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Thursday, 09 July 2009

Comments

shhhh! Don't tell everyone!

Yeah Mike, Phil earned his reputation (and his bucket of gold) with his lengthy camera reviews. I even printed and kept his reviews after I purchased the camera for reference. But it was then -- new DSLR models were as rare as Leicas, and I remember WAITING anxiously and checking his site everyday for his review on the Canon 300D and the Nikon D70. Those 2 cameras were the ONLY afordable DSLR and each iteration would bring about a rejoice party amongst us. Now I cannot even tell what is the latest iteration from Canon -- is it the 450D or the 500D? And is the Nikon D5000 replacing the D60? Oh, the Olympus E620... put it in the right perspective for me -- is the 2 digit class "higher" then the 3 digit class in the Oly line up or the other way around? Time has changed....

I'm withyou, unless I'm planning on actually buying a camera, I never look at more than the introduction, the conclusion and sometimes some photo samples. But you have to admit that it's all there if and when you want it.

From the cons listed by dpreview:
"Viewfinder noticeably smaller than its APS-C peers"

I own a Pentax K20D (an APS-C sensor) and I thought that is bad enough. I occasionally use a Pentax ME Super side by side with K20D (and some old yet trusted autofocus 24mm F2, 31mm F1.8 or 50mm F1.4 lenses) and every time I switch to the dSLR I get tunnel vision. The difference is that big. Even my Pentax 645N viewfinder seems slightly smaller than Pentax ME Super: what is wrong with technology today, folks? Can't we have a half-decent viewfinder anymore?

Boy, if you think those things are skippable, you should try reading reviews of video cards.

"And on this page, we have the benchmarks for 3DMark 2007 in 800x600. On the next page is 800x600 with anti-aliasing enabled. On the page after is 1024x768. Then 1024x768 with anti-aliasing enabled."

I often wonder whether, if they forgot to actually post all the middle pages, anyone would notice.

Anyway, I'm really hopeful that the good words about the E-620 apply to the Pen, too.

I have been using this camera for about six weeks and agree with the dpreview conclusion of Highly Recommended. It hits all the right ergonomics, size, weight, swivel screen, IS, dust bust, very useful live view and also image quality, and let us not forget economics, the price is right where it should be for a DSLR, that will be replaced in a year with the next leap of faith.
I use the camera mostly with the 25 pancake as my walk around the shoulder with an Upstrap ready when needed.
This is really the reincarnation of a Rolleiflex, the experience is very close, a pure dumb camera one normal lens used at waist level or brought up to the eye, what it frames is just right there.
Yes I am happy for now.

Didn't someone write that the E-P1 is a E620 crammed into a smaller body? Sounds promising...

I just read the conclusion.

I just go on forums and ask opinions. That is a quicker way to insanity.

As an old OM system user, I've been mightily disappointed with Olympus and their 4/3 system. When they dropped the ball in the 90s, I felt they'd abandoned me, so I've never been tempted to give them another chance.

I also feel that their adoption of the 4/3 sensor locked them into a dead end. Unlike other makers, they can never make a full frame camera. They may think 4/3 is good enough (I had to laugh at their recent statement that "12MP is all you need". Yeah right, because that's all 4/3 can reasonably provide - nothing like making a virtue out of a necessity).

But for me, it's not good enough, Olympus. I want all the benefits of digital sensors - switchable formats, 3:2 and 16:9 etc, full 35mm frame so I can use all my dusty old OM lenses and the OM flash system I own, etc etc.

So I've found 4/3 very easy to resist. Not for me, no matter how good the lenses. Not interested.

Then the E-P1 came out and slight tendrils of desire began to emerge. But still, not good enough! If one of its benefits is a large sensor but with pocketability, that's negated by the necessity to carry an external flash and probably the external viewfinder, not to mention extra lenses. The advantage is lost.

And the cost! You US guys complain about it costing $799, but here in Oz it's $1699 with the 14-42mm!!

Then recently I read the DPReview and started thinking, gee, an E-620 for the camera bag, a couple of the excellent 4/3 lenses for it, an adapter to Micro 4/3 and the E-P1 - wow, wouldn't that be nice? I was just daydreaming.

But it's just out of the question. I can buy a far better camera for far less and with far greater versatility - the Pentax K7 for example. It offers small size too, but with much higher image quality. I have a couple of Pentax KA lenses from the 80s that I can use and I'm away. I even get image stabilisation with the body, even though these are old lenses. I can live without AF. The 14.7MP K7 body only is $1539 here.

