Nikon D40 vs Canon XT(i) vs Olympus E510 vs All?
I'm not really new to photography, but I am new to quality equipment. The jump will be from a Nikon Coolpix 2500 from a Xmas present, so I don't think there will be any concerns on things it had that I want to remain consistent in the next camera (although it'd be pretty cool to have the lens flip around to look at me) Rest assured, I do plan on using it productively and extensively..

In any case, I'm looking for a versatile DSLR camera that has enough features and capability to prevent it (and a few good lenses) from inhibiting experimentation (far/near/macro/light/dark/zero-G?) and, at the moment, the leaders are the Nikon D40, the Olympus E510, and the Canon Rebel XT/XTi models..

Any assistance specifying reasons why I would choose one over the other would be a great help. I want to make a good decision I won't regret and don't mind if there is a steep learning curve, so any other recommendations (including for lenses) are welcome as well. Personal anecdotes and experiences to empirical flowcharts are encouraged .

Price is not a big issue as enough time spent searching for a good deal can usually negate most major problems there..

Thanks for your help in advance!.

P.S.: As my first post, I just spent 20 minutes writing and revising this. I guess I find this whole photography community kind of intimidating with all your "firing" and "shooting" at things... so much for innocently "taking pictures"...

Comments (31)

Pretty much in the same situation.I went to my local shop today and they were out of the oly. But to my hands the nikon just felt better than the canon. the salesperson was pushing a bit harder on the canon. said the 7 focus points combined with the dust removal mad the canon better.also said better lens selection with the canon. Hopefully i'll get a chance to try the oly before making my descion...

Comment #1

Dust removal, sounds like something a salesman would push...

Comment #2

Ok you can see below that I have the OLY. So I'm going to surprise you, I'm sure, by recommending it over the Nikon and the Canon..

I am recommending it primarily because it simply has better features then the other two cameras. First it has in camera image stabilization. This is a huge feature. I will not own a camera without IS again. Unlike the Canon or the Nikon you don't have to pay extra for IS in the lens and you get it on EVERY Lens. Second it has live view.

Third the kit lenses are excellent quality, far better then what you will get with either the Nikon or Canon kit lenses. Fourth it is the best value for the price. Fifth I like the 2x conversion rather than the 1.5 of the Nikon and the Canon.

Is the 510 better in every way? No the Canon and Nikon will perform better in low light and they will focus faster in low light. Their high ISO images will be slightly better. Canon and Nikon have more aftermarket lenses available but this is not a huge concern to me because I don't require that many lenses..

MaddogOlympus E-500, Olympus E-510..

Comment #3

Thx maddog,is there a big difference between I.S on the camera rather than VR like on the nikkor lens? Also is the feel(weight,grip) like the nikkon or canon?..

Comment #4

Gellie wrote:.

Thx maddog,is there a big difference between I.S on the camera ratherthan VR like on the nikkor lens? Also is the feel(weight,grip) likethe nikkon or canon?.

I have heard some say that IS in the lens is better then in the camera with really long lenses. I have not seen that it is any better as a friend of mine has the D200 with a Nikor VF. What I like is that I get IS with every lens and I don't have to pay more for it..

I personally have no problem with the feel of any of the cameras you mentioned. The 510 is lighter particularly with the kit lenses then either the Nikon or the Canon. I find the 510 to be very comfortable but that is personal to each user so I suggest that you handle all of them and see what you think. I can say I did NOT like the E410. It was just too small for my hands..

Good luck and have fun picking the camera YOU like best..


Olympus E-500, Olympus E-510..

Comment #5

Thanks again, any opinions on getting the body only and a 18-180 Olympus lens,instead of the kit? I like the idea of just carring one lens...

Comment #6

The E-510 is the most fully featured camera that money can buy and by far the best value around when paired with the two great kit lenses..

Favorite Images:

Best, John S...

Comment #7

The two kit lenses that come with the E-410/E-510 as a pair are much smaller, lighter and overall much better than anything that CaNikon offers as entry kit lenses. You will also get much better performance all around with the two vs. going with the 18-180. It isn't Oly best performing lens mainly because of it's large focal range..

Favorite Images:

Best, John S...

