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Makonde
8th September 2008, 01:10 PM
So one of the determining factors for sticking with Olympus is: what can I upgrade to? At present I have the E520. It seems to me that I can't look forward to much more with the E3, the only step up in camera body.

Same sensor, same processor, very similar controls and faciltiies.

Bigger viewfinder, one step higher ISO, weatherproofing, flip-out LCD. errr... not much incentive there. Or am I missing something crucial?

bully74uk
8th September 2008, 02:02 PM
Not 100% sure as I don't use an E3 myself but I believe that the E3 has a faster focusing system with more points ?

I have been asking myself a similar question myself but mine goes along the line of what would my limitations be with my E510

If I wanted for example to move into a more serious photography sector such as Studio Portraits for family and friends would my E510, with the right glass of course be up to the job ? and if not in what way would an E3 perform the task better.

Graham_of_Rainham
8th September 2008, 02:23 PM
I have used both the E-3 and E-520. They are both Very Good.

I put the new 14-35 onto my E-500 and that made a HUGE difference.

I've always gone for the best glass I can get and used a cheap body (OM10) and it has served me very well. Optical quality is so much more important than exposure accuracy (PS will take care of that)

Look seriously at the type of photography you do. If the majority is static subjects, do you need high speed focusing and dozens of focus sensors

So having confused things even more :o Do let us know which way you go

*chr

StephenL
8th September 2008, 02:34 PM
It probably doesn't answer your question, but I have recently upgraded from the E-510 to the E-520, and can confirm there is a very noticable improvement in image quality. Focussing on my sole (for now) SWD lens - the 50-200 - is slightly quicker. Dynamic range is greatly improved, as is colour quality. I figured that Olympus wouldn't put out an upgraded model so soon for just a small improvement, and I was proven right.

250swb
8th September 2008, 03:40 PM
Or am I missing something crucial?

Sounds like you have bought the idea of the E520 already.

But the E3 has faster focusing, more focus points, a wider range of bracketing options, more control options on the body (wheels and buttons), wider ISO range, faster frame rate, bigger buffer, more customizable options, 100% viewfinder coverage, brighter viewfinder, flip out LCD, ability to use a battery grip and therefore a second shutter button, more sturdy construction, bigger body to balance better against larger lenses, faster shutter speed, longer bulb timer (4 hrs), and probably more things I can't think of at the moment.

Oh yes, it doesn't have the 'scene modes', a definite advantage.

Of course like the dust and weatherproofing of the E3 none of the above matter if you never go need to go outside the parameters offered by the E520. But on the weatherproofing alone I can go out and make photographs while everybody else is at home, so it is a useful thing in the UK.

Steve

Who's_E
8th September 2008, 04:09 PM
Makonde,

I was thinking roughly the same earlier this year: E510 vs. E3. I went for the latter despite being 500 more for "a better body and flip-out screen."

You don't mention your lenses, which helped everyone help me decide as I ended up with a water resistant system. The flip-out screen is a godsend for low-level landscapes and the AF marginally better than an E-510 for moving things in bad light. On balance I am very happy with what I have as opposed to wondering what could have been.

A word of warning: I wouldn't sell your E-smaller unless you have to ut fund the purchase. I have an E-330/14-42 and still carry it in preference to the E3/12-60 unless I am going out specifically to take "good" photos.

Nick

Makonde
8th September 2008, 04:47 PM
Well, I'm not thinking about making a move just yet, but posing the question 'what is there to look forward to
' and not really getting much incentive as between the E520 and the 'flagship' E3! It was a fork of the threads on four thirds and on competing with Canikon

I have the two kit zooms and the 35mm macro but truly, two months into the E520 I have some reservations about image quality/clarity vs. fuzziness and I find the performance in lower (but still ordinary) light levels is not exciting. On the other hand, I find the camera well thought out and many things are good. The IS is good, the colours are excellent, the faithfulness of jpeg to RAW is excellent, there are plenty of features, the battery life is good etc.

