Oct 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm #1240629
Companion forum thread to:Oct 27, 2009 at 8:10 pm #1540298
@darinbuLocale: Rocky Mountains
Can you easily get/use good filters with the lenses for this camera? I'm in love with circular polarizers.Oct 27, 2009 at 9:14 pm #1540320
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
If only the swiveling LCD would detach and extend via a cable or better yet, wirelessly….one day.Oct 27, 2009 at 9:40 pm #1540327
All Olympus 4/3 and other 4/3 system lenses take filters (well, nearly all). The 14-42, one lens featured in the article, takes 52mm filters, as does the kit 40-150. Oly's Web site gives full specs for each system lens, including filter diameter. Sadly (as I've discovered) accumulating a lot of lenses means gathering a lot of filters because there are a lot of different diameters with the system (true of literally every brand).
Correction–the Oly kit lenses take 58mm filters. I was thinking of (yet) another camera and having a little Nikon nostalgia–52mm used to be their typical filter.Oct 27, 2009 at 10:11 pm #1540334
Thanks for a highly informative review and intro to the current camera landscape. I've only skimmed for now but looking forward to reading in full before catching zzzzz's tonight. To replace a Canon G5 I used to have which captured beautiful images considering the price, weight and size, I'm looking to pick up either a compact with a quality lens, image sensor and feature set such as the Canon G11, or a fairly light DSLR (if I remember correctly the Nikon D40 weighs 1 lb or a little less (which you can also buy very inexpensively nowadays).
How do the Canon G11, Nikon D40 and Nikon D90 stack up to the Olympus E-620?Oct 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm #1540337
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
That would be a very interesting shootout – the G11 vs the e620. Is the extra weight, bulk and cost of the e620 worth whatever image improvement it has over the G11?
I suspect the answer would depend on the individual and his priorities. I am still agonising …
CheersOct 27, 2009 at 11:00 pm #1540345
"Sadly (as I've discovered) accumulating a lot of lenses means gathering a lot of filters because there are a lot of different diameters with the system (true of literally every brand)."
Up to a point you can use step up and step down rings. So for example you could use 55mm filters on a lens that takes 52 or 49mm.
The first number on the ring is the one for the lens you want to use, so a 49-52 ring will allow 52mm filters on a 49mm lens.
(not practical for UV/Skylight but cost efficient for special effect filters)
FrancoOct 28, 2009 at 4:13 am #1540361
for those thinking of the G11, stop.
The Canon S90 has the same sensor in a much smaller and lighter package, with great controls, raw capture, basically everything the G11 can do. Did I mention it is cheaper too? Its lens is a very fast f/2.0-4.9, 28-105 35mm eq.Oct 28, 2009 at 8:36 am #1540417
Just noticed the S90 is half the weight of the G11! Is it really comparable in almost every way? Thanks for the heads up.
I wouldn't consider it a substitute for a DSLR + quality zoom or wide lens, but a lighter camera I'd take when I don't want to carry a DSLR + with the extra lenses, which may be pretty often.
I took images with my G5 that serious photographers were convinced I took with a DSLR. I was very impressed with the performance and only wished it was lighter and offered a bit more control.
What's the max size quality blowup print you can make with the S90 or G11?
What would be the max size for the E-620?Oct 28, 2009 at 8:51 am #1540421
@gordontowneLocale: New England
At full resolution, the G11 or S90 could do 9×13 prints, while the E-620 could do 9×14 or so, if you're looking at high quality 300 ppi photo prints. Not a huge difference there.
One nice thing also about the G11 is that you do have the option of a viewfinder, which means that you can operate it without using the LCD. On longer trips this means that a single battery will last you much longer. The S90 on the other hand has no viewfinder, so on longer trips you need to factor in the additional weight of extra batteries.Oct 28, 2009 at 9:05 am #1540426
One thing I didn't see mentioned in the review was this camera's macro capabilities. How well would it do on a closeup of that flower just outside my tent door?Oct 28, 2009 at 9:29 am #1540434
@billwangLocale: SF Bay Area
I just switched from a heavy canon full frame DSLR (5D) which accounted for nearly 20% of my load to a Olympus E-P1. I agree with the author that there are not yet many high quality lenses for micro 4/3 format. But I'm hoping that that changes.
Overall, coming from a full frame awesome optical viewfinder like on the Canon 5D, I think the E-P1 worked out pretty well. One unexpected advantage was for when I use a 10-stop neutral density filter to get long exposures such as this photo:
Normally this is very hard to compose since the optical viewfinder will be very dark. But I was able to compose the image using the electronic viewfinder and manual focus.
So far I think micro 4/3 looks very promising for my ultra light trips – which for me currently means about 16lbs w/o consumables.Oct 28, 2009 at 9:48 am #1540440
In any interchangable-lens camera like the E-620, macro capability (the ability to approach or achieve 1:1 subject to image ratio) is determined by the lens, not the camera itself. Oly offers macro lenses that can get you up to 1:1, and several of the 4/3 system zooms focus quite close as well, giving near-macro performance.