Comment #8

Thanks John,One last question,any real negative about the view finder size,or the fact that the IS can only be viewed on the lcd screen?..

Comment #9

All of the intro cameras are amazing. It takes a sharp eye to tell the difference between good photos taken with an intro model dslr and a pro model. The big difference in the pro models is the bells and whistles that make photography easier, that lead to a greater percentage of "keepers," and that enable greater versatility..

I shoot with a Canon XT (also known as the 350D). I'm pleased with the photos I produce (see my photo hosting site below), and after two years I still have not reached the point where I feel my camera is restricting me (in other words, I am still learning). I began with the "thrifty 50" (50mm f/1.8) lens, and when I could afford it I bought two "L" lenses (17-40mm f/4 and 70-200mm f/4). I eventually will move up to a newer camera body and buy another phenomenal Canon "L" lens. In the meantime, I continue to learn. I could just as easily have begun my photographic hobby with a Nikon, but I selected Canon because of the availability of great lenses at less expense..

For what it's worth, at today's prices you can buy a Canon XT (body alone) for $400. The amazing 50mm f/1.8 lens only costs $70. Or, you can buy the NEW kit lens (18-55 IS lens for just $171. This lens is the replacement for the previous kit lens, which was not as good as the Nikon equivalent. The new lens has gotten very good reviews and has image stabilization. Throw in a good tripod and other essential gear, and you would have a very nice introductory camera rig for considerably less than $800..

Like I said earlier, you would be happy with any of the introductory cameras. Go to a store and try them out..


Comment #10

Easily the best value in this price segment by mile...

Comment #11

I have not had any trouble with the viewfinder at all, it is a bit smaller than some but not an issue for me. I use my E-510 for magazine work 2-3 times per month and it has been great. Not being able to see the IS in action is really never an issue. If you were doing a lot of extreme telephoto work as a professional then having IS in a 5 - $8000 lens might be a practical thing but not for us mere mortals..

Favorite Images:

Best, John S...

Comment #12

Thanks for the great info. Been sitting at this spot for a while now. Am based in South Africa and the cost of cameras is more expensive hence making the decision harder. Am finally at the point where it's either the Nikon D40 / Canon 400d / Olympus 510..

Such a hard call - considering the cost of buying locally the idea of getting a kit is officially out so am looking at the approach of piece at a time. So first step is to get a good body with a basic lense and work your way upwards ... it all boils down to lenses, the cost and quality of pictures. Considering this is my first DSLR they all seem to feel great and whatever body I go for I will get used so not too fussed on that either..

Is there anyone out there who can advise me on what the best direction would be towards settling on a brand name (camera and lenses) and working my way though this. Sorry for the repetitive question. Thanks..

Comment #13

Well there is a catch..

You can get a hyundai accent with all the gizmos and fiddles, for the same money as the Mercedes C class, basic. Will the Hyundai be better than the Merc, even if it had gizmos? The answer is No. No matter how hard it will try.Olympus- Hyundai AccentNikon - Mercedes C class (C-for yourself )Canon - BMW 3 seriesI would recommend exclusively the Canon or Nikon, and no other..

The 400D is very uncomfortable to hold, but the D40 has no motor. So the best would be to go for Canon 40D or Nikon D80. Because you don't have to make compromises for these two cameras. For the 400D/D40 you must choose Af or ergonomy...1. Nikon D3002. Canon 40D3.

Nikon D40/Canon 400DNikon pros:.

Great lenses (prosumer oriented), Superb flash units (dirt cheap), AF assist with no flash, Ergonomics....

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

2007 Digital Camera Satisfaction Study: many megapixels you need from a camera:

Comment #14

Since you selected the analogy one might also remember that the Merc has one of the lowest reilability ratings on the planet and Hyundai one of the hightest. Hyundai also has a much better warrenty. I shoot Olympus and I drive a Hyundai Tiberon. Basically your wrong on both countsthe camera and the car..

Oh yeaOlympus AND Hyundai owners don't need to compensate..

MaddogOlympus E-500, Olympus E-510..

Comment #15

No offense. This cannot be discussed, because it is a matter of taste. How many important people drive a hyundai? Presidents? TopGear? Businessmen? None, or very few.Only people that don't have money to buy a better car. You get what I mean..

