Tried the D300, 40D, Pentax 10D, and E-3 yesterday ...

Started Dec 1, 2007 | Discussions
Jeff Veteran Member • Posts: 6,606
Tried the D300, 40D, Pentax 10D, and E-3 yesterday ...

Well, I played hooky from work yesterday and went to "Digital Days" at the Chicago Calumet store. The camera reps were there in force showing a lot of different gear. (For me the highlight was a Mamiya 645 II with a Phase One back, but that's fantasyland).

So as I get ready to put my cash down for an E-3, I took this opportunity to handle several different bodies at roughly the same price point. My wife is supportive of all this, but she surprised me a few weeks ago by asking why I continue to buy Olympus gear. She said take a look around, and if its time to make a switch, then lets do it. So that's what I was there for -- to take an honest look around.

After handling the D300, 40D, Pentax 10D, and E-3, it was easy to put the 40D and the Pentax down. The Pentax was nice, but the lens lineup just isn't complete. The 40D doesn't feel like it has the same build quality as the others, though the wireless feature is pretty nice.

So then I took shots with the D300 (w/ 17-55) and the E-3 w/ 12-60). Unfortunately, I took them under somewhat different conditions (indoors versus outdoors). And after about 20 minutes with each came away with these observations.

Ergonomics -- Nikon. The Olympus buttons and menus took a step backward. It one could used to it in a couple of hours, but O really did't understand the logic.

Otherwise both cameras handle beautifully. D300 is a little bigger, perhaps, but not much.

IS -- Olympus. This is outstanding. I was almost able to hand hold at a 1/20s with the 150 lens, and was getting ok shots at 1/30. Under more moderate expectations absolutely every shot was tack sharp. The IS is real winner.

Focus Speed. Well, no question Oly's got this problem fixed. It's notably faster than the D300. After playing with the E-3, focus on the D300 felt notably slower, though gave precise results.

Continuous shooting -- The Nikon was noticably faster. I used both with battery grips, and the Oly was definitely fast. Just that the Nikon was faster.

Pic quality -- I have to say I'm torn between the two. I put about 30 raw files on a CF card, took them home for a little pixel peeping. The Nikon surprised me with how much noise it had a ISO800. More than I expected. The Oly pics were all tack sharp thanks to IS at shutter speeds 1/30 and up. It's really a tough call. I wish I had taken shots a bit more carefully to allow a closer comparison.

So its a quandry. These are two terrific systems, either would serve very well. Much to my surprise, I'm going to take a hard look at the costs of migrating, and give this some real thought. I'd appreciate any feedback from those who are going through the same process.

Jeff

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OP Jeff Veteran Member • Posts: 6,606
Just saw the other thread on the same theme ..

I apologize for not seeing the other thread on virtually the same theme. I started the OP in the morning, took a pause to clean the garage, then just finished and hit post. Sorry for the duplication.

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Jeff

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3dwag
3dwag Veteran Member • Posts: 4,655
If it seems that close,

Jeff wrote:

Ergonomics -- Nikon. The Olympus buttons and menus took a step
backward. It one could used to it in a couple of hours, but O really
did't understand the logic.
Otherwise both cameras handle beautifully. D300 is a little bigger,
perhaps, but not much.

You would get used to the Oly quickly, a few days and you wouldn't remember you ever had a concern. When I was considering leaving my Canon 20D for the E-510, I had this very concern. I'll admit it took more than a day, but after a few days (not continuously!) I mastered virtually everything (Mr Wotniak's website proved a big help) and now two weeks later I really like it.

IS -- Olympus. This is outstanding. I was almost able to hand hold at
a 1/20s with the 150 lens, and was getting ok shots at 1/30. Under
more moderate expectations absolutely every shot was tack sharp. The
IS is real winner.

The E-510 IS is outstanding - IMO similar to what I saw with my Canon 17-55mm f2.8 EF-S IS, and my 70-300mm EF IS - but now it works with any Oly/4:3 lens!

Focus Speed. Well, no question Oly's got this problem fixed. It's
notably faster than the D300. After playing with the E-3, focus on
the D300 felt notably slower, though gave precise results.

