The Olympus 420 would make a great choice. I like it above all other Olympus cameras because it's design seems to fit what Oly is all about; small, light, and precision crafted. Olympus uses a smaller sensor than the other brands. There are certain disadvantages to that, but there are also some advantages in that smaller cameras can be made. Olympus lenses can be smaller as well, and they are known for very high quality..
A disadvantage in some minds would be the last of some features in the 420, but I wouldn't let that bother me. The small, very well build camera is worth it, IMO..
Other small, quality cameras might be the Nikon D40-D60 series or the Canon XTi or XSi series...
Well, I was in the same boat too!.
Price the Oly lenses, the Zukio Digital lenses are among the most expensive pieces of glass I found. I'm also not sold on the superiority of the 4/3rds system..
For candid or portrait shots indoors, nothing beats a 50mm F1.9 and faster. The common speed is either F1.4 or 1.7 I think..
There is a somewhat cost advantage over Nikon or Canon getting a camera with shake reduction in the body. ANY lens on that camera is SR or whatever is called. It's useful in low light (indoors) to use a slow shutter speed but not when there's a lot of movement..
Close up stuff you will need a macro lens. Nikon I think is pretty good at this. Their images have pretty good detail with macro lenses..
Canon is the sports shooters choice, I found. The auto focus is fast & burst rate of shots I think is the highest..
I went with a Pentax K200D. My Dad has always shot that & they have good compatibility with the old lenses. 5 decades of lenses can go on those cameras..
The Vibe Reduction I don't think is as good as Canon's IS for lens based solutions. The Pentax in body shake reduction works great for me. You can't see the SR preview but I think you mostly don't have time to check this anyway. It's neat tho to show it off in a demo, so I give Canon that .
With Canon, unless you are north of a $1000, the build quality is nothing short of cheap plastic. I expect a little more for $700 - $900 over a $129 P&S!.
Canon has great noise reduction, at a price. The images just have that "played with a little too much in photoshop" feel to them to the point they almost look like laminated fakes of the real thing..
Pentax was using the same sensors as Nikon was until the partnership with Samsung. I think their cameras give that "film feel" to them. Not much processing, or not nearly like Canon or lesser extent, Nikon. But there's a trade off: more grain (noise) at the high ISOs, say 800 up..
Not quite as many lenses on Pentax, but how many do you plan to buy?.
The biggest weakness with mine is the auto focus isn't as fast as the others, most noticeably in low light. I might have to upgrade to the K20D, but not sure if I can afford it right now before I have to return the K200D..
Everyone has their pros & cons..
Above statements are opinion, MY opinion. Take them as such!'OOOOOH, they have the Internet on computers now!' Homer J. Simpson..
I was intrigued by your selection of th oly E420, so I did a side-by-side (one thing I *love* about dpreview):.
What jumped out was that there's a lot of bells and whistles (e.g. live LCD view, slightly larger LCD, high fps for burst, high MP). But I'm not sure about the 4/3" sensor (which is arguably one of the most important parts)..
Here's a visual comparison of the sensor sizes:.
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The green is the oly's and the 1.5, 1.6 crop factor are the competitors at this price range..
The smaller sensor size (and associated lower required shutter speed), I suspect, has something to do with the high burst fps..
From Cambridgeincolour.com (where the graphic above came from):.
Overall: larger sensors generally provide more control and greater artistic flexibility, but at the cost of requiring larger lenses and more expensive equipment. This flexibility allows one to create a shallower depth of field than possible with a smaller sensor (if desired), but yet still achieve a comparable depth of field to a smaller sensor by using a higher ISO speed and smaller aperture (or when using a tripod)..
*I* for one, would not go for this camera. That said, I don't doubt that it takes eye-popping pictures. It would definitely be nice to have live LCD view. I was just taking some pictures on a tripod and I was just thinking about how convenient it would be to not have to crouch down and peer through the view finder...
I generally shoot my 3 young kids, outside and inside. I lovespontaneous shots, so I tend to hide away from them while shooting sothey don't notice me. I also like to shoot extreme close-ups onflowers, nature and the like..
Quite the range. Well, hmmm..
If by 'nature' you refer more to scenic landscapes rather than easily-panicked animals, maybe not too bad of a range..