But the bottom line is the image. I am having to work hard to get clear images, to the point where I'm still driven to test things out. That's one of the reasons I got the 35mm macro, acknowledged to be a very sharp lens. In fact in comparisons I don't find the kit lenses are that much inferior to it. I find the images are fuzzier than I'd like, with all of them. Maybe I'm too demanding! Help me out: here are three test shots where I am comparing with and without IS (for the 35mm macro and the 14-42 kit), and I took the opportunity to compare the 35mm macro with the kit lens too. But are these the clearest pics I can reasonably expect with this equipment?

kit lens (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fundance/2840338276/)

macro lens (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fundance/2840348014/)

kit vs macro (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fundance/2840346846/)
Check out the large sizes and let me know. All shot RAW and identical conversion

I'm not keen to invest in more glass before (a) I am really confident in the scope and future of the E-system bodies and (b) I see where micro 4/3 goes. All these things are linked up...

Makonde
8th September 2008, 04:58 PM
By the way, ref my question in another thread about whether there's a cost to IS, it does seem seems that there is a slight cost in fuzziiness when the camera is otherwise stable on a tripod - if you see the side-by-side comparisons in my test shots above the same as I do. That was also the conclusion of another poster someone pointed me to on the flickr e-system forum.

shirley
8th September 2008, 05:25 PM
Hi Makonde,
I think this all comes down to what you want to photograph and when. I have an E510 and until recently I used kit lenses and 35mm macro, I produced my LRPS panel all at A3 size using these lenses, I acquired the E510 just before Christmas and before that I was using the E400.
The images were very acceptable in terms of sharpness, indeed I would not have been successful with my 'L' if they weren't.
I decided that I wanted to invest in glass rather than upgrading body so I have recently purchsed a 12-60 and a 70-300, I also exchanged my 35mm for 50mm macro (although I am wondering if that was a good move!!! thats another story) I am particularly pleased with the 12-60 which is rapidly becoming my only walk around lens.
I rarely use the scene modes and of course there are occasions when I would like an articulating screen etc etc but for the time being I am very happy with my set up and have decided just to concentrate on improving my own skills rather than worrying about whether I could get more features by upgrading.
It seems to me that quite a lot of shops will let you shoot some shots in the shop and one suggestion I heard was to take a CF card into the shop, shoot a variety of shots using your desired combination/s and then take them home and have a look at the results. That might help you decide which way to go.
I hope this is helpful.
Shirley

dennisg
8th September 2008, 06:52 PM
Now that's some great advise! Thanks!

Dennis G

Invicta
8th September 2008, 07:40 PM
So one of the determining factors for sticking with Olympus is: what can I upgrade to? At present I have the E520. It seems to me that I can't look forward to much more with the E3, the only step up in camera body.

Same sensor, same processor, very similar controls and faciltiies.

Bigger viewfinder, one step higher ISO, weatherproofing, flip-out LCD. errr... not much incentive there. Or am I missing something crucial?

Ian posted an interesting article over on the four-thirds web site comparing the Four Thirds sensor resolution across several different cameras:

http://fourthirds-user.com/2008/07/four_thirds_sensor_resolutions_tested.php

The weather proofing and robustness of the E-3 are important for me. I am not a professional tog by any means but not having to worry about rain showers is very handy for the outdoor photos I normally take.

Makonde
8th September 2008, 10:06 PM
Ian posted an interesting article over on the four-thirds web site comparing the Four Thirds sensor resolution across several different cameras:

http://fourthirds-user.com/2008/07/four_thirds_sensor_resolutions_tested.php
Thanks - all much the same: if anything the E-3 is a shade worse than the others, unless that's a typo!

Nobody has yet commented on whether the clarity of my test shots (large size) on tripod - links above - is the best that can be expected. If I should be getting better results, should I worry that I have a maverick example in my new E520? Or what? Grateful if you could take a look.

Invicta
8th September 2008, 11:07 PM
Thanks - all much the same: if anything the E-3 is a shade worse than the others, unless that's a typo!

Nobody has yet commented on whether the clarity of my test shots (large size) on tripod - links above - is the best that can be expected. If I should be getting better results, should I worry that I have a maverick example in my new E520? Or what? Grateful if you could take a look.