The worst part is that Oly users make an even bigger compromise, the viewfinder and small sensor. But non the less....

It's not good when you have something, and always need to explain that it is just as good as the top brands... It's just boring. It's like getting second best....

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

2007 Digital Camera Satisfaction Study: many megapixels you need from a camera:

Comment #16

I don't buy cameras or cars based on "taste" or what is the "top" brand in the eyes of others. Levi's will do just fine; I don't need Calvin Kline's name on my rear end either..

I get great pleasure out of stopping to help stranded folks in their overpriced german cars. I also get great pleasure in entering photography competitions against Canon and Nikon owners and getting comparable scores..

If you were talking real pro equipment I would not argue with you but for entry level and enthusiast the Oly is just as good as either Nikon or Canon..


Olympus E-500, Olympus E-510..

Comment #17

Thank you all for your prompt and insightful feedback..

I now better understand that it would be hard to go terribly wrong with any of the cameras, but I am still curious as to whether each of the cameras are tailored towards a particular use and, if so, what it is..

I'm talking in terms of benefits and compromises each of the companies made on behalf of the cameras for their intended use... or are their uses all similar enough to make any "tailoring" negligible?..

Comment #18

Hi there,.

I'm in the same situation like you. I started out planning to buy the G9, but the price difference of the entry-level dslr is not that much..

Here's my opinion:.

Nikon D40 - Pro :Cheapest, decent kit lense, easiest to use, WB is really good, colors, smallest external flashCons: no IS, no dust cleaner, expensive lenses, no auto bracket and 6MP (someday you might wanna crop or blow up your pics)..

Canon 400D - Pro: the best auto focus, dust cleaner, fastest performance, best low light for a 10MP camera, images can get better with a better lense. Cons: WB is terrible sometimes, very uncomfortable to hold (oly is the best), no built in IS, kit lens is the worst of the bunch (the G9 looks better), lenses are so damn expensive and overprice. It's a joke to buy an entry-level camera with a high end lens in order to enjoy it. It just doesn't make sense for beginners really..

Olympus E-510 - Pro: the best value specially with the kit lens, built in IS, live view, kit lens has the best image, most comfortable to handle, most features. Cons: color/WB (most pictures I took inside the store were too yellowish), slowest performance (startup), slowest auto-focus of the bunch, worst low light image for a 10MP camera, too much settings to change to get best image..

I tried all these cameras at Ritz. I like the E-510 because of the value and I think I can get the best image out of the box with the lens without spending more ( the reason i'm going for an entry-level in the first place). The Nikon is also tempting because of the price, decent lens and it's small external flash (SB400). Seriously, I would love to buy the Canon out of the 3, but I don't wanna be stuck with the cheap lens and there is no way i'm buying the L lens either (as a hobby, I don't think it's worth it)..

So there you go...seems like the Oly is leading right now for me, but don't be surprise if I ended up with a Nikon (sorry just love the little external flash)...

Comment #19

Yasin wrote:.

Is there anyone out there who can advise me on what the bestdirection would be towards settling on a brand name (camera andlenses) and working my way though this. Sorry for the repetitivequestion. Thanks.

Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Pentax are all good brands. Canon & Nikon are the biggest sellers and also the choice of most professionals, but I don't know what difference that makes..

I'd suggest trying them out to see what fits your hands. As much as I love the Nikon D40, it is pretty small and hard for me to hold. Lots of people also complain about the Canon's lack of a grip..

You might want to select the lens(es) you like, then get a camera that takes them. For instance, if you want a superzoom lens, the Nikon 18-200 is the best one out there. Or, if you want a lens that offers 24-70 equivalent, Pentax offers the 16-45. And, don't be swayed by lenses you'd never buy. Nikon and Canon both make exotic pro lenses costing as much as $10,000. How does that help you?..

Comment #20

Maddogmd11 wrote:.

Since you selected the analogy one might also remember that the Merchas one of the lowest reilability ratings on the planet and Hyundaione of the hightest. Hyundai also has a much better warrenty. Ishoot Olympus and I drive a Hyundai Tiberon. Basically your wrong onboth countsthe camera and the car..