So sorry Olympus, I don't think you'll ever get me back. When you adopted the 4/3 format, you closed the gate to all future sensor development as far as I'm concerned. I don't deny that the picture quality from the E-620 is very nice, and I download and study those DPReview samples avidly. But that's it.

What have I chosen? A Canon 40D as the main camera with two Sigma OS lenses, the Fuji S100fs for travelling (yay, Ctein!) and a Ricoh GX100 for the pocket. Plus a Canon HF10 for great hi-def video. Great camcorder.

Bye, Olympus. Come back to me when you develop a full frame sensor.

Pete Croft

Coincidentally, I was poring over that review this afternoon, including some of the middle pages (at least the i.q. stuff). If you're interested, here's something like an executive summary of that part (for the busy blog executive):

- Apparently a big deal in light of previous 4/3 cameras is the E620's generous dynamic range, longest among it's "peers" and, more importantly, second (among "peers") only to the Nikon 5000D in highlight range (at least at any ISO over 100, where highlights are for some reason clipped sooner and more abruptly).

- The strong anti-aliasing filter that Olympus adopted post-E410/E510 is present, limiting ultimate resolution.

- The E620's jpeg engine is unusually good at getting the most detail and range possible from the sensor, making RAW workflow less necessary and less beneficial.

- The G1, while it has a similar sensor, has a much weaker anti-aliasing filter, and thus delivers more fine detail than the E620 but also more noise, jaggies and moire'.

I also perused what I could find on the E-P1. I got the impression that the E-P1 and E620 have very similar sensors and processing, but the E-P1 might have less aggressive anti-aliasing.

Posted by: phule: "Didn't someone write that the E-P1 is a E620 crammed into a smaller body? Sounds promising..."

Yes, it was in the DPreview preview of the E-P1. I thought that a bit strange, as they had not yet reviewed the 620 at that time.

Are there really 30 pages between the Intro and conclusion?? I don't even read the intro anymore - just specs, the body and design and the conclusion. As far as I'm concerned if Reichmann doesn't own it I don't need it.

I bought the E620 just over a week ago after a lot of agonising, reading previews, specs etc. I figured with the quality of just about any DSLR these days that i'd be happy with the image results. The small size of the camera was a big factor in my decision. All the other extra specs over the competition were just icing on the cake. I'm very happy.

It would be nice to read the conclusions if they didn't contradict the test results. :-) More often than "sometimes."

http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/

Kirk Tuck has recently bought a E-620 and several of his recent postings touch on the camera

I, too, noticed the E-620 effusion at dpreview. That's a lot of love! And given the Olympian compactness (heh heh) of the 620, it just might be the poor man's E-P1!

I remember DPreview complaining a while ago over being left out of the loop by Olympus with their pre-release test cameras. Therefore not being able to provide a preview of their products on time.
I also remember thinking "well, no surprise here", the Olympus reviews were few and far in between and not exactly flattering compared to Canon's and Nikon's.

Maybe this one has earned them a couple of brownie points at Olympus HQ. Good stuff.

Seeing that Olympus is the only company that has been introducing new camera and new camera system, that ought to count for *something.*

I must admit I only read the intro and conclusions too unless I was actually going to buy the camera where I would check out the other comparisons & specs.

Love your intro. So funny. You're a really good read. Txs for sharing.

It might also be of interest that the in-body image stabilization of the E-520 (not E-620) has just been evaluated with very good results:
http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_olympuse520/IS_Test_Olympus_E-520_SLR_Body.htm

Maybe I'm just a lot less sophisticated than some when it comes to critically evaluating image quality, but when I go to print exhibitions, I still can't tell which photos came from which cameras. So when someone says (for example) that the Pentax K7 has much higher image quality than the Olympus E-620, I think, "Based on what? An actual comparison of prints?" If you spread half a dozen 11x14s from each camera on a table, could anyone actually pick out the six that came from the Pentax? Somehow I doubt it. Features, price, lens compatibility, even personal brand preference - these are all valid reasons to choose one camera over another. However, to my eye, significant differences in image quality are more imagined than real among the current crop of DSLRs.

I agree with JR. It seems that every APS-C SLR's viewfinder is quoted as about 0.9X magnification with a 50mm lens, just like it used to be with 35mm SLRs. This is, to be polite, misleading.
While I am on the subject, why can I not see the corners of even my DSLR's viewfinder just because I wear glasses?
We are being short-changed here, folks.