That said, the E-620 enhances macro shooting in three ways that a lot of dslrs do not: the articulated LCD panel allows you to place the camera in very odd positions and still compose and focus when the viewfinder is impossible to use; live view zoom allows precise focusing; in-camera image stabilization works with virtually any lens, including manual focus legacy lenses.
RickOct 28, 2009 at 9:57 am #1540445
I'm wondering where you come up with the print size comparison? Since the 4/3 sensor is *at a miniumum* four times the area of the largest compact digicam sensor, and since print size is ultimately limited by sensor performance so long as proper optics and technique are used, it would follow that one could safely double the print dimensions (increasing the area four times) with equivalent quality between the two. We cannot fall into the trap of pixel counting, as they are not equivalent across sensor formats.
(A consideration of viewing distance to the print must come into play at some point as well.)
FWIW I can get quite satisfactory 16×20 prints from 4/3.
RickOct 28, 2009 at 10:07 am #1540451
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
The primary problem with small sensor cameras like the S90 or G11 is that you really can't print eye-popping images at full size. 9×13 prints coming from these cameras aren't the greatest, and there are noticeable differences in detail resolved when prints are printed at 240+ dpi between the compact camera and larger sensor cameras like the DP2, E-P1, or E-620.
More important to me is the color depth and dynamic range offered by a larger sensor. It gives you more latitude in post processing to deliver an image that expresses your creative vision. The extra information captured by the larger sensor also gives a sense of depth, or dimensionality, to the images, like a good chrome film. Small sensor cameras are notorious for their ability to deliver images that just … look … digital.
The final advantage I like for a larger sensor camera is the flexibility you have with wide aperture lenses that create narrow of depth of field. An f/2 lens on a small sensor camera cannot isolate the depth of field to the extent that an f/2 lens on a larger sensor camera can.
For example, if I use the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens on an Olympus E-P1, I can create a depth of field at f/1.7 that would only be equivalent to an 8mm lens (reasonable) at f/0.7 (unreasonable) on a camera with a sensor the size of the one in the S90. Clearly, that ain't gonna happen on a small sensor camera.
Alternatively, let's look at what the f/2 and 28mm (equivalent) wide lens of the S90 is equivalent to on the E-P1 (or E-620). f/2 on the S90 translates to abut f/4.8 on the E-P1.
So, be cautious about small sensor cameras touting "fast" and "wide" apertures, because they aren't as fast as you think when viewed in the standard context of 35mm photography.
Conclusion: larger sensors give you a lot more creative freedom than small sensors.
Stay tuned, as we are wrapping up our E-P1 review in a few weeks, and both the E-P1 and GF1 reviews will be published in the next several weeks at BPL.Oct 28, 2009 at 10:35 am #1540459
Re: prints, FWIW Ken Rockwell would disagree.
"As of 2009, resolution is nothing more than a sales pitch to get you to pay more. I've made great-looking 12×18" (30x50cm) prints from a three megapixel camera, and fantastic 20×30" (50x75cm) prints from a 6 MP Nikon D40 camera."
The 12x18s he mentions were shot with a Canon A70.
Of course, he's a pro photographer but that doesn't negate the fact you can get very good 12×18 prints from a small sensor camera. They definitely won't be as good as something shot from an SLR but it's still doable.Oct 28, 2009 at 11:50 am #1540485
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
Chris, I would agree with you.
My point is that there is a difference between a very good print and an eye-popper.Oct 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm #1540488
I won't argue with that.Oct 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm #1540509
@gordontowneLocale: New England
I would agree completely that resolution is not a determining factor in quality. I am glad to see that manufacturers are starting to abandon the megapixel wars to a certain degree. A few years ago I don't think you would have seen Canon lower the resolution on the G11 from its predecessor. It's great to see that they are focusing on actual quality by decreasing the pixel density, rather than the one-upsmanship that has largely dominated up to this point.
That is actually somewhat the point that I was trying to make, although looking back I should have been more clear. If you were looking at print size solely as a function of resolution, you wouldn't likely even see a difference in the higher pixel count.Oct 28, 2009 at 1:47 pm #1540523
@sjnuttingLocale: Southwest Colorado
Thanks for the great review. I had always noticed that it was hard to control depth of field with the compact cameras, but never understood the relationship between sensor size and the depth of field.
I have an 8MP E300 that I picked up used with a nice Sigma 50-200mm and the 18-44 Olympus lens. Before that I was using compact digital cameras with reasonable results.
I'm not quite at the point of upgrading my DSLR, so I think I'll wait until I can get one like the 620 with a good HD video mode too. If it is an Olympus and I can keep my existing lenses, all the better!Oct 28, 2009 at 1:49 pm #1540524
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
> Just noticed the S90 is half the weight of the G11! Is
> it really comparable in almost every way?
The sensor is the same and I believe the digital processing are the same as well. Controls are different and as others have noted the G11 has an articulated screen and optical viewfinder which can be useful.
