[OM] Re: Digital decisions

Subject: [OM] Re: Digital decisions
From: "Joel Wilcox" <jfwilcox@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2006 22:03:44 -0600
The penny-in-the-slot answer is probably to get a Canon Digital Rebel
of some kind. However, coming from OMs you might like the build
quality of an E-1.  I won't say that I've never heard of someone who
had owned an E-1 not liking it, but it seems like most people who have
actually lived with one for a while come to like the camera very much.

The E500 has a tiny viewfinder, but there is an accessory to magnify
it.  I haven't handled an E500 or seen this viewfinder magnifier, but
I'd certainly investigate it.  Though I would add that when the E-1
came out, people moaned about the "tiny" viewfinder.  It gets to be
kind of a relative thing.

I use the 14-54 at the long end quite a bit.  Regardless of whether it
is better than the cheaper lens, I would miss those 9mm of length.
YMMV.  Otherwise, it's simply a wonderful lens, amazingly capable, a
much-loved possession, a constant companion.

The E-1 is completely acceptable to ISO 800.  If you have shot film in
that range, you will be blown away at what it can do by comparison. 
I've gotten some shots at ISO 1600 that I am very happy with from the
E-1.  However, I learned digital lore shooting a C8080.  I thought the
noise was sort of akin to grain (I didn't know it was actually noise)
and it gave the photos some tooth, in my estimation.  The noise was
inconsequential to any prints I made, which is where the Truth in
Photography resides for me.  It took me some time to get used to the
comparative grainlessness of the E-1.  Everything seemed soft and too
smooth compared to the C8080 at first..  No grain (noise), no reality
-- that was my experience.

Now I've fallen into the corruption of Noise Nervousness, so I do
occasionally clean up the little noise that an E-1 makes at higher
ISOs with a freeware program at very light settings.  This is usually
necessary only if you enjoy photography at actual (100%) pixels, which
is a little like trying to enjoy the grace of a beautiful woman by
getting close enough to examine her pores.

But I don't want to seem to make a virtue of noise, and the industry's
whole intent is upon noiseless capture, there's no question about it. 
If you look carefully at this photo


you will see noise in the shadows (the photo is mostly shadows).  I
used a little noise reduction but left enough to give a feel of fast
film.  That's at ISO 1600.  I've never actually shot film that fast. 
If a Canon owner got a capture like that, he'd probably call the
police.  To me, it's fine.  People give me lots a good feedback about
the print version, and no one mentions the N word.

If you just go with Canon from the outset, you don't have to decide
whether this is important or not.  That will be an immediate reward of
sorts.  Also, no one will say "Why did you buy that brand?"  If you
get an E thingy, you'll get the question a lot.  The fun part is that
you'll get so you enjoy answering it.

One place where the newer Es beat the E-1 is in the LCD size
department.  Bigger is probably better.  I'm not in a hurry to replace
the E-1, but I wouldn't mind a bigger LCD with more than 4x zoom. The
lack of an on-board flash is probably a defect, but I really don't
miss it.  They're useful, but then again they aren't really very good
when it comes right down to it.  The best of them are just so-so,
maybe useful for a little fill flash.  Your T20 will work very well,
better than on an OM in some ways (heresy, I know).

I hope this helps (but I fear it doesn't),
Joel W.

On 3/6/06, Lawrence Woods <lmwoods@xxxxxxx> wrote:
> After 32 years using OM-1s and 2s, it is time for me to go
> digital.  I have to do it on a budget for now, with a limit of
> about US $800, excluding memory cards.
> The features I would like include manual focusing capability,
> a big, bright SLR-style viewfinder, no (well, very little)
> shutter-lag, good high ISO and/or image stabilization,
> excellent optics, and finally the small size, quality
> construction and sturdiness I am used to in the OMs.  I know I
> won't get it all, and may not even get much to stay in budget.
> Assuming I stay in the Olympus world, the first question is
> whether it is worth choosing the 14-54mm lens over the
> 14-45mm.  Is the 14-54 visibly sharper?  The wider maximum
> f-stop seems important to me, especially without image
> stabilization.
> If the answer is to go with the 14-54, then I have no further
> questions.  I don't see many loose 14-54s on the used market.
>  They are mainly found as part of a used E-1 kit. 14-45s
> however are easy to find used.  Is that an indication that
> people dump them after getting them in a kit with an E-x00?
> If the 14-45 is good enough, the next question would be
> whether to go with an E-300, E-500 or used E-1.  (The E-330 is
> out of my price range for now.)  I have only handled an E-300,
> and that was in a big-box store where there was neither a
> salesman nor a working battery in the camera to help me
> evaluate it.  From reading the reviews, I get the impression
> that the E-500 has better ergonomics and build quality, but
> the viewfinder is less pleasant in spite of using a prism.  Is
> that so?  Would the viewfinder be a deciding factor coming
> from an OM-2?
> How does the E-1 compare in ergonomics with either of the
> Evolt models?  The 5 MP sensor doesn't bother me, but is there
> anything else in its older technology that makes it an
> inferior tool?  It doesn't have a built-in flash. Can I use an
> OM T20 flash with it?  How about a Vivitar 555? I assume that
> neither would work in TTL mode on any of the E-series.
> Are there any other considerations I should be thinking about?
> I realize that this sort of inquiry could very easily become
> troll-bait, but that is not my intention.  I really  am
> looking for some guidance in what to do.
>      ----- Larry Woods
>            lmwoods@xxxxxxx
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