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Quick review of Olympus E-500 Twin lens kit

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by Raytracer, May 11, 2006.

  1. Raytracer

    Raytracer Member

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    I know there's probably a few reviews out there for this, and a very detailed one on DPreview, but I wanted to share my experiences with this cam, having now used it for a week :)

    First impressions

    When I got this camera, I was overwhelmed by the number of options on the display screen, plus the size of said screen - it's larger than the screen on my mobile by a fair bit, so nice and easy to read. the first thing that struck me was of course the lack of live preview, having just come from P&S that sucked... initially. Photos in auto mode were crap, and I had a lot of trouble getting used to the controls and modes.

    [​IMG]
    one of the first photos I took with the camera

    After a few days things settled in and I started to take much better shots, shooting in Aperture pri. and Shutter pri. modes.​
    [​IMG]
    3 months on.

    Build Quality

    Chunky is the first word that comes to mind - the camera is quite heavy, and feels very sturdy. in fact, I have dropped both the body AND the 14-45 lens (on seperate occasions, twice now for the 14-45) and no damage has been sustained. Dropping the 14-45 led to a small dent in the thread around the front element but nothing that can't be fixed easily. The cam has a metal frame (went to the airport and they showed me an xray of it) which is seriously strong.

    The handgrip is very comfortable, a tiny bit too small for my hands but I have very large hands, I suspect most people wouldn't find this a problem.

    The SSWF (supersonic wave filter) on the CCD is great, I haven't had to clean it yet, and I do a lot of very on the road sort of lens switching, quick and dirty. I suspect I will need to clean it eventually though.​


    Media

    CF and xD, I suspect for the price nobody will use xD except maybe as an emergency backup or if they already had an olympus.​


    General annoyances

    The camera does not charge the battery, the battery must be cradled. not the first time I've left my battery still on charge at home while I rush out the door to uni!


    USB 1.1. Crap. nothing else to say here, this is shocking. I expected 2.0 to be honest, as transferring 2gb of photos after the photo meet took *ages*

    Strobe flash for focus. This can be disabled but WHY make it the default setting?! How to bug people at parties.

    viewfinder only shows 96% of the final image. a little annoying, plus, it is like looking down a very long tunnel, there's a lot of black around the image that you are looking at. no live preview in the viewfinder either (WB preview would be nice!)​


    Photos

    Sample photos
    This thing takes a pretty sharp photo - of course, this is dictated by the lens and not the camera, but it seems to do a nice job with noise removal on extra long exposures (hot spots mostly) however iso performance above (abd sometimes including) 400 is shocking. noise city!

    The sensor is a 8mp, which is nice as I can zoom my shots just that little bit more, or crop a larger area.

    [​IMG]
    from the zoo on the 16th June

    Shutter speed is just insane, 1/4000 at the fastest and 60sec at slowest (followed by bulb, but most dslr's have that I think)

    [​IMG]
    Just showing off the colour. couldn't find my 1/4000 of the fountain in the botanic gardens

    Rapid fire mode isn't all that rapid - 2.5 frames/sec even at 1/4000, the mirror flip speed is pretty slow (and a little noisy for candid photos). With my legend 128mb cards, I can take 15 photos in hq jpeg (highest jpg is SHQ, followed by TIFF then RAW) before the buffer fills and it needs to start dumping to card, if I had a faster card it would keep going till the card was full.
    lenses

    the 14-45 is a great lens. Sharp, extremely wide (without suffering from too much barrel or normal wide angle distortion) at the low end, with semi-decent bokeh at the high end (well, it is only 45, there's not going to be a lot of bokeh to speak of). not a particularly fast lens at 3.5 at the low end and 5.6 at the high end, though the cam will let you go all the way to 22 which is cool for night shots.

    [​IMG]
    wide angle at Rymill gardens

    The 40-150, well, that's another story. People tend to move out of your way when this lens is at full extension. The 14-45 is very good build quality, as I mentioned, I have dropped it a couple of times, still working perfectly. I would NOT want to do that to this lens, it feels a little more fragile somehow, perhaps because it extends so far (yes, it uses an extension tube rather than in-lens zoom).

