http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympuse410/page19.asp for comparison between E410, Nikon D40X & Canon 400D, the E510 should have similar image quality to E410 but also have sensor-based IS making it an even more attractive camera for those who don't mind a little bit more size, weight.
Super brief summary:
see digital SLRs
if you don't already own lenses and a compact, high quality, affordable system is important:
personally, I would only consider these manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Pentax.
it's hard to go past the Olympus E510 for its live preview and sensor-based IS and their range of high quality compact digital lenses:
sure Canon & Nikon have many other advantages, but if the weight and cost of their lenses is a show-stopper (eg. travel), then all their advantages are meaningless.
the new Canon 40D is looking like it will be a great compromise camera with its live preview and 14bit A/D and 6fps and should give better image quality than the Olympus especially at high ISO or in wide dynamic range situations when shooting in RAW mode but lens selection for it is a bit of an issue.
the Pentax K10D is currently the best SLR with its feature set and price but it will lock you into Pentax lenses.
alternatively, the Canon Rebel XT 400D is a reasonable, light, compact camera with the advantage of the available range of lenses that can fit it, but they will not be as small and fast as the Olympus (thus DOF may be a problem) and you may sorely miss a spot meter, and its ergonomics leave a lot to be desired.
many recommend the following lenses if you are only going to take one lens on travel:
Canon EF 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 USM IS:
image stabiliser allows hand held 1/10ths at wide & 1/30th sec at telephoto
edges a bit soft wide open so may need stopping down a couple of stops.
not parfocal & not eTTL-II compatible
Tamron AF 24-135 f/3.5-5.6 Aspherical AD IF:
seems to be a very serious alternative with a slightly higher optical solution (similar distortions) and a better build quality.
Canon EF-S 17-85 (ie. 27-136mm) f/4-5.6 USM IS
for the best electronic flash system, the Nikon D70s or D80 would be the way to go but you would need to consider a Nikon SB-800/600 flash or Metz 54MZ-4i flash with adapter.
low light photography with digital SLR's and sensor size:
any digital SLR can achieve low noise at low ISO, thus the bottom line is - what fastest shutter speed can you attain for the conditions at a given acceptable noise level
the 30% smaller sensor of the 4/3rds sensor compared to the 15.1x22.7mm sensor will equate to having to use ISO about half a stop slower to achieve the same noise although noise comparisons of the Olympus suggest perhaps 1 stop difference.
this "loss in ISO" is offset by the fact that the 4/3rds sensor allows smaller, faster lenses for the same price which not only make up for the half stop loss but means less to carry and potentially less camera shake with lighter lenses.
of course, particularly if you have lots of good old lenses & you don't mind carrying heavy gear and you are rich, then go for a full frame Canon or for a compromise, go for the 20D or 400XT.
for action photography:
one needs fast shutter speeds & reasonably deep depth of field:
low noise at high ISO becomes more important as it allows shorter exposures at smaller f/stops
BUT, the smaller the sensor, the greater the depth of field and the cheaper it is to get fast, light telephotos, so low noise at high ISO is not necessarily the most important factor.
although an IS Canon lens enables one to hand hold a shot for shutter speeds at ~ 2stops slower than usual, this is not as good as using a tripod & does not help with photos of moving objects, when it is still required to use a fast shutter speed & thus requires either a fast lens or high ISO or both, thus if you can afford a high quality fast telephoto then this is better than an IS lens and this is where the 4/3rds standard starts to come into its own with more affordable fast telephotos.
some IS lens have a "panning" mode so that horizontal movements are ignored.
minimal blackout between shots, fast burst speeds, fast predictive motion AF makes the Canon 40D a good compromise, although the high-end cameras such as the Nikon D2H(s), D2x & Canon 1D Mark III with their better burst performance are better but they are much more expensive and may require much more expensive lenses.
hopefully the next high end Olympus due 2007 will have predictive AF & a faster burst speed than the 3fps of the E-1.
need light camera body with low noise at high ISO
preferably with mirror lock up to reduce vibration
preferably a wired remote control to lock long exposures
preferably with reasonable IR sensitivity (hence the 20Da & Hutech)
preferably not full frame as most telescopes cannot give good images beyond a 25mm radius of the axis.
preferably ability to focus via magnified LCD screen (eg. 20Da, Olympus E330) or via laptop
ability to save true RAW images in at least 12 bit per channel
see comparison tests on 300D vs 350XT vs 20D vs D70 at http://www.tcann.com/
unfortunately the Olympus E330 has more noise and tends to cause horizontal banding at higher ISO with long exposures, but it is good for up to 60sec exposures at ISO 400 - see my comet photos
5-6 megapixel digital SLRs moved to here.
