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Author Topic: Seriously considering upgrading my E1  (Read 14414 times)
situgrrl
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« on: June 29, 2006, 09:15:31 AM »
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I bought an Olympus E1 about 18 mths ago as my first DSLR after weighing it up against the usual suspects.  My decision was based upon price and the quality of the lenses on offer.

Unfortuately, it has failed to perform up to my expectations in a number of circumstances, I find it's low light (high ISO) performance shockingly poor and am disappointed that I cannot enlarge beyond 9x12 in most circumstances.  It's manual focussing ability is also seriously lacking and it's AF slow.

However, I love the build quality (though not the weight!) and the quality of both the 14-54 and 50-200 (which whilst I do not own, have rented on a number of occasions)

I have been holding out for Olympus to upgrade this camera but there still seems to be no announcement and I'm stuggling with what I've got.

My priorities of decent performance to 3200 suggest Canon is the way forward and the 20D was seriously considered first time around - in the end, the cheaper Olympus lenses won out.  Having used the 350D, 10D, 20D and 5D extensively, I've decided that I'm no fan of reduced format sensors purely for their pokey viewfinders and correspondingly bad MF ability.  My problem though is budget - I s'pose I could stretch 1800 for a body and lens - I'm more than happy to go second hand but even then, a 5D or 1DS is useless without a lense!  I simply cannot afford Canon L and instead am looking at Sigma EX as primes are impractical for me without 2 bodies to use concurrently.

I had considered the Sony R1 but it is little better at high ISO.  What are the current Konica-Minolta's like?  I like the idea of body mounted AS and would consider one of the new Sony DSLRs if they will perform at 3200.

I'm in the "not quite pro" catagory of shooter - I try to do it full time but also find myself doing PR, barwork and even hostessing to pay the bills.  The most grueling (and for me, enjoyable!) work the camera will do - and the reason I'm stuggling with what I have, is live events, music, dance, bits of theatre/caberet etc.

Your help will be greatly appreciated!
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DaveW
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2006, 10:07:10 AM »
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Hey there - I've got an E 1 as well - and I can sympathize if you need to use ISO 3200 on a regular basis.  800 is fine and even 1600 in a pinch, but 3200 is one stop too many.

My one bit of advice if you do hang on to the E 1 - shoot raw, convert to 16 bit tiff and use a noise reduction program (like noiseware) that works in 16 bit mode.  The noise cleans up much better than on 8 bit jpegs.  

It doesn't sound like the kind of work you are doing suits the E1 very well - low light isn't it's strong point.   The 35-100 f 2.0  lens might help with what you are doing - but it's not cheap (although cheaper than a full frame camera!)  If you've got the opportunity to rent one of those to try it out.

I know a few people with the KM 7D and they are very happy with it in low light. Its got good noise handling and built in anti- shake - combine that with a good bright prime and it works well.  

The rumors are that Oly will announce something in the way of a new body quite soon - probably before Photokina - so hopefully in 2 mths.

I don't have many problems getting a decent 12x16 inch print from my E 1 - but I tend to shoot at ISO 800 or lower and always in RAW.

Good luck - hope you manage to find a solution to your issues one way or another.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2006, 10:57:26 AM »
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Sounds like a job for the 30D.
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situgrrl
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2006, 12:54:26 PM »
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DP - I'd rather ruled the 30D out as a more expensive version of the 20D with few concrete gains - should I reconsider this?  

Dave - I always shoot RAW and have been using Noise Ninja but to little affect - do you have a "before and after" using noiseware?  

I've found 800 to be okay at a push, 1600 to be really quite horrible and 3200 to be pointless.  There seems to be a serious reduction in dynamic range with these speeds to the point when I can only really see about 3-4 zones at 3200 and no more than 5 at 1600.  In addition, the noise is so prominant it makes the pictures look poorly focussed....

RE a replacement, I checked the DPR forums and someone said he'd emailed Oly and they had confirmed a new body imminantly.  I don't not believe him and accordingly have also emailed them, will post any response I get here!
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John Sheehy
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2006, 01:51:07 PM »
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Hey there - I've got an E 1 as well - and I can sympathize if you need to use ISO 3200 on a regular basis.  800 is fine and even 1600 in a pinch, but 3200 is one stop too many.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69441\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

3200 is a mathematical fudge on most, if not all cameras that have it.  If you are shooting RAW, 3200 is not worth using, as it has no advantage over 1600 pushed to 3200, because that is what it really is.  The difference is, the camera's ISO 3200 probably clips a stop of RAW highlights, if it doubles the real 1600 digitization, rather than assuming a stop lower for the white or greypoints.