JR: I can't explain it, but I know what you mean about comparing the ME Super to your 645N. My Pentax MX and ME Super viewfinders seem bigger and brighter than that on the Pentax 6x7.

Peter: The Oly 4/3rds system is capable of considerably more than 12 megapixels. You state that you want "switchable formats, 3:2 and 16:9 etc, full 35mm frame". What camera out there offers you that? You also say you want to use your old OM lenses. With Olympus, you CAN use your lenses (albeit with the usual crop-factor effect). You're using a Canon dSLR. Have you tried using any FD lenses on it? Yeah, it won't work.

As far as the E-P1 goes, you write "If one of its benefits is a large sensor but with pocketability, that's negated by the necessity to carry an external flash and probably the external viewfinder, not to mention extra lenses." You certainly don't need to carry extra lenses, I don't see any compelling reason why you would need to carry the extra viewfinder and as for the flash - well, that's up to you. If you really need one, consider a Metz 34. They are excellent and tiny. Easy to slip into a shirt pocket.

What do you think you would gain by having a "full-frame" sensor? And if whatever it is that you are missing is so important, why aren't you using a full-frame camera now? Is this related to some sort of vague notion that you want to have the option to move up to full-frame in the future? Full-frame cameras will remain significantly more expensive than APS-C and 4/3rds cameras for the foreseeable future. They will generally require bigger, heavier, more expensive lenses and the image quality benefits they offer are more limited than most people seem willing to concede. I use APS-C dSLRs (not Olympus), not because I can't afford a full-frame camera from the same manufacturer, but because I don't want one. APS-C already offers more than enough image quality for my needs. The APS-C dedicated lenses that I use are excellent and versatile, not to mention cheap, whereas most full-frame lenses in the same range have significant compromises or are much heavier and more expensive. And APS-C and 4/3rds sensors will only continue to improve (as will full-frame sensors, to be sure).

Cost is a real and relevant issue, and you are certainly free to spend your money as you please. But a lot of people seem to look for (and manufacture) reasons to dislike Oly cameras that are unrelated to their needs and often unrelated to reality.

Best regards,
Adam

I'm with you Mike my life is also carefully structured avoiding the unnecessary but I must admit Dpreview are usually spot on with their findings and all the info is there if you want to wade through it.
Unfortunately the "Forums" have lost their attraction over time and tend to be hardly worth the trouble of wading through the nonsense to find the very occasional nugget of worthwhile info.

Peter Croft, it's immediately apparent that you're already in it for a full-frame sensor, for whatever benefits it gets you (and there are serious benefits for going that route), as opposed to seeing output from 4/3 cameras, which are by and by good on their own, and even compared with their contemporaries.

Not everyone has the physical wherewithal and desire to bring a heavy full-frame camera (no one's making a light one yet) and a set of heavy lenses (heavier and bulkier than 4/3 counterparts), especially for those who don't make a single dime out of photography.

It's good that there are choices, though. You can go Canon, others who value the size and weight benefits can go Olympus (one can also make good arguments about the good value proposition offered by the E620 - tons of features for entry-level pricing).

And before you think I'm a rabid Olympus fan, no, I use Pentax. I'm just being fair to all camera brands. :)

There's a forum thread at DPR noting that the last time they gave a camera an "Average" rating was...6 years ago. Hand, feed, biting, etc.

Re previous post comparing the price of the 620 to the Pentax K-7. Pricing must be a little wacky down there.In Canada the K-7 body is $1599 CDN and the 620 is $649 CDN. Factor in taxes and the K-7 is $1000 more. Nice camera, but a lot more expensive, at least in Canada.

I've no idea about the 620 in particular, but the 'small viewfinders' of other four-thirds SLRS have tended to offer much better effective eye-relief than other DSLRs, an important concern for a glasses wearing left eye shooter. No point in a big VF if I can't see the whole thing without removing my glasses and mashing my eye against the eyepiece.

You are missing all the excitement of Dpreview reviews if you read only the intro and the conclusion. The excitement is in reading conclusions that don't match the remarks made on the other pages of the reviews.

The results of SLRGear's test of the Oly E-520's anti-shake system are interesting, too: http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_olympuse520/IS_Test_Olympus_E-520_SLR_Body.htm

I would expect the E-620 to be at least as good. I find it interesting that sensor-based shake reduction appears to work better at shorter focal lengths, since I tend to shoot in the 28-100 mm-e range.