My 20D was better than my E-510, but not by much - I'm looking forward to my future E-3!

Continuous shooting -- The Nikon was noticably faster. I used both
with battery grips, and the Oly was definitely fast. Just that the
Nikon was faster.

Just depends on how important that is to you, i.e. if shooting sports or wildlife.

Pic quality -- I have to say I'm torn between the two. I put about 30
raw files on a CF card, took them home for a little pixel peeping.
The Nikon surprised me with how much noise it had a ISO800. More than
I expected. The Oly pics were all tack sharp thanks to IS at shutter
speeds 1/30 and up. It's really a tough call. I wish I had taken
shots a bit more carefully to allow a closer comparison.

I can't really comment on this, except to say that in the worst case these may be fairly close, give or take in different areas. I have been very impressed with the film-like quality which I see in E-3 images I have seen, including some 12x19" prints of a Longhorns basketball game. I can say that I am pleased with the results I'm getting with my E-510 - a stop or so more noise, but more film-like (grain) noise, and the E-3 will close that gap and exceed overall, as for my concerns.

So its a quandry. These are two terrific systems, either would serve
very well. Much to my surprise, I'm going to take a hard look at the
costs of migrating, and give this some real thought. I'd appreciate
any feedback from those who are going through the same process.

Look at the lens lineups as well, for that matter the flash system and everything. The Oly lineup suits me very well, your mileage may vary.

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-Dennis W.
Austin, Texas

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Michael Ivanitsky Regular Member • Posts: 319
I have both the E-3 and D300...

... with the Digital Zuiko 12-60 and DX Nikkor 17-55 2.8 lenses, respectively.

I agree with pretty much all of your statements in the OP, except I tip the ergonomics a bit to Olympus. It is only a personal prefrerence, and I just feel that the Nikon has too many things I have to twist, and the sub-dial is recessed a bit much for my liking.

The AF in both cameras is fantastic, but the E-3 is faster, even with non-SWD lenses, than the Nikon. I have not used C-AF on the Nikon yet, and may never use it.

Metering with both cameras is more than adequate for my needs, and I find no major fault with either. It is a little easier to blow highlights with the E-3, but only a little.

The screen is far better on the Nikon, in terms of size and display quality, but the tilt and swivel display on the Olympus is incredibly useful for me, so I prefer it. I like being able to hide the display completely, for protection and distraction elimination.

IQ - I process from RAW, so I get what I want pretty easily from both cameras. In the ISO ranges I use

Viewfinder - Both are great and accurate, but Oly pulled a miracle with this one. E-3 is bigger (a bit) and brighter. I think the display LED text is a bit brighter in the D300 in bright light, however.

On the lenses... These are both very good lenses. I have not shot resolution charts, but I think that the 12-60 is a tad sharper. Bokeh-- no comment yet - wait untill the xmas tree goes up! The huge shade on the 17-55 is annoying - almost as big as the one on the Olympus 35-100, it seems.

On the whole, I think that one cannot go wrong with either system. If you need fast AF, Oly is better. Someone needs to do the Canon vs. Olympus test here - clearly, Olympus wants to get into the sports/action business. I prefer the aspect ratio of the 4/3 system to the 3:2 format.

In-body IS that actually works - this is only in E-3 (and to a lesser extent, E-510), but watch it appear in everyone's next generation cameras in 18 months.

If you have a wealth of good Nikon lenses, the D300 is a great upgrade to its predecessors. If you have Oly, the E-3 is a no-brainer, if the cost is not an issue. It is surprisingly better than the E-510.

I bought the D300 to have it converted to IR by Lifepixel. The contrast-detect AF in LV may be an advantage of the Nikon in this regard. I have not found anyone to convert an E-3 for me. With the E-3, I have no need of a D300 for general work. If anyone did E-3 conversions, I would buy another E-3, convert it, and sell the D300 to save storage space and duplication of lens function.