Don't think it is a typo. The E-3 is a little older then the E-420 and E-520 so I would not be surprised if Oly had made a few tweaks.

I can only see one size of photo on the flickr site, maybe worth uploading them on these forums for a larger picture?

Makonde
8th September 2008, 11:34 PM
Don't think it is a typo. The E-3 is a little older then the E-420 and E-520 so I would not be surprised if Oly had made a few tweaks. But the 400, the 410 and the 510 come out the same as the 420 and 520 in the figures, so the E3 is a tad worse than those.

I can only see one size of photo on the flickr site, maybe worth uploading them on these forums for a larger picture?
Ah - I never know when these larger sizes are available on flickr and to whom. So I've uploaded them here (http://thamesditton.org.uk/pix/).

250swb
9th September 2008, 07:11 AM
two months into the E520 I have some reservations about image quality/clarity vs. fuzziness and I find the performance in lower (but still ordinary) light levels is not exciting.

Don't know how you have the camera set up but when users complain of 'fuzziness' it is often because they have in camera 'Noise Filter' set on, and also in camera sharpness on, and other things such as 'Saturation' set high. All degrade the image before it comes out of the camera. The main culprit is 'noise filter', the higher you set it the more sharpness is automatically added to the picture to compensate for the effects of removing noise. This is bad enough but if you also have sharpness set higher than '0' you start to degrade the image further.

So I would suggest the best settings would be Noise Filter 'Off', Sharpness '0', Saturation '0'/Normal. You hardly need any noise filter up to 400iso if you make proper exposures, and noise filtering and sharpening are far better done as post processing functions than in camera. Also make sure you have IS switched 'Off' for tripod use.

Use an aftermarket image processing like Photoshop, and try if possible to use RAW. Photoshop is far more sophisticated at removing noise and sharpening an image than the small processor inside the camera.

Additionally the kit lenses are fine if you use them in the middle zones, so you will find the image getting much softer at the widest apertures or from f11 upwards, and at the longest end of the zoom ranges.

Do not underexpose the image, this again causes softness and noise.

Taking note of all these things will lead to sharper and more refined images.

Steve

Makonde
9th September 2008, 10:08 AM
Thanks Steve for the reply. However:
Don't know how you have the camera set up but when users complain of 'fuzziness' it is often because they have in camera 'Noise Filter' set on, and also in camera sharpness on, and other things such as 'Saturation' set high. All degrade the image before it comes out of the camera. The main culprit is 'noise filter', the higher you set it the more sharpness is automatically added to the picture to compensate for the effects of removing noise. This is bad enough but if you also have sharpness set higher than '0' you start to degrade the image further.
Yes, I'm aware of that, have noise filter off, gradation normal etc. but they are all applied by the camera when converting from RAW to jpeg, are they not? And my tests are in RAW with a neutral conversion in ACR. And in any case, for my tests I set all the contrast / saturation / sharpness settings to 0.

Also make sure you have IS switched 'Off' for tripod use.

As you will have seen from the images, one of the tests was precisely the difference that IS on / off makes (on the tripod).

Use an aftermarket image processing like Photoshop, and try if possible to use RAW. Photoshop is far more sophisticated at removing noise and sharpening an image than the small processor inside the camera.
Exactly what I've been doing -see above.

Additionally the kit lenses are fine if you use them in the middle zones, so you will find the image getting much softer at the widest apertures or from f11 upwards, and at the longest end of the zoom ranges.

I can add that at very small apertures there's also some diffraction softness with the 40 - 150 kit. My test are done at F8 (as noted on the images)

Invicta
9th September 2008, 04:23 PM
But the 400, the 410 and the 510 come out the same as the 420 and 520 in the figures, so the E3 is a tad worse than those.

Ah - I never know when these larger sizes are available on flickr and to whom. So I've uploaded them here (http://thamesditton.org.uk/pix/).

Not having seen the original subject item my thoughts are that the gradation marks on the thermometer should be a little more distinct.

