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  1. #1
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    Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Many of you are probably tired of giving advice on which dslr people should buy, but I'm having a really hard time deciding between these two, and your advice would be extremely beneficial. I would like to hear from owners of each camera, or those who have read comparison articles with these two cameras, et cetera.

    I want to get the two lens kit of either the Pentax *ist DL or the Olympus evolt e-500. I do a lot of backpacking and really like the small size of the Pentax (especially the compact 55-200mm lens). Yet, I like the Olympus's 8 mp and a few of the additional features. Basically, I want to know if I'm losing much image (print) quality in the Pentax? I really want to know whether the Pentax can perform as well as its competition, because I like the small body, and love the small lens.

    My main subjects will be outdoor sports (mainly mountain biking), wildlife, landscape, and for documenting travels. I shouldn't be printing larger than 8x10 often, if ever. Thanks for any advice you can offer. Sean.

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    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado
    Many of you are probably tired of giving advice on which dslr people should buy, but I'm having a really hard time deciding between these two, and your advice would be extremely beneficial. I would like to hear from owners of each camera, or those who have read comparison articles with these two cameras, et cetera.

    I want to get the two lens kit of either the Pentax *ist DL or the Olympus evolt e-500. I do a lot of backpacking and really like the small size of the Pentax (especially the compact 55-200mm lens). Yet, I like the Olympus's 8 mp and a few of the additional features. Basically, I want to know if I'm losing much image (print) quality in the Pentax? I really want to know whether the Pentax can perform as well as its competition, because I like the small body, and love the small lens.

    My main subjects will be outdoor sports (mainly mountain biking), wildlife, landscape, and for documenting travels. I shouldn't be printing larger than 8x10 often, if ever. Thanks for any advice you can offer. Sean.
    More than likely, the image from the Pentax will be superior to that of the Olympus. The sensor in the Olympus, "4/3", is smaller than that in the Pentax. Add more pixels and each photosite becomes extremely tiny. That makes for noise, it isn't that good over 400 ISO. The Pentax does better.

    Either camera is better than 35mm film by a long ways. Our standards have gone up! More megapixels does NOT make a better image, its a lot more than that. Either camera will work, I personally would go with the Pentax.
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

  3. #3
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    What does the "4/3" type mean? Pentax gives the size of their ccd in mm dimensions. Does 4/3 somehow translte to the dimensions or is Olympus trying to hide the size of their ccd in a fancy title? Thanks, Sean.

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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    It means the aspect ratio of their sensor is 4:3 like a standard definition TV- further away from the golden rectangle or whatever, which the 3:2 of DSLRs of normal manufacturers (nikon, canon, pentax, KM) is closer to. P&Ss are usually around 4:3.
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    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado
    What does the "4/3" type mean? Pentax gives the size of their ccd in mm dimensions. Does 4/3 somehow translte to the dimensions or is Olympus trying to hide the size of their ccd in a fancy title? Thanks, Sean.
    Most DSLRs use an APS sized sensor. The 4/3 sensor is used by Olympus and is smaller than APS. This allows the lenses to be smaller. But the small sensor also means more noise, a problem 4/3 sensors have been bothered by. The APS cameras can use smaller APS lenses or normal 35mm lenses. If you buy the 35mm lenses, they can be used on larger, up to "full-frame" size. The 4/3 lenses only work on the small sensor.
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

  6. #6
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Actually, 4/3 has to do with the size of the old television tubes in older TV cameras. The small sensor used in the compacts was called a "2/3" sensor, even though it has nothing to do with aspect ratio.

    That said, the sensor used in the Olympus does indeed have a 4:3 aspect ratio, but it's awfully small. You'd do better with the Penatx not only image-wise, but it can use a lot of excellent old lenses you can pick up used. They make mostly medium-format bodies, but their glass is the best you can get.

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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado
    Many of you are probably tired of giving advice on which dslr people should buy, but I'm having a really hard time deciding between these two, and your advice would be extremely beneficial. I would like to hear from owners of each camera, or those who have read comparison articles with these two cameras, et cetera.

    I want to get the two lens kit of either the Pentax *ist DL or the Olympus evolt e-500. I do a lot of backpacking and really like the small size of the Pentax (especially the compact 55-200mm lens). Yet, I like the Olympus's 8 mp and a few of the additional features. Basically, I want to know if I'm losing much image (print) quality in the Pentax? I really want to know whether the Pentax can perform as well as its competition, because I like the small body, and love the small lens.

    My main subjects will be outdoor sports (mainly mountain biking), wildlife, landscape, and for documenting travels. I shouldn't be printing larger than 8x10 often, if ever. Thanks for any advice you can offer. Sean.
    I don't think any of the others who have posted here have actually ever picked up an Olympus camera... let alone the E-500.