Imagine IR with the Oly 7-14. (I suppose that I could get a 14-24 2.8 Nikkor, but that is a big expensive lens that will be at best equal to the 7-14)

-Mike

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Olyinaz Veteran Member • Posts: 8,283
Thanks to both of you

For your insights. Much appreciated.

Best,
Oly

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Olyinaz Veteran Member • Posts: 8,283
Jeff

I've been mulling the same thing but what keeps tipping me back towards Olympus is the little things like the dust buster, the 4/3rds aspect ratio and the 2x "crop factor". And of course the outstanding Zuiko lenses. Just me talkin'.

Best,
Oly

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Jason Stoller
Jason Stoller Veteran Member • Posts: 6,641
Were you able to try the grip on the E-3

Just curious if you were able to try the grip on the E-3. The grip will affect the whole feel of the camera (at least it does for me). Also I think I read somewhere that you might get even better performance out of the E-3 when using the grip, so I wonder if this is true.

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Jason Stoller ComicDom1@aol.com

We are just Beta Testers who pay the Camera Companies to test their new products!

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Jason Stoller
Jason Stoller Veteran Member • Posts: 6,641
Re: Olyinaz

Olyinaz, if you factor in the E-3 shutter is rated at 150,000 Clicks compared to the 100,000 for the D300 as reported by Imaging resource you just might tip some more.

Tonight, I was lucky. I popped on the forum to see that Ben had listed a link to Cameta Camera Deals on Ebay. I clicked on the link, and there was one of the best deals I have seen. An E-3 body, 12-60 lens, HLD 4 Grip, extra BLM-1 battery, and a few other insignificant odds and ends all for $2479 with $20 UPS shipping. This is probably the best deal I have found for the E-3 gear. In fact, it even gets better with the rebates that have been offered. It was the enough to tip the scales for me.

Jason

Olyinaz wrote:

I've been mulling the same thing but what keeps tipping me back
towards Olympus is the little things like the dust buster, the 4/3rds
aspect ratio and the 2x "crop factor". And of course the outstanding
Zuiko lenses. Just me talkin'.

Best,
Oly

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Jason Stoller ComicDom1@aol.com

We are just Beta Testers who pay the Camera Companies to test their new products!

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George Contributing Member • Posts: 678
I appreciate the little things....

Olyinaz wrote:

I've been mulling the same thing but what keeps tipping me back
towards Olympus is the little things like the dust buster

Oly,

I was reviewing pictures today taken with various Canon and Nikon DSLR's I've owned and one thing that I kept seeing in almost all pictures were little dark spots in areas of uniform color like skies or walls. In all the old Oly pictures I reviewed, didn't see one dust blob. Not having to clone out dust spots is such a time saver and I'm really glad Oly thought about this and implemented a very effective anti-dust system.

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George B.

ivan petrovsky Regular Member • Posts: 259
Agree about the dust...

I had money down on a D300 - borrowed a friend's D200 whilst waiting and found subsequent images for a client peppered with dust. Had to spend several wasted hours cleaning them up. In the interim period, the E3 was (finally) announced and that was the clincher for me - money off the D300 and onto the E3. Am very happy - just shot for the same client again with the E3 - better color and no dust. If I could afford two Nikon D3s with all the trimmings I might have still made the switch (everything I'm reading about the D3 seems amazing), but Oly came out with the E3 in the nick of time as I was about to bail. In my opinion, the E3 is a real bargain considering its specifications.
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Eclipse Optics Senior Member • Posts: 1,004
Sure are a lot of misrepresentations in this thread about the D300

I was in your shoes, but Oly had taken so long coming out with the wonderful E-3 that I purchased a Nikon D200 system while I waited.

Misrepresentations
First of all, the D300 has a dust-buster.
Second of all, the D300 has 150,000 shutter life.
Third, the noise at high-ISO is better on the D300.

Fourth, there are downloadable D2x color representations that give the D300 a Fuji S5 presence.
Fifth, The Nikon has 51 point, 15 cross point AF system; the E-3 has 11.
Sixth, the D300 has more resolution.

Seventh, the Nikon has all kinds of features and functions such as time-lapse recording, face recognition, 4 banks of custom presets, complete alpha-numeric naming, and a lot more.

