Opening up a can of worms...Which Oly dslr to get

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by tim_taylor|3, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. Okay, I have been shooting 35mm for nearly 40 years (Nikon, Canon, Leica) and
    sold it all about 4 years ago to dabble in digital. I purchased an Oly C-8080wz
    and although it has great lens capability, the ergonomics and ability to manual
    focus or the pits!

    Since I liked the Olympus lens quality I started looking at the older OM line to
    get back to shooting the way I was accustomed to. I 'stole' a set from an older
    gentleman (OM2n/winder 2, 24/2.8, 25/2.8, 50/3.5, 75-150/4 and 300/4.5 plus
    assorted filters, bag, etc. for only $240. I know I should feel guilty but
    instead I was giddy!

    Since then I have added a mint OM1, clean OM4, 28/2.8, 100/2.8, 135/28.

    Now the kicker...I want to try the dslr line now in the Olympus line in order to
    use my existing OM lens where applicable as well as build a small stable of good
    lens (i.e. the 14-54 ZD).

    Now after all that, which dslr body to start with?

    What I really like about the E-1 is build quality and the better viewfinder
    compared to the later Oly dslrs (at least from what I have read and what I have
    seen of the e-410). What I may not like about the E-1 is the lower resolution,
    i.e. 5.4 vs 8 and 10 of the later dslrs.

    Is this that much of a factor for prints up to 12 x 16? I understand that the
    E-1 has a reputation for a more 'film' quality to the way it renders images.

    Anyone care to help me out (or confuse me?) :)
  2. Well, I think that it's always a question of value. Over a year ago, I picked up the E-300 with 2 lens kit for $450, and an E-1 body also for $450, both were mint condition manufacturer's refurbs with full warrantees from highly reputable dealers. At the time, Oly had just come out with the E-330, and it was selling for $1100 for the body, and $1399 for the same 2 lens kit.

    While NOW, because of scarcity, the E-300 and E-1 are barely able to be found, and they still cost around the same as they did a year ago (and maybe even slightly MORE for the E-1). While the E-330 is now selling with the 2 lens kit for under $600 from those same reputable dealers. At that price, compared to the the other Olympus bodies, I think that the E-330 has gone from being the WORST value in the Olympus lineup a year ago, to being the BEST value now, as it currently costs less than half of what it did 1 short year ago, while the E-1 has actually gone UP slightly in price. And the new Olympus cameras are nice, but only you can decide if they are worth more than the E-330, or the E-1.

    If I personally were in your shoes, and didn't already own ANY 4/3 body, and were facing the pricing and availability of the various Olympus DSLRs as it exists today, I'd get an E-330, and be biding my time until the future E-1 replacement high end body hit the market, and dropped in price from the initial introduction point. But in 6 months, it very well might be that the E-510 is the best bargain out there.

    It's kind of tricky, because, unlike Nikon and Canon, there is not a clear heirarchy within the Olympus lineup, about which camera is the cheapest, and which one is uniformly the best. In terms of absolute image quality, there's really not all that much difference between an E-1, E300, E500, and E330. They mainly differ by features and who they are targetted at. I think that the difference in how the E-1 renders it's images is more a function of the different default settings of the camera, - as Oly set up the E-1 to cater to serious critical users, and the others are more oriented to less critical, less involved target customers - but the inherent imaging quality of the later 8 MP cameras is at least as good as the E-1, but the cameras tend to process some of that quality away if you use their JPEG engines at their default settings. But tweak the settings or shoot in RAW, and the later 8 MP cameras are capable of bettering the image quality of the E-1 - but only slightly. And it's not yet clear to me how much better the image quality is in the newest Oly DSLRs, the E-410 and E-510 - again, they seem more differentiated by features than by inherent imaging ability. I personally think that the build quality of BOTH the E-300 and E-1 is superior to all of the models that followed, but the next in line is the E-330. Of course, the E-1's future replacement should be the clear top of the line, but probably won't be available until near the end of the year.

    So that's my take on the subject - only I doubt that it helped to clear up your confusion. But right now, based on relative cost and value, features, and build quality, and the near equality of ALL the Olympus DSLRs on image quality, the one I'd be buying TODAY is the E-330, with the 2 lens kit - mainly to get the 40-150 which is a surprisingly nice inexpensive lens. I had no use for the 14-45, so I sold it, and I expect you would too, either in favor of the 14-54 or the 11-22 (which is the way I personally went).

    The E-330 especially makes sense for you, since, using the LCD in live mode might well give you a leg up in focusing your older manual focus OM glass.
  3. He's right. Build quality, the E-330/300 and E-1 are the best. Not that the others feel that cheap in your hands. The difference between the E-510 and E-500 is live view an Image Stablization, plus 2 extra megapixels. The E-410 doesn't have IS and is a lot smaller in your hand. I have an E-500, which you can now buy for less than $600 with both kit lenses (14-45mm & 40-150/28-90 & 80-300 35mm equiv) The 17.5-45mm lens is only sold by costco as a kit lens. As far as your current OM lenses, you have to buy the OM adaptor for the 4/3 camera (any model), which can cost somewhere around $100.