If you shoot RAW, usually the only benefit of 3200 is consistency in EC and FEC settings.
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Ray
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2006, 10:23:38 PM »
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The Olympus 4/3rds system seems to be an attempt to capitalize on Olympus's strengths in producing fine lenses. Olympus has a tradition, going back to the days of 35mm film, of producing exceptionally fine lenses.

Somebody has had the idea of using this edge in lens technology to produce a smaller camera with a smaller sensor and smaller pixels that can match (and with a bit of luck) even surpass the performance of the slightly larger, heavier APS-C formats.

That's a fine idea. Unfortunately there are always 2 major components to final image quality and they are both equally important; the quality of the lens and the quality of the film or sensor. It has always been thus.

I've always been of the opinion that to get this 4/3rds system to fly requires a marriage between a sensor manufacturer that has a performance edge (such as Canon) and a lens manufacturer with a performance edge (such as Zuiko).

This hasn't happened and herein lies the problem. No matter how good the lens, if the film or sensor is not up to scratch, the performance edge of the lens is basically wasted, or at best severely compromised. The reverse is also true, but not to the same extent because the fact remains that all good lenses are capable of higher resolution than all good sensors, including Canon's. In a sense, sensors are in a position of 'catch up' with regard to lens performance. When you are in that position, it doesn't make very much sense to widen the gap by producing 'super' lenses for use with mediocre sensors (or grainy and relatively low resolution film).

My own (admittedly biased) opinion is, Zuiko should strike up an arrangement with Canon to modify their fine lenses for use with the 20D, 30D etc. That Zuiko 300/2.8 would really shine on a 20D, not to mention their fine wide angle zooms.
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jimk
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2006, 05:00:03 PM »
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wait another month or 2 new stuff going to be anounced
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BJL
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2006, 04:25:09 AM »
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Waiting for announcements from now until Photokina in September seems wise, unless you are in a hurry.

On one hand, Olympus has been giving strong signs of replacing the E-1 with a new top of the line model (the E-3?): E-1's are being heavily discounted lately, which looks like clearing out stocks after ending production, and Olympus has put out numerous hints of a new high end model coming soon, and at least one reputable professional E-1 user has talked of testing a prototype of a new body. The 14-35 f/2 might at last appear too.

On the other hand, other companies are likely to have new offerings at the advanced amateur to professional level. The expected 1DsMkII replacement may be out of your price range, but I hereby speculate that Canon will take the EF-S system to at least 10MP (35D?), Nikon will replace the D70s with a body using the same 10MP sensor as in the Sony A100, and the coming Pentax 10MP body might be a good price/performance option too.


P. S. I doubt you share Ray's view that only Canon can make good DSLR sensors; I for one expect that between Panasonic nMOS, Kodak FF CCD, the CMOS sensors that Kodak is apparently developing, and other options like 4/3 consortium sleeper Fuji, Olympus will be able to offer good sensors. And if you can afford the Zuiko f/2 zooms, you could often half the ISO speed compared to f/2.8 zooms with DX, EF-S, etc. Even the f/2.8-3.5 zooms (including the coming Panasonic/Leica with OIS) allow using 1/2 to 1 stop lower ISO speed than comparably priced lenses for "APS-C" formats.
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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2006, 05:09:40 AM »
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I doubt you share Ray's view that only Canon can make good DSLR sensors
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70133\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It remains to be seen.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2006, 09:14:37 AM »
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No matter how good the lens, if the film or sensor is not up to scratch, the performance edge of the lens is basically wasted, or at best severely compromised. The reverse is also true, but not to the same extent because the fact remains that all good lenses are capable of higher resolution than all good sensors, including Canon's. In a sense, sensors are in a position of 'catch up' with regard to lens performance. When you are in that position, it doesn't make very much sense to widen the gap by producing 'super' lenses for use with mediocre sensors (or grainy and relatively low resolution film).

