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Wednesday, 20 February 2008


Funny, I'd say the same thing for the Olympus E-400/410 which is the same size an the classic OM series. Gordon liked the easy portability of the E-510...but you can fit *two* E-400 in his Domke bag. I suppose, at the end of the day, each to their own but it's just as well Oly make both cameras!

Talking about magnitude, for me the favourite is the Nikon FM3 (or any Leica M)

I don't know about the E510 but I'd love a box or 2 of Edison's pencils.

Second vote for the E-400 as the perfect "small" eyelevel camera. 14,000 exposures, more airplane rides and dragging along streets than I can recall, and no fuss from the little bugger at all. Perfect native resolution for 16x20 prints with no upsizing. What else can you ask for?

One of the reasons why I've been looking so seriously at the E-410 and E-510 lately has to do with the size of the body. If only they made a series of high quality, small prime lenses to match, I would be sold.

As it stands, of the DSLRs I've had, I'd say that the *ist DS is best in terms of size and ergonomics. The controls are pretty intuitive, it is small enough that I could put it in a coat pocket, and it is unobtrusive enough that I could take photos in cafes without people taking much notice. If only Pentax would make a new body of that size, without a right hand grip (which I could give or take), and with some of nice features of the K10D and K20D. It'd be perfect for street work.

I can't comment on any of the cameras discussed in this post, but in the form factor department, having just sold my Minolta 7D, lenses and flash and replaced them (so far) with a Nikon D300, 24-120 and speedlight I'm shocked to discover how much bigger, heavier and less intuitive the Nikon is to operate. I'm not complaining (yet) because I seem to have picked up lots more pro features than I ever realized existed (and I'm not sure if I'll ever use) - but certainly I wasn't expecting anything as big and heavy or as hard to figure out. And in a perverse way I'm enjoying the "pro" feeling of such a clunker. I'm reading the manual, for goodness sake, and I've still got over 300 pages to go. Some of the stuff I'm finding is amazing - some of it is killing me:

Why can't I pick auto ISO right off the ISO button?

It's great that I can slave 6 flashes in 2 groups on separate channels, but why is it so damn hard just to set the 1 flash I have remotely and bounce it into an umbrella?

I daresay I'll get the hang of it and become a Nikon true believer eventually, but for now it's heavy going...


I handled one of these at B&H -- I'd agree, except for the size of the focusing screen, which still has the postage-stamp-at-the-bottom-of-a-well quality that I've come to associate with APS sensor DSLRS. Camera makers: the point of a camera is to be able to see what you are photographing. See, focus, make the exposure. Without a decent focusing screen, I can't give any camera the "golden mean" nod. The good news is that with the fashion-industry style product cycles that currently dominate the gear biz, the camera companies will have another chance to get it right . . . in about six months.

Ben Marks

I am sitting at my desk with a 510 in my hand having just read Gordon's fine description of this camera. I couldn't agree more with Mikes comments. As a long time Nikon user, I purchased this, my first Oly, for just the reasons you have both mentioned. I love the size, weight and feel of this camera in the hand, balanced with its feature set. Yes, it is not weather sealed and the viewfinder is a trifle small but as an example of engineering and design - it works!!

I ordered The Pencil, though as a used copy. With such a recommendation how could I not? I love your site.

Mike you said almost exactly the same thing about the Nikon D80 in last fall's "Top Ten" list. "A baby bear camera," i think you called it, with ergonomics that were" Perfectly sorted." It'll be interesting to see what you actually end up buying.

Have you actually looked through the "light at the end of a dark tunnel" viewfinder on the E510? I was ready to buy one and after looking through the viewfinder marked it off my list.

Please do bear in mind that when I say "size, shape, and weight," I'm *ONLY* talking about those three aspects of it. Gordon covered the features, capabilities, and design aspects better than I could, and obviously overall the E-510 is no closer to perfect than many of its competitors.

I agree with what many commenters have said, from the lack of complimentary lenses (separate issue, IMO) to the similar form-factors of the FM3a and M6. I just think the E-510 will be my personal reference for ideal size, shape, and weight from now on. If I were specifying a camera design myself, it's what I'd shoot for.

Mike J.

For me, the ideal form is in between the E-410/OM and the E-510. The E-410/OM form with a *bit* more grip is ideal for me. The Bessa R3A is just about right, and it helps that I can attach the M-Hexanon 50/2 =). Off-topic, thanks to Mike J. for making me aware of this excellent lens, recently available for a very nice price (perhaps due to competition from the Zeiss Planar 50/2).

Amin Sabet

Personally, I think that the viewfinder in the E-510 is just fine. Wearing glasses as I do, I appreciate the ability to see the whole composition at once, surrounded by a black border.

I really dug Petroski's "The Book on the Book Shelf" http://isbn.nu/9780375706394/

In fact, having read it influenced the design for the built-in bookcases I got last fall. Stole a few ideas from the 1800s.

Guess I'll have to order "The Pencil" one of these days, too. And probably many others of his books. Dang you, Mike, you're supposed to be tempting me into buying photo-geek toys, not books!

It bothers me that you have few books you consider worth rereading. May I suggest Love in the times of Cholera by Garcia Marquez. Maybe it's because I'm old enough that I forget the beginning by the time I finish, but I have read it several times, and will again.

"I really dug Petroski's 'The Book on the Book Shelf' "

All of Petroski's books are great, but isn't that one amazing? I never would have guessed that what seems such a straightforward system would have such a long and variegated history. I liked that one too.

Mike J.

You should grab a Nikon D40. It has the perfect "size, shape and weight". Really.

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