    [​IMG]
    taken with the 40-150 on the same trip

    For a cheap kit lens though, it is very nice. at high shutter speeds and about 130mm, f4.6, you get a great crisp shot, I haven't really had the chance to test it in full daylight yet but I will (update: is excellent!) at the minimum it works well as a walkabout lens (in fact, this is my walkabout lens, with the 14-45 in my pocket so I can get those wide shots wile still getting good close ups of birds etc.)

    Generally this lens is nice to use, very smooth when zooming though noisy like a case fan when focussing, has an odd 2-stage zoom and sometimes wanders a little - I guess that's what CF-AF+MF is for eh? (Camera focus - autofocus + manual focus if you were trying to work that out) 3.5 on the low end and 4.5 on the high end, it's a reasonably quick lens, nothing spectacular but then again it's hardly a pro lens. I've taken some great bird shots with this lens.​


    In summary

    This cam is fantastic for those upgrading from a P&S, though considering I upgraded from a top-end P&S (well, it was top end a few years ago, like... 7? ) I was a little disappointed by some of the features, but then again, you win some you lose some, and what I won by getting this camera FAR outweighs the minor annoyances. I've had a few "Wow, that's why I got a slr" moments - a few are listed in my E-500 photos thread.

    Solid build quality, twin lenses for $1500 and a self-cleaning CCD? I like.
    Being able to take great photos just by pulling out my camera? Love it! I keep practicing, finding the right settings to use in certain situations, and I'm always improving.​

    Again, sample photos here

    [​IMG]

    Ooh, damn, this was meant to be a quick review... oops! I just spent the last hour writing this, :lol:... Well, I wanted to make it a review from a users perspective rather than just another spec sheet review - those don't tell you real-world performance imho.

    update: Inserted photos, and one more thing: I've had to return the 40-150 recently, as for some unknown reason, the lens decided to go soft :( still sharp as a tack at f.5.6 and above, but I can't really use it at 3.5, too blurry!
    hopefully Olympus fix it quickly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2006
  2. mpot

    mpot Member

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    Where's the sample pics? ;-)

    Cheers,
    Martin.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Raytracer

    Raytracer Member

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    Damn, knew I forgot something! ;) Edited the first post and here's a link: picture me!
     
  4. SpaceJunk

    SpaceJunk Member

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    Raytracer, that was a beaut review, I'm certain it'll be very helpful to anyone considering getting an Olympus, I agree with you that 'user report' type information can be more meaningful sometimes, thank you for making the effort, well done :thumbup:
    Some of your pix are showing a bit of talent also :cool:
     
  5. r00b0y

    r00b0y Member

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    :wired: :Paranoid: Take care of your new toy, ok?
     
  6. Sturmy

    Sturmy Member

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    If you keep dropping shit it wont last for very long, my camera weighs as much as 2 bricks and coupled with a decent lens it gives me a neck ache when hanging off my shoulder and even something built like a brick im shit scared of dropping.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Raytracer

    Raytracer Member

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    I know, both times have been total accidents, luckily no damage done and I do things a lot more carefully now! :) dropping things isn't my style. I still carry the 14-45 in my pocket but I zip the pocket up when I'm not changing lenses. I like my new toy and want it to last a while! :) Lucky for me, the body drop was like, 30cm into a puddle and the second lens drop was from chair height onto rubberised floor (bus floor).

    I think I'm going to head out to the Botanic gardens today and take a few shots, assuming it gets sunny. it may stay overcast in which case I'll go to skate park (diffused light+skaters = good from what I understand)

    Had this idea, no idea if it's feasible - bulb exposure, about 2 hours at sunrise (about 1.5 hours before sunrise proper) to get long star streaks plus cool sky :)
     
  8. mpot

    mpot Member

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    I currently have an Olympus C770UZ, and I was originally thinking of getting an Olympus E330 or E500, as it would allow me to re-use my Olympus FL36 flash, and the various xD memory cards I have.