There are a lot of photographers who strongly disagree with your "lenses are better than current sensors" theory. The 11MP Canon 1Ds is an unforgiving bastard of a camera that exposes shortcomings in all but a select few L primes, and the 16.7MP 1Ds-MkII is even more unforgiving. At this time, there's little to be gained by increasing sensor resolution; what Canon really needs to do is concentrate on designing and producing lenses that are worthy of the sensors already in production. The only area where digital sensors really need improvement is dynamic range.
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Ray
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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2006, 09:52:13 AM »
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At this time, there's little to be gained by increasing sensor resolution; what Canon really needs to do is concentrate on designing and producing lenses that are worthy of the sensors already in production.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70166\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Jonathan,
I have a 5D and the equivalent of a 22mp full frame 35mm sensor cropped to 8mp (the 20D). Having recently taken many test shots of targets ranging from 300 metres to 20 metres using both bodies with my 100-400 IS zoom at 400mm with 1.4x extender, I'm finding that the 20D is producing consistently sharper results at f22 than the 5D at any f stop with this 560mm lens. As we both know, no lens at f22 is particularly sharp in the 35mm context, yet the 20D is able to extract greater resolution at that rather diffraction limited f stop.

These results would seem to indicate to me that there's a long way to go before sensors are unable to gain more resolution from existing lenses.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2006, 10:13:12 AM »
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Jonathan,
I have a 5D and the equivalent of a 22mp full frame 35mm sensor cropped to 8mp (the 20D). Having recently taken many test shots of targets ranging from 300 metres to 20 metres using both bodies with my 100-400 IS zoom at 400mm with 1.4x extender, I'm finding that the 20D is producing consistently sharper results at f22 than the 5D at any f stop with this 560mm lens. As we both know, no lens at f22 is particularly sharp in the 35mm context, yet the 20D is able to extract greater resolution at that rather diffraction limited f stop.

You've just proved my point. Aperture has no effect on sensor resolution, but it does affect lens resolution. Your lens' resolution performance is crap; its inherent distortions are greater than the diffraction limit at any aperture larger than f/22. Your lens is the problem, NOT the sensor. Borrow a 135/2L or even a 70-200/2.8L and you'll discover a whole new world of what is possible resolution-wise with your cameras. As I've said before, a perfect lens is sharpest wide open, and good lenses (like the 135/2L and 70-200/2.8L) perform best at their wider apertures. "Best when stopped down all the way" is the hallmark of consumer-grade coke bottles or a symptom of element misalignment or some other similar problem.
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John Camp
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« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2006, 12:28:49 PM »
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the hallmark of consumer-grade coke bottles
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A felicitious phrase, IMHO    

JC
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2006, 01:20:38 PM »
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the hallmark of consumer-grade coke bottles
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70173\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Well, I always insist on professional, L-series coke bottles!  

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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Ray
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2006, 01:31:42 PM »
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You've just proved my point. Aperture has no effect on sensor resolution, but it does affect lens resolution. Your lens' resolution performance is crap...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70173\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Very amusing nonsense, Jonathan. F22 is not crap. It's just diffraction limited rather than aberration limited. The best lens imaginable (the perfect lens) cannot produce more than 45 lp/mm on a camera such as the 1Ds. The 20D can produce around 60 lp/mm with an ordinary lens. Get your facts straight. An ordinary, current Canon lens can deliver 50 lp/mm at 50% MTF at f16, and probably 60 lp/mm at 40% MTF.
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BJL
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2006, 05:38:41 PM »
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I'm finding that the 20D is producing consistently sharper results at f22 than the 5D at any f stop with this 560mm lens.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70170\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Not surprising, given the distinctly closer pixel spacing of the 20D: 6.4 microns vs 8.2.
Are you assuming that because different sensors show different overall resolution, then the sensors are the weak link? If so, you have forgotten the fact that total resolution is determined by the product of the lens and sensor MTF, so that even if lens resolution is lower than either sensor's, the overall MTF can be detectably higher with the higher resolution sensor.

Example: suppose that at 50lp/mm, one sensor has 75% MTF, another has 50% MTF, the lens has 40% MTF. The combinations give 30% and 20% MTF respectively. You can probably see the difference between 20% and 30% MTF, but in this example, the sensors are both "better" than the lens. The visible difference does not show that the lens is outresolving the sensors.


