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Thread: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

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    Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    I am thinking about getting a small DSLR for everyday walk around use. I use a Canon 5D as my main camera and love it. I often put a small prime on it, and am a happy camper (a 28mm f1.8, 35mm f2, or 50mm f1.4). . . . I previously owned the Rebel XTI, and found it substantially smaller, than the 5D, but after about 9 months sold it because the viewfinder was too small and, at the end of the day, the camera/lens wasn't all that small because I primarily used a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens on it. . . I started looking at a Pentax DSLR on the Pentax limited and pancake primes (including the just announced 15mm f4 limited), and started thinking there might be another way. But then it becomes a house of cards -- why not look at an Oly 520 (image stabilization makes this much preferrable to the 420, to me) and the 14-42mm? This is smaller body-wise than the Pentax options, and a lot less expensive than starting to buy the Pentax primes. I sort of see it as the next step in size from a Canon G10, which wouldn't cut it for me quality wise. If I'm looking at zooms, then why not the xSI and the 18-55mm IS zoom? (I know why I rejected this option when I had the xti -- I didn't like the feel of the zoom -- it was plasticky and cheap feeling -- what's the point of a smaller walk around camera that you're afraid of bumping; and I didn't like the xti viewfinder.) . . . How are the viewfinders on the Pentax K200? I've heard the Oly viewfinders are also very small. The xsi is supposed to have a much better viewfinder than the xti, right? Thanks for any insights -- suggestions. I expect at the end I'll just stay with the Canon 5D, and pick up a Mark II in 6 months or so.

  2. #2
    focale_32
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    Re: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    All small entry-level cameras have small viewfinders, be it Canon, Pentax, Nikon, Sony or Olympus.
    Maybe the Panasonic G1 with its new EVF technology or the new Olympus semi-pro body are someting for you.
    You seem to be wide-angle oriented and here Olympus with the 9-18mm zoom and Pentax with the 15mm are at advantage, Panasonic annouced a 7-14mm for next year.
    You can try the Oly lens with an E420 first, for wide-angle the shake reduction is of little use. If this body doesn't suits you, you can later trade it against the Oly annouced semi-pro body which should have the same viewfinder as Olympus's flagship E3.
    Pentax annouced a small body, 'km' in Europe, but sadly with small viewfinder...

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    Re: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    Hi There
    Good post from focale 32, and welcome to both of you. This is a great place, where you will get amazingly non-proprietary information!

    I have an E3 with a bunch of Olympus lenses:
    7-14
    9-18
    12-60
    50-200
    70-300

    Also a Sony full frame A900 with:

    sigma 12-24
    sony 20mm f2.8
    zeiss 24-70
    sony 50mm f1.4
    sony 70-300 G

    and an M8 with more lenses than I care to admit to!

    The E3 has a nice big bright viewfinder, and apparently their new 'mid range' camera will as well - but they are both quite large. The E520 and others all have rather small viewfinders (although they are quite bright).

    On the other hand the wide angle lenses are lovely - much better than anything I've found on larger format cameras . . indeed, the 7-14 is right up there for quality with the new nikon 14-24, and the humble 9-18 isn't far behind.

    I'm not familiar with the Pentax range, but understand that the top of the range cameras have great viewfinders and are still small, so that might be the way to go.

    I've also heard some splendid reports of the Panasonic G1 EVIL camera from people who have played with one, and who I trust . . .it's out soon, and I think that with my experience of the wonderfulness of lenses for 4:3 (they really ARE good - especially wide angle), it would at least be worth waiting until it appears and see if it does the job

    Just this guy you know

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    Quote Originally Posted by focale_32 View Post
    All small entry-level cameras have small viewfinders, be it Canon, Pentax, Nikon, Sony or Olympus.
    The Pentax K200D actually has a very nice viewfinder, and in my experience better than the others mentioned. Unfortunately, it's also bigger and heavier than the others in this class, but you do get weather sealing.

    Primes or zooms is also a consideration here. For primes, nothing beats Pentax, with their excellent Limited series (15, 21, 31, 35, 40, 43, 70 and 77mm... always another little gap to fill ). For zooms, I would say that Olympus is equally superior. 9-18, 14-42 and 40-150 (or 70-300) really cover all the bases, and they are all super small and super sharp.

    If it was me, I would by.... Pentalympus? Yes, I absolutely think so, Pentalympus must be the answer, which is probably why I'm stuck with all this Nikon gear

  5. #5
    focale_32
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    Re: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    @httivals : Hi, where are you now ?
    @Jono : Thanks

    @Jorgen : You're basically right the K200D is better than an XTi or an E420 from a viewfinder magnification point of view. However httivals's approach is a top - down and a smaller viewfinder is a drawback.