Best,
Adam

I just dumped all my other systems and lenses and bought several Olympus cameras and a handful of lenses. I have to correct Andy, up above, I bought an e520 not the e620, as well as an e30. I already own two of the older e1's. The appeal of the system is definitely the lenses. I loved them back when I shot with the e-1's and what drove me from the system was the mediocre sensors. I feel that they've finally given the market a bunch of new cameras that start to take advantage of some very fine lenses. I'm getting re-acquainted with the 11-22mm and find it to be wonderful. The 50mm f2 is stunning.

In my blog I kiddingly vow never to buy another camera body again that is more expensive than $800. Hyperinflation will no doubt deflate this pronouncement in short order but the thought pattern is there.

While many need big megapixels I think the Canon G10 shows us that you can cram an amazing number of pixels into a small space and still get some pretty wonderful performance. Since the Oly sensors are at least four times bigger I have high hope for the system's future.

Nice to handle a camera that is just right for the hands of someone five feet eight inches tall.

Mark Twain..."I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

I'd rather pay money and read Sean Reid's concise reviews, written from a photographer's perspective, than sort through a lot of the other technical drivel out there.

Jeff

I gave up on DPreview ages ago. I also tend to only read the intro and conclusion if I'm interested. I also tired of the conclusions contradicting the test results. I don't understand why they always put items in the Cons section that are beyond the scope of the camera's design. "Canon Powershot Elph X007 Con: Not full frame. Does not shoot 10 fps like 1D MKIII" etc.
I remember in the intro the the LX2 review they actually said it had class-leading high ISo performance but then spent the rest of the review slagging it off because it was too noisy!
And why are almost all the real world test samples at the base ISO?

I think Amazon pays the reviewers by the word...

"I agree with JR. It seems that every APS-C SLR's viewfinder is quoted as about 0.9X magnification with a 50mm lens, just like it used to be with 35mm SLRs. This is, to be polite, misleading."

Yes, it is. You have to divide the stated magnification by the crop factor in order to get a number that is directly comparable to a 35mm camera specification. So .9X in 35mm would equal .6X in APS-C and .45X in 4/3.

"While I am on the subject, why can I not see the corners of even my DSLR's viewfinder just because I wear glasses?"

That's called "eye relief," the distance your cornea can be from the eyepiece and still see the whole frame at once. Often, viewfinders with higher magnification have less eye relief, having traded off the one for the other.

Mike

Would it be too much to ask your opinion of dpreview's comments on the Olympus 620? You seem incredulous at the apparently positive review of the 620.

I'd like to know why.

Dear Erlik, Michael, et.al.,

The purpose of a conclusion in a review is to summarize how the reviewer feels about the product. If it appears to contradict individual specific tests, then (unless those specific tests are paramount to you) ignore the specifics rather than the conclusion. The individual tests are a subset of trees in the forest, the conclusion is the forest-- the the reviewer's considered overall opinion of the product. It is not a simple summing of individual tests, because tests don't take into account everything about using the product nor weight it appropriately.

OTOH, if one camera characteristic above all others matters to you, of course you should focus on the test for that. Otherwise, ignoring the conclusion *will* give you a distorted impression of the product.

pax / Ctein
==========================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
==========================================

Wow, this has become an interesting thread. I am with John Roberts that people argue over image quality but never print - almost all pros I personally know. Worse they shoot D3s and let the camera select the focus point, get fuzzy and dull images but tell me with certanty that crop sensor are crap. Well, I get much more resolution with my K20D and got more with the old E-1. Oh well.

Conincidentially Gordon Lewis and I started to rave about the 14-54 over on his blog. Now that the 620 is out he reconsiders to buy one along with that lovely lens. I am thinking about it too. Nothing like this lens so far. But what holds me back besides problems in justifying another system is the viewfinder, since I regard that of the K20D the floor limit. I got more important to me to see the subject, i.e. the whole frame with maximum detail.

And what really bugs me with all systems that are smaller than full frame is not image quality but the lack of a fast (at least f2.0) moderate wide angle. I want the 21 3.2, but for weddings it is too slow, and there should be 20 to 24 f2.0 at least. Why, oh why is it not possible to make such a lens? We should start an online petition to Oly and Pentax, how about that?

Oh, by-the-way, your mention of naps gives all of us nappers out here a little much-needed validation. Churchill, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Danny Kaye, Bono, and now Mike Johnston. Not a bad gaggle to be part of...