    One thing about the new 410/510 models. If you use LiveView, you cannot focus until you are ready to shoot. The mirror lifts and is locked until you press the shutter. Plus it kills your battery much quicker.
  4. I wouldn't bother getting the Olympus brand OM to 4/3 adapter for close to $100. You can get any number of Chinese-made ones on ebay for around $25, and the ones I've used all work fine. For convenience sake, it's much easier to have an adapter for each lens you use frequently on the DSLR, so, if you are getting 3 or 4 of them, that savings of $70 or so on each one adds up quickly.

    Also, once you do sort through this, if you come to the conclusion that manual focusing these older lenses works out well for you, you aren't limited to just OM-mount lenses. Because of the short flange to focal plane distance, adapters are available for many different 35mm lens mounts to the Olympuss 4/3 mount.

    In addition to some OM lenses, I personally use several Nikon lenses, a couple of Pentax M42 screw mount lenses, and a couple of Leica R-mount optics on my E-1 and E-300. Other mounts that I know reasonably priced adapters are available include Pentax K/M bayonet mount, Contax/Yashica bayonet mount, and Exacta mount.

    No luck with Canon EOS or Canon FD, and the only adapter available for Minolta MC/MD to 4/3 is very expensive and doesn't work with every lens out there. But Olympus OM, Nikon F/AI/AIS/AF, Pentax Screw, Pentax Bayonet, Leica R, and Contax Y are all good options on 4/3 bodies.
  5. I'll also recommend the e-330. I can't think of another camera that delivers that much
    quality for so little money at this time. I use a Chinese 4/3's adaptor and it works perfectly.
    The only drawback is I think I had to wait about a month for it to get here (USA). Live view is
    a must for legacy lenses. At least for my eyes, I need the 10x view.
  6. FYI, Cameta is selling NEW (not refurb or Demo) E-330 bodies now for $399.99. They are also selling the NEW 2 lens kits for $599.99. Those are Buy Now prices. You can get Mfr refurb/demo 2 lens kits for just slightly over $500 from either Cameta or Olympusauctions ebay stores if you don't mind waiting out an auction.

    Those are definitely the best values out there right now on Olympus DSLR bodies - especially if you have plans to use it with older manual focus lenses. If I didn't already have an E-1 and two E-300s (one of which has a Katz-Eye focusing screen installed for use with MF lenses), I'd grab one of those bodies myself.
  7. Wait for the successor of E-1. It has enough mega-pixel, viewfinder hopefully the same or better than E-1, live-view and weather resistant body ... AND optical Image Stabilization.

    That way you're done for the next 10 years. Buying something that you'll love and be using a lot based solely on the "best" value will only leave you wanting for more.

    Get the best, use it, be done with wondering what-if.
  8. I don't think waiting for the E3, means you will be done for ten years. The way technology changes, I suspect you will consider yourself lucky if it remains competitive for 4 years. That's an economic fact of life with digital cameras nowadays.

    I disagree about the E300/E330. They are rapidly becoming non competititve in image quality. The IQ is great, but it ISN'T up to the standards set by the E410 or the E510.

    Buy the E510 if you want image stabilization or the E410 if you think you can do without. Me? As I get older, IS is really starting to look attractive.

    Bear in mind, many people who are OM lovers, REALLY like the 410. It is clearly the spiritual heir of the OM series. Also remember the OM lenses will be 'manual everything' on the 4/3s bodies.

    I wouldn't wait for the E3. Since we don't KNOW with absolute certainty when it will be released OR when it will be available in large enough numbers that a reasonable discount from MSRP will be avaialable. You could be waiting a long time, depending on how badly you want it. The E410 and E510 are here, they're great, and they are 'kicking butt!' in the market place by winning new 4/3s users every day.
  9. Glen:

    "I wouldn't wait for the E3. Since we don't KNOW with absolute certainty when it will be released OR when it will be available in large enough numbers that a reasonable discount from MSRP will be avaialable. You could be waiting a long time, depending on how badly you want it. The E410 and E510 are here, they're great, and they are 'kicking butt!' in the market place by winning new 4/3s users every day."

    If you think 410/510 already kicks-butt, what makes you think the E1 successor wouldn't "kick-more-butt"? :)

    I own an E-300, I'm happy with the IQ, but I can't stand being forced to an extra superfluous button click -- just to change the shutter speed (I'm always in manual mode). That's why I'm looking to upgrade, and this time, I'm going with the E1 class, I'm pretty sure I can use it for 10 years.
  10. Will,

    For me, it's an availability issue. And what do we know, FOR SURE, about the E1 successor? Not all that much. In my mind, I would go crazy without a camera!

    I figure, an E410 or E510 with maybe a 2 lens kit, allows an experienced but new user to inexpensively 'test drive' the system and avoid the lost photo ops he/she might encounter. Then if he wanted to upgrade when the E3 (or whatever it will be called) came out, selling such a fine entry level camera ought to be pretty easy, or it could be kept for a back-up body.
  11. I agree with Glen about getting one of the less expensive cameras now, with the 2 lens kit, as a minimal cost of entry. But I think that the E-330 is currently the best value among them. Unless in-body IS is critical to you, or a VERY small body is critical to you, then the E-330 is presently a better value than the E-410, E-510, or E-500 right now. E-1 could be better yet right now, but it will become redundant as soon as the E-P1 is finally available.

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