Yes, in lens is better but it's also more expensive and makes for a heavier lens.

Quote:
A lens hobby is a sort of investment. Buy into the pentax system, or the Olympus system, and you get nothing for resale value on lenses and whatnot.
I agree and I think for my budget investing in Olympus is a good deal. Yes, the resale value is not as great but the initial investment isn't as large either.

Quote:
If your serious, you buy Nikon, Canon, or Fuji for APS-C or APS sensors.
Not to say that the Olympus is a bad camera, just that there are better options out there for most.
I have never been accused of being serious about anything, so you've got me on that point.
post #11 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyacorn View Post
I thought this was a Olympus DSLR Appreciation Thread, not a why I dislike Olympus thread.
Thank you.

That was my original intention but I guess we know why there wasn't already an Olympus Appreciation Thread started.
post #12 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by erikzen View Post
Thank you.

That was my original intention but I guess we know why there wasn't already an Olympus Appreciation Thread started.
Sorry if I came across as bashing. Didn't mean to come across that way, just point out some of the reasons why users haven't switched en masse to the 4/3rds system.

It's mainly a matter of "choice," even if it may only be an illusion. Users will always prefer to have more "choice" than less, and the small size (and lack of reputation/reviews) so far on the 4/3rds ecosystem is hampering it's growth.

When more lenses and camera bodies are out, it's popularity will grow.

When I said "3rd party lenses for enthusiasts" I mean that the 3rd party lens manufacturers aren't exactly on par with Canon and Nikon in putting out glass accepted by the pros because of compatibility and IQ issues that crop up from time to time. Enthusiasts are more willing to deal with these things in exchange for a lower price compared to OEM glass.

Canon and Nikon have their own weaknesses too, especially in the consumer bodies.

Nikon's 3 low-end models are crippled, due to the lack of AF points and AF with the older non AF-S lenses. The AF-S lens selection is quite few, and the older lenses depend on the screw drive motor which isn't exactly the fastest or most accurate thing in the focus world. Their options/specs are also rather lacklustre at this point...

Canon's 450D/1000D are good cameras, but a bit more expensive than what most users are willing to shell out, and the kit lens could be better to match the Nikon IS kit lens. The 40D has issues... and Canon's semi-pro and pro models are getting a bit long in the tooth. There's also an amazing amount of CRAP in the lower end of the Canon lens selection.
post #13 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyacorn View Post
I thought this was a Olympus DSLR Appreciation Thread, not a why I dislike Olympus thread.
Sorry about that. Only reason I posted it was because the initial post was a question of why not olympus over the others.


Quote:
Wow. You were able to conclude that the E-500 was a poor camera from a 15 minute exam?
Yes. The D50 won me over, and that was compared to the E-500 and Canon Rebel XT. At the time, those were the only 3 budget (sub 1000$) DSLRs out there. Before I went into the shop though, I had read up on dcresource.com and looked at the sample pictures as well. That wasn't such a deal breaker, but when I went into the store and started to use the E-500, I got so frustrated at how slow the AF was. The Nikon and Canon were so much faster. The way the Nikon felt in terms of build quality compared to the Canon was a big plus, and it felt the best in my hand. I'm so happy I choose my little D50. 22,000 shots later, and I still love it. It's what suited me best.

I'll agree that there are people who will like the Sony, Pentax, or Olympus over the Canon or Nikon. You simply need to know that you want one of them vs. the 2 big names, or you may end up regretting it later down the road if your interest in photography increases (such as my friend with his Pentax K10D).


Quote:
What happens when Nikon drops the DX line in a few years? This is a real possibility. Where would your investment be then?
You are 100% correct!
DX is already dead in my mind.
Aside from my kit 18-55 and my 18-200VR, all the rest of the lenses I have purchased since have been compatible with 35mm. If I didn't use the 18-200VR so much, I'd sell it right now.
Their professional lenses are what hold their value the best.
post #14 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by roastpuff View Post
Sorry if I came across as bashing. Didn't mean to come across that way, just point out some of the reasons why users haven't switched en masse to the 4/3rds system.
I didn't take it as bashing, but it wasn't appreciation either. You're entitled to your opinion and I'd rather have a debate than no discussion at all. I just think that for the enthusiast market, the Olympus gives you a great entry point into the world of DSLR and can keep many people happy for years to come.

If you want an upgrade path that can lead you into the many thousands of dollars, by all means go with Nikon or Canon. I don't know how realistic that approach is for most but I understand that people want that option even if they never take advantage of it.

I guess I thought maybe there were a few more folks like me that recognized the value of Olympus. I will never be a pro photographer; I will never be a great photographer; I may never even be a good photographer, but for a reasonable price I can scratch the surface of what pro photography is all about.

Quote:
Nikon's 3 low-end models are crippled, due to the lack of AF points and AF with the older non AF-S lenses. The AF-S lens selection is quite few, and the older lenses depend on the screw drive motor which isn't exactly the fastest or most accurate thing in the focus world. Their options/specs are also rather lacklustre at this point...
Exactly, and if you're in the market for a low end DSLR I really don't think you can beat Olympus. You can find the E-510 for $500 and in some cases with kit 2 lenses for around $600.

If you're going high end, then Canon and Nikon are probably better choices.
post #15 of 157
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post
Yes. The D50 won me over, and that was compared to the E-500 and Canon Rebel XT.
I can give you that. It was the same way with me when I went into the store to buy my camera. I was prepared to buy a D40 from what I read, but after handling it, the D60, the E-410, E-420, the Xti and the E-510, the E-510felt the best to me. I really liked the D80 but just couldn't justify the expenditure, especially since I liked the E-510.

There are many complaints about the focus of the E-500 but that wasn't on my list. The E-510 is an improvement over the E-500 and I've read good reviews of the E-520 being an improvement over the 510. I would have waited an extra 2 months to buy the 520 but I needed the camera for an event.
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