7.5 megapixel live preview SLRs:
announced Jan 2006; $US999 body only RRP; $A1799 with kit lens but you should be able to pick it up for $A1499;
WARNING: This camera is complex and suited best to the enthusiast who is happy to learn its tricks.
THIS CAMERA IS REVOLUTIONARY IN CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY - but still not perfect. I had a play and its manual focus, AF solves most of the problems of the 8080 while adding digital SLR features and keeping the live preview waist-level LCD of the 8080.
the feature set of this camera would have to make it the best value prosumer SLR camera on the market for those wanting great manual focus capability, as long as you can deal with its complexity and do not need the lower noise at high ISO that the Canon and Nikons give you. Professionals will probably prefer to use full frame digital SLRs.
"it proved to be the best urban photography camera currently in existence; nothing comes close. Its combination of quick autofocus, accurate metering and the ability to use ultrawide glass separates it from any camera currently in existence."
"I never before handled a camera that revolutionized my way of taking pictures in such a radical way."
"...this mode gives absolutely the best LCD preview I ever saw on any camera, period. It is completely free of noise, flicker and slight pixel intensity variations which are typical for all digicams, which make manual focus almost impossible in other digicams. Here, the picture is absolutely steady and sharp, which makes it possible to set critical focus within a fraction of a millimeter. I didn't believe I would ever say that, but I actually think itís as good or better than the optical viewfinder for setting focus in delicate macro work."
Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
similar feature set as the Olympus E-330 and like the Olympus has both live preview and sensor dust cleaner but:
looks more like a Leica rangefinder and will sell with with Leica 14-50mm image stabilised lens.
uses different image processing and user interface
LCD screen does not tilt
camera controls more like a Leica 35mm rangefinder
shutter release position awkward
no dynamic buffering, once take finger off shutter, can't take another pic until buffer empties fully!
uses SD instead of CF
announced Feb 2006, available Sept 2006 at $US1999 - almost twice the price of the E330 but it does include that Leica lens.
Leica have their version of this camera available in late 2006 - the Leica Digilux 3
8-10 megapixel SLRs:
|Canon 350D Rebel XT (2005)
400D (late 2006)
|Canon 20D (2004)||Sony A100 (July 2006)||Olympus E510 (Mar 2007)
E410 (Mar 2007)
|Nikon D200 (Dec 2005)|
|sensor size||15.1x22.7mm 3:2 1.6x crop 8mpixel 350D and 10.1mpixel 400D||15.1x22.7mm 3:2 1.6x crop 8mpixel||15.8x23.6mm 1.5x crop 10.2mpixel||4/3 13x17.3mm 4:3 2.0x crop 8mpixel||DX 15.6x23.7mm 1.5x crop 10.2mpixel|
|RAW + jpeg mode||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|burst mode||2.9fps x 6 then 6 sec b4 next (3fps x 10 RAW or 27JPG in 400D)||5fps x 6 pics then 9-12sec b4 next||3fps x 6RAW;||2.5fps x 4 RAW but unlimited jpeg||5fpsx22 RAW|
|AF||9 point; flash assist||9 point; flash assist||9 point||3 point; flash assist||11 point|
|predictive AF||AI Servo||AI Servo|
|start-up time||< 0.5sec||0.3sec||>1 sec||>2 sec?|
|shutter lag / blackout||100msec||65msec / 115msec||50msec|
|RAW write time||~2sec (~2.8s with jpeg)||~2sec (~2.8s with jpeg)|
|metering||35 zone;||35 zone; 9% centre spot||40 segment;||49 zone; spot;||3D metering|
|white balance||poor AWB incand.|
|LCD review max. zoom to check focus||10x||10x||12x||8x, 14x||4x?|
|LCD review histogram||yes||yes||yes & RGB||yes, & RGB!||yes, RGB|
|long exposure issues||v.good for astro.||v.good for astro.|
|x-sync||E-TTL II; 1/200th;||1/250th; E-TTL II; wireless flash support||1/160th / 1/125th;||1/180th; 1/4000th in SuperFP mode;||1/250th;|
|pros:||mirror lock up;
low noise at high ISO
|low noise; 20Da version for astrophotography||
CF & Sony Memorystick Duo
USB 2.0 Highspeed
mirror is always locked up with self timer on.