(Don't ask me for my sources right now...it's just about nap time.)

But, but, but... some serious review sites do print samples, lots of samples, at various sizes, and crops at the equivalent of huge, and they do report on print quality. Can you see differences? At anything nearing the limits for a given camera, yes, good lord, yes. Where's the limit? Well, now, that's the question.

ALl I can say is that I love the proportions of the frame!

I wish there were more companies subscribing to this aspect ratio.

I have a hard time putting much faith in a review site whose lowest rating seems to be Above Average. I also have a hard time ordering a small/tall coffee at Starbucks.

Funny! I always skip the intro and look at the DPR conclusion and samples. It's the actual photo samples that almost always let the glowing reviews down. Or maybe Dpr staff neeeds a photography lesson or two. Ok, cheap shot :-) But seriously, looking at the color and tonality in the sample photos more often than not leaves me feeling totally unimpressed. I'll hold on to my ancient Fuji S3 (not highly recommended according to DPR) and just keep shooting. Sooner a later a new digital camera is going to come along in my price range that really excites. Haven't seen it yet. Meanwhile, my S3 and my pair of Mamiya 6's (remember film?) are my workhorse cameras.

@ Mike: "Often, viewfinders with higher magnification have less eye relief, having traded off the one for the other."

This is an economic tradeoff, not an optical one. The best microscope and http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~category_id=telev_eye/~pcategory=shopbybrand/~product_id=E0086">telescope eyepieces manage to provide high magnification, wide field of view, and good eye relief.

Of course, the eyepieces I've linked above cost upwards of $500, weigh a pound, and are bigger than a 50 mm Summicron-M (non-collapsible). The view through them is, however, nothing short of spectacular (Al Nagler, who owns TeleVue, is a brilliant optical designer).

I find the e620 to be a very appealing camera, especially since it sells for half of what the Pentax K7 does (at least for now). I have always been a big fan of compact 35mm cameras, like the Pentax ME Super and the Olympus OM system. They also make some very nice zoom lenses for this system. However, the deal breaker remains the nearly total absence of prime lenses outside of the 25mm pancake. I need the option of a reasonable selection of primes. It probably is a great choice if you are happy with zooms.

"but for weddings it is too slow, and there should be 20 to 24 f2.0 at least. Why, oh why is it not possible to make such a lens? We should start an online petition to Oly and Pentax, how about that?"

While i'd like to see the FA* 24/2 to be resurrected, Sigma is still producing 20/1.8 and 24/1.8 lenses. Unfortunately there's no fast lenses wider than 20mm for APS-C.

There arne't any "average" cameras built anymore. The differences are marginal and often out of "eye range" specked. It all comes down to personal preference with respect to color rendition, handling and such.
High ISO cameras like the Nikon 5000 can indeed shoot at 3200, but the images might be to muddy for some, but ok for others, all a matter of personal preference and "fanboyisms"
As for ever smaller getting viewfinders I see this as a normal progression of technology, us older photogs might not like it, but my son and daughter for instance have grown up looking at the back of digital cameras and therefore not knowing/valueing the viewfinder of any sort at all.... in a couple of years cameras, even high quality ones will get smaller still, and will not have prosms or viewfinders very much in the tradition of the EP-1.
Quality lenses .... to expensive especially when one can integrate software making the most of the images in question (and doing a good job at it), The LX-3, G1 and EP-1 are all extremely succesfull with this method. And then whom needs, and I mean need instead of want, high quality lenses since only 3% of all taken images are printed larger than the standard sizes.
What the manufacturers are doing with this knowledge, for they see it all probably better than we ever will, is add more and more "useless" features in order to be able to introduce "new-models"
And then again whom needs high quality and expensive when only having the creativity to make images of dogs in the back yard and high resolving ducks in the water? But nothing can be as boring, even the middle part of DP-review reviews than seeing thousand and thousands of "Macro-flowers" not to speak of Bokeh shots from every possible angle and view point just because someone owns a lens that can do it.
Theres actually not much new happening despite the huge availibility of all the new-, and highly specked cams.
But thats all a matter of taste isn't it. I still enjoy browsing through the GRD flickr images, seems to be one of the very few creatively expanding groups of photogrpahers. And perhaps we should seperate the collectors from the actual photogrpahers, but there wouldn't be very many photogrpahers left would there?

Vince, it's NOT immediately apparent that I want a full frame sensor. Maybe one day, but when that day comes, it won't be Olympus that gives me the choice.