Two thoughts:

1) Where was the focus point? The brick wall looks ok so I wondered if the auto focus had locked on that.

2) Unprocessed raw files will be a little soft. Which version of ACR are you using? Try the default input sharpening on the detail panel. Input sharpening should be done in ACR and is different to the output sharpening you would do at the end of processing ready for outputing.

Makonde
9th September 2008, 06:08 PM
Thanks for having a look.

It's true that the wall thermometer is old and a bit faded, but that and the brick texture, and the dirty bits, give a range of things to compare. The depth of field / focus point I would have thought would not be a factor as the depth from front of thermometer to the wall is less than one inch, the aperture was F8 and focus was from around four feet away @ 35mm and square on. I'm using ACR 4.5 to convert the RAW, but am deliberately not doing any tweaking. These are primarily comparison shots. (And the focus point was on the thermometer just below the red knob)

However, one might comment that if there's so much advice to follow about switching off this and that on default camera settings, and using a particular software to refine results, etc etc. then that hardly argues for a good job done by Olympus, does it?!.... (I've done it anyway...)

My main question is: are those images what one would expect from the E520 with those lenses, or if not, what could be wrong? Your feedback comment on the brickwork suggests that this is what would be expected for optimum out-of-camera performance.

Thanks again everybody for bearing with me. Much appreciated.

Makonde
9th September 2008, 06:32 PM
Incidentally the test shots show that, as one would expect:

a. the 35mm macro prime is sharper and clearer than the 14-42 kit lens at 35mm with both at F8. But not by all that much.

b. keeping IS on when the camera is stabilised on a tripod (and triggered by timer) does result in a tiny amount of blurring. This is more noticeable in the results from the 35mm macro prime lens. Again, the effect is not all that great but it is there - to my eye.

mike_j
9th September 2008, 07:27 PM
Well, I'm not thinking about making a move just yet, but posing the question 'what is there to look forward to
'
I'm not keen to invest in more glass before (a) I am really confident in the scope and future of the E-system bodies and (b) I see where micro 4/3 goes. All these things are linked up...

I have always tended to go for glass before bodies and am quite convinced that current Oly bodies don't offer a value for money upgrade (the E3 seems to betray all that 4/3 was aimed at - lighter smaller gear).

Until m4/3 was announced I didn't mind buying more lenses and waiting until a major improvement in image quality, especially dynamic range, became available - I'm not interested in bells and whistles improvements

Now I won't buy anything until the waters clear - I may even sell out of Oly though I will lose a lot of money by doing so, and buy the utterly illogical overpriced throwback camera that I really want plus a high end digicam.

250swb
9th September 2008, 08:57 PM
However, one might comment that if there's so much advice to follow about switching off this and that on default camera settings, and using a particular software to refine results, etc etc. then that hardly argues for a good job done by Olympus, does it?!.... (I've done it anyway...)

The grass is always greener on the other side?

Try reading through Canon and Nikon forums and they are talking about exactly the same things, having exactly the same problems, and coming to exactly the same conclusions in that the camera is faulty or not up to the job in the first place and everything is vaguely disappointing.

Post processing is not some sort of cop out, it is what people do to get the best image. Nobody leaves it to the camera with a dslr, other than for snap shots. I submit to very quality control concious photo agencies and I have (touch wood) far fewer QC issues (none actually) with my E420 and E3 (plus top quality lenses) than many people have with Canon 5d or even 1dsMkIII. They still cannot understand why they sometimes fail quality control because they assume the camera will do it all for them. And, in the real world even after post processing you would be very hard pressed to differentiate an Oly E3/E420 image from a Canon 5d or Nikon D300 image at all the normal sizes and image parameters. In fact in most cases the Oly comes out 'better'.

So I would conclude that if you have tried everything as you say with your E520 you must have a faulty camera, or something.

Steve

Makonde
9th September 2008, 10:36 PM
The grass is always greener on the other side?