good viewfinder for a cropped sensor.
some nice new CZ lenses coming incl. 135mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.4 and 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 see here
|compared with E-300:
Live preview Mode B with 6x or 10x live magnified view;
CCD-shift IS in the E-510 but not the E-410.
new high ISO noise filter;
new 49 area metering sensor; new highlight/shadow spot metering;
2.5" LCD screen with 14x zoom on playback!
better control system;
unlimited burst in jpeg;
USB 2.0 Highspeed
|2.5" screen; great burst mode; great Nikon lenses,
metering & flash system;
1800 pics per battery charge.
closest subject priority in AF.
optional wifi FTP
no spot meter;
on 350D: slower AF than 20D; Controls for ISO, metering, AF mode and White Balance now require extra SET press; poor AWB for incandescent and indoor flash, esp. with reds.
350D LCD not bright enough in sunlight;
350D viewfinder only shows you 75% of your image making optimal composition problematic but 400D shows 95%;
exp.compensation only +/- 2 stops not 5;
350D no RGB histogram but there is on 400D
dust on sensor is problematic on 350D but anti-dust measures in 400D.
poor quality kit lens
small LCD screen on 350D but larger on 400D;
|price; no spot meter?;
no RGB histogram
dust on sensor is problematic;
poor quality kit lens
|dust remover doesn't work as well as Olympus see here
uses Minolta A-type lens mount
uses proprietary flash hot shoe mount - I hate this!
exp. compensation and other parameters only +/-2 steps
long exposure NR artefacts
noisy at high ISO
slow start up, but this is to clean the sensor
10mpixel detail is not significantly better than 8mpixel in a Canon 30D.
max. timed shutter only 30sec
no vertical grip option;
no RGB histogram
no Live Preview mode A;
LCD screen not tiltable;
|only 4x playback zoom?
no sensor cleaner.
limited lenses designed for DX.
|weight w batt.||490g+batt||770g||479g incl. batt.|
Canon 30D (2006) adds 3.5% spot meter, larger LCD screen, 5fps or 3fps and a few other improvements $US1399 body
Canon 40D (late 2007) adds Live Preview, 14bit A/D, improved dust/weatherproofing and 6.5fps up to 75jpegs or 17RAW.
very nice camera!!
sensor may be same as in Nikon D200?
Sony A700: 12mp, 5fps, 11pt AF, CCD-shift IS, 3" VGA LCD, weathersealed, 24-160mm kit lens
Olympus E410 (2007) 10mpixels, smallest & lightest DSLR to date and has live preview.
Olympus E510 (2007)
10mp, Live preview AND sensor-based image stabiliser.
very NICE camera!!
see reviews: Rorslett
also, the cheaper Nikon D80 released late 2006 see dpreview which is 10.2mpixels, has 25x playback zoom, 11AF points
and the cheaper, light Nikon D40X 10mpixel announced in March 2007.
also, the Fuji S5 Pro based on the D200 but with Fuji's sensor due 2007
Pentax have released an impressive, weatherproof 10mpixel SLR in late 2006, the K10D with CCD anti-shake, 22bit A-D, dust reduction, 11pt AF, 1.5x crop, 3fps; DNG, spot meter, auto-ISO exposure mode, SDHC card support; Pentax KA mount; 95% frame coverage viewfinder, 20x zoom playback; $US899 body only; BUT only 16 segment metering, some moire and ? no RGB histogram.
Leica have released a 10mpixel high end rangefinder, the Leica M8 which is compatible with Leica M lenses but with a 1.33x crop factor.
