On putting money into 4:3 gear ...

Started May 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
Big Ga Forum Pro • Posts: 18,611
Re: Adding another 4 cents to the discussion ...

veroman wrote:

An Olympus E-3 in very good to excellent condition is currently available from a number of sources for about $375 and up ... with a high of maybe $450. Here's what one gets:

  • Excellent image quality ... indisputable; in fact, among the very best
  • 10MP
  • Exceptional color rendering
  • Exceptional OOC JPEGs
  • Weather sealed
  • Strong, long-life, tank-like body
  • Extremely effective in-body image stabilization
  • Large, bright, 100% coverage viewfinder
  • Unusually fast, accurate AF (particularly with SWD lenses)
  • Flip screen LCD
  • Overall fast response
  • Excellent ergonomics
  • A professional-level tool

I'm sure others could add to the above list. The question is: are there any other cameras out there ... new or otherwise ... that can offer what the E-3 offers at $375 to $450?

Ok, the above doesn't seem to have gone unchallenged, so I guess its up to me to add some counter comments. Its what I do

You do indeed get a lot for your money in terms of of higher end features like a 100% viewfinder and a rugged, weather sealed body.

However, depending on how and what you shoot, two of the most important factors in whether a camera is a good image making machine are the sensor, and the AF performance, and in both these key areas, the E3 falls down BADLY.

It does NOT have "excellent image quality". Its actually got really shitty image quality compared to what's been available for a number of years. Limited DR. Can't run the ISO particularly high without running into problems, can't pull the shadows that much even at base ISO. Banding lurking in those shadows as well. Sure, you CAN get great images out of it, but you have to be careful, and other cameras/sensors let you get equally great images, but in a wider range of situations. Who in their right mind wouldn't want that flexibility?

And don't get me started on the AF accuracy. I have a 10% suspicion that there MIGHT be E3s out there that can focus reliably, but seriously, after years of discussions with others, trying numerous different bodies, doing loads if tests, I'm 90% convinced that the Oly AF module simply can't be relied on in the same way that you can with other manufacturers. Again, yet it works to a degree, but give it tricky light, or work at very shallow DOFs, and it gives many more errors that it should.

As I still have my own 4/3 lenses, I've also often pondered picking up a cheap E3 again when I see them on fleabay, however I swiftly go and take a cold shower, and remind myself of the number of times in the past I went out, really enjoyed myself shooting with the Oly DSLRs (because there is much to love in using them), only to come back to the computer, and be bitterly disappointed because shots I thought were nailed, turned out to be just that bit soft due to focus errors, and I simply can't do my normal PP routine on them as the noise and banding just comes out to bite you.

Shoot in good light, at f5.6 to f11 say, at base ISO, maybe on a tripod? and don't do much severe PP, then yea, an E3 might be a great camera and a bargain at the price. But some (most?) people want more.

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