The d80 does have an onboard drive screw, only the d40/d40x and d60 don't. Handle the various cameras, see which one fits, the Olympus as with all Four-Thirds cameras has a small viewfinder, see if thats acceptable for you. The olympus will also have compared to the canon worse high iso abilities due to the smaller sensor, and worse dynamic range, however it has inbuilt stabilisation...
No, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Thirds_System#Four_Thirds_system_companies Basically four-thirds cameras, are dslrs from Leica, Olympus and Panasonic that use a slightly smaller than normal sensor (for dslrs) with a 2x crop factor, and the lenses are interchangeable between bodies, eg they use the same lens mount. So a 300mm lens on a four thirds camera would gave roughly the same field of view as a 600mm lens on a 35mm slr. The Canon has a crop factor of x1.6, the nikons x1.5The sensor also has a 4:3 aspect ratio as opposed to most other dslrs that have the 3:2 aspect...
Watch out for the noise in the E-510. It is terrible. I know, because I made the mistake of buying it. I'm pretty sure that every other camera in your list all Nikons or Canon have much lower noise.
Noise is really important it is one of the most important factors in determining image quality. Go compare those cameras on the comparometer:.
Http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM Especially try the "Still Life 800" picture because the noise REALLY becomes bad there. Compare the E-510 to say, the Nikon D40. The difference is dramatic. Click on the small picture to get the full-sized image, and then go look at the box of crayons, and the yarn. See what the E-510 does to the colors. And unfortunately, there is no way to quiet the darned E-510 down.
I keep my E-510 locked at ISO 100 and I can still see the noise in the pictures. And I haven't even mentioned the blown overloaded highlights, or the small dim viewfinder that is very difficult to use for manual focus, or the cheap build quality, or the plethora of features that don't actually work correctly. Forget about the Auto White Balance, or the built-in Noise Reduction, or the 5 metering modes. They don't work right. Don't use them.
I thought it would be very useful, but it isn't. I never use it. I would trade it for a noise-free sensor in a flat minute. The image stabilization isn't all it is cracked up to be either. I find that using fast lenses is better.
I get shutter speeds like 1/500 or 1/1000 second, which really eliminates all motion blur both motion of the camera body, and motion of the bicycle rider. Oh yeh, the best thing that I can say about the Olympus 4/3 cameras is that you can mount so many other brands of legacy lenses on them, with adapters. I will miss that if my next camera is a Nikon. Move the E-510 to the bottom of your list, or even better, erase it, and concentrate on looking at the Nikon and Canon cameras. In the long run, you will be glad you did...
Funny you mention this 'noise' problem I now have a Minola DiMAGE 7Hi and it is famous for it's noise (and short battery life due to a high cutoff voltage). I also force it to run 100 ISO. That Olympus was my 2nd choice, but I guess I will have to take a closer look. I assume the 4/3 name came from the aspect ratio, as in the same for NTSC TV? Can I also assume this and the APS-C are the main two DSLR formats?.
Http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/SensorSizes.png Which brings the next question; is one 'better' than the other?..
Four Thirds cameras use the smaller sensor and a common lensmount, Canon use a different lens mount, Nikon use their lens mount and Sony use the Minolta mount. The aps-c sensor is probably the most common, though of course Nikon call that size of sensor, DX ! Canon use a slightly smaller variant which has a crop factor of 1.6 vs the others with x1.5. We are of course talking about crop sensor dslrs, you can also buy full frame dslrs, if you have the money and beyond that is the realm of medium format cameras. Which is better ? How do you define better ? Lowest noise, highest shutter speed, highest frames/sec. highest usuable iso, most friendly layout and control system, greatest range of lens, greatest range of affordable lens, greatest range of flashes, most megapixels ?? Then do you want a dslr with liveview or not ? Stabilisation built in vs the need to buy lenses with stabilisation which while more expensive tend to offer a higher amount of stabilisation? Personally I would go to a store and handle the cameras you are interested in. Then check out the system has the lenses and flashes you need.
So once you get into a system, it becomes expensive to leave for another since the lens mounts are different which requires selling the old and buying new...
I assume the 4/3 name came from the aspect ratio, as in the same for NTSC TV? You are on the right track. It has two simultaneous meanings. The first was that the size was like 4/3 of the size of a smaller sensor, like a P+S camera's sensor. The second meaning is that the aspect ratio is 4:3, like NTSC TV. RE:.
Can I also assume this and the APS-C are the main two DSLR formats? There are now 5 standards (point and shoot are the first two):.
1/2.5", 1/1.8", Four-Thirds, APS-c/DX (24mm diagonal) and 35mm /FX full-frame sensors. The 4/3 sensor is 18mm X 13.5mm, which is a little smaller than the DX sensor. The 4/3 sensor has exactly half of the diagonal size of a full-frame sensor. (Hence it's crop factor is exactly 2.) And as the sensors go down in price, like all silicon does, I think that the larger sensors, even full frame, will become much more popular. They have noise and dynamic range advantages and also sharpness. Any old legacy full-frame lens will be twice as sharp on a full-frame camera as on a 4/3 camera, because the full-frame body is using twice as much of the image area.
In fairness to Olympus, their subsequent cameras appear to have lower noise. The E-510 was a lemon, and they discontinued it even before the replacement E-520 came out. The newer cameras all have other sensors. The E-3, which came out some months after the E-510, is still 10 megapixels, and still has LiveView, but has a better sensor. (Still noisy and blowing highlights, but better.) Noise and dynamic headroom are constant Olympus problems.
So I turn the exposure compensation down to give it a little more headroom, and the noise creeps into the darker areas of the picture. You are between a rock and a hard place. I find myself envying the friend who bought a Nikon D40. He gets much cleaner pictures, even if they are only 6 Megapixels. Use the Imaging Resource comparometer to compare the output of various cameras:.
Http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM I especially like to look at the "Still Life 800", because that's where the cheap trash noticeably diverges from the good cameras.
Compare the D40 and the E-510, and especially look at the box of crayons and the yarn. The difference is immense. I sure do wish somebody had told me to look at that before I bought the E-510. Also look at the E-3 handling the yarn in the Still Life 800. The white yarn has the highlights blown. Compare that to the Nikon D40, which costs much less.
It's really not a contest...
"The E-510 was a lemon, and they discontinued it even before the replacement E-520 came out. " What do you mean? The 510 is current and their new 520 replacement doesn't come out until next fall! I looked at the 1600 test shots from I-R and the 510 is a little noiser, but not a whole lot compared to the others...
I'd go with Nikon. The D60 is the newest with probably better high ISO results than the others yu listed. There is a good selection of lenses available for the D60. For an almost unlimited selection of lenses go with the D80 with which you can use everything the Pro's and non-Pros alike might want to use. And, selcet from Nikon, Tamron, Sigma and Tokina.
Many of the new 'kit' lenes are very good. I think Nikon has a 55-300 which is a great zoom range. You are limited to a widest lens opening of f3.5 though which is not good for indoor sports - in a gym! For those shots secondary lenes come nto play if thats what you need or want.
What is it that you are looking for? Just an allaround good zoom with range like the 55-300? Or something else? What are your future photography plans beyond the beginning snapshoot stage? What subjects do you like to shoot now? Steve..