Olympus E-10 and E-20

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phrenzy
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Olympus E-10 and E-20
5 months ago

With all this praise lavished on the E-1 lately (of which I have been a happy participant) it got me thinking of a couple cameras I see pop up on my regular fleaBay trawl that don't seem to get talked about much, the E-10/20.

I've found a little info on them but all of it basically from on or near the time of their release so there isn't much on how they have aged or how they would fare today compared to say the E-1. I figure there must be a couple slightly older Olympus faithful here who have owned or at least used one or both.

Does it share the 5mp Kodak sensor from the E-1? I know they are fixed lens but given their price when new and their positioning as high end cameras would I be right to guess the lenses are pretty hot stuff? I've also seen the tcon telextenders that screw on to the fixed lenses but this can't be an optically efficient way to do things can it?

Given how madly happy I am with my E-1 I'm thinking this might be an interesting working addition to my Olympus collection (I'm pretty dedicated to the idea that one day soon some of the nicer old DSLRs are going to be beloved and desired collectables). So can anyone give some 2014 perspective on these cameras?

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chazguernsey
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Re: Olympus E-10 and E-20
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

I owned an E10 when they first came out, and loved the quality etc, but boy did it eat batteries! If you bought the "Special" CRV-3 batteries, it was better than using the Duracell AA's.

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Chaz
E5, E1, E620. 90-250mm F2.8, 150mm F2, 35-100mm F2, 14-35mm F2, 7-14mm F4, 12-60mm F2.8, 50-200mm F2.8, 14-54mm F2.8

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Ben Herrmann
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Points to keep in mind...
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

I still have both the E-10 and E-20 and with regards to both performance and speed, they are very dated compared to the E-1 (yes, the old E-1 smokes them both big time, IMO).  No, they don't have the same sensor as is in the E-1 - not by a long shot.  The noise in those older E-10 and E-20 sensors are much higher when compared to the E-1.  The E-1, by comparison, has a much richer color tonality and better (cleaner) IQ.  And keep in mind that the high ISO capabilities of the E-10 goes up to whopping 320 !

What makes the E-10 and E-20 so unique is their superb ergonomics, build quality, and overall looks.  They just look (and feel) like a camera is supposed to look.  Their design eventually led to the E-1, but I just wish Olympus would have stuck with this camera body style.  The glass in the E-10/20 are exceptional (both are fixed lenses).  Whatever you do, do NOT use regular AA batteries (not even rechargeable ones) because the cameras eat these up in droves.  I use the rechargeable CR-3V batteries which last for a few hundred shots.  But keep in mind, if your E-10 or E-20 dies, there is nobody who can (or will) fix these.

The articulating LCD's on the E-10 and E-20 are both small and very, very low resolution.  The IQ, while nice for their time period, really pales in comparison to what you get with the E-1.  Other than getting an E-10 and E-20 for nostalgia sake, it's not worth the effort at this stage, IMO.  Now keep in mind, the E-20 has virtually the same look as the earlier E-10, but gives you 5 MP's.  Don't even try to shoot in RAW mode with the E-20, because it takes some 10-14 seconds to write that RAW file - it's that slow.  The buffers in those old cameras were really small to say the least.

In addition, the E-10 and E-20 can only take Compact Flash cards up to 2 Gig - no more.  Large cards are not recognized in those cameras.

Now if you are a collector, then getting an E-10 and E-20 is a no-brainer.  Finding some that are in mint condition, may be a tall task.  When you look at the photos of those for sale on eBay, and you zoom in on the photos, you will see that many are truly worn.  Awhile back I was fortunate to get two mint (virtually like new) E-10 and E-20 models off of eBay for less than $125 each!

Here is one photo that I particularly enjoyed with my E-10 - yes, it's the typical obligatory cat shot, but using the E-10 and FL-40 flash in bounce mode, I came up with this rich image of one of my cats.

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Have a great one....
Bernd (Ben) W. Herrmann
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Charles Baxter
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My first digital
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

The E-10 was my first, purchased in 2001.  Wonderful lens 36-140mm , and fast.  CV3 rechargables probably best but enelope  AA's do OK.  I still use mine occassionaly, love the painterly look.  Perfect build and feel, but very slow to load,  Auto focus not bad.  Have attached two images taken with E-10.    Charles Baxter

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Garry Schaefer
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Re: Olympus E-10 and E-20
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

I still own a working E-10. Just didn't want to part with it when I moved to the E-1, E-5 and now, the E-M1.

The E-10 had a 4 MP two-thirds sensor. You can look up those archaic size designations but, basically, it had half the horizontal and vertical dimensions that the current four thirds sensors do (i.e. a quarter the area).