What I'm saying is that I want a system that gives me choices and a future path for development. When Olympus chose the 4/3 format, that was it. They can't ever go full frame because they haven't got the lens base to cover it.

What cameras give a switchable 3:2 and 16:9 frame? Canon G10 and Panasonic LX-3, as well as my Ricoh GX100. Yes, I know they're not as big a sensor as 4/3, but I would definitely argue that at low ISOs they're the equal of Olympus (OK maybe not with the Ricoh). And on larger sensor, you can make your own decisions because you've got the pixels to play with and discard if you choose.

I had a Fuji GSW690 at one time: a fixed 28mm equivalent lens, no option to switch lenses. But with such a huge transparency or neg, I could cut a 35mm frame out of it if I wanted, or any other magnification, and still get quality. I will NEVER have that option with 4/3, unless they can overcome the laws of physics.

Use OM lenses on 4/3? Oh yeah, but lose ALL functions. At least on Canon, I have a huge range of EF fixed focal lengths to choose from, including full frame optics, plus Zeiss lenses in EF mount with aperture control. Read DigLloyd - lots of options with Canon and Nikon and Zeiss.

Why do I want the external viewfinder and/or flash? Because I want them. I can get just as good quality from a G10 or LX-3 at half the price with a flash included and they fit my pocket. The E-P1 won't. What's the point of a small portable camera if you have to carry all the extras with it to make it as convenient?

My point is, all other makers give me choices, including the possibility of future full frame. Yes, it's very expensive at the moment, but the way prices are falling, it's a definite possibility. But Olympus can never offer that. They're like Apple: this is our system, love it or loathe it, take it or leave it, but we make the choices for you. No thanks. Nice gear, but I can do better.

Used to be a regular on DPReview. Even fought the holy E10 war back in 2001 timeframe.

But sometime around 2004 the place changed so much that I dropped out. Oh I go back occasionally and it seems to always be the same crud. Show me this or that, what camera do I buy, that camera/computer/os/etc is crap and then the flame wars ensue.

So I frequent places like TOP, Strobist and the like and keep my BP down. :)

Take care,

I don't read the Into or the conclusion. It's much easier to come here and see what everybody thinks.

ManuH, I had the Sigma for Nikon some years ago. The IQ is nice, but it is huge and clunky. I understand this for fullframe, but I think Pentax could make a DA 21 f2 that is much more compact. Why carry the bulk for an image circle you never need?

Btw, I try to avoid 3rd party stuff. This consideration also drove me to Pentax, because with Canon and Nikon you need either a lot of 3rd party stuff or much money or you go with slow zooms.

You really have to be a bit of a detective to read the reviews at DPReview. I mean, can anyone tell me the difference between "Highly Recommended" and "Recommended". They may as well rate the cameras "Banana" and "Potted Plant". In fairness, they do present a ton of information in their reviews, and I appreciate the high quality samples provided.

In the case of the 620, the samples do most of the raving for me. Noise seems well controlled through ISO800 (and dare I say, is rather film like), and the only photo I find that's questionable is the one 60 second long exposure-- the sky looks pretty ugly on that one. Otherwise those are some of the nicest sample photos that I've seen in a camera review in some time.

Peter: Your stance is noted and duly understood, but I really don't see Olympus being locked into 4/3. It looks that way now, but what's stopping them from making a full-frame camera with support for cropped-mode 4/3 via an adapter (like what Nikon does for DX lenses on FX sensors, only without an adapter)? They won't do it now, but if market forces demands it, they will succumb to full-frame. They seem to be pretty fast to get lenses out, so I don't see it a problem for them to create a whole line of new FF lenses. But going back to reality, if you really plan for FF in the future, then it is wise to go with a system that already does that now, like what you did.

Rest of the DPR-discussing folks: Put me in the camp of those who read only the intro and conclusions part, plus the always-interesting 100% crop stamp photos. I used to read each page, but now I only go into their specifics if there are new and/or interesting features that made its way into the camera being reviewed.

Regarding dpreview, dpreview reviews (is this a tautology?) are, in my opinion at least, more or less sensor reviews. Ok, If I want to know how a sensor behaves, there are few more comprehensive resources than dpreview. But photography is about using the bloody camera, not measuring the sensor. What I need to know is how the camera performs in various real life situations, not just for the purpose of taking touristy snapshots, and I have yet to see anything on dpreview that would approach a photograph, not a snapshot. Which includes the forums, naturally. Seldom have I seen more circular back-patting for absolutely below average snaps than in those blighted caverns where the light of reason and knowledge dares not enter.