No, not necessarily and that's not what I'm driving at. As I noted, I find lots of good things about my 520. I've noted that most of you get clear sharp images, and that's what I'm trying to achieve. But I find a tad more fuzziness than I expected. I'm working on it systematically, but I need the feedback from established and successful Oly shooters to be sure that what I'm seeing is what is to be expected. While I like a lot of things about the camera, I'm not starry eyed about it - this isn't a football fan thing. My comment about the settings stands: if, in order to get the clearest images, one has to take off quite a few things Oly put on by default, it's reasonable to question why they did it and whether they got it the right way round, no?

This is my first DSLR but my fifth Oly including two OMs. Now the fork in DSLR developments between the full-framers on the one hand (without Oly) , and the micro 4/3 and other plans for smaller cameras with interchangeable lenses on the other, is making me wonder whether it's unwise to start investing in pricey but good full 4/3 glass. Part of that is the open-minded question I started the thread with: what is there to look forward to in the E-system if you already have a 520?

Zuiko
9th September 2008, 10:48 PM
Hi Makonde,

Have you actually applied any sharpening to these pictures in pp?

I've just imported them into Elements and they seemed to take a fair bit of sharpening. Here's the result:-

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/kit_-_sharpened.jpg

Does that look better?

Cheers,

John

Makonde
9th September 2008, 11:03 PM
Thanks for taking a look John.

I applied no additional sharpening - they were primarily comparison shots for the two lenses and for IS versus no IS on the tripod (earlier thread). So I did no pp tweaking whatever, simply doing the crop in Photoshop to set up a jpeg of side-by-side images.

btw I gather that the 'zero' setting for sharpness in the E 520 (I used 'natural' picture mode with all adjustments at default zero) still applies some considerable sharpening.

Whether sharpened as you have done, or not sharpened: can you comment on whether the images are as clear as you would expect, or is there a problem somewhere for me to home in on?

Incidentally in the sharpened version I can't tell any difference from the half with IS on and the half with IS off - can you?

Zuiko
9th September 2008, 11:06 PM
In fact, looking at it again, I think it can take a little more sharpening. Here goes:-

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/kit_-_sharpened_2.jpg

Hope this helps,

John

Zuiko
9th September 2008, 11:21 PM
Whoops, we crossed posts.

I agree that the difference between the IS and non IS versions of the sharpened images is far less obvious than in the unsharpened pair.

It is actually quite normal for images out of the camera to look soft, unless you apply in-camera sharpness to Jpegs which generally can be a bit crude and can appear overdone.

If you think the unsharpened Oly files are soft, I think you would get a shock from unsharpened Canon files - they have a reputation for being soft but also hold a lot of detail and sharpen up in pp beautifully!

I too, found the concept of soft images from the camera a little disconcerting when I first tried digital, especially comming from a background of using prime medium format lenses on 120 Velvia and always mounted ona heavy tripod. But you do get used to it and after a while routine sharpening is no big deal, in fact it's useful to be able to individually tailor the amount of sharpening to different subjects.

Regarding the kit lenses, they will never be quite as good as the pro range but it is generally accepted within the industry (even in quarters that are critical of other aspects of 4/3) that Oly make the best kit lenses in the business.

Cheers,

John

Makonde
10th September 2008, 12:10 AM
Thanks John.

The sharpening in the second one is a bit too brittle for my taste. Interesting about RAWs being on the soft side. I've had a Canon Powershot for a couple of years (and an Oly Camedia digital before that), and Photoshop v6 as well as Elements; but handling RAWs is as new to me as the 520. Fortunately ACR seems to be simple and rather faster and more subtle than Olympus Master.

So - you'd say that the images were pretty much in line with IQ expectations?