Oh yeaOlympus AND Hyundai owners don't need to compensate..

MaddogOlympus E-500, Olympus E-510.


The Tiburon is a sweet car. If it was a Toyota, I'd probably buy one...

Comment #21

My impression, based on reading reviews and forum posts, is that all of the current 10-12 Megapixel DSLRs are pretty similar in picture quality. With Olympus you get slightly less dynamic range and slightly worse low-light performance than with the other major brands, but their fast (wide-aperture) high-quality zoom lenses are much cheaper, smaller, and lighter than other manufacturers, due to inherent sensor format issues. For my interests (which include lots of wildlife photography) Olympus made sense because of the long zooms. If money were truly no object, I would probably have gone with Canon like most people do..

Beyond that, I can't help with a comparison of different systems because I have very little experience with them. But I can tell you in some detail what I do and don't like about my new Olympus system:

Good luck with whatever you decide..


Comment #22

I'm is somewhat the same position, unable to decide among SLR models. I've done a lot of research and camera holding and agree with Spade 357. I emphasize that I like the feel of the E510 the most of the three..

I will add some thingsD40: + larger viewfinder, though smaller viewfinder information bar-very menu driven, meaning you have to go through menus to changecamera settings,400D: + camera settings can be changed fairly directly with few button pushes.- viewfinder is smaller and darker than D40, but information bar is largerE510: -smallest viewfinder, I have trouble seeing the informaton bar which islocated at the side rather than below the image in the viewfinder..

The Pentax K100D Super is nice and the Pentax K10D has great features at a good price and might be considered...

Comment #23

Dust reduction is said to be the only one that really works, IS ups you non blured shots about 30%, lens are great quality, small & light, 2X, Battery life is good, live view comes in handy, maybe this will help , only difference with the Oly is your going to buy lens etc. online, the shops mostly carry Canon & Nikon. I have a 510 and love it, in this case size doesn't matter, it's a light & small camera especially when you add the lens weight, Oly, Oly, Oly. I can get 4 lens and the Camera in a bag made for 2 lens and camera, oh did I mention I love it.Tim..

Comment #24

Just because Canon is not a good fit for YOU does not mean Nikon is the ideal fit for everyone. God help all those stupid sports page editors buying lousy photos those mad Canon users made. Do be sure to forward your opinion to the New York Times and Sports Illustrated - they'll be so interested. Next time I see a wedding photographer with a Fuji S5 I'll be sure to have educate them.

Incidentally, according to your own profile you own a Canon - kinda suggest to me you are a troll..

There is a thing called weight. Look this up. Not everyone wants to carry around a tank, even for professional work..

There is also a thing called money. Not everyone feels the need to donate money to a corporation simply to have their badge. If two systems do the same thing for me, why pay for the expensive one ? .

Camera fit is personal. Even professional needs are specific to the individual and purchases are based on a combination of technical requirements, business needs ( if any ) and how well it works for you personally. If a camera does not fit well with you it will basically never form a good working partnership with you..

Car choice is also personal..

Your profile also indicates your profession as 'Computer Science'. An odd choice of expression, but as someone with a science background and a professional IT person let me explain something to you :.

Science is about having an open mind, exploring new concepts and acquiring and validating knowledge. It is most certainly not about adopting dogmatic positions on issues. A good scientist questions their own opinions first and foremost..

I suggest you start questioning yourself as to why you feel the need to make such dogmatic and absolute statements on what are clearly personal choices..

A thought for you :.

If science teaches anything it is that today's absolute is tomorrow's mistake..


Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..

Comment #25

I didn't raised a discussion about my opinions, I just expressed them. If you have something to say about the topic, please do. Those are mine thoughts..

Next time you want to say something like that, go handle a Nikon or Canon camera in a shop (or a Merc or BMW or Audi, that is). You will see how much better it really is..

P.S. I like both canon and nikon. And Merc and Audi... and not Oly and Huyndai...