see high end digital for the SLRs with more pixels
Some lens comparisons:
|Lens||35mm equiv. f.l||f/ratio||retail price approx. UK pounds (2005)||retail price $A||weight|
|Olympus 11-22mm||22-44mm||f/2.8-3.5||569||485g 72mm filter|
|Olympus 14-54mm||28-108mm||f/2.8-3.5||449||435g 67mm filter|
|Olympus 50 macro||100mm||f/2.0 macro||359|
|Canon 10-22 EFS||16-35mm||f/3.5-4.5||549||385g|
|Canon 17-85 EFS IS||27-136mm||f/4-5.6 IS||454||475g|
|Canon 60 EFS macro||96mm||f/2.8 macro||319||335g|
|Canon 200 L||320mm||f/1.8||2999||3000g|
|Canon 300 L IS||480mm||f/2.8 IS||3249||2550g|
|Canon 400 L IS||640mm||f/2.8 IS||5449||5300g|
|Canon 24-70 L||38-112mm||f/2.8||929||$A2575||950g|
|Canon 70-200L IS||112-320mm||f/2.8||$A3395 (cw $A2620 without IS and $A1375 for f/4 w/o IS)|
|Nikon 28-70 AF-s||42-105mm||f/2.8||$A3380||935g|
|Nikon 17-35 AF-s||26-53mm||f/2.8||$A2995||745g 77mm filter|
|Nikon 12-24 AF-s DX||18-36mm||f/4||$A2110||485g 77mm filter|
|Nikon 17-55 AF-s DX||26-83mm||f/2.8||755g 77mm filter|
|Nikon 18-70 AF-s DX||27-105mm||f/3.5-4.5||420g 67mm filter|
|Nikon 10.5 AF DX fish-eye||16mm||f/2.8||305g|
|Nikon 70-200 VR||105-300mm||f/2.8||$A3380||1470g 77mm filter|
lenses especially made for the smaller digital sensors (thus not compatible on full frame cameras) are:
Four Thirds mount (Olympus, Panasonic) which have a 2x crop factor compared to 35mm:
Canon EF-S (1.6x crop factor):
60mm f/2.8 macro
10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 - equiv. to 16-35mm, this has reasonable build quality and minimal aberrations with good resolution. Not dust proof.
17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS - equiv. to 27-136mm; this is the "kit lens" to get for the Rebel but build quality still not great and tends to collect dust inside the lens. Front element fortunately does not rotate so can use a polariser. Versatile but substantial distortions, vignetting and CA still. No where near as good as the Zuiko 14-54mm.
18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 - budget kit lens designed for the garbage bin - plastic cheap feel, difficult to use a polariser as front element rotates & need to use f/8 to reduce aberrations and get reasonable resolution - don't even bother with this lens
17-55mm f/2.8 IS - equiv. to 27-88mm, introduced in 2006; $US1150
Nikon DX (1.5x crop factor):
10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye
12-24mm f/4 ie. 18-36mm
17-55mm f/2.8 ie. 26-83mm
18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 ie. 27-105mm
18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ie. 27-82mm
18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR ie. 27-300mm
55-200mm f4-5.6 ie. 82-300mm
Thus, to get a 24-140 range zoom as with most prosumers, you are going to be hit with significant cost for adequate resolution to match the digital SLR's - it seems your best cost-effectiveness would be the Olympus ZD 12-60mm with its fast f/2.8-3.5 lens which is ~1.5 stops faster than the equivalent Canon EF-S lens and half the price and weight of the Canon 24-70 EF L which lacks wide angle being only 38mm at the 1.6x crop factor.. Having said this, given the Canon's lower noise at high ISO, and the built-in image stabiliser in the lens, a good choice may well be the Canon 17-85 EFS lens despite its slow aperture of only f/5.6 at the portrait/telephoto end - but remember - if you upgrade to a full frame sensor body your investment on this lens cannot be leveraged as it will not fit a Canon 5D.
Let's look at a quick DOF comparison assuming portrait at 2m from camera using a 100mm focal length (35mm equiv.):
Olympus E510 + Olympus ZD 12-60mm lens:
image stabilised, live preview & wonderful 24-120mm f/2.8-3.5 lens - what more could you ask for in a travel camera?
Olympus E330 + Leica 14-50mm lens at f/3.5 = DOF range = 17cm
Olympus E330 + 50mm f2 macro or 35-100mm f2 => DOF range = 10cm
on a budget, the Olympus E330 with a manual focus OM lens eg. 50mm f/1.4 stopped down to f/2.8 => DOF range 14cm, or if you can put up with some softness on the edges and vignetting, then use it at f/1.4 => DOF range = 7cm.
in bright sunshine, at f/3.5 and ISO 100, you have the options of:
shutter speed of ~1/800th sec which will require you to resort to ND or polarising filters to allow you to use normal fill-in flash
use the Olympus FL50 flash in FP mode sync at 1/4000th sec, one can even use the f/2 aperture without need for filters
in low light, the faster aperture compensates for the higher noise, enabling a lower ISO than the Canon.
