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Friday, 27 June 2008

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Eamon, people've been using the 50/2 macro as a portrait lens. You can use the old 40-150 as an impromptu portrait lens with really not-bad results. In other words, you make do with what you have. :-)

And I hear you about Studio. One point more against Olympus is that you have to _buy_ Studio.

(Olympus Master also used to be sold, but fortunately it's now free because I really really doubt anybody should pay for that kind of performance.) Their dictaphone software, using a proprietary format, was given with the dictaphones. But if you lost the disc, you had to buy it and as far as I know still have to.

I mean, it's not like people will use their software for other brands. For that to happen, they have to hire a bunch of terrific programmers.

OTOH, I use Photoshop and I like what I get. I tried several other RAW developers. Silkypix gave me the most eye-catching colours with minimal work. Lightzone offers some unique abilities. Bibble was quite good although I wasn't thrilled with the workflow.

None of the others offers the speed and (for me) ease of use that Photoshop does. I just wish it wasn't so quick to oversaturate reds as well as do some other things. So I guess it's a compromise, just like with cameras. But given the speed with which they will issue an update of ACR just for E-420 and E-520, the things might get better.

re erlik "You can use the old 40-150 as an impromptu portrait lens with really not-bad results."
I can concur with that, I'm not usually a photographer of people but the best portrait I ever did was of my mother with the old 4/3 40-150mm lens - and on that occasion my E300 even got the colour right!
I also had unexpectedly wonderful results with that lens when shooting the next door neighbour's wedding.
My take on the Olympus stable is:- nice camera bodies, nice zooms, pity about the missing primes and even more of a pity about the Olympus software and default image quality.

Cheers, Robin

"Lowepro Orion AW bag, a large (but not huge) belt pack"

I respectfully disagree. I've had an Orion AW, and it is humongous! It's way too big for a belt pack, and if you attach the top pack that converts it into a backpack, access is not practical at all! I ended up selling mine and getting a smaller Orion Mini (which is, on the other hand, too small. But at least is manageable).

On a side note, I've always read how the E-3 was huge, but then I saw it on future shop the other day, and didn't find it THAT big at all.

Just an additional note before somebody else mentions it re: my comment on third-party Sigma lenses.

I'm not counting the few Panasonic/Leica 4/3rds lenses in my definition of "third-party" in that particular comment. But one of them -- the 25mm/1.4 -- does, in fact, offer a useful specification not really present in the Olympus line-up. I guess I figure that's worth mentioning, so there, I did it.

A few months ago I gave up struggling with dynamic range and loss of life to Photoshop. Now I just expose for the part I'm interested in and let the rest clip, without thinking twice about it. Tonal range of the human eye is still a ways off, I'm done agonizing over it.

In the process I realized that a $150 Canon A-Series and a little skill will usually do the job about as well as an SLR. Right now the idea of walking around with a $3000+ kit - even for so-called art photography - seems about as preposterous to me as gas dropping back down to $1.00 a gallon.

I just cannot get past the pedestrian design of the E3, after all that waiting too, 4 years and they give us a Canon 30D! The E1 was a lovely camera design, so easy to use and kinda cool to look at!

Did you guys see these fakes? Now this guy has a better idea than the Olympus *professionals*......

http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/43/e5.html

I think the guys at Nikon (in their polyester leisure suits) have the right approach to camera design, they hire Italian designers for that task!

Cheers,
Chris

"...the responsiveness and user interface of the Nikon D80, with the size and feature set of the Olympus E-520 (but with an articulating LCD), and using the several wonderful compact prime lenses in the Pentax lineup."

I would wish for the speed of 40D/D300, articulated D300 LCD, body of the E-420, in Pentax mount ;-) with the User interface of the Pentax K20D!

Thanks for an interesting and excellent review.

I use Apple Aperture and I'm very pleased with its raw conversions from my E-3. For those who do not know, Olympus will give you a free update to Studio 2.x if you own Studio 1/x.