    However, after some research, I've concluded that there's far fewer lenses available for the Olympus DSLR, and the Olympus gear is typically more expensive than similar gear from Canon/Nikon/etc, so I've decided to go for a Canon.

    Cheers,
    Martin.

    [edit: fixed URL]
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Raytracer

    Raytracer Member

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    E-500 is 1255 at Camera house atm. (twin lens kit) but you are correct about them having fewer lenses. I figure they'll expand on the lens range, and as a new slr user, I'm finding the two I have to be plenty (even if I have to change occasionally)
     
  10. GarethB

    GarethB Member

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    Granted, the range of 4/3 lenses is small compared to other major names, but that's because Oly chose to use a completely new mount rather than continue using their older OM lens mount format (there is an official Oly mount adaptor ring to use OM lenses on the 4/3 bodies, but they don't advertise it widely), so they've basically decided to develop a completely new range of lenses from scratch for 4/3. Personally I'm not concerned by this. Considering the range of lenses they developed for the half-frame film PEN series and then did it all over again for the OM series, it's not like Oly don't know what they got themselves into.

    Oly have been releasing three to four new lenses for 4/3 format every year for the last couple of years. There are currently 16 4/3 lenses from Oly at the moment, and Sigma have agreed to make 4/3 lenses as well (Sigma should have at 8 lenses in 4/3 format by the end of the year, including the 50-500mm "bigma". With the E series having a crop factor of 2.0, that works out to 100-1000mm film equivilent).

    Panasonic have partnered up with Leica and have already unveiled a 4/3 body with one lens that has image stabilising built into the lens(the image stabilising can be used with any other 4/3 bodies). No word from Panasonic on what other lenses they're working on yet. That should make 24 lenses (not counting the Pan/Leica lens, release date for it is still unknown atm) on the market for 4/3 by the end of this year, plus any new lenses Oly announce this year (one was announced in Feb, there should be at least 2 more later this year if they stick to their lens release pattern of the last couple of years).

    A chart of current and announced (due out this year) 4/3 lenses from Oly & Sigma. http://www.dcviews.com/lenses/Olympus-comp-lenses.htm

    A brief preview of the Pan/Leica lens. http://www.dcviews.com/lenses/Olympus-comp-lenses.htm
    And previews of the Pan body and Leica lens. http://www.dpreview.com/news/0602/06022609panasonicdmcl1.asp
    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0602/06022801panasonicdmcl1handson.asp
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Raytracer

    Raytracer Member

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    YAY! An IS 4/3 lens :D I'll be getting that one, and probably the Bigma for sporting events (though I'll need to buy a new tripod methinks).

    Yes, I completely forgot about the OM-4/3 converter, the guy at Camera House mentioned it to me, that widens the range considerably.

    Olympus make good stuff :)
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Raytracer

    Raytracer Member

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    I've updated my review at the top, and added photos...

    on a side note, Panasonic recently announced their addition to the DSLR competition, and it uses the 4/3rds standard!!! more lenses for me! :p

    ta to Agg for frontpaging this! :)
     
  13. GarethB

    GarethB Member

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    A production version of the Panasonic 4/3 body with the image stabilised Leica lens fell into the hands of the people at dpreview.com a little while ago. They haven't posted a full test of it yet but they do have a "preview" up. http://www.dpreview.com/articles/panasonicdmcl1/

    Sigma have also announced the prices (in US$) of their 4/3 lenses due out later this year (no specific dates though).

    30mm f1.4 EX DC HSM ($429)
    18-50mm f2.8 EX DC ($409)
    105mm f2.8 EX DG Macro ($399)
    150mm f2.8 EX DG HSM Macro ($599)
    APO 50-500mm f4.6-6.3 EX DG HSM ($999)
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Raytracer

    Raytracer Member

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    I saw that review :) made me a very happy camper :D

    looking forward to the 18-50 2.8 and the 150 2.8 EX DG HSM Macro

    mmm... the macro lens in particular (though if budget doesn't allow, I'll probably be getting the 105)
     

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