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Saturday, 13 October 2007


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As far as your opinion of Olympus quality etc...Frrrrt. ( a bronx cheer.)

Thank you very much, Mike, for this reminder! Otherwise i might have happened to get some sleep tonight ;-))

Well, damn, i am that exited about the E-3, and i really hope it holds up to the competition. Anyway nice to read your thoughts about the lenses, as i love the 14-54. I think that i cannot get anything like this for the price, size and weight in other mounts. And then there is something about it that i cannot describe...

And hey, maybe the E-3 has bw-mode, so we could get that bw-only-workflow we talked about in the last ctein-post in a professional weathersealed body.

Btw. as you miss the primes in 4/3-mount, what about the Summilux? Would be very nice to find a field-review here some day.

"made for digital moderate-wide prime?" You mean like the DA21mm f3.2 I use every day om my K10D? Didn't you call Pentax an "Old photo dawg's company?" they threw it to you, Mike, you just didn't catch.

I await the release of the E-3 with interest. I've shot a fair amount with the original E-1; right when it first came out in 2004. I spent some hours using it "in the field" for some motorsports photography. While a beautifully constructed camera, it's autofocus performance was balky and hit-and-miss. Sometimes the AF would get totally confused, the lens hunting repetitively for focus lock. Even though it has the same no. of AF points and frame rate of my camera at the time, a Canon D60, it could not compare to the D60 for AF speed and accuracy....let alone a 1D, the reference standard at the time. While the body was very nicely constructed, I found the ergonomics to be confusing, with different buttons enabling different functions scattered over the body in different places. Image quality was excellent and very neutral at low ISO, noise even at ISO 400 was quite unacceptable. I do remember that the E-1 gave very nice, fat histograms, it's metering system seemed to be very good at capturing a full range of tones. I was able to use the E-1 for about two wewks a year later, and spent one memorable day during President's Day holiday in 2005 shooting mustard in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. I remember that the E-1 did a very good job of metering again, with a noted ability to capture highlights and hold detail from whitest part of the clouds to the shadows. I came away with some very nice images that day.



I converted one of these image to black and white, and got a beautifiul monochrome image:


I used the two premier Zuikos that were released with the E-1, the 14-54/f3.5 and the 50-200/2.8-3.5, and while the camera had some problems, the lenses were flawless. The quality of Olympus glass has always been, and continutes to be, absolutely superb.

My overall impressions of the E-1 was that it was a system of unfulfilled promise; superior glass with a quirky body capable of very good results, but clearly with some flaws; most notable of which was uneven AF performance, and unacceptable noise at higher ISO.

While some might read this post as a bit negative on Oly, I am a fan of Olympus, and have been for a long time. Until December 2002, I shot for 22 years with my venerable OM-1s and a suite of Olympus lenses. I don't know if I would call Olympus adventurous and risk-taking company...quirky, maybe. They certainly dance to the beat of a different drummer. It is a company that has had superb science and engineering capabilities that always seemed to be let down by an incompetent marketing organization.

I hope the E-3 is a success both as a camera and a value proposition for customers....I would hate to see Oly go the way of Minolta.

Those amazing Zuikos are too precious to lose.

"(Please, won't somebody throw this poor photo-dawg a made-for-digital moderate-wide prime? "

Is the Pentax DA 21mm Limited not what you're looking for, Mike?

What about the DA 21mm Limited for Pentax? I have it and it's fantastic.

There's also the DA 14mm, but that's a bit wider than I think you're talking about.

Pentax is the only company that has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to making high-quality, lightweight, fast and affordable digital-only primes.

The K10D body isn't too shabby, either :)

Latest rumors are that Pentax will announce a new "semi-pro" body in January with specs like the D300 and an unnamed surprise that will be "very significant". Apparently Hoya has thrown a fair amount of money into expanding operations so Pentax can finish and meet demand for all of the lenses currently on the roadmap, with more to be announced in January.

Rumors are just that - rumors - but I'm feeling pretty good about my recent switch to Pentax.

If Olympus or any other company were interested in "poor photo-dawgs" they would have brought out a DSLR that felt and handled like a film SLR! With a real shutter speed dial, a real aperture dial, and a well damped, smooth optional manual focus ring on the lenses. And for crying out loud, does a 25mm f2 prime or a 17mm f2 prime have to be as big as a freaking coke can and weigh a pound and a half? I mean, they only need to project an image onto a 110 size sensor! Sorry for the rant, guess I'm just grumpy....Oh! And one more thing, can't they even try to put a decent sized viewfinder in their cameras. Even if its on the small size I'd like to see it snap into focus with a degree of authority.

A Sigma 30mm gives you a 45mm-48mm FOV on Pentax, Nikon and Canon cameras. Now if only camera manufacturers would take a hint and make similar primes for their own cropped bodies (instead of reverse-engineered AF and questionable quality control from Sigma), we'd be in good shape.