The open question is how does the G11 and S90 lens compare. I don't know the answer to this. My observation is that the lens on the S90 is not as good as the lens on the LX3, which isn't as good as the the u4/3 20/1.7, which isn't as good as… I don't know. I haven't done any side by side comparisons between the 20/1.7 and glass I really love.
Some of the time lighting is tough and the small sensors are not up to the job. During the daytime though, there is typically plenty of light to saturate even the small sensors. The problem with nearly all the small sensor cameras is that they have so/so lens. You can see the same effect with large sensor and film cameras. For example, I have put large prints of the same subject in front of people. The only difference was one was taken with a 85/1.8 at 2.8 and the other with a "pro grade" 70-200/2.8 set at 85/2.8 (which is much higher quality than the compact camera lens). Nearly all of them look at the picture taken with the prime lens and say "I don't know why… but I really like that picture more". These weren't pixel peeper… just people having an emotional reaction to the image.
Nikon and Canon have more/better native lens options than 4/3. 4/3s is better than u4/3… which has just a handful of lens which are expensive and not top tier (with the possible exception of the 20/1.7). The good news with the u4/3 is that the short distance to the recording plane means that with an adaptor you can mount pretty much any lens and expect it to function pretty well. If only the sensor had the micro lens used in the M9 for optimal sensor performance. Oh well… it is an order of magnitude cheaper. I do look forward to seeing more high quality lens built to use 4/3 and u4/3 mountings nativity.
–MarkOct 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm #1540535
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
Personally I would take some of what Ken Rockwell says with a small pinch of salt :) However, I do think that for many people, despite their limitations, compacts are a great choice. Like all our equipment choices there are compromises. For me personally, to really get the value out of carrying heavier gear I also need to take and use a tripod, high quality lenses, some filters and most importantly I need to have the time to dedicate to photography and then to post processing. Many people just don't want to do all of this. If you are just wanting to record your trip, make a few prints and post your photos online then compacts are a great choice. The best camera is the one you have with you and heavier gear sometimes gets left at home.
Ryan – I am really enjoying your excellent photos and videos.Oct 28, 2009 at 3:09 pm #1540565
I have an E420. With the 25mm pancake lens I'm pretty sure it is lighter than this one? What would the main difference between it and the new one be?Oct 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm #1540596
Some notable differences are the 620's I.S., articulating screen, newer image processor, larger viewfinder and art filters.
You, however, have the pleasure of and bragging rights to owning the smallest and lightest dslr sold.
RickOct 28, 2009 at 10:41 pm #1540725
This review has really helped me narrow down what I want in a camera for outdoor photography on most trips = convenience, relatively small form factor and light weight with good image quality. I'm much more likely to always take a lightweight compact with me. The reality is I also don't have as much time as I'd like to devote to mastering the art of a DSLR right now.
Thus I’m leaning toward a high quality compact again, though plan to take the DSLR plunge when I have more time to devote to learning how to get the most out of an SLR, and when a model like the E-620 comes out with quality video, or a similar but significantly lighter cam comes on the market.
Nowadays for video I carry a very small and lightweight (5-6 ounces I think) Xacti CG6 MPEG-4 video cam with a small extra battery ($80 on Walmart closeout last year), which takes Youtube quality videos and holds hours of video. It uses the same lightweight ultrapod tripod I use with compact cams. I use it for work for saving presentations.
Just summing up comparison of the G11 and S90:
Ross: “for those thinking of the G11, stop.
The Canon S90 has the same sensor in a much smaller and lighter package, with great controls, raw capture, basically everything the G11 can do. Did I mention it is cheaper too? Its lens is a very fast f/2.0-4.9, 28-105 35mm eq.”
Gordon: “At full resolution, the G11 or S90 could do 9×13 prints, while the E-620 could do 9×14 or so, if you're looking at high quality 300 ppi photo prints. Not a huge difference there. One nice thing also about the G11 is that you do have the option of a viewfinder, which means that you can operate it without using the LCD. On longer trips this means that a single battery will last you much longer. The S90 on the other hand has no viewfinder, so on longer trips you need to factor in the additional weight of extra batteries.”
After doing a little digging, also found out the following which may help others make the choice:
1) While I wanted a compact p&s camera that has a view finder to preserve battery power, some reviewers find the view finder on the G11 nearly useless because the lens obscures much of the view (I had the same issue with the G5).
2) According to the B&H Photo website, the Canon S90 battery weighs only 0.6 oz (18g). So carrying an extra battery to compensate for not having a viewfinder adds very little weight to the S90, which is nearly half the weight of the G11. By comparison, a now similarly priced Nikon D40 DSLR comes in at 1 lb (or 1.2 lbs with battery) in a much bulkier body.
3) The G11 has a 5x optical zoom, the S90 has a 3.8x zoom.
Hate losing the extra bit of zoom with the S90, but knowing the view finder isn’t very helpful for composing on the G11, I’m finding the very low weight and compact size of the Canon S90 very compelling.
A) With the same image sensor and considering the above info, which of the two would you go for?
B) How would you compare the S90 and G11 to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3?
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