    To answer your questions directly though, you won't have to worry too much about losing image print quality by choosing the Pentax camera. The thing about printing larger images is that you actually need less resolution to gain the same quality... it has to do with the viewable distance away from the image. You could easily print a 30 x 20 image using 150 dpi or less and still have a sharp crisp image even using a camera that has a lower mega pixel range... However I'd avoid droping below 5M when it comes to prints. The only area you'll run into trouble with your Pentax is in the 8x10 image prints. The camera's 3:2 aspect ratio does not lend itself as well to an 8x10 frame and printing images at 300 dpi. The 6 M Pentax will have you printing that 8 x 10 image at 251 dpi and you'll have to crop almost 2 inches off the top of your image before printing... so keep that in mind when composing your shots. The E500 does a better job at this for prints because of the 4:3 aspect ratio and higher megapixel range. An 8 x 10 print at 300 dpi yeilds a 10.88" x 8.16" print... far less corpping and better detail.

    As far as the lens are concerned, Pentax does a great job at making small, light lens... but as far as performance is concerned... you can't beat the quality and performance of the Zuiko ED 50-200mm f2.8 - 3.5 kit lens over the Pentax 55-200mm f4-5.6. Why get a kit with a dimmer lens package if you don't have to? The Pentax camera performs strong at high ISO settings to overcome its lack of better quality glass... but then again, when you MUST use high ISOs to make up for poorer quality glass that should be expected. The Zuiko is going to be heavier by about 800 grams in weight than the Pentax lens... but offers you greater focal range (100mm - 400mm equivalent for the Olympus compared to 82.5 - 300mm equivalent for the Pentax) and with a maximum aperture of f3.5 at the wide end on a lens system designed specifically for digital, you're not going to worry about poor quality straight out the box, corner to corner. Put simply, it's just a better lens.

    Also, I need to correct something a few of the previous posters were saying here. The term 4/3 does not come from the aspect ratio of the images produced... nor was it ever meant to.The 4/3 standard refers to the image sensor size of 4/3" (18 x 13.5mm) and the lens mount / lens communication protocol... not the aspect ratio.

    Also, stating that a smaller sensor size will automatically produce a sensor with more noise is using inaccurate logic. Noise is often an effect of the processing used to develop the amplified signal (in high ISO settings) of the camera. The noise in a camera has to do with the type of sensor (APS vs CCD) and any in-camera processing. With the advancements in APS & CCD sensor technology the market is currently undergoing it is easy to see that such advancements will produce sensors with lower noise, greater image quality and cheaper cost over time.

    My personal recommendation is that you physically pick up and use each camera for a while. Buy the one you like the most. In the end, that is really the best way to find out which one you will be most happy with.

    TANK JONES

  8. #8
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    I'm starting to think you guys really missed the bus on the day they explained sensors and their sizes. The 4/3" is a measure of the diagonal of the image sensor... Likewise the 1.8" is the other typical diagonal measure. Saying the 4/3" sensor is "very small" is misleading at best especially since the diagonal of the 4/3 sensor is 22.5mm compared to 28.4mm of some other sensors. The 4/3 standard sensor measures 18mm x 13.5mm.

    APS-C film measures 25.1 x 16.7 mm, Sony's APS-C measures 21.5 x 14.4 mm, Nikon "DX" sensors measure 23.7 x 15.7 mm, while Canon has several (smaller and larger) variants, e.g. 22.2 x 14.8 mm and 28.7 x 19.1 mm.

    That being understood... the 4/3 sensor is smaller than other sensors however it is still misleading to assume it size has anything to do with its performance on the whole. If that were true we'd all be using digital cameras with 35mm film sensor sizes (43.3mm on the diagonal... 36mm x 24mm for width & height).

    @danag42 -- You're making the assumption that ONLY 4/3 lens mounts will work on 4/3 cameras and that's simply not true. There are adapters available (some issued for free like the OM adapters) which will allow for legacy lens mounts. The OM lens adapter will allow you to mount any OM lens system to your Olympus E-system camera... that I know of, there are 48 different OM system lenses. As well as 25 digital only lenses specific to the 4/3 system offered by Olympus (Zuiko), Leica, Sigma, and soon possibly Fuji, Tameron and Panasonic. Personally, I don't know anyone who would want or need 73 different lenses... for your backpacking needs I'm sure 2 or 3 choice selections will do just fine.

    TANK JONES

  9. #9
    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by FireSerpent
    That being understood... the 4/3 sensor is smaller than other sensors however it is still misleading to assume it size has anything to do with its performance on the whole. If that were true we'd all be using digital cameras with 35mm film sensor sizes (43.3mm on the diagonal... 36mm x 24mm for width & height).
    The reason we are not using full-frame sensors is price, nothing more. But with the new Canon full-frame substantially lower in cost, that price is coming down to noraml levels soon. Also, anyrthing done to a small sensor can be done to a larger sensor. This is the same thing that used to be argued over between 35mm and medium format film. Larger is always better.