Olympus loses me with their lens line. I just can't get interested in all zooms (not even fast zooms) without serious alternatives for fast and small primes.

I'd like it to be a success. I have a very soft spot for Olympus cameras, I still have my first generation OM4 with a wonderful Zuiko 35-105. I would love it if Olympus came out with a digital version of that camera or the OM3. The E410 looks close in some ways but I would like some primes if I were to buy into an Olympus system again.

Yeah, it would also be nice if that 25mm f2 prime didn't cost a grand!

Pentax has the 31mm f1.8 which is arguably the finest auto-focus lens ever made for $200 less. The 43 f1.9 and 77 f1.8 aren't far behind, if they're behind at all, and both can be had for less than $700.

I frankly don't understand all the hoopla around Olympus & 4/3rds. Limited lens choices, very few primes, and what's available costs an arm and a leg.

"it's been so long since the E-1 that Oly skipped right over E-2"

Er, no. The official reason is a Nikon camera by that name. Yes, the official reason. I asked a guy pretty high in the hierarchy. Olympus has never trademarked the E-2 name, unlike E-3.

Mike, I agree with you that Olympus is an adventurous company. Look at the body form of E-300 and E-330, or even E-400/410. Look at Live View in E-330. Look at the dust buster. Look at their whole "made for digital" philosophy.

Viewfinder in E-3 is apparently going to be quite nice - 100% coverage and 1.15 magnification. The latter is certainly a pioneering effort in DSLRs.

Besides, Panasonic/Natsushita patented a new type of sensor in the USA three days ago:


It looks similar to the D3 sensor. If that's true and it ends in E-3 (the sensor was patented in Japan in April), it would mean even better noise performance than E-410/510, which was a significant improvement over the old Kodak sensors in the earlier E-system cameras like E-1. Which in turn had a very good DR performance. Kodak says E-1 sensor had 11.1 EV stops. Considering that PhaseOne advertises 12 stops in their backs, I'd say it's _very_ good for a rinky-dinky 4/3 sensor. (BTW, Leica M8 officially has 11.9 stops.)

Finally, what's that with you guys and primes? Mike, I'm certain that if you tried 11-22/2.8-3.5, you wouldn't find much to object.

"Finally, what's that with you guys and primes?"

I just feel like such a wanker hauling around a big honking zoom. I prefer something small.

Mike J.

I've not been this excited since, well, Halo 3... I only wish I was being ironic about that but, no, I'm quite sad...

I'd like to second Paul's sentiments.
They don't get a lot of use these days, but my OM cameras (and lenses) represent a kind of high-water mark in a long life of camera lust, and that includes lots of gear, from Leica to medium format to the obligatory Canikon experience.
The idea of a digital based on the OM-3 or OM-4 would have lot of appeal to anyone who has used those cameras.
Heck, how about a black and white-capable OM-1?

Mike, can you say "w/anchor" on the internet?

Me, I'm all for ALL forms of self expression... long may anglo-saxon profanities fxxxing continue.

p.s. I'm just trying to fill in the hours until the 'Great Unveiling' the universe has been waiting for. I both love and fear it at the same time: a new AF system for 4/3rds BUT without any form of AF point choice by 'reflex action' except 'button & dial'. Also, a 10MP NMOS? At least the Kodak FFTs had a bit of 'soul' about them seeing MF backs used them too. What form of cred does a NMOS have?

Then if we look at the big picture, we have a telephoto format that is, or should be, a birders/news?/sports users No1 choice yet the rugged & sealed body is there but without a way of choosing AF point/area 'on the fly', what hope is there for Oly to attract those users?

4/3rds misses it's one true role and is ill-suited, or you can get better, for the other photographic roles that abound.

Yes, so much to fear!

"If Olympus or any other company were interested in "poor photo-dawgs" they would have brought out a DSLR that felt and handled like a film SLR! With a real shutter speed dial, a real aperture dial, and a well damped, smooth optional manual focus ring on the lenses."

Isn't that pretty much the best selling Leicasonic Digilux L1.

"Finally, what's that with you guys and primes?"
My turn

I don't want a camera and lens that looks and feels like its wearing me.
Can you say; available light?
Shallow DOF.
Unobtrusive.(see first entry)
Simplicity in AOV.
Finally, the option to choose.
Instead of eleventy-zillon shooting modes and do-all monster zooms a few of us(apparently too few) prefer a transparent interface and a camera that just gets out of the way and lets you shoot.

I think Pentax are almost there with the 21 limited, but by "moderate wide angle prime" I'd mean something with the field of view of a 24mm or 28mm, so slightly wider, and preferrably keeping the small size.

Pity CV don't step up to provide this like they did with RFs - at least with a dRF there are some decent tiny wide-angle primes covering all the usual range. OK yes SLR wides are harder, but still...