The reverse is true too: just because one lens give better total resolution than another with the same sensor does not prove that the sensor is outresolving either lens: it doe however show that using the sharper lens is worthwhile to get the most out of the sensor.
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jcarlin
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2006, 10:13:13 PM »
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To address the original poster's question, it sounds like there are two issues here.
1.)  Poor performance at high ISO.  A physically larger sensor is generally going to have better performance than a smaller one since they capture more photons.  DPReview's review of the E-330 has a comparison to the EOS 350D, if you think that the improvements have been sufficient then there's every reason to expect that the E-1 replacement will meet your needs since it'll be better than the E-330 almost certainly.
2.)  Poor auto focus and the inability to focus manually.  For manual focusing you're not going to get much better than the E-1 in that form factor given that it has 100% coverage and 96% magnification.  If this feature is really important, you'll have to go to a larger format.  As to the auto focus, I'm sure it's improved, but that's a harder thing to make a guess at what it'll be like.
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Ray
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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2006, 10:17:38 PM »
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Are you assuming that because different sensors show different overall resolution, then the sensors are the weak link? If so, you have forgotten the fact that total resolution is determined by the product of the lens and sensor MTF, so that even if lens resolution is lower than either sensor's, the overall MTF can be detectably higher with the higher resolution sensor.


BJL,
Has it not always been the case that using a better lens shows up on either film or sensor? Even the 3mp D30 performed better with a high quality lens. No matter how good or bad the sensor, the lens with the higher MTF will tend to look better for the reasons you've stated, ie. system resolution is a product of both lens and sensor/film resolution. Increase the resolving power of either one and the final result looks sharper. Increase the resolving power of both simultaneously and the increase in system resolution will be more dramatic, and of course, the reverse is true.

I'm really surprised that Jonathan seems to think that if sensor A produces a sharper result than sensor B using a soft lens, sensor B might produce a sharper result than sensor A using a sharp lens.

The concept of either a sensor or lens outresolving the other is nebulous. What does it really mean? Are we just comparing MTF response at frequencies common to both sensor and lens? The sensor or lens with the highest MTF response at say 30 lp/mm wins and can be said to 'outresolve' the other? Why 30 lp/mm? If we choose 60 lp/mm then every good lens will outresolve the 1Ds.

I suppose I shall now have to do some tests with my finest lens, the TS-E 90/2.8, to prove my point.
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BJL
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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2006, 05:23:15 AM »
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Ray, I completely agree with your most recent post, and perhaps misunderstood the earlier one: so long as sensors and lenses are even roughly close in resolution there are gains in overall resolution to be made from both sensor and lens resolution improvements. Which his why I do not understand what you said earlier:
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In a sense, sensors are in a position of 'catch up' with regard to lens performance. When you are in that position, it doesn't make very much sense to widen the gap by producing 'super' lenses for use with mediocre sensors
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=69495\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
This is contradicted by your newer idea that lens improvements can improve overall resolution, apparently true even with some "L" lenses and the relatively large roughly 7.2 micron pixel spacing of the 1DsMkII.

I am also mystified by the phrase "mediocre sensors" in the context of the resolution of 4/3 sensors: the 4/3 sensors have rather consistently had closer photosite spacing and so probably higher resolution (in lp/mm) than other DSLR's of the same era: three years ago the E-1's 6.8 micron while the rest were at 7.5, 8 and 9; more recently 5.3 and 5.5 while everything else in the price range is at 6 or 8, or in Canon's case, 6.4.

Surely the basic goal for a format (13.5x18mm) that is 10-20% smaller (linear measure) than its best selling competition (Canon's 15x22.5mm) is to have both lens and sensor resolution slightly higher in lp/mm, so as to achieve about the same "final image resolution", meaning "lines per picture height", or lp/mm on equal sized prints.

And as I have said before, getting somewhat higher lp/mm out of a downsized lens design (slightly smaller focal length and image circle diameter) does not require a "super lens": it follows almost automatically when one downsizes all dimensions of a larger format lens design, or when one modifies the rear elements to reduce the lens's overall magnification (like adding the "built-in focal reducer" of an inverse telephoto design, or removing the "built-in teleconvertor" of a true telephoto design, or something in between).
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Ray
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2006, 10:45:03 AM »
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This is contradicted by your newer idea that lens improvements can improve overall resolution, apparently true even with some "L" lenses and the relatively large roughly 7.2 micron pixel spacing of the 1DsMkII.


BJL,
I don't see any contradiction. Olympus started off with a bunch of lenses that had better MTF at 60 lp/mm than most Canon lenses at 40 lp/mm, yet over all image quality (including noise levels) has always appeared to be slightly worse (in the reviews I've read, anyway) than the closest Canon equivalent. I've attributed this slightly lack-lustre performance to the inadequacy of the sensor rather than the lenses which by all accounts are exceptionally fine.
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