    @danag42 -- You're making the assumption that ONLY 4/3 lens mounts will work on 4/3 cameras and that's simply not true. There are adapters available (some issued for free like the OM adapters) which will allow for legacy lens mounts. The OM lens adapter will allow you to mount any OM lens system to your Olympus E-system camera... that I know of, there are 48 different OM system lenses.
    Lens adapters for cameras have always been very kludgy and you almost never get the full use of the lens. Put a 30 year old K lens on a Pentax and it will work just as it always has. Adapters just don't do that.


    As well as 25 digital only lenses specific to the 4/3 system offered by Olympus (Zuiko), Leica, Sigma, and soon possibly Fuji, Tameron and Panasonic. Personally, I don't know anyone who would want or need 73 different lenses... for your backpacking needs I'm sure 2 or 3 choice selections will do just fine.
    Unfortunately, the standard isn't all that standard. Each manufacturer's 4/3 lens has different features that the bodies out there don't support. To use the new lenses, such as Leica, you'll need to run out and buy a new 4/3 camera that can use them. The mount is standard, the functionality is not.

    Either camera will be better than 35mm film. For real-life images, the difference in MP won't matter. The Penatx is a better camera for a better price with a long list of wonderful lenses going back more than 30 years that are all compatible, not just "adapted." IMHO, Pentax is the only real choice. Your mileage may vary.
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

  10. #10
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Unfortunately, the standard isn't all that standard. Each manufacturer's 4/3 lens has different features that the bodies out there don't support. To use the new lenses, such as Leica, you'll need to run out and buy a new 4/3 camera that can use them. The mount is standard, the functionality is not.

    Either camera will be better than 35mm film. For real-life images, the difference in MP won't matter. The Penatx is a better camera for a better price with a long list of wonderful lenses going back more than 30 years that are all compatible, not just "adapted." IMHO, Pentax is the only real choice. Your mileage may vary.
    As previously stated the standard is for the mount and for the lens mount and the lens communication protocol. And you are only half correct when speaking on the matter of functionality. The OIS is supported on all Olympus E system cameras in Mode-1. On the Pany camera mode-2 is also available. Since this is the only lens so far that has an option that is not accessable from another camera body it would be premature to say that all other offerings will not be compatible.

    TANK JONES

  11. #11
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by FireSerpent
    I'm starting to think you guys really missed the bus on the day they explained sensors and their sizes. The 4/3" is a measure of the diagonal of the image sensor... Likewise the 1.8" is the other typical diagonal measure. Saying the 4/3" sensor is "very small" is misleading at best especially since the diagonal of the 4/3 sensor is 22.5mm compared to 28.4mm of some other sensors. The 4/3 standard sensor measures 18mm x 13.5mm.

    APS-C film measures 25.1 x 16.7 mm, Sony's APS-C measures 21.5 x 14.4 mm, Nikon "DX" sensors measure 23.7 x 15.7 mm, while Canon has several (smaller and larger) variants, e.g. 22.2 x 14.8 mm and 28.7 x 19.1 mm.

    That being understood... the 4/3 sensor is smaller than other sensors however it is still misleading to assume it size has anything to do with its performance on the whole. If that were true we'd all be using digital cameras with 35mm film sensor sizes (43.3mm on the diagonal... 36mm x 24mm for width & height).

    @danag42 -- You're making the assumption that ONLY 4/3 lens mounts will work on 4/3 cameras and that's simply not true. There are adapters available (some issued for free like the OM adapters) which will allow for legacy lens mounts. The OM lens adapter will allow you to mount any OM lens system to your Olympus E-system camera... that I know of, there are 48 different OM system lenses. As well as 25 digital only lenses specific to the 4/3 system offered by Olympus (Zuiko), Leica, Sigma, and soon possibly Fuji, Tameron and Panasonic. Personally, I don't know anyone who would want or need 73 different lenses... for your backpacking needs I'm sure 2 or 3 choice selections will do just fine.

    TANK JONES
    i think when they said the four thirds is small they were speaking specifically about olympuses sensor.

    anyway - I'd personally reccomend the Minolta D5, assuming you are on a tighter budget like i was. I purchased it for the same reason - backpacking, and what sold me was the built in anti-shake. Sure, you can get it in a lens - but you'd need to get it in every lens and that would end up costing quite a bit. Also - with backpacking, its not always super-convenient to whip out a tripod at all times.

    but then - my purchase was based largely on what gave me the best bang for my buck, if the financial aspect of this is of little importance you might think otherwise. heck, it'd still be a good idea to see what the 5d and 7d would have to offer you.