The E-20 upped the anti to a 5 MP two-thirds sensor.

They were intersting cameras in their day, suitable now only for a collector.

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TrapperJohn
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Some other tips
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

Still have my E20. Compared to the E1, it's sloooow in operation - crack off three quick shots in a row, and you'll be waiting 15-20 seconds for the card write to finish.

They are very well built, very solid, and fairly small. An ergonomic masterpiece. Sit very well in the hand.

There is a limit to the size of the CF card you can use - I believe it's 4 gig, might be 2.

The E10 and E20 have a leaf shutter - they use the iris for the shutter. Leaf shutters have a limited lifespan, in the case of the Exx, around 25k shots. I seriously doubt you can get one repaired.

One very nice feature - because the Exx use a pellicle mirror instead of a moving mirror, and a leaf shutter, they're just about completely silent in operation. Just a faint tick, barely audible to the person holding the camera. That comes in handy, on the rare occasions that shutter noise might be a problem.

The Exx also have a tilting rear LCD - first time that was ever done. They have a very early live view implementation, though it's refresh rate is extremely slow.

I still have the wide angle adapter lens for mine, though I sold the battery grip and 300mm tele adapter back when I got the e1.

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phrenzy
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Re: Some other tips
In reply to TrapperJohn, 5 months ago

I certainly have no expectation that either would operate in a comparable way to even a semi-modern dslr but it sounds like it might be an interesting addition for someone with a love for high quality vintage electronics like me.

Some of those cat photos are quite lovely. I think I might have to jump if I see a nice one on pay day (don't alk cameras look nicer on pay day?).

That's good to know about the batteries, I'd probably have let it chew through duracells all day.

I've been hunting for an affordable (read old) mf digital or digital back and although in terms of sensor size this isn't the same thing it looks like a very competent pro camera I think I could get done really nice results from it. Does it have any real blind spots? Maybe low light or very bright light?

It's a little off the topic of Olympus DSLRs but are there any other high end digital camera oddities that are similar to the e-10/20?

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pjw88
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Re: Olympus E-10 and E-20
In reply to chazguernsey, 5 months ago

The e-10 and e-20 do not use sensors even remotely connected to the sensor in the e-1.  The e-1 used a 4/3 sized sensor.  The e-10 and e-20 used a 2/3" sensor, in other words, a sensor size typically used in a compact digicam.  To put it in modern perspective, the e-10/20 sensor is the same size used in the fuji x-20 camera.  Moreover, it is only marginally bigger than the sensor used in the modern XZ-x series compacts.  The sensor in my Nokia pureview 808 (1/1.2") is even bigger than the e-10/e-20.  In my opinion, the best 2/3" sensor camera that Oly ever made was likely the camedia 8080.

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Ravenwing Photo
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Re: Olympus E-10 and E-20
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

The E-10 was my first digital, and I still have it, along with the wide angle and short tele converters, and the battery pack.

From a 2014 perspective?  Don't expect too much, though they are capable of some nice results.  As others have pointed out, the leaf shutter won't take but just so much, so if you plan to use it, use it sparingly.

For me, their charm was in the design and build.  Maybe I'll try to unearth mine one of these days and charge her up, its been years.

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Nate
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Ravenwing Photo
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Raw converters?
In reply to Ravenwing Photo, 5 months ago

Maybe someone else knows, I don't.  Are there even any raw converters out there these days that can read the E-10 raw files?  I used to have something years ago, don't even remember what it was called now, but it was pretty crude.  Maybe Viewer still supports it?

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phrenzy
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Re: Olympus E-10 and E-20
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

Would anyone recommend the e-20 over the e-10? Basically I'm wondering if the utility of the extra mp and maybe some faster/bigger buffer etc. outweighs the cach'e that comes with having the original? Perhaps the glass is better on one than the other?

The 8080 is a novel idea that I hadn't considered.  I'll have to do some reading. The way I'm going I'm going to have every slr Olympus ever made in a year or two. I almost have one from every series: pen-ft, om-2sp, om-10, e-620, E-1 amongst others and all regularly in use. Apart from the 2020/8080 and e-10/20 what am I missing? I suppose the af om series are seperate? Not sure I want one of those but the others are interesting to me.

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Ravenwing Photo
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My E-10 still works!
In reply to phrenzy, 5 months ago

See my thread http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53455602 , it lives! And LR works pretty good with it.

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Nate
"There's only one rule in photography - never develop colour film in chicken noodle soup." - Freeman Patterson

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