I am leaning towards the Olympus E420, but I am open towards anysuggestions, preferably in the same price range. I don't really havea preference on any certain brand, as this is my first Big GirlCamera..
Note Olympus makes their manuals downloadable, as do most if not all other major manufacturers. Seehttp://www.olympus.co.jp/en/support/imsg/digicamera/download/manual/.
Some pros/cons that might be worth considering, in a fairly random order..
- With the 25mm f/2.8 pancake, probably the smallest DSLR/lens combo presently on the market. 25mm f/2.8 isn't particularly versatile, however..
- Smaller size may mean you'll be more willing to have it with you. A Nikon D3 or Canon 1Ds Mk II, even if somebody *gave* you one at no cost, isn't going to do you any good if you're not willing to carry it to where and when it needs to be..
- Smaller size also means less room for dedicated controls, so you may expect to use more button combinations or menu-controlled stuff than with a larger body..
- Smaller viewfinder than most DSLRs. You may be able to get a viewfinder magnifier, but this will cost you brightness same light spread out over a larger area..
- Also with respect to size consider other lenses you'll need. For the long telephotos, the smaller sensor means a smaller lens if we hold the aperture constant or, as Olympus seems wont to do, large and heavy lenses but with unusually fast apertures..
With respect to your purposes... hm..
The ZD 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 would be a very nice choice for landscapes, if you can swing the cost for what would largely be a dedicated landscape lens. If we don't need the 11mm, there's the somewhat more versatile 12-60 mm f/2.8-4 SWD, the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 (IIRC?), a 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 or so, and a 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5. 14mm vs 11mm is fairly significant. Some of these are not *too* bad for macro, although none are dedicated macro lenses ala the 35mm f/3.5 (IIRC) or 50mm f/2, or the Sigma macros..
Depending on light and distance, a 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 (older version there's a newer f/3.5-5.6 or so for the same focal length) may be useful..
Orthogonally: there's a Leica 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6 which is a stabilized ultrazoom, fairly small for the range, and reportedly of good optical quality. It's quite probably far more than you want to spend, however...
Thanks very much for the side-by-side comparison..
The main reason I am interested in the Olympus is because I went to a photo store here in my area and was recommended that model. I tried it out and thought it took excellent photos for what I will be using it for. However, the Nikon D40 is my second choice..
I haven't done as much research on the Nikon as I have the Olympus, but after reading your post, I think I am going to give it more consideration..
This is an excellent rundown. I really need this non-bias review and opinion, just to help steer clear of a store associate looking to move specific inventory (and taking advantage of a newbie, like me)..
I am going to have to delve into your response a little more thoroughly, as it brings up quite a few things I did not know..
I appreciate your time and effort!.
If you're considering the little Nikon D40, I also think it's a wonderful choice. It probably has the easiest to learn interface and takes great images right out of the box. I bought one for my gal for Christmas this year with the wonderfully sharp 18-135 lens as a kit instead of the regular kit. Until around March, when I set some things on her camera, she hadn't even set the clock, much less any other funtions, and she still took great pictures..
The little D40 is only 6 megapixels, but oh do those 6 look great. Remember mega pixels have nothing to do with sharpness or IQ in general. I've seen poster sized prints from 4 megapixel cameras that look wonderful..
The D40 is so small and light that you can carry it anywhere, and it opens the gateway to the best glass in the business; Nikon Glass. Some people might argue that the D40-D60 Nikons can't autofocus lenses that don't have motors in them, but don't worry about that. All new lenses by Nikon or anyone have in-lens motors, and Nikon has more lenses this way than most camera makers have any kind of lens. For example, the Nikon 105 f2.8 Macro lens has AFS motor and Vibration Reduction. It is also considered the sharpest macro made by anyone, by many. The new 60 f2.8 Micro AFS lens might well be a legend in a few years.
That 18-135 lens that can be had in a D40 kit instead of the 18-55 can almost focus as close as a macro lens. You might be totally satisfied with it..
Read this and this:http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/recommended-cameras.htmhttp://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d40.htm.
Here's my gal in the Everglades with me, with her D40 and my 70-300vr lens..
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She took this with the 18-135 and no post processing other than basic sizing..
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