  12. #12
    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by Anbesol
    anyway - I'd personally reccomend the Minolta D5, assuming you are on a tighter budget like i was. I purchased it for the same reason - backpacking, and what sold me was the built in anti-shake. Sure, you can get it in a lens - but you'd need to get it in every lens and that would end up costing quite a bit. Also - with backpacking, its not always super-convenient to whip out a tripod at all times...
    Be aware that Konica-Minolta was sold to SONY, the KM brand is gone. This may or may not affect old stock KM cameras purchased now.
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

  13. #13
    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by mwfanelli
    Be aware that Konica-Minolta was sold to SONY, the KM brand is gone. This may or may not affect old stock KM cameras purchased now.
    their assets were transferred to sony - meaning their factories and employees and workers will be managed by sony - but they are certainly not being put out of commision - sony plans on continuing the minolta line with their mount - sony's been wanting the DSLR market for a while and now they got it - with the bold ambition to "gain at least 20% market share"....

  14. #14
    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by Anbesol
    their assets were transferred to sony - meaning their factories and employees and workers will be managed by sony - but they are certainly not being put out of commision - sony plans on continuing the minolta line with their mount - sony's been wanting the DSLR market for a while and now they got it - with the bold ambition to "gain at least 20% market share"....
    That would be the best solution. Let's see what SONY actually does, they have been dropping the ball for quite a while now!
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

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    Senior Member Anbesol's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by FireSerpent
    Also, stating that a smaller sensor size will automatically produce a sensor with more noise is using inaccurate logic. Noise is often an effect of the processing used to develop the amplified signal (in high ISO settings) of the camera. The noise in a camera has to do with the type of sensor (APS vs CCD) and any in-camera processing. With the advancements in APS & CCD sensor technology the market is currently undergoing it is easy to see that such advancements will produce sensors with lower noise, greater image quality and cheaper cost over time.
    TANK JONES
    it is using accurate logic, smaller image sensors create more noise. The fact that olympus uses metal oxide semiconductors is definitely to their benefit, but the fact of the matter is that it creates more noise then a current APS-C sized model camera would. Basically said - there are about a few dozen factors that contribute to a cameras noise performance, physical size of the sensor/pixels and conductor type being the two primary ones.

    more importantly, i want to know what you mean APS vs CCD. do you mean CMOS/NMOS and CCD?

    *EDIT - ooooooh, cool, didnt realize you were from kansas city missouri! From overland park here. Photo-man to Photo-man though - As a photographer living around here you have to get REALLY CREATIVE to find cool pictures. buuuut i suppose its what you shoot.

  16. #16
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    I notice that nobody mentions that with the ability to create an entirely new sensor shape, only Olympus took the obvious step and got rid of the awkward 2:3 aspect ratio. Standard portrait sizes, magazine pages, and (IMNSHO) esthetics would've benefited from a 4:3 or 4:5 aspect ratio sensor with the same diagonal as the 35mm frame (which is 43mm).

    But I guess once a bad habbit is ingrained, is hard to drop. 2:3 is fine for 4x6 snapshots (which used to be 4x5 and fit photo albums much better) but for commercial use its just silly.

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    Talking Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    I have an Oly Evolt 500. I can read these threads all day long. All I know for sure is - when I hold this camera, I know that I will be able to enjoy capturing whatever moment I can. Manually or even (forbid the term), automatically and be assured of a crisp, sharp 30 x 40 inch original RAW/TIFF or clean JPEG. If noise is the issue - the Noise Filter setting does make a difference, though I don't like to set anything that might impair the final image product. I only use the NOISE FILTER when shooting images at night or in extreme low light environs. Love this camera - good quality at a GREAT price!

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    Poster Formerly Known as Michael Fanelli mwfanelli's Avatar
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    Re: Pentax DL vs Olympus e-500

    Quote Originally Posted by gilliamhome
    I have an Oly Evolt 500. I can read these threads all day long. All I know for sure is - when I hold this camera, I know that I will be able to enjoy capturing whatever moment I can. Manually or even (forbid the term), automatically and be assured of a crisp, sharp 30 x 40 inch original RAW/TIFF or clean JPEG. If noise is the issue - the Noise Filter setting does make a difference, though I don't like to set anything that might impair the final image product. I only use the NOISE FILTER when shooting images at night or in extreme low light environs. Love this camera - good quality at a GREAT price!
    The bottom line is using what you like. Too may people look at tech specs and discard a choice without taking a look. Others are quite happy with what they have.

    I personally have started using higher ISO values, something I rarely did with film. The Olympus starts getting bad at 400 ISO, anything higher, noise reduction or not, just isn't very good. My Canon is very clean at 800 ISO. Now, some people say "I never use high ISO" just as I used to. But, as you get more into digital, things like that often go by the wayside. This is one reason I'm put off by the 4/3 system. That small sensor limits what you can do. Any improvements made in 4/3 can also be applied to larger sensors. In the scheme of things, larger is always better in photography. Just like the old days of film...
    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

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