Comment #26

Firstly, relax. There are all sorts of morons, fanboys and trolls on photography fora, ready to beat any brand other than theirs into the ground as well as come up with all sorts of silly analogies to car, stereo etc. brands, but the truth of the matter is you cannot go wrong with any of these models. For someone serious about learning photography, a camera body needs to have the following simple qualities: a through-the-lens viewfinder for composition, an option to manually control aperture and shutter speed with easily accessible external controls, and a fast-enough shutter lag to ensure you do not miss the decisive moment. All these DSLRs are up to the challenge. Almost anything beyond that will have a lot more to do with how much you read up on the basics of photography, and how much you experiment, than with what these models are capable of.

That said, there are many similarities across these models. All of these cameras have small, tunnel-like finders, for example, which do not lend themselves well to manual focussing but are perfectly suited to composing. All three produce similar - read: very good - image quality, with differences so minor that you would have to shoot multipage adspreads for glossy magazines in order to detect them. All three are small for an SLR. All three are fast in operation. Etc.


Given the above, I would suggest that you take all three cameras in your hands, play with them, see how they feel in your hands, and base your decision mainly on how they handle for you. The reason is simple: a device you do not like to use will see little use. You will want a camera that feels like an extension of your arms and eyes..

Some other things to consider: dust settling on the sensor when changing lenses is a major issue with most digital SLRs. The Nikon has no protection against this. The Canon does, but it does not seem to work well. The Olympus has an effective solution - this may or may not matter to you, depending on whether or not you want to use more than one lens. Secondly, the Olympus has LiveView, though it is not like your compact digicam - it is mainly meant to give you convenience and help with manual focussing when the camera is on a tripod (hint: macro work, object and product phtoography). However, I think the Canon and the Nikon can be outfitted with a Zigview finder that should also do the trick.

You are unlikely to encounter such problems with the Olympus, as the E-system is a completely digital system built from the ground up, with very few compatibility issues like that. On the other hand, there are very few lenses with ultrasonic focus motors in the Olympus line-up yet, so if extremely fast and quiet auto-focussing is paramount to your style of photography, the Canon or the Nikon may suit you better..

A specific suggestion: if you settle on the XTi, make sure to get the newest incarnation of the standard Canon kit zoom, the one with IS - it has tested very well in the optical department too, unlike it's predecessors (which include the Mark II variant too).pbase Supporter..

Comment #27

It's not about what you like. That's the point..

It's about facts. Stating your opinion is fine. It only stops being fine when you state your opinion as a fact. Simply because your opinion is the majority opinion still does not make it a fact (e.g. the world is not flat. the sun does not orbit the earth, etc.).

MaddogOlympus E-500, Olympus E-510..

Comment #28

I totally agree, just having some fun, sometimes it seems to get to serious here and fun is what it's all about anyway, right. I just wanted to add one thing about the live view, if you use this to shoot your batteries will die very quickly, I only use mine for post shot view to see if I got a good photo, exposure, etc. The only other time I use it is when I can't get my face to the camera, Macro, over the head, or out the car window kind of shot, but it is handy to have.Tim..

Comment #29

BA baracus wrote:.

Dust removal, sounds like something a salesman would push..

Perhaps.but the Oly dust removal system IS the only one that really does work!.

By the way.I am a camera salesperson and I do own an Olympus E-510..

We are constantly getting Sony A100's, Pentax K10D's and Canon Rebel XTi's (all with dust reduction sensors) in for sensor cleans.and I've never once seen an Olympus with dust reduction ever come in for a sensor clean..


J. D.Colorful Colorado.

From my E-510:.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Remember.always keep the box and everything that came in it!..

Comment #30

Thank you all very much,.

I appreciate the efforts of all contributors, but it is true that it is hard to determine what to take from inappropriate metaphors and brand-focused comments. For example, if one were to really use cars as a metaphor for cameras, what does it mean if, in reality, I ride the bus? Should I instead be drawing pictures?.

In any case, I feel your (Zoltan2's) comment about getting a feel for the camera and base my choice off of which is the most comfortable is a good one. There are many elements to consider, but I have been hard pressed to find any powerful factors that would set one camera apart from the rest; your insight to the Olympus' lack of maintenance issues (I do plan on using multiple lenses) is very helpful..

I plan on visiting a photography store sometime soon to get a feel for each of the cameras as, with anything, what works for you is always best..

Happy holiday shooting all,.


Comment #31

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