What I'd really like is a camera more like the size and handling of my M3 or an OM too... wait, they do make one of those, it's called an M8... oh, and not astronomically expensive then :)

"my OM cameras (and lenses) represent a kind of high-water mark in a long life of camera lust, and that includes lots of gear, from Leica to medium format to the obligatory Canikon experience."

Me three. I shot my OM-4T's for the longest time of any camera, and my camera-geekiness never reached a higher pitch than when I was into the OM system. Was never more satisfying, either. Loved that line. Did you have the OM Lenses book? I practically wore that out.

Mike J.

Pentax Limited Primes:

DA 21/3.2 , FA 31/1.8, DA 40/2.8, FA 43/1.9, DA 70/2.4, FA 77/1.8


DA 14/2.8, FA 35/2, FA 50/1.4, DFA 50/2.8 Macro, DFA 100/2.8 Macro

What else could you need in primes?

Mike, I had the OM lenses book, too, and wore it out, also. As a scientist, what was impressive to me was the scientific applications that were available from the OM line. But then, Olympus started a a scientific imaging company, and the OM-1 was originally designed as a body for photomicroscopy. While I have a number of nice Zuiko lenses, the crown jewel of my collection is a pristine Olympus Zuiko 300mm f/4.5.

Well, big honking zooms have their uses. But only _big_ zooms, like 35-100/2, not the ones that have 10x range.

Olympus has two excellent zooms in their mid range, the above mentioned 11-22 and 14-54. The former is better than the latter and I'd bet that it could hold its own against _any_ Pentax DA prime. And with 92.5 mm of length and 485g of weight it's not such a burden. 14-54, which is an excellent all-around zoom is smaller.

OTOH, Olympus could (hopefully) produce some small primes. They have the 35mm macro that could be used as the form factor for primes. It has so little glass that I think they could increase the speed and not increase the size.

The people I know who are currently using film prime pancakes, usually use them on E-400. Now that is a good combination. The camera has the size of an OM-4TI although it is quite lighter. But I don't see a pressing need to create primes for bigger cameras.

Don't get me wrong. I ain't got anything against primes. If I had money I'd buy a couple of film primes. Unfortunately, the ones I want are pretty expensive and the fact that I'm pretty slow in manual focusing means I'm not that eager to start accumulating money. Still, the zooms do their job nicely and taking care of the technique means I can have the blurry background, too.

I've been wondering when there would be a follow-up to the E1. But just as I waited for the Leica Digilux & Panasonic LM>>>.... I will keep waiting.
Why have so many abandoned film so thoroughly (and maybe a few years sooner than anticipated)?
Why, as one blogger pointed out, are digital cameras so 'feature heavy' instead of concentrating on what photographers really want? I've just returned from a month in China, shooting digital. It's the second time I've spent a month in China shooting, taking along my third digital camera. Sorry folks, but................ digital stinks!
Not only am I pulling out & dusting off my old Contax SLRs & Leica rangefinders, I'm about to purchase a couple new medium format film cameras, because digital quality still doesn't approach the sharpness, contrast, and emotion of blowing up a 6x6 or even a 6 x 4.5 negative. Emotion?
Yes, good quality silver or platinum prints evoke emotions, and after all, isn't that why many of us pursue photography as a hobby and/or vocation?
Give me a film camera, fully manual of course, and I'll be a happy guy.... At least until I can afford 20 grand for a medium format digital back!

Here, from Brazil, another OM-1 fan: I still use daily my black OM-1n for B&W shooting, alongside my Canon DSLR. The Oly is a delight in ergonomy, size (about the same size and weight of a M Leica), and the optics are still first class.

Mike wrote: "Olympus is the most adventurous and risk-taking of the major camera companies..."

I'll disagree. I don't see their products or their strategy as adventurous or risk-taking. Can you be more specific about what you think exemplifies this?

I would be far more likely to give that award to Pentax than to Oly.

I see Oly and the four-thirds as a careful, calculated approach to mining a market and nothing more.

Consider: They're the only guys with a mount that has current, active patents. (Nikon, Canon's AF mounts have generally expired).

I was a long time Oly shooter and to this day have a bit of nostalgia for how awesome an OM-2n felt in the hands and what a pleasure the viewfinder and lenses were.

But their "telecentric" four-thirds is a bunch of marketing hokum (Study Leica's digital M and Nikon's 17-35mm to see how shaky the Oly arguments on this topic really are).

They toasted me nicely when I was left high and dry with an OM system. I had and still have no intention of giving them another shot at fleecing me, so when it was time to go digital, I went elsewhere.

Decent low and mid-range products, a solid marketing plan and some good integration of features? Sure. Risk taking? Nah. They just market well and are mining their loyal customer base.

Now, Pentax and their DX primes -- that's risk taking. I wish them well!


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