    To come back to httivals post, here some viewfinders's basic :
    • Magnification

    The higher the magnification, the bigger the apparent image size, the easier it is to focus. This is a bit les important in the digital age as we can put an autofocus target point where we want to have the focus. However, the manual focus correction is much faster and straightforward, for exemple for portraits. This value is normally given for a 50mm lens on a FF camera, so we need to take the crop factor into account.
    • Eye relief

    A greater distance makes it easier to see the apparent image as a whole which is of prime importance for 'composing' a great image. This is also an important comfort point for people wearing googles or when you put sunglasses on your nose.
    • Brightness

    Here it is best to have a look through the viewfinder, high-end cameras have normally better focusing screen and are brighter. You may discover a lots of reference marks which are of no use for you and may be or not disturbing to you.


    @Jorgen : Too many Pentax lenses suffer from high level of CA. By the way regarding Nikon you're not alone, I think jumping from my FE2 to a D90 by end of the year

    @Jono : My table is only the theory, as you have some of the cameras listed in it, could you give an a comment on the differences between the viewfinders apparent image size of the E3 (@25mm), the M8 (@35mm ?) and the alpha900 (@50mm) ? I think, it may be of interest for some of us, thanks.

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    Re: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    Quote Originally Posted by focale_32 View Post

    @Jono : My table is only the theory, as you have some of the cameras listed in it, could you give an a comment on the differences between the viewfinders apparent image size of the E3 (@25mm), the M8 (@35mm ?) and the alpha900 (@50mm) ? I think, it may be of interest for some of us, thanks.
    HI There
    Interesting table, I've just looked through the 3 viewfinders as requested, the Sony seems the biggest, but it's partly because it's 3:2 to the E3's 4:3, the Leica, of course, being a rangefinder is, as it is - it seems a touch brighter, and with better colour, but of course it's around 24mm rather than 35.
    They are all lovely! (this is probably a major reason why I use all three)

    Generally speaking my feeling about viewfinders is that they're either big enough not to intrude, or they aren't (i.e. they're too small or too dim, and they DO intrude in the picture making experience). It is actually possible to have a viewfinder which is 'too big' - i.e. you have to cast your eyes about to see everything (I used to find the Kodak 14n like this). I did find the E520 viewfinder too small (irritatingly so); on the other hand the E1 viewfinder, which was small, was so bright and clear that it wasn't a problem.

    As you say, the theory is all very well, but the practice is rather different.

    Just this guy you know

  7. #7
    focale_32
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    Re: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    @Jono : Thanks for the comments

    Kodak DCS Pro 14n
    "The 14n's viewfinder presents a very wide field of view, no doubt thanks in part to the full-frame sensor and the wider frame that it calls for. One side effect though, seems to be that the eyepoint is a bit lower than I've become accustomed to on other SLRs, forcing me to press my eyeglass lenses right against the eyepiece bezel to see the full frame. - People with unusually thick eyeglass lenses my have trouble seeing all of the frame at one time."
    Source :
    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/14N/14NA4.HTM

    Olympus E1
    The E1 viewfinder has a magnification of 0.96, a 100% frame coverage and an eyepoint of 20mm. This leads to an equivalent magnification is 0.48. The E1 viewfinder as roughly the same performance as the Canon XTi one and for sure a better focusing screen.

    The main GO/N-GO lies in the 6mm difference in the eyepoint distance :
    E1 / XTi 0.48x 20mm GO
    E520 0.44x 14mm NO-GO

  8. #8
    Oliver
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    Re: Oly E520 vs. Pentax vs. Rebel XSi?

    I love the Pentax primes. I do sometimes get a smidge of CA, but it doesn't bother me on digital. I only need to fix it if I am going to work on an image for printing and then it's a few seconds with the slider in Lightroom.

    As an example, this is from the upper left corner of a test shot with the 31 ltd (perhaps the best of the new Pentax primes). First with CA and the second post-correction in a few seconds in LR. edit: for scale, these are 100% crops from a 10mp K10D

    Attachment 8802Attachment 8803

    I think the Pentax primes are nice high-end lenses, but the problem is they cost as much as nice high-end lenses too. So for a walkabout kit of, say, 21/31/77, that could be $2k just on lenses. If just one lens, maybe not so bad. Or you could go all out and buy Zeiss

    That said, if I had a 5D I'm not sure if another SLR would be small enough to give up what the 5D brings you. Maybe the e-410 with that 25mm prime. I'm *very* tempted to get a G1 to fit those times for me.
    Last edited by Oliver; 31st October 2008 at 18:03.

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