I do not use primes, except for a macro, so that is not an issue for me. What I love about the E-3 is that it is the only camera that offers the features I want with reasonable size and weight. These features are the 4:3 aspect ratio, built in stabilization, effective dust removal, an articulating LCD screen and weather resistance. I am able to cary my E-3, 12-60mm and 70-300mm on my belt. That gives me an equivalent range of 24mm to 600mm. The 70-300 is a little slow to focus and not weather proofed, but it is decent optically and meets my occasional need for logner focal lengths.

As to image quality, that is one of the main reasons I went back to Olympus. I simply love the overall IQ from Olympus cameras. However, that is a subjective preference. I can live with its somewhat greater noise at high ISOs, especially as this is mitigated by being able to use ISOs that are lower at the same shutter speed, equivalent field of view and depth of field when compared to cameras with larger sensors.

There are a number of excellent DSLRs to chose from and I think that is great.

You have to keep in mind that buying a camera, or system, is a compromise. They are all good.

I bought the Oly system, because at the time it had the only effective dust buster. I know that has changed, but I'm pleased. Zuiko lenses rival Leica.

I might add a Canon 5D, as the price keeps dropping, and run both systems.

"Shadzee wrote:

I would wish for the speed of 40D/D300, articulated D300 LCD, body of the E-420, in Pentax mount ;-) with the User interface of the Pentax K20D!"

Well, I stand corrected and yield to your more ambitious imagination, Shadzee. I would settle for one of those, too :-)

Chris wrote:

"I think the guys at Nikon (in their polyester leisure suits)..."

As a former Nikon rep, I can't let this heinous defamation slip by unanswered. At Nikon (not counting the tech rats), it was natural fabrics only, my man -- Italian worsted wool, for the most part. Didn't make the cameras better, but we were swans to the Pentax and Canon ducks. I speak historical truth. (For the record, the Olympus reps always looked good.)

I can't say that I'm surprised or disappointed that after such an extensive and voluminous E-3 review Eamon's opinion amounts to "Whatever".

Last month I picked up the just-released E-420 (despite being a Canon/Leica/Mamiya shooter and never having touched an Oly slr...a long story for another time) and I've been shooting with it periodically for the past month. In fact, my current front page image (http://www.pbase.com/tanakak/image/99211094) is an E-420 image. It has some fine features, a nice feel, and can produce good bright scene images. But it also has some awful features and is a middling performer in lower light.

So my net impression of the E-420 thus far is also ..."Whatever".

The 'zooms'. As Eamon says, if you buy 4/3rds, you'd better like 'zoom' lenses as Olympus has 3 tiers of the things (or 4 if you count the 9-18 to 18-180 to 70-300 as a tier of it's own?)

I have an E-3: I too waited for it all those long years and while it 'ticks all the boxes', I think they omitted what made the E-1 special. The most imediate gripe that spriings to mind is why the returned to the 'T' shape of the centrally placed lens when they'd pioneered the E-1's lens-to-the-left 'L' shape. I won't be alone in having a 'greasy hinge' on my E-3. By the way, the reason they give for this [for better eye access in upright use] is bogus.

Talking of 'grips', they also removed the flat edge to the inside of the right hand grip... the one your 3 (4) finger tips could grip and retain that strong hold when holding the E-1 in one hand, the E-3 has this but it's curved so misses the strong grip bit. It's still nice to hold.. but it 'could have been that bit better'.

I too can't help but remain unexcited about the E-3. It's a nice, inoffensive all rounder that does well in general usage but is hampered beyond it's comfortable operating envelope.

p.s how many prospective purchasers of a 4/3rds dSLR have ever preceded their initial forum post with the request for, or want of, that 2x DOF thing? ;-)

I've an E3 and have had a fairly big E system for a few years, E1, E400 and several lenses.
I also have a Canon 1ds and 1ds2 with some lenses.

For me the big thing is size and weight. The E-3 is a great camera and the 12-60 an unbeatable lens. I would develop a hernia carrying the equivalent coverage in Canon, so I mostly use E-3.
What I don't like. The on/off switch.
What I really like. The pivoting screen. Live view. Dust busting. IQ is good enough.

What I would like is backup onto 2 chips as my 1ds2 will do.

I have to say, just reading these posts is amazing to me. I'm just getting hooked with my first DSLR and I can tell I have a lot to look forward to learning and many more great pictures to take... or try to take.

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