(The powershot, an A710IS, btw produces excellent clear crisp jpegs but for me the colours are not nearly as appealing as the ones that come out of the 520)

photo_owl
11th September 2008, 01:20 PM
directed back to this thread as it's now about sharpness rather than the original theme (which left me rather cold and I thought others had said what I felt already).

my 2p, trying to add to the obvious debates, would be -

1. A DSLR gives you a huge menu of options to select the output you like when shooting jpeg, or raw output to select it all later!
2. Even if you are shooting jpeg having set these once, some subjects will require adjustment to settings to get 'good' output - high contrast subjects do exist out there, and not all portaits look good with landscape style settings! I remain amazed at how many people expect that both the default settings will be the their taste, and that a single set of settings will work for all their shooting. Generally if you do want to shoot jpeg, and leave the settings alone, you have to shoot at the low end of all the settings as you can add sat, con and sharp later to a jpeg pretty well with good software but you can't take it away so easily.
3. If I wanted OOC output from the 520 I would have Sat 0, cont 0 and sharp +1 for most subjects as a reasonable compromise. However sharpenning is a huge subject on it's own and to be optomised needs at least 3 phases with subject related settings etc etc. What is obvious is that whilst the 510 is agressive the 420/520 and E3 all produce output that just soaks up most sharpenning techniques like a sponge so that you can produce images as crisp as you wish without introducing artifacts etc This also enables slight inadequacies to be covered (whether thay be lens, focus, subject, technique or setting error induced) - which has to be a good thing.
4. Olympus's default settings were a marketting reaction to the market reaction to the agressive 510 output, and I suspecthey are also trying to establish a consistentcy with E3 and future models in this regard. 0 is a pretty good 0 in Natural.
5. I struggle to make objective assesments of any output file posted as an image on the web. Especially whan I can't see the full exif. I remain unconvinced abot th eexistence of a truly neutral development either! However looking at the images posted of the wall/thermometer, and accepting that with a 2 second exposure a lot can creep in, they look 'normal' to me for the settings and process indicated.
6. I wouldn't expect to see the difference between IS1 and no IS on a shot with that low magnification (35 at that distance) even before any sharpenning process at all. However it's there in all circumstances but only really becomes apparent at high magnification and 1:1 viewing. I have a sample image here which clearly illustrates this (I won't embed it as it will spread the page and make reading this thread difficult)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3147/2825008239_f42302ac10_o.jpg

Finally, and back to the original post in the thread, I thought having a camera with no obvious upgrade route was the whole idea? Outwith the limitations already highlighted the limitation on the final output from a 520 or e3 rests with the photographer, glass and processing. Just as it did for decades in the developed SLR market - where I admit to stopping at an OM1 and OM2n because I didn't see any of the later bodies as an upgrade ... (well the Ti was nice but I resisted).

Jim Ford
11th September 2008, 05:22 PM
I too, found the concept of soft images from the camera a little disconcerting when I first tried digital, especially comming from a background of using prime medium format lenses on 120 Velvia and always mounted ona heavy tripod. But you do get used to it and after a while routine sharpening is no big deal, in fact it's useful to be able to individually tailor the amount of sharpening to different subjects.

This is a hobby horse of mine. I see a lot of DSLR images that are soft because they need sharpening. People seem to think that because they paid a lot of money for a camera and lens, it's bound to produce sharp images straight out of the camera.

Jim

Makonde
11th September 2008, 05:47 PM
....I remain unconvinced abot th eexistence of a truly neutral development either! ....

Well, having ensured the camera settings were neutral (i.e. 'natural' picture mode, contrast, saturation sharpness left at the default zero, gradation 'normal', noise filter off, shadow adjustment off), I did no tweaking in ACR but, having looked at the histogram, converted straight to jpeg. This being to me the best way of making comparison shots (rather than tweaking each one separately).

In fact, with those default 'zero' camera settings, the ACR sliders indicate that there is a brightness enhancement (+50 on the slider scale) and a contrast enhancement (+25). There also appears to be a smallish amount of default sharpening (25% etc) as recorded in ACR.

....they look 'normal' to me for the settings and process indicated.
Thanks - this is helpful as I try to calibrate my eyes as well as the camera.

Makonde
11th September 2008, 05:53 PM
This is a hobby horse of mine. I see a lot of DSLR images that are soft because they need sharpening. People seem to think that because they paid a lot of money for a camera and lens, it's bound to produce sharp images straight out of the camera.

Jim
I can assure you that I am not one of those people. While this is my first DSLR, I have had lesser digital cameras for ten years, and photoshop for eight. And an OM1 for over thirty.

Doesn't mean I'm any good though!