I think its good that you guys talk civil and respectful here about other camera brands, but you should be a little more knowledgable if you are truly weighing the differences between the cameras.

Fact of the matter is that I wish I could fit my Nikkor lenses on the E-3, because it would be a great camera for some of its features like that articulating LCD and the 2.0 focal length multiplier. But each camera has their strengths and weaknesses and if you're going to compare them then really compare them and don't make such common ommissions like not realizing that the D300 has a dust-buster and a 150,000 shutter life cycle just like the E-3 does. Those are simularites not differences.

I just wish that Oly had come out with this camera a year ago because the Nikon forums are horrible; full of arrogant mean gearhead jerks who leap at the chance to belittle anyone with flying insults all the time. Their becoming the next Canon. It's truly horrible. I thought this place was bad compared to the much friendlier P&S Oly forum, but I considered changing back to the Olympus camera just to get away from those mean-spirited people over there.

Nevertheless, the D300 is a remarkable camera. And if I had the $5k to buy it, the D3 blows everything but Canon's flagships right out of the water. The good thing is that Olympus didn't make a crummy camera for the E-3. I know that we all secretly feared that they would. But they truly made a high-quality instrument. That doesn't make it all around better than the D300 though.

Big Ga Forum Pro • Posts: 18,625
Re: Sure are a lot of misrepresentations in this thread about the D300

Eclipse Optics wrote:

Misrepresentations .........

Snip snip snip snip snip.

I hate to say it, but everything snipped is 100% correct. The only thing wrong is a whole lot of OTHER features for the D300 not mentioned.

Plus for the person who mentioned about the E3 grip 'possibly' giving more performance .... er ... no. I'm afraid you may have read something along those lines, but actually its the D300 grip that is designed to allow an even GREATER frame rate than it already has. I can't remember the figure but its something like 6fps up to 8.

OP Jeff Veteran Member • Posts: 6,606
Re: Were you able to try the grip on the E-3

Yes, I had a grip on both the E-3 and D300. They're basically the same design, and do change the feel of the cams.
--
Jeff

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ALFREDUYB Contributing Member • Posts: 742
Re: Sure are a lot of misrepresentations in this thread about the D300

Hi,

On paper, the D300 is indeed "better" than the E3, but are those added features significant to YOUR brand of photography.

If you do not shoot in very low light, then ISO 6400 means nothing. If you only shoot sports once in a while, probably 5 fps is enough. Crop a 12mp image to 4:3 proportions, and you end up with 10mp.

Reviews from some users suggest that E3's 11pt X AF system is at par if not better than D300's 51pt/15 pt X AF system. E3 do have an excellent in body IS and movable LCD which are both lacking on the D300.

Both E3 and D300 are excellent choices. E3 maybe perfect for Tom, while Dick likes the D300. But for Harry, it's nothing less than the D3. There are a lot more to consider than the specs.
Regards,
Alfred

binky Senior Member • Posts: 1,074
Re: Tried the D300, 40D, Pentax 10D, and E-3 yesterday ...

all right all wrong its in the mind of the viewer
the way I see it the oly advantage is weather sealed
len's

I like the oly very much , just like the way it fits in my hand plus excellent build.

Photo quality goes to nikon , view finder and af speed to close to call , on boared flash system nikon hands down
so I am going to wait and see, neither really seals the show so far for me.
hopeful I will see a better grade of test photos comming from the form members

Wilhelm Senior Member • Posts: 1,086
Thanks for a practical, realistic viewpoint

This is a really superb thread, mirroring exactly the quandry facing a lot of us (or at least facing me).

I do wonder if the Canon 40D hasn't been eliminated too quickly. And the Sony A100 and Canon 5D also seem like good candidates for consideration.
Ah -- if only the E-3/12-60 was under $2000, instead of nearly $3000!

Thanks again for posting it, to ALL the posters.
Bill

lloyd007 Senior Member • Posts: 1,354
Re: Almost $3000?

Even with the 12-60 it's 'only' $2499 and it's under $2k with the 14-54. It's even cheaper if you look on Ebay at Cameta which seem to want to be the Wal-Mart of all things Olympus.