As to 4/3 being an evolutionary dead end, cropping a 28 mm equivalent down to 100 mm equivalent, etc.
I considered switching to Nikon D700 from my E-3, as most of the stuff I shot is low-to-no light. I played with the D700, found it an incredible piece of gear, with perhaps THE best user interface on the market. Alas, the lenses let me down. Good though they are, I cannot find an equivalent to my Zuiko Digital 12-60 SWD. Oh, there's the Nikkor 24-120, but it's an abysmal lens by most standards, whereas the Zuiko is ... well, almost erotic in its optical goodness. For most of the stuff I shoot, zooming with my feet is out of the question, as is changing lenses, as I seldom have room to point the camera one way or the other, let alone change a lens, so primes are a no-go. And don't get me started on the tele stuff, because there's no lens with the same angle of view that's even remotely as versatile and hand-holdable as the Zuiko Digital 50-200 SWD. No lens in the world, period.

It's not that I'm unhappy with the image quality I get, but there are shots I missed on account of not having ISO 25600. Such as a band playing by candlelight, for instance. So I lust for the D700, but there are no Nikkor (or 3rd party) lenses that suit me.

The thing is, prints from my E-3 (taken at ISO 1600, no less, and pushed a stop or two in post) were exhibited in poster size, and they got very decent reception. No noise reduction, either.

In other words, the 4/3 system is capable of good enough image quality, if you know what you're doing. And the lenses, well, the lenses are the real secret sauce. Miles ahead of most Canon L glass (which is pretty bloody awful, except for fixed long lenses) and quite a bit ahead of everything else. If Olympus manage to produce a few great primes at 12, 17, 22-ish and 42-ish mm, I'll consider 4/3 to be the perfect system for me. YMMV.

Peter Croft mentioned that Olympus doesn't offer "a switchable 3:2 and 16:9 frame." Considering that the Panasonic GH1 utilizes its sensor in a very elegant way to offer exactly this feature, I see no reason why the next Olympus MFT camera won't offer this feature. Overall, I find Peter's comments quite interesting.

If it appears to contradict individual specific tests, then (unless those specific tests are paramount to you) ignore the specifics rather than the conclusion

Dear Ctein, there's no test that would be paramount to me. I'm most often irritated by tests. It's the gestalt of the camera that's important.

What I'm objecting to at DPR is that their tests show how Camera A is better than Camera B in something and the conclusion says that Camera A is generally not as good in the tested feature. Or they test something with a preconcieved result. Case in point was their review of... E-3, I think. Highlight headroom was the watchword. The test showed that, indeed, D300 and 40D had more headroom. But what the conclusion missed to mention was that E-3 had more "legroom" than either. So you don't shoot to recover the highlights but to pull up the shadows.

Apropos various frames on Olympus, it's standard on E-30, E-620, and E-P1. 16:9, 6:6 and 3:2.

Talk about raves, Imaging Resource's Shawn Barnett is not afraid to come right out and say he's in love with the E-P1:

"I'm in love... the Olympus E-P1 revived feelings I haven't had for 30 years.

"I had a hard time putting the Olympus E-P1 down. It was only other deadlines that kept me from using the camera more, and I could see myself spending a lot more of my free time taking pictures with the Olympus E-P1. You know, the kind of time you spend with a camera when all you do is explore its many features, re-read the manual, and try to get a different shot of some subject whose essence you've tried to capture for years.

"...excels among its digital SLR peers...our level of enthusiasm for the Olympus E-P1 has solidified."

There are some convincing head-to-head comparison crops, too, toward the bottom: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EP1/EP1A.HTM

Just getting back to the original point, I read DPReview pretty closely whenever I'm interested in a particular camera, and I especially revel in their full size sample shots. I spent some time in that London Bridge area last year and I just enjoy seeing all the pictures. OK, they're not art shots but I reckon these guys do a marvellous job of producing interesting samples. I download a lot of them and so can always compare similar shots from different cameras.

