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SLRs compared

prosumer cameras digital SLRs SLRs compared Olympus E digital Nikon Canon 1D MarkIII Pentax travel super wide standard lenses macro portrait lens remote control of cameras super tele perspective control high end SLRs sensors

Super brief summary:

see digital SLRs

Brief summary:

5-6 megapixel digital SLRs moved to here.

2004-2006 models moved to SLRs 2006

10-12 megapixel live preview SLRs:


Canon 1D MIII (June 2007) Canon 40D (Aug 2007) Olympus E3 (Nov 2007) Olympus E420/520 (May 2008)

Olympus E510 (Mar 2007)

Olympus E410 (2007)

Nikon D300 (Nov 2007)
sensor size 28.7 x 19.1mm 3:2 1.3x crop 14bit 15.1x22.7mm 3:2 1.6x crop 14bit 4/3 13x17.3mm 4:3 2.0x crop 12bit 4/3 13x17.3mm 4:3 2.0x crop 12bit DX 15.6x23.7mm 1.5x crop 4288 x 2848 12.3mp 14bit
body pro magnesium weather-sealed magnesium pro magnesium weather-sealed plastic magnesium, weather-sealed
sensor image stabiliser no no yes 3-5 stops yes 2-3 stops (E510 not E410) no
burst mode up to 10fpsx30RAW up to 6.5fps 5fps x17RAW 3fps x7RAW  (3.5fps x8RAW for E420/520) 6fpsx19 12bit RAW
AF 49 point; flash assist 9 point; flash assist 11 twin cross points; fastest AF and down to -2EV light levels 3 point; flash assist

(+11pt contrast in live preview for E420/520)

51 point
predictive AF AI Servo AI Servo yes yes yes
sensor cleaner ++ ++ +++ +++ +
inbuilt flash no GN 12m GN 13m GN 12m GN12m
RAW write time
metering 35 zone; spot 35 zone; 9% centre spot 49 segment; spot 49 zone; spot; 3D metering
white balance poor AWB incand. custom WB cumbersome poor AWB incand. easy custom WB; possibly the best AWB - dual mechanism easy custom WB
LCD review max. zoom to check focus 10x 10x 5x, 7x, 10x 8x, 14x
LCD size/resolution 3" 230,000pixels  3" 230,000pixels 2.5" 230,000pixels 2.5" 230,000pixels (2.7" in E420/520) 3" 922,000 pixels
long exposure issues v.good for astro. v.good for astro. OK for limited astro. OK for limited astro. OK for astro but RAW files are not truly RAW see here 
x-sync E-TTL II; wireless TTL flash support  E-TTL II; wireless flash support 1/250th; 1/8000th in SP mode; wireless TTL flash support 1/180th; 1/4000th in SuperFP mode; wireless TTL flash support

build quality;

low noise at high ISO

10fps burst

1.3x crop

optional WiFi FTP/remote control

available tilt-shift lenses but full frame

low noise at high ISO

live preview allows button to access transient AF similar to Olympus 


sensor-based IS

build quality;

fastest AF

possibly best AWB

easy custom WB

great new SWD lenses designed for digital

60sec timed exposures

movable LCD screen

2x crop allows more telephoto reach for same size lens

3 or 5 frame exp. bracketing

CCD-shift IS in the E-510/520 but not the E-410/420.

light & compact dSLR - E410 even lighter & smaller;

easy to use;

easy custom WB;

2x crop allows more telephoto reach for same size lens

infrared remote available

wireless TTL (E420/E520)

AF face detection in live preview (E420/520)

build quality;

low noise at high ISO;

live preview allows sensor-based AF 

hi-res. LCD screen

best TTL flash system

optional wifi FTP

optional battery holder allows 8fps shooting

cons: very heavy, bulky


live preview doesn't allow easy AF mechanism

limited wide angle options due to 1.3x crop

some issues with possible bugs in its AF system

no sensor IS

no macro IS lens

no built in flash


larger, heavier;

dust on sensor is still problematic;

no sensor IS

no macro IS lens

EF-S lenses are generally not pro quality while full frame lenses are not well matched

exposure compensation only +/- 2EV instead of 5EV as with the others

1.6x crop may become redundant

smaller sensor means more noise at high ISO 

wireless TTL flash new and untested. 


manual focus by wire

smaller sensor means more noise at high ISO and less dynamic range

no wireless TTL flash (E410/510)

only 3 frames exposure bracketing up to +/- 1EV limits use for HDR

smaller viewfinder view


shutter to 1/4000th not 1/8000th sec

manual focus by wire

cannot adapt other mount legacy lenses as you can with Olympus or Canon.

limited sensor dust protection

1.5x crop may become redundant

no sensor IS

burst rate only 2.5fps in 14bit RAW mode

clumsy live view implementation

RAW files are not truly RAW see here 

weight w batt. 1335g 822g 810g + batt 490g (E510) 925g
current price:  



Olympus E410 smallest & lightest DSLR to date and has live preview.

Olympus E510 (2007)


cheaper Nikon D80 released late 2006 see dpreview  

cheaper, light Nikon D40X 10mpixel announced in March 2007.

also, the Fuji S5 Pro based on the D200 but with Fuji's sensor 

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 also Pentax 20D 

see high end digital for the SLRs with more pixels

Some lens comparisons:

see lenses

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 14-45mm 28-90mm f/3.5-4.5 169
Olympus 12-60mm 24-120mm f/2.8-3.5 $A1399
Olympus 40-150 80-300mm f/3.5-4.5 199
Olympus 50 macro 100mm f/2.0 macro 359 $A899
Olympus 150 300mm f/2.0 1949 1610g
Olympus 300 600mm f/2.8 4799 $A11,000 3290g
Canon 10-22 EFS 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 549 385g
Canon 17-85 EFS IS 27-136mm f/4-5.6 IS 454 475g
Canon 60 EFS macro 96mm f/2.8 macro 319 335g
Canon 200 L 320mm f/2.8 ~$A1200
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


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 EF-S 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 or 1D.

So what combinations would I consider buying?


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