OP Jeff Veteran Member • Posts: 6,606
Re: Sure are a lot of misrepresentations in this thread about the D300

Eclipse Optics wrote:

I was in your shoes, but Oly had taken so long coming out with the
wonderful E-3 that I purchased a Nikon D200 system while I waited.

Misrepresentations
First of all, the D300 has a dust-buster.
Second of all, the D300 has 150,000 shutter life.
Third, the noise at high-ISO is better on the D300.
Fourth, there are downloadable D2x color representations that give
the D300 a Fuji S5 presence.
Fifth, The Nikon has 51 point, 15 cross point AF system; the E-3 has 11.
Sixth, the D300 has more resolution.
Seventh, the Nikon has all kinds of features and functions such as
time-lapse recording, face recognition, 4 banks of custom presets,
complete alpha-numeric naming, and a lot more.

Perhaps we could score these mistakes rather than 'misrepresentations', and appreciate these helpful corrections.

On the high ISO thing, I did shoot the D300 at ISO800, and was a bit surprised to see enough noise that I'd probably want to clean it up before printing. Given all that is said about noise (which is far too much, IMHO), I was expecting a cleaner image. This is just a personal observation, not a comparison of the two bodies.

The resolution is a trickier question. First, it would be nice to have a 12mp image to meet the nominal requirements of the stock agencies. But that feels artificial, the difference between 10 and 12 is not huge, esp. after cropping, lenses, etc. Franking, good lenses, IS and AF do more for sharpness in my images than more pixels.

The other stuff is nice. The D300 is a very attractive package with a lot of upside. The E-3 looks like a great tool, and I have a good base of good Oly glass. I'm going to work out what it would take to do a migration, then make a choice.

Thanks for the info.

I think its good that you guys talk civil and respectful here about
other camera brands, but you should be a little more knowledgable if
you are truly weighing the differences between the cameras.

Fact of the matter is that I wish I could fit my Nikkor lenses on the
E-3, because it would be a great camera for some of its features like
that articulating LCD and the 2.0 focal length multiplier. But each
camera has their strengths and weaknesses and if you're going to
compare them then really compare them and don't make such common
ommissions like not realizing that the D300 has a dust-buster and a
150,000 shutter life cycle just like the E-3 does. Those are
simularites not differences.

I just wish that Oly had come out with this camera a year ago because
the Nikon forums are horrible; full of arrogant mean gearhead jerks
who leap at the chance to belittle anyone with flying insults all the
time. Their becoming the next Canon. It's truly horrible. I thought
this place was bad compared to the much friendlier P&S Oly forum, but
I considered changing back to the Olympus camera just to get away
from those mean-spirited people over there.

Nevertheless, the D300 is a remarkable camera. And if I had the $5k
to buy it, the D3 blows everything but Canon's flagships right out of
the water. The good thing is that Olympus didn't make a crummy camera
for the E-3. I know that we all secretly feared that they would. But
they truly made a high-quality instrument. That doesn't make it all
around better than the D300 though.

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Jeff

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Iskender
Iskender Senior Member • Posts: 1,331
Re: Sure are a lot of misrepresentations in this thread about the D300

Eclipse Optics wrote:

Misrepresentations
First of all, the D300 has a dust-buster.

compare them then really compare them and don't make such common
ommissions like not realizing that the D300 has a dust-buster and a

I think pretty much everyone is aware of that part of the spec. The thing here is that many such systems have been proven not to work (Pentax having the worst reputation, if memory serves). SSWF on the other hand works without a doubt.

The technology in the D300 is brand new, whereas the technology in the E-3 has already proven that it can handle dust for years.

I won't be surprised at all if the Nikon dust system is as good as or even superior to the SSWF. However, at the moment Olympus is the only choice if one wants guaranteed anti-dust performance, and only time will make the Nikon system less of a gamble.

bobmax Veteran Member • Posts: 6,380
Michael.... Have You Used...

Both flash systems... and if so (purely for consistency of exposure) - which gets your nod?

Bob
--
BobMax

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