Just for my two cents worth, here's my top ten if I had unlimited money to spend. I'd have all of these, not just one:
1. Sony A900 with Zeiss 24-100mm lens;
2. Nikon D3X with Nikon 14-24mm and Zeiss lenses;
3. Pentax K7 with several of the Pentax Limited and DA* lenses and probably Zeiss KA mount as well;
4. Canon G10;
5. Panasonic LX-3;
6. Fuji S200fs (yeah, it doesn't exist yet, but they must upgrade the S100fs with a Super EXR sensor and fix the lens faults soon, surely?);
7. Epson R-D1 if I could get one;
8. Leica M8 just for the experience and pose value;
9. Panasonic GH1 (yes, I know it's 4/3 but I'd still like one);
10. Olympus E-P1 (ditto)

I'm just sayin' ...

What have I actually got?
Film: OM2SP, Pentax Z70, Minolta XK, Canon EOS30e, Contax G1 and G2
Digital: Konica-Minolta A2, Canon 40D, Fuji S100fs, Ricoh GX100.

Long live DPReview. You don't have to read the detail, but it's there for people who want it. I think they do a bloody good job. Just enjoy the results and the samples.

Peter Croft

Juze: But the review is of the camera, not of the quality of the sample shots. That's just as it should be. As long as a camera meets a few basic standards, composition is scarcely related to any quality of the camera.

A camera review should be of the feel and physical qualities of the camera, and quality of the sensor, and perhaps a nod to the system's lenses.

I haven't been spending very much time lately on camera forums, so I think I've got a little more perspective on things.

What is it about camera brands that causes people to get so amazingly lathered up? Now, don't for a moment here think that I have not been guilty of this- I have, many times.

Yet, one has to admit that they all are capable of producing superb results. One camera may be a little better than the next at this or that thing, but for the most part they all work, and very, very well. Some have features that others lack, and vice versa, and some are better for sports while others might be better for weddings or landscapes, but when it's all said and done, they all can take astoundingly good pictures in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.

So, other than the fact that it is entertaining, why do we like to get so lathered up over a simple question of whether a certain camera brand or model is any good?

Jefferey D, I disagree. The review should be of the camera's usability, and writing that takes a photographer. While I personally don't find Michael Reichmann's photographs very interesting (I'm not a landscape guy), his reviews are the ones I most look forward to, as he will usually take the camera out on a serious shoot. Laugh if you will, but even Ken Rockwell, despite all of his ranting and raving, has an occasional nugget of useful information in his Adorama advertisements. Dpreview? Not so much.

@ Mike: "Often, viewfinders with higher magnification have less eye relief, having traded off the one for the other."
@ Spiny Norman: This is an economic tradeoff, not an optical one.

I think you are both right. However....
My DSLR then, has a magnification of about 0.6X, the 35mm SLR has a magnification of about 0.9X. Two different makes. You'd think, then, that the digital camera would have more than enough eye relief.

The DSLR is better than the film camera, but I still cannot see the extreme corners all at the same time, and the eye has to be in just the right place for the best view.
If the viewfinder optics were an extra half a mm bigger all round it would be fine.
That's not a lot to ask for on a £600-700 camera.

When I first ventured back into photography and was looking for advice, I was directed to dpreview and thought it was great.

But then I realized that any place that said all cameras were recommendable (or even highly so) wasn't of any real help.

As someone said, "50% of any sample *must* be below average". (And yes, I know that's only true of evenly-distributed samples, but still :))

To put it VERY short:

Dpreview is for pixel peepers.

TOP is for photographers.

Hence I read the introduction (not always) and conclusion (sometimes) at dpreview. Yet I read EVERYTHING here (and at other places too).

Yes, I know this is an hyper-oversimplification, but you get the idea.

(And in case you are in doubt: no, I'm not paid by Mike Johnston, nor am I close family of Mike Johnston).

I find it odd that Sigma keep on trying with cameras. Their DSLRs haven't been all that well received, quite rightly so, I'd say, and the DPx series has seen even worse reception. They should stick to the lenses, which are bloody good, instead of spending the money on such experiments that benefit no one.

Apart from that, well, that's what I want from a review. No test charts, just "it works for this, doesn't work for that". All I need to know, really.

Re. camera weight, My E620 *with* the big 12-60mm weighs 1100 g. That's what a D700 body alone weighs. With the 25mm pancake lens it weighs considerably less than an M6 without a lens and occupies about the same volume as an M with a collapsible 50mm.

Do I like this? Yes, I like this. A lot.

Now if only Oly or Pana would give me a 28 or 35 prime, 2.8 or bigger. For this maybe I'll just have to suck it up and get a GR-D III...

http://www.1001noisycameras.com/2009/08/ricoh-grd-iii-review-at-dcwatch-with-full-size-samples.html

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