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A small wonder – Olympus E420

October 14, 2008

Here it is. I found one in stock and it should be here Wednesday. I can’t wait.

Blog Reader Warning: Be prepared for camera geekdom.

Olympus E420 Review
Photo Courtesy of Let’s Go Digital

So…Why did I choose an Olympus E420? Great question with a longish answer.

Size – Currently, this is the smallest DSLR camera in production. I think this may be rivaled by the upcoming Panasonic G1. Many folks have really put down the small DSLR movement. For many of those folks, I’m guessing they’ve not had to fit days worth of equipment into a couple of small packs. I’m also guessing they’ve never ridden a bike with a full size SLR for 100 miles or for multiple days. For what it is worth, my favorite picture of the year was taken with my full size digital SLR in the middle of North Dakota. I lugged my full size Canon & bag on this ride. In all honesty, it was this trip that made me really want a better camera while on my bike rides.

It’s a DSLR – I’ve ridden with a point and shoot Canon camera for several years. While I love the size concept and simplicity of a point and shoot, at times I really wanted a higher quality image that I couldn’t get due to the small size of a point & shoot image sensor. While the Olympus isn’t quite the same size as a full size or full frame DSLR camera, it’s significantly larger than a comparable point and shoot. This means higher quality pictures that if desired, I can do more than just post blog pictures. Additionally, if you want to take action shots, point and shoot cameras are pretty much a joke due to their focus (in)ability and their shutter lag.

Lens interchangeability and quality – Lens interchangeability and quality were critical points for me. In addition to lens interchangeability, the lenses for the Four Thirds system are smaller without sacrificing quality. The stock Zuiko pancake lens is a killer lens for all around use. It’s mighty small too.

Expandability – Someday, I’ll add a nice short fish eye lens and a short zoom to the mix. The prices are somewhat reasonable. I’d say very reasonable given the quality and reputation of the Zuiko lenses. This should be all I’ll ever really need unless my hobby becomes a profession….Which, frankly speaking, I don’t think could ever happen because I’m average at best at photography and I don’t think average pays the bills.

Battery Life – Once broken in, I expect to get almost 500 shots from a single battery charge. That’s up from about 100-125 with my current aging DSLR and about 10-20 shots from my dead point and shoot. It’s much less than 500 if using live view for composition. While live view is something I’ve grown accustomed too on point and shoot, my old DSLR doesn’t have live view and I’m learned to take pictures with a view finder.

Image Quality – In all my research, I’ve found this camera to be one of, if not the, best at this price range. I also like that it shoots Raw + JPEG. Makes it easy to view and put up JPEG blog pictures while still capturing and having higher quality RAW images.

While I don’t think this camera is perfect and I know hard core pro photographers have ripped this thing to shreds, I think for me, it is the perfect little big camera. It could only be made better (for me) by having a fully weather proof body. Time will tell of course. I hope all my research, testing and discussions actually work and prove my decision to be a good one.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Guitar Ted permalink
    October 14, 2008 10:55 am

    Congrats on the purchase! Captain Bob and I were just discussing cameras yesterday at the shop. I’m going a bit different direction than you are with my choice, but I have slightly different needs, so you’ll see when it comes time!

    Anyway, I sure hope this one stays in one piece for you! You were a little hard on that last one you were using there.

  2. Jason permalink
    October 14, 2008 11:03 am

    Looks sweet! The shutter lag is one of the big things I hate about digitals. Tons of great shots missed. Have fun with it.

  3. Head Honcho permalink
    October 14, 2008 1:18 pm

    Can’t wait to hear your impressions Jason. Looks like it may be a really good choice from what you describe. My hands swallowed the Canon bodies – This one will probably disappear in them! Still intersted though.

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