One crazy, yet very happy decision (Olympus, oh noes!)

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Antithesis, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    After considering all the options for my next camera, and having a very limited budget, I finally settled on a 4/3rds camera of all things. I was strongly considering getting a film rangefinder, but after much deliberation I decided that the cost and physical bulk of film would negate any of the positive attributes of a rangefinder. And, overall, I am getting much more bang for my buck the route that I went. Once again, the benefits of digital were just too appealing.

    I purchased an Olympus e-420 with a (very decent) kit lens from Walmart for a paltry $350, brand spanking new with warranty. I happen to think this is one of the best deals I've seen on a very capable and wonderful little camera (these cameras, defying all reason, sell for more than that used on ebay and such). I considered all the possible options from Nikon and Canon, and there was really very little out there that could come close to this little thing for the price and size. The main purpose of this camera will be a walkabout camera and travel camera. I totally came to the realization that carrying around 15lbs of camera gear can get tiresome very fast, and wanted to go with something lighter yet still very capable.

    And this thing is so light! It's tiny. Like, really tiny. I initially thought that would be a problem, but the grip is set up in a way that it feels very natural to hold, even with my relatively long fingers and large hands. I really don't mind the smallness. And I certainly don't mind that I can barely feel it hanging around my neck. It's smallness was the very reason I purchased it, expecting a huge amount of compromise. But it doesn't really feel much less stable than most other entry-level SLR's.

    As far as imaging capability, it doesn't seem any worse off than a Nikon d40x or d80 (of which I've owned both, and the Oly actually has more features). The ISO handling is roughly the same. ISO 400 looks just fine, but 800 starts to get into the realm of black and white only. The color (chroma?) noise just starts to become too pronounced. But, I had similar results with my D80, which produced some of my favorites images. Flipping through the weird shooting menu to change things like ISO and WB are a little annoying, but I think it's something I can get used to. I don't plan on ever shooting a professional gig with this little thing, so it doesn't bother me.

    The kit lens it comes with (a 14-42mm, which is 28-84 equiv.) is surprisingly well built. Far more solid than the 18-55's that comes with Nikon or Canon's kits. And so far the IQ seems to be very good, but I have yet to do any real pixel-peeping. Oh, and the lens is equally as small as the body, making it a tiny package.

    I'll probably end up getting a full line up of Olympus's base model lenses for this thing as they are all very small (pancake!), very light and perfect for travel or hiking or anything else a light camera will come in handy for. They even have a smallish flash to match the form factor of the e-420.

    I am also aware of the drawbacks of the 4/3rd's system, and I think they may actually be quite useful in the long run. The main one is extended DOF, which is positive for landscape (my favorite photo genre) and macro work (which I would like to get into over the next year), but limits actual DOF control and will suck for portraiture. I'm toying with the idea of buying into two different systems for different needs for the long run. Just thinking of the possibility of using 4/3rd's as a wildlife setup seems awesome in its own right (a 70-200 becomes a 140-400 F2.8 equiv. in a very lightweight package). Olympus's high-end glass also seems to be the best in the business, with their crazy F2 max. aperture zooms and ultra good image quality.

    I'm just curious to see what Olympus does with their sensors in the future. Panasonic has proven with the G1 that it can handle ISO just as well as the other entry level models, so maybe High ISO on a 4/3rd's sensor might end up being better than anyone thought.

    Anyways, I haven't been this excited about a new camera in a very long time, and I'm hoping to keep this one around for far longer than my usual year-and-a-half turnaround rate.

    /endnovel
     
  2. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I thought I'd add a couple of ISO 800 pics to show that it really isn't all that bad for such a tiny sensor. Here is a jpeg of my cat Oscar, it was shot RAW and had no editing done to it, so forgive the heinous color given by AWB and lack of contrast:

    [​IMG]

    The image still retained a lot of detail in the fur and stuff, but anything close to a shadow started clipping and artifacting. Especially that weird, dark magenta tone that seems to clip as well. Other than that, the noise in the mid-tones and highlights looks the most natural I've seen in a digital camera (film-like). This photo is pretty underexposed, and at Higher ISO's you lose details in the shadows very quickly. Ideally, I'd try and shoot "to the right" to maintain detail, but I was just trying maintain a 1/30th of a second shutter speed so my images weren't all motion blurred.

    Here is a quick edit on the same photo in Black & White, and what grain you can see becomes more pleasing than some I've seen from other cameras. The clipping is also far less obvious:

    [​IMG]

    For the most part I'll keep ISO800 and 1600 as emergency use or black and white unless I can get a better exposure. I'll post up some pics of ISO400 when I get a chance as well.
     

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