Canon 350D + EFS 17-85mm at f/5.6 => DOF range = 21cm
moving back to 2.7m and use 135mm equiv. focal length gives same DOF but you would get more perspective control with its wider zoom range
You can get faster AF lenses but good ones are very expensive and outside most amateur's price range being more than $US1000.
The cropped viewfinder makes using manual focus lenses no where near as accurate as the Oly E330, although you could use a 50mm f/1.4 at f/2.8 and move in closer to 1.6m for same subject size but different perspective, which gives a DOF range of 11cm or 5cm at f/1.4.
in bright sunshine, at f/5.6 and ISO 100, you would need a shutter speed of 1/400th sec, thus to use fill-in flash you must f/11 (DOF range = 41cm ouch!) or resort to ND or polarising filters to bring the shutter speed to 1/180th sync.
Canon 5D + 70-200mm L series at f/2.8 => DOF range = 6cm
now that is what I am talking about! even at f/8 it beats the Canon 350D with a DOF range of 18cm.
but for daylight fill-in flash without filters, one would have to use about f/11 giving DOF of 25cm so the Olympus with FP mode easily beats it here
6"x6" medium format film camera at f/3.5 => DOF range of 6cm
For an effective 300mm f/2 prime, the Olympus 150 is a 1/3rd cheaper and almost half the weight of the Canon 200mm EF L lens.
The Olympus 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 is said to be easily better than either Canon's 17-40L/F4 or Nikon's 18-35/3.5-4.5 AFD, while the Olympus 7-14 f/4 is a unique ultra-wide zoom.
At this stage until the 4/3rds standard gets adopted by more manufacturers, the available range of lenses for the Olympus is much more limited and less available on Ebay than the Canon or Nikon lenses but they do have the widest range of lenses especially designed for digital sensors. Their lenses have no zoom lock or focus lock, no image stabilisation (except for the new Leica).
New Olympus lenses in 2005 - world 1st constant f/2.0 SLR zoom lenses, in addition, these lenses have dust/splash protection & a circular diaphragm for improved bokeh:
Zuiko Digital ED 14-35 f/2.0 ie. 28-70mm at constant f/2.0!
Zuiko Digital ED 35-100 f/2.0 ie. 70-200mm at constant f/2.0!
Zuiko Digital ED 90-250 f/2.8 ie. 180-500mm at constant f/2.8!
Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/3.5 180deg. fisheye with 2cm macro & optional underwater port for use to 40m depths.
Zuiko Digital 35mm f/3.5 macro ie. 70mm macro
So what combinations would I consider buying?
Olympus E-330 plus:
ps... I decided to buy this.
OM lens adapter for my old manual focus lenses and astrophotography
then I would consider adding either:
Pentax K10D plus:
Canon 400D Rebel but what lens - this is a bit of an issue with this camera as everything is a compromise:
the good ones (24-70 L series) are very expensive, while the EF-S ones are a bit ordinary although one may have to settle with the 17-85mm EF-S IS lens for its versatility and relatively lower cost although still expensive for a non-weather-sealed lens with significant aberrations. Perhaps the best lens is the EF 17-40mm f/4 L lens although it does have some CA and its 27-64mm 35mm equiv. range is a bit limiting. A favourite for the pros is the EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS lens giving 112-320mm range, but again it is not cheap and if matched with the 17-40mm, will leave an important gap in the 64-112mm region.
really, the features of the E330 make it that I would not even consider buying this unless:
I bought an IR-modified one for astrophotography and IR photography, or,
I needed it specifically for very low light hand held photography and I could afford a good, fast IS lens for it, or,
I needed it for action photography where high ISO, IS telephoto were needed, or,
I had some Canon EF lenses already.
if I had the money, then I would like a full frame so I could get nice shallow DOF for portraiture and be able to use my existing wide angle lenses without cropping:
the Canon 5D with some L series lenses would be nice + OM lens adapter for my old manual focus lenses
using manual focus lenses on Canon 5D:
Note: Be aware that using a non Canon adapter may invalidate your warranty or may damage your camera. You use these adapters on your own risk.
make sure you check that the over-sized 5D mirror wont hit the rear element of the lens as is the case with some Leica/CZ lenses, this does not appear to be such an issue with OM lenses.
purportedly, the OM 21mm lenses are one of the most sought after for use with the Canon 5D (I'm keeping mine, sorry).
if I really needed fast flash sync, then the Nikon's would be a possibility.
More info on lenses: