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Canon EOS 400D - compared against rivals Digital SLR Review

Canon EOS 400D - compared against rivals Digital SLR Review - It took Matt Grayson weeks of preparation like standing infront of the mirror practising jokes, hiring the tuxedo and drinking honey and lemon juice to improve his voice before being told that compering had been spelled incorrectly.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Canon group
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Your first digital SLR can be a threatening choice. It pretty much sets a precedent for your choice of manufacturer throughout your photographic life. Canon and Nikon are the obvious answers, but snapping on their heels are Olympus, Pentax and even Sony, having released an SLR to combat the big companies. So what will it be?

Group Digital SLR test Comparisons

In alphabetical order, the Canon 400D costs around £479 with the 18-55mm lens, the Nikon D40x costs £450 with an 18-55mm lens, the Olympus E-500 comes in at around £499 with a 14-45 & 40-150mm lens. The Pentax K100D Super costs around £389 with a 18-55mm lens and finally the Sony A100 costs about £429 with a 18-70mm lens. A wide range of prices with Pentax being the cheapest but only with 6Mp and Olympus being the most expensive, but giving two lenses in with the price. Compared to the other single lens kits, with the exception of the Pentax, the Olympus is better value but also older.

Group Digital SLR test Modes and Features

Canon EOS 400D

Canon EOS 400D
  • Sensor: CMOS - 10.1Mp
  • Image Size: 3888 x 2592 Pixels
  • Lens: Canon EF mount
  • Focus: TTL 9 point focusing/Manual
  • Exposure: Auto/Program/AP/SP/M
  • Metering: 35 Zone Evaluative/CW/Partial
  • Monitor: 2.5in TFT LCD
  • Other Features: EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • Movie Mode: No
  • Storage: CF
  • Batteries: Rechargeable Li-Ion
  • AC Adaptor: Optional
  • Size/Weight: 126x94x65mm/510g
  • Transfer: USB 2.0

Canon EOS 400D
Most noticeable differences between the the 400D and its older brother the 350D is the higher resolution, an extra 2Mp, as well as two points being added to the focus areas and the separate screens that Canon were so proud of have been removed from the 400D and replaced with one large 2.5in screen.

Switching on the 400D activates the automatic dust reduction before the screen displays the mode selected with the shutter speed and aperture when the shutter button is half depressed. The modes can be found primarily on the best shot dial atop the camera and the usual suspects are there. The green Auto square dominates the otherwise monochrome dial and rotating clockwise gives the programmed modes like Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, Night portrait and Flash off auto. Turning the dial anti-clockwise from Auto mode gives the programmable modes like Program, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual and an A-Dep which is a feature that takes a reading of foreground and background features in the frame before selecting the aperture for the best result. Sounds a bit like Auto to me. As usual, more features are available on the menu when the programmed modes are selected which is a whole extra page of options. The buttons on the back give options to change the Exposure compensation which doubles up as the aperture control when in Manual, the continuous shooting mode, ISO with ranges from 100 to 1600, Metering areas, AF modes and White balance options. A great little known button is located under the lens and is a depth of field preview. This stops down the aperture before the image is taken showing the depth of field available on the aperture selected. Most companies have done away with this feature regarding it obsolete due to the convenience of deleting bad images in camera, but I think it is a nice touch. Pressing the Set button whilst out of any menus brings up its own menu to change how the image is colour processed. The menu allows changes to the Resolution, Red eye, Beep and allowing the camera to shoot without the card in. In programme mode, the second menu page that opens up allows changes to things like Exposure compensation, Flash compensation, the Colour space and Custom White balance set.

The lens is an 18-55 EF-S f/3.5-5.6 which is 28.8-88mm in 35mm terms because of the 1.6x magnification from the CCD. The aperture setting is standard. Canon have been a little sneaky with the lens mount as the lens has a different mount to the usual EF lenses. Don't let this put you off as the body has a double mount to accept the mount of the kit lens and the normal EF lenses. The reason behind this is that if anyone kept old film cameras and they released the 18-55 on a standard fitting, the consumer would have a nice new wide angle lens as the magnification is not applicable to 35mm film cameras.

Nikon D40x

Nikon D40x

  • Sensor: CCD - 10.2Mp
  • Image Size: 3872 x 2592
  • Lens: Takes Nikkor lenses
  • Focus: TTL Auto/Manual
  • Exposure: Vari-program/A/AP/SP/M
  • Metering: 3D Matrix/CW/Spot
  • Monitor: 2.5in TFT LCD
  • Movie Mode: No
  • Storage: SD Memory Cards
  • Batteries: Li-Ion Pack
  • AC Adaptor: Optional
  • Video Output: Yes
  • Size/Weight: 126x64x94mm/495g
  • Transfer: USB (Mac & PC

Nikon D40x
The D40x is an upgrade from the D40 released in 2006 and the improved parts are the upgraded resolution from 6Mp to 10Mp bringing it in line with the 400D and the A100, faster continuous shooting but only by half a frame per second, improved ISO rating which now goes down to ISO100 from ISO200 on the D40 and a better battery life.

Physically, the two cameras are identical. A mode dial dominates the top of the body with the operations explained easier like having S for Shutter priority and not Tv. The layout of the dial is the same as Canon, Olympus and Sony with the programmable modes below Auto and the Programmed modes above. The power switch is located around the shutter release with the info button which displays the current settings of the camera and aperture operation button located just behind so they are quick to the finger. The operation dial is used by the thumb located just at the top right on the back of the camera and this is used to change the shutter speed and aperture. Four buttons adorn the left side of the screen which are used for Playback of images, Menu access, zoom in and zoom out. The delete button for deleting images in camera is on the opposite side of the screen on it's own so it cannot be pressed by accident. The Auto function, as always, removes some options from the menu. White balance adjustment and Optimise image option are what is removed from the main camera menu. The screen also changes colour from white in Auto mode to black in Program modes which is a nice feature so you know you are in the right mode.
The lens is an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED lens which is the Extra low dispersion for crisper, clearer images. Out of the cameras in the group test, only the Nikon and the Canon have the AF/MF switch on the lens whereas Pentax and Sony are on the side of the camera and Olympus is in the menu system.

Olympus E-500

Olympus E-500

  • Sensor: 8Mp with FFT CCD
  • Monitor: 6.4cm/2.5in HyperCrystal LCD
  • Supersonic Wave Filter for dust protection
  • Light and compact penta-type design
  • Exposure: AUTO / M / P / S / A & 20 scene programme
  • Dual slot for CF and xD-Picture Cards
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • User-friendly menu with detailed and simplified display modes
  • Size/Weight: 129.5x94.5x66mm/435g

Olympus E-500
Originally released in 2005, the E-500 incorporates the four thirds system to the lenses meaning that the focal lengths have to be doubled which is a lot easier for people like me who are terrible at maths, but the problem can lie when wide angle is necessary as the lens must be wider than other companies to get the same focal length. For instance, to get 20mm from a Canon with 1.6x magnification, a 12mm lens is needed, but with an Olympus, a 10mm lens is needed. Not much difference, but could lead to barrel distortion. The four thirds system has been developed to compensate for this, so it may not be a problem depending on what type of photography it is needed for.

Again, the mode dial is situated top right of the camera with scene modes below Auto and programmable modes above. Like Nikon and Sony, Olympus have gone with using S for Shutter priority and A for Aperture priority. In manual, the shutter is prioritised on the selector dial and the aperture button located just behind the shutter release has to be depressed to alter it. Plenty of buttons are on the back to keep you busy. Down the left are five buttons which are for popping the flash up, playing back images taken, deleting them, accessing the menu and getting up info on the images. The menu navigation buttons double up to alter the White balance, ISO rating, metering areas and Auto focus selections. The menu gives lots of features to change and to give an example of how many options the menu has, just one page of the five custom pages has Card setup, Custom reset, Picture mode, Gradation, Picture quality, exposure compensation, Noise reduction, White balance, ISO rating and Metering. Luckily, the OK button has a quick access to the most frequent options like ISO, White balance, Colour reproduction, Flash modes, Flash compensation, Metering modes, AF modes and Image quality. The continuous shooting button is just above the navigation pad amidst a vast expanse of empty plastic. The two buttons nearest the thumb are the custom white balance button where you can point the camera at something white and the camera will set the white balance to the whiteness of that object and the AF zone select.

Pentax K100D Super

Pentax K100D Super
  • Sensor: CCD - 6.31Mp
  • Image Size: 3008x2008 pixels
  • Lens: PENTAX KAF mount compatible
  • Focus: TTL 11-point autofocus system
  • Exposure: Auto, SP, AP, Manual, Bulb
  • Metering: Multi-segment, CW, Spot
  • Monitor: 2.5in Colour TFT LCD
  • Movie Mode: No
  • Storage: SD/SDHC Card
  • Batteries: AA Ni-Mh or CR-V3
  • AC Adaptor: Optional
  • Video Output: Yes
  • Size/Weight: 129x92x70mm/570g
  • Transfer: USB 2.0

Pentax K100D Super
Upgraded from the K100D earlier this year, the K100D Super has everything the same except the bonus of DA lens compatibility to take advantage of the SDM focus technology and a dust reduction feature. It is also the heaviest of the five cameras weighing in at a roly poly 570g and is a little back heavy, that is to say that the body is distinctly heavier than the18-55mm SMC f/3.5-5.6 lens it comes with.

In a bizarre twist, the mode dial has been put on the left of the camera with the programmed modes above the Auto button and the programmable modes below. This is not a detrimental aspect of the features, just a little unusual and can take some getting used to if this is not your first DSLR. The mode dial offers all the usual features with the addition of the good old Bulb setting for ultra long exposures. Unfortunately, even Pentax have fallen foul of the attitude to remove the cable release and now a remote switch is necessary which can be plugged in under the mode dial. Only one button is located on the top of the camera which is the aperture button for manual mode. The rest of the buttons are on the back of the body. The top left has a button to pop the in-built flash up and below that are the Menu, Delete, Info and Playback buttons. To the right of the 2.5in screen is the Image stabiliser switch, the Fn (function) button for accessing the navigation buttons second function. Pressing left gives access to the White balance, press down for manual flash options, the right button gives ISO ratings and shows that auto ISO only uses the range of ISO200 to ISO800 and the up button allows changes to the drive choosing either single shot, continuous shooting, self timers, remote switches and auto bracketing. The dial in the top right changes the shutter speed and aperture values in the programmable modes and zooms in on images when in playback and the AE-L button doubles as the image lock. Any icons that are in blue are for use in the Playback mode.

The K100D has the lowest resolution at only 6.3Mp which is pretty low by today's standards but ask yourself if you really need the high resolution. With faster cards to download onto, this can only mean that the camera is ready to take another picture quicker than a higher resolution image. This argument depends on an individual point of view and also boils down to what type of pictures are being taken and where they are going to go to.

Sony A100

Sony A100
  • Sensor: CCD - 10.2Mp
  • Image Size: 3880 x 2600 Pixels
  • Lens: Sony α Mount, Compatible with Minolta A-type Bayonet Mount
  • Focus: Auto/Manual
  • Exposure: Program AE/AP/SP/M
  • Metering: Multi Pattern/Centre Weighted/Spot
  • Monitor: 2.5in TFT LCD
  • Movie Mode: No
  • Storage: CF (I/II)
  • Batteries: Li-Ion Batteries
  • Video Output: Yes
  • Size/Weight: 133x95x71mm/545g
  • Transfer: USB 2.0

Sony A100
The second oldest of the herd is the Sony Alpha A100. The A100 is essentially a Minolta DSLR as all the features are there like the Minolta bayonet mount, the infuriating inverted hotshoe and most notably, Sony acquiring Minolta's assets when Minolta ended operations in 2006.

The mode dial gives all the usual options, PASM, Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports, and Night shot but with the addition of Beach & Snow also. The continuous shooting and self timer are located to the right of the mode dial. On the opposite side of the built-in flash, a function button allows quick access to certain options by use of a second dial followed by depressing the Fn button. Available on this are Metering options, Flash, Focusing menu, ISO ratings, White balance, D-Range and Colour menu. The D-range is a built-in optimiser to reduce problems encountered with high contrast areas. This is a good feature, but bear in mind, could also go against you depending on the images you want. The power switch is located on the back of the camera top right and is a simple switch. Below this are four buttons for access to the Menu, Display options, Delete and Playback buttons for when viewing images already taken and these are separated from the other options by colouring them blue. The opposite side of the screen has buttons for Bracketing which also doubles up as the Aperture button when in Manual, Auto exposure lock which also doubles up but this time as a slow sync option. Immediately to the right of the screen is the navigation pad for moving around in the menu. The centre button is a secondary AF button that only focuses for the dead centre of the image. The Super steady shot switch for image stabilisation is located in the bottom right of the camera.

In a brazen act of selflessness, Sony have made the A100 compatible with all automatic Sony and Minolta accessories which is great for previous Minolta users and goes against Sony's previous mindset of making everything exclusive to their brand. However, Minolta also had a tendency to do this and is why the hotshoe is still inverted to only get Minolta or Sony Digital flashguns.

Group Digital SLR test Modes and features conclusion
As far as features go, it is difficult to discern between the models as they are all built for the same market and purpose with the exception being the Olympus E-500 as it is a slightly older model and a slightly higher spec. However, that higher specifications are now commonplace features, so what you paid more for two years ago, is now available as standard on a cheaper new camera.

The Canon EOS 400D is the easiest to use of all the DSLRs. The Pentax K100D Super is also easy to use, but the way it is laid out suggests otherwise. The vote goes to the Canon on this one as the entry level SLRs are specifically designed to be as easy as possible and it shows most on the EOS 400D.

Group Digital SLR test Build quality
Canon EOS 400D
Canon EOS 400D rear view To keep weight down, the camera is made out of a mixture of metal and plastic, but the camera does feel solid and well built, so don't worry on that score. The size of the camera can be a worry depending on your point of view. The 400D is one of the smallest in the test and a lot of people shy away because they are too small to cope with. As with any main manufacturer, the quality is going to be acceptable so don't expect a camera for life. On that tangent, the cameras are replaced so quickly that they do not really need a long shelf life but they will last a long while if you decide to keep it. The zoom on the lens is smooth and the manual focus is operated using the very front of the lens barrel where the filters go. The mount is plastic as you will find with most standard lenses which can get worn away on the body's metal mount after a while. Any opening bits are plastic, but not weak in build quality.

Nikon D40x
Nikon D40x rear view The D40x, as noted earlier, is identical in build to the D40, its predecessor. Like the 400D, the D40x is made up of a mixture of metal and plastic, that said, there is not a camera in this test that has an all metal chassis. It is the second lightest of the five on trial but only slightly less than the 400D. Holding the camera can give an idea as to why Nikon owners are so committed to the company. The camera feels very solid and weighty despite being light. It is well balanced and even the lens feels better quality than what it is. The Nikon takes SD as it's preferred card format which is a little unusual, but more companies are turning to this format that was once openly snubbed. The card holder is located on the side of the camera as is typical of DSLRs and the battery compartment is under the camera. The door of the battery bay does not feel as strong as any of the other makes.

Another indication of the lens quality is the plastic mount as mentioned with the 400D and the standard aperture. These are not necessarily degrading to the camera as they are pretty standard features with any company.

Olympus E-500
Olympus E-500 rear view Being a little older than the other models means that the model has depreciated more than the others bringing it into the price range. Despite how it looks, the E-500 is actually roughly the same size as all the other cameras and is certainly not the biggest. That prize is left to the Sony. It feels solid, weighty and comfortable thanks to the large grip and the chunkiness makes you feel more masculine which is great if you're a man.

The body is made of fibre reinforced polycarbonate which is a strong, flexible plastic that is good at absorbing knocks and shocks.
As mentioned previously, the E-500 incorporates Olympus' four thirds system which is named after the size of the chip used. It is a smaller sensor size which therefore means smaller and lighter camera bodies and benefits to the lenses are also faster and lighter. The optical path is telecentric so the image has brighter corners as light is travelling perpendicular to the sensor. However, a smaller sensor usually means more noise which may mean that in the Noise test, the Olympus may suffer more than the others at higher ISO ratings. The smaller sensor also means that depth of field is affected and is actually greater on the four thirds system which is great for landscape photographers, but not so good for portraits or macro work.
Olympus brought the old Zuiko range out of apparent retirement for the release of the digital SLR range as the name was synonymous with quality optics back in the days of manual SLR's when Olympus were top of their game in that category.

The Zuiko digital 14-45mm lens has an aperture range from f/3.5-5.6. The zoom is very smooth like fluid and when manual focus is selected, the focus ring is a separate area which also has a rubber grip. Interestingly, the lens has a metal mount which is generally unheard of in kit lenses, so it is very refreshing to see a company making the effort.

Pentax K100D Super
Pentax K100D Super rear view The K100D is probably the most solid feeling of the five cameras on test. It has a big chunky grip and also has some weight to it which will be more balanced when coupled with a heavier lens but that could make it a bit too heavy for some users.

As said previously, the K100D Super is compatible with the DA* lenses whereas the K100D isn't. The lens that comes in the kit is the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC lens and along with the Olympus has a metal bayonet mount so is likely to last longer than the lenses offering a plastic mount. Speaking about the bayonet mount, Pentax have included the PKA mount to enable compatibility with all older bayonet Pentax lenses including the manual PK mount. This means if you have been a friend of Pentax since the old days and have a lot of the old lenses, they will fit on the K100D Super however, the camera has to be set up in the custom functions so it knows that a manual lens or extension tubes are attached. Features such as autofocus and metering will be lost so manual metering is necessary with a separate hand held meter.

The K100D is the odd one out battery wise as it is the only DSLR in the test to take AA batteries. This has its pro's and con's. Advantages are that spare batteries can be found almost anywhere when out and about, but the downside is that they will run out quicker. This point aside, the Pentax can take CR-V3 batteries which will last longer and although rechargeables are available, these shouldn't be used as the difference in voltage could damage the camera. The camera doesn't come with them, though, so this is added expense.

Sony A100 Rear view Sony A100
Coming in at just over half a kilo, the Sony is the second heaviest after the Pentax K100D Super. The slightly squarer design is more reminiscent of Minolta than the usual slick curves of Sony, but feels a lot more substantial in the hand. The large grip is great to handle and once the shutter button is found, the index finger sits comfortably atop. However, it is situated just behind the selection dial and is set a little further back than other cameras which takes some getting used to. A little curve on the back lets the thumb settle and means the camera can be used one handed easily enough. The camera is available as a twin lens kit and this comes with the 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 which is the highest range on a standard lens in this test which is good when the multiplication factor is taken into consideration. The large zoom is the 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 and both are the DT range of lenses which are believed to be manufactured by Tamron as Sony also owns a stake in the lens company. If that is the case, then they could have done a better job. I think it may be the plastic used as the outer casing as the lens feels tacky and not well built, but the actual weight and operation contradict that thought. The zoom is smooth and the manual focusing works as well as any other DSLR.

The A100 takes Compactflash as its preferred format, but users of the Memorystick need not worry as the camera comes with a CF adapter to put your Memorystick into and use in the camera.

Group Digital SLR test Build quality conclusion
The Pentax has the sturdiest feel and wins the build test, whilst the Olympus feels very comfortable. Nikon have held up to their usual standards too and I can only really find fault with the Sony having the shutter release button so far up on the top of the camera.

The Pentax also accepts any Pentax lens which is great and also comes with a metal mount on the included lens, but has a thumbs down from me about the batteries. Canon lose out with the dual fit mount as this has always annoyed me.

Group Digital SLR test Performance
To trial the cameras in different scenarios, I put them through a Macro, Landscape and Portrait tests. The landscape test had all the cameras on a tripod in the same position with a small aperture for depth of field. the cameras were in aperture priority for this and the camera selected the ISO and shutter speed. The macro shot was taken in Manual mode as the lighting was controlled. The main point of macro was to see how close the standard lens can focus and to check colour balance in controlled lighting. The Portrait test was taken in Manual or Aperture priority modes with the ISO and White balance being handled manually. These images have not been altered or cropped in any way.

Canon EOS 400D
The Landscape shots were taken on a terrible day. It was gloriously sunny until I set off then obviously the cloud came over as I drove to my destination giving the dreary results. The Canon still gave quite flat images, the grass was a pale green and a misty finish seems to have appeared over the whole image. The shot was f/22 for good depth of field and this gave a shutter speed of 1/5 of a second, so a tripod was used to ensure as sharp an image as possible. The EOS 400D seems to thrive on controlled lighting and gave good results in the macro test. The colours are balanced and despite a relatively wide depth of field at f/13, the open door of the pocket watch is thrown out of focus. The portrait test was a fashion shoot in a local wooded area. The day was mild with spells of sunshine, but generally, the canopy of trees shielded the sun from us, so a high ISO was needed. Most of the shots in this test were taken at ISO800 or above. The Canon still gave relatively flat results with no boost in colour from the leaves or the pink dress. The ISO1600 rating has given the image a soft broken effect, so I will not slate the camera for not producing a sharp image. The Canon is probably the easiest to use of the five, however personal experience could be a key factor in this. Still, the modes are laid out easily and basic names and descriptions haven't changed in years making the transition easier.

Canon EOS400D landscape
The landscape image is flat and has a mist over the general area.

Canon EOS400D Macro image
The Macro image gave good results with balanced colours and gets close in.

Canon EOS400D portrait image
The portrait gave flat colours again but noise is acceptable due to high rate of ISO1600.

Nikon D40x
I expected good results from the Nikon and the Landscape shot disappointed me in the sense that I expected more colour. The image was pale and a little overexposed even at f/25 as this gave a shutter speed of 1/10 second. The image has good detail even with the ISO400 rating. The macro image gave roughly the same effects as the Canon EOS 400D with balanced light and getting approximately the same distance away. Notable differences are a slightly more yellow finish with the Nikon. The portrait shot is one of my favourites of the set. Shot at ISO800 and at the widest aperture I could get with the light and focal length, the shutter speed was 1/40 second and the image is still sharp despite a slow speed. The Nikon is also a very easy camera to use and has the bonus of the simplified PASM descriptions over Canon.

Nikon D40x Landscape image
The landscape was not to the standard I expected. The colours are flat and it is overexposed.

Nikon D40x macro
The macro image came out at roughly the same distance as most of the others. Some yellowing in the colours, but the light is balanced.

Nikon D40x portrait
The Nikon gave good colour reproduction in this shot from the red of the models hair, to the green of the local flora.

Olympus E-500
All the way through the tests, I am continuously impressed by the results the Olympus gives me. The landscape shot is the most balanced in the colours, the f/22 aperture needed 1/4 second at ISO100 but the blue sky was still being unsurprisingly elusive. The macro is where the Olympus E-500 fails. It has a pathetic close-up, much worse than the other cameras on test. Colours are a little cool with a bluish tone, but the image is well exposed. The Portrait gave the image a green tinge. The skin tones are greener than the other results, but the exposure is balanced and at ISO800, I managed to get a shutter speed of 1/100 second at f/3.5. I enjoyed using the Olympus and despite it being a slightly higher spec to the others as it is older, the controls were easy to use.

Olympus E-500 landscape image
The exposure is good along with detail in the rocks.

Olympus E-500 macro
The macro facility has a pathetic minimum distance.

Olympus E-500 portrait mode
The image has a slight green cast and is a little muted.

Pentax K100D Super
This is another camera that continues to surprise me in performance. The controls are easy but I think the Menu can be a little off putting at first as the features look very advanced. The Pentax is the only camera in the test to take AA batteries and this shortens the life, however, on the location shoot, I had no problems with the life. I used rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries and the Camera didn't dent the performance of them one bit. The Landscape image has a boost of colour but a lower contrast. The auto ISO setting has put the camera at ISO800 for some reason. This has produced considerable noise in low key areas which is unfortunate. The macro image is the best of the bunch getting in really close and giving lovely colour reproduction to the watch face along with plenty of detail in the edges where they have been scuffed. The portrait is well balanced and I managed to get away with a low ISO rating for a finer finish. The aperture is f/5.6 and the shutter speed 1/15 second. I was leant against a spider ridden wall to steady the shot. Yuck.

Pentax K100D Super landscape
Good colour for the dreary day, but the camera selected ISO800 giving noise in the low key areas.

Pentax K100D Super macro
The Pentax has the closest focus range and gives very good detail.

Pentax K100D Super portrait
The Portrait has got a good result with a balanced exposure.

Sony A100
I entered the Sony into the test dubiously as it is the first Digital SLR they have released, but I want to give them a fighting chance. The results are pleasing with a balanced exposure on the landscape although the colours seem a little pale at f/22 with a shutter speed of 1/30 second. This is a good attempt by the Sony as it has managed to reveal a little detail in the cloud to the left of the image. In the macro shot, I used daylight as my source, but everything else is the same. The image has got nicely in to a decent closeness and was shot at f/5.6 at 1/13 second and this has blurred the watch cover brilliantly and even sent the chain slightly out of focus. The portrait gives the image a slightly green tinge to the skin as the Olympus does, but this can be attributed to the reflection of the flora being picked up by the camera. The ISO had to be pushed to ISO800 with the aperture at its widest of f/3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/30 second. I would say the Sony was the least easy to use of all the cameras. It is not laid out in Sony's usual way of making everything clear. The focus points have a tendency to choose their own point to focus on which is frustrating when on a fashion shoot. The way to dedicate the focus points is not apparent in the menu although the AF button in the centre of the navigation keys does dedicate to the centre focus point.

Sony A100 landscape
The landscape image gave a good try revealing slight detail in the clouds top left. The colours were balanced if a little muted.

Sony A100 portrait
The portrait gave good results at high ISO although skin has a green cast and colours are flatter than I would like.

Sony A100 macro image
The macro image is nice with good colour rendition from natural daylight.

Group Digital SLR test Performance conclusion
The Sony gave the best results on the Landscape with it being the only camera to capture any features in the cloud. It also gave a good result in the Macro shot. It failed at the Portrait session as it gave a slight green cast, but the Nikon did very well in that category. The Olympus has a miserable Macro facility compare to the others. Canon gave a standard performance in all areas failing to impress me, but Pentax again came out of the shadows and gave good performances. The images were all well balanced and it coped well in low light. My only grievance is with the Landscape as it chose an unnecessarily high ISO rating for the image.

Group Digital SLR test Noise test
Canon EOS 400D
The Canon gives very good results on the noise test. The ISO100 image is lovely with smooth texture and no noise evident at all. The petals have lovely detail and colour. Again, a sign that the Canon works really well under controlled lighting. ISO200 gives very little difference with a slight change to the tone of the petals and minute show of noise on the low key areas whilst ISO400 shows a little more change to the petals going paler and noise now showing on the dark areas. At ISO800, the petals go a more red colour with flecks of red showing as noise in the black area and darker greys showing in the grey square. Finally, ISO1600 has definite noise all over darker areas of the image but the results are still very good.

The ISO100 test
The ISO100 test.

The ISO200 test
The ISO200 test.

The ISO400 test
The ISO400 test.

The ISO800 test
The ISO800 test.

The ISO1600 test
The ISO1600 test.

 
Nikon D40x
Once again the Nikon hasn't failed to deliver very good results. The detail and absence of noise at ISO100 is admirable. ISO200 starts to lose miniscule detail, but I'm talking specks of dust here. The petal is a little more red on ISO200 and more so at ISO400. Noise is starting to show in low key which seems to disappear in ISO800 but boosts in the grey area. ISO1600 gives excellent results with the lowest amount of noise out of the five cameras on trial. Nikon also offer an ISO1600Hi option in the ISO menu, which seems to deepen the colour of the petals but noise remains the same.

The ISO100 test
The ISO100 test.

The ISO200 test
The ISO200 test.

The ISO400 test
The ISO400 test.

The ISO800 test.
The ISO800 test.

The ISO1600 test
The ISO1600 test.

The ISO1600Hi test
The ISO1600Hi test.

Olympus E-500
The Olympus gave good results like the Nikon, but in its own way. The E-500 has 13 different settings for ISO and whilst a lot of these are stupidly close to each other to notice a difference, they may come in useful. On the test, I will only show the standard speeds to give an idea of the performance of the camera. ISO100 produces an image with no noise but a slightly yellowish cast whereas ISO200 has gone a little darker on the blacks and the orange of the petals has deepened. Distinct noise starts to show at ISO400 which could be down to that small sensor and the orange has gone deeper still. ISO800 is showing a lot of noise in all areas and the quality of the image is starting to degrade with ISO1600 showing a full spectrum of pixels in all areas especially low key.

The ISO100 test
The ISO100 test.

The ISO200 test
The ISO200 test.

The ISO400 test
The ISO400 test.

the ISO800 test
The ISO800 test.

The ISO1600 test
The ISO1600 test.

 
Pentax K100D Super
The Pentax gave lovely, if not a little soft, images. Interestingly, the minimum ISO rating with the Pentax is ISO200, but the results are still very good. At ISO200, the petals are bright with good detail and the grey and blacks are even. Noise can be seen at ISO400 though, which is only the next step up. ISO800 starts to see a mixture of odd coloured pixels in the black. ISO1600 has a distinct breakdown of pixels in the black and grey and the petals have deepened in colour. The highest ISO rating is ISO3200 and whilst the degradation of the image is apparent, detail still remains on the petals.

The ISO200 test
The ISO200 test.

The ISO400 test
The ISO400 test.

The ISO800 test
The ISO800 test.

The ISO1600 test
The ISO1600 test.

The ISO3200 test
The ISO3200 test.

 
Sony A100
The Sony produced a mixture of results. ISO80, whilst very smooth, gave a very pale image as though over exposed, but the image was perfectly exposed according to the camera as it was shot on Program mode. ISO100 gives more balanced results with decent colour in the flower and no noise which is different to ISO200 as noise is actually starting to show on the low key areas. Noise is distinct at ISO400 and is also starting to show in the shadowed areas of the grey card. Noise has typically increased at ISO800 and is actually worse than the other cameras performance at this stage. ISO1600 is horrible with a flat, dull image and way too much noise.

The ISO80 test
The ISO80 test.

The ISO100 test.
The ISO100 test.

The ISO200 test
The ISO200 test.

The ISO400 test
The ISO400 test.

The ISO800 test
The ISO800 test.

The ISO1600 test
The ISO1600 test.

Group Digital SLR test Noise test conclusion
The Nikon wins giving outstanding results in the noise test and seems to work very well in studio conditions. I like the boost of colour it gives which is a breath of fresh air compared to the Canon and Olympus. The Pentax also gives more boosted colours but softens the images down. Sony has given pathetic results which are flat and dull and the ISO1600 image is just awful.
 

Group Digital SLR test Verdict
Canon EOS 400D
Predictably, the Canon has given good results, though not the best. It is the easiest to use, which is great as an entry level model. Some of the colours are muted but it did well in the Noise test. It's fair to say the Canon EOS 400D works to acceptable standards all round. It doesn't stand and shout or sit in the shadows. It gives decent, honourable results which is no more than you can ask for in that classification. The camera comes with the Manual in both paper and CD formats, a quick start guide in pocket size which is quite handy, battery, a promotional CD on EF lenses, strap, basic promotional material, USB, AV lead, charger and drivers which includes Zoombrowser EX 5.7, Photostitch 3.1, Digital Photo Professional 2.2 and EOS utility 1.1. None of these programs will overpower suites such as Photoshop, but if this is your first SLR and software, it will be most suitable.
 
Nikon D40x
The Nikon gave the excellent results in the performance test. The colour rendition on the portrait was good and the macro image, whilst not the closest, gave good detail. It performed very well in the Noise test also, giving very good results at all ISO ratings. The camera is good build quality and is easy to use. One thing that did annoy me was while taking the Noise test images. To set anything in the menu, the OK button must be pressed or it ignores the path you have taken. Most cameras are happy with you hovering over the setting and pressing the shutter button to get taking pictures, but not the Nikon. This delays the picture taking process, albeit not by much, but it's there. In the box is the strap, charger, USB lead, battery, viewfinder cover, quick start guide, Manual in both booklet and CD and Picture Project 1.7 software. The distinct lack of marketing flyers is a welcome relief.
 
Olympus E-500
As we know, the E-500 is the oldest of the five cameras and therefore a slightly higher specification at the same price due to depreciation. The camera gives good results on the landscape but the macro is pathetic and the portrait has a slight green tinge to it. The noise results are good although when the noise does start to show is earlier than other models and the camera has 13 different ISO settings which may come in useful. The Zuiko lens is good quality and built for the four thirds system to make it completely compatible. The four thirds system is supposed to make the cameras smaller, but the E-500 is one of the largest. On a level with the Pentax and slightly smaller than the Sony. The camera comes in two boxes to separate the body and lens. The lens has the cap and hood and the body has the battery, USB lead, charger, AV cable, viewfinder cover, plug adapter, system chart to display available accessories, manual in both book and CD, list of distributors, drivers and warranty information which has to be mentioned as the camera can be registered and get an extra year of warranty.
 
Pentax K100D Super
The K100D gave really good results, in fact I would go so far as to say this camera is the best. A few things let it down though, like the batteries being AA in the box. Some of the lithium versions that it can take would have been nicer. The picture quality is very good although sometimes it would choose a random ISO for the photo. I'm a little confused as to why the ISO starts at ISO200, but the results from ISO200 are excellent. The macro facility is the best of the lot getting in really closely for a great shot with loads of detail. I am also surprised at the quality of the images as the Pentax has only 6Mp compared to the others at 8Mp and 10Mp, but it goes to show that maybe size isn't everything. Like the Olympus, the body and lens are separate and the boxes come with a USB lead, AV cable, strap, set of four batteries, a flyer for Pentax Club, an interactive DVD, the manual on CD only and software including Pentax Photo browser 3 and Pentax Photo laboratory 3.
Sony A100
As the second oldest in the test, the Sony is under the same pressure as the Olympus as it should be a higher specification than the others, but it seems that it is the same. This may be down to being released when the technology was new and so priced higher or that Sony and Minolta together means more coin for your product. I cannot help but think the latter. However, to sway the argument, the Sony comes as a twin lens kit. As an electronics company, Sony should know little about photography and it seems they have waited until they can use the expertise of Minolta before releasing a DSLR. However, the quality of the camera doesn't feel all that good. It is solid enough and the construction is adequate, but I think it's the plastic skin that feels cheap. They seem to have gone for a smooth plastic but feels shoddy. The picture quality was good, though, with the A100 bringing out the most detail in the blank sky of the landscape. The macro was good also with fine detail of the watch. The portrait shot came out a little green but well exposed but it failed miserably on the Noise test. The low ISO settings should have been colourful and smooth, but were pale and featureless. in the box, you will get a large charger with two battery slots for a spare which is very generous. Also included are the USB lead with Sony's own unique fitting, AV cable, Compactflash adapter to fit Memorystick, quick start guide, CD-ROM and Strap.

Pentax K100D Super

Group Digital SLR test Verdict conclusion
Like a politician being questioned in a scandal, the Canon EOS 400D gave a standard response throughout. It was OK in every field, but didn't stand out. The Nikon D40x gave good results in controlled lighting and even the Portrait image had good colour, but had a tendency to get pipped at the post every time. The Sony A100, whilst a good early attempt by Sony into the world of the Digital SLR, simply cannot match to the companies who have been doing this sort of thing longer. Even with the might and experience of Minolta behind them.
The Olympus E-500 should have won hands down as being an older camera is higher specification, but still lost out to the overall winner which is the Pentax K100D Super. The Pentax has proven its worth in all categories with a good build, easy to use functions and sterling performance in the three photographic tests. I still maintain my stance on the batteries argument, but that is personal choice and as mentioned previously, Lithium batteries are available and can be bought separately. The Pentax K100D Super is also the cheapest of the five cameras coming in at under £379 which is good value and only has 6Mp, so it just goes to show that maybe size isn't everything.


Group Digital SLR test Plus points

Canon EOS 400D
Easy to use
Wide range of accessories
Dust reduction
Nikon D40x
Good build quality
Best results in tests
Easy to use
Olympus E-500
Good quality lens
Loads of ISO settings
Great for telephoto

Sony A100
Good build quality
Dust reduction
Generous accessories

PentaxK100D Super
Excellent overall results
Brilliant macro facility
Easy to use

Group Digital SLR test Minus points

Canon EOS 400D
Sneaky dual fit lens
Flat colours in performance
No outstanding features
Nikon D40x
Pesky OK button
Flat colours
Overexposed shots
Olympus E-500
Poor macro
Early noise appearance
Menu doesn't work logically
Sony A100
Inverted hotshoe
Layout is not perfect
Terrible noise results
Pentax K100D Super
Low resolution
Not balanced
Takes AA batteries

Canon EOS 400D
FEATURES

HANDLING

PERFORMANCE

OVERALL

Nikon D40x
FEATURES

HANDLING

PERFORMANCE

OVERALL

Olympus E-500
FEATURES

HANDLING

PERFORMANCE

OVERALL

Sony A100
FEATURES

HANDLING

PERFORMANCE

OVERALL
Pentax K100D Super
FEATURES

HANDLING

PERFORMANCE

OVERALL

The Canon EOS 400D & 18-55mm lens costs around £479 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.

The Nikon D40x & 18-55mm costs around £450 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.

The Pentax K100D Super & 18-70mm costs around £389 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here .

The Sony Alpha A100 & 18-55mm costs about £429 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.

The Olympus E-500 with 14-45mm lens can be picked up for about £439.

 

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Comments


riprap007 10 1.6k 37 England
12 Sep 2007 2:05PM
think this is spot on, I've used all bar the Sony, and the K100 I too thought was the best; that's the one I've been recommending to all those that might want an opinion anyway

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Bellie 7 507
12 Sep 2007 2:35PM
Nicely done reviews and a good round-up. Re: the Pentax - it goes to show that sometimes packing the pixels in doesn't always get the best results from a sensor, and sometimes less is more. Well done Matt.
spt 10 89 Scotland
12 Sep 2007 3:51PM
All of Pentax's lenses designed for digital are labelled as DA, so the original K100D (and earlier models) can use these. The new SDM (supersonic drive motor) lenses are labelled as DA*. These will be faster on an SDM supporting body (K10D or K100D super). They can also be used on the older camera bodies, but won't benefit from the faster focusing.

Also, you can use the camera meter with old Pentax-K fitting lenses, but only in manual exposure mode. It's not as convenient as using a more modern lens, but you don't need to use a hand held meter.

I went for the original K100D, since I didn't feel that the faster autofocus was worth the extra cost (this will depend on what you plan to use it for), and I'm very happy with it.
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
12 Sep 2007 3:55PM
Thanks for that spt, I must have missed that in the research I did. One other thing the SDM support does is work with the Power zoom facility that Pentax introduced in the mid 90's.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
12 Sep 2007 7:02PM
Congrats Mark, you did a good job here, my only crit was using the E500 Smile

Its not amongst the current crop and was discontinued ages ago.


Quote: The Olympus E-500 can be picked up for about £499

Price now new around £269 with the kit lens, nowhere near the price of £499.

A better choice for the group test would have been the E400 with kit lens costing around £349. even that is getting on and would be amongst the oldest in the group.

You did state that the E500 was getting on but you did not reflect the correct price, what you quoted was almost double Smile
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
13 Sep 2007 11:05AM
Hi Paul, I double checked on comparison sites and the twin lens kit that I had has a best price of £499, but I have reiterated at the bottom that it has two lenses in the kit I got.

Ps, it's Matt by the way. Smile
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
13 Sep 2007 1:57PM

Quote: Ps, it's Matt by the way

Sorry about that Smile
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
13 Sep 2007 9:36PM
Ahh one more thing Matt, the + and - points of the Sony are a little confusing.

As a plus your saying it has a good built quality but then as a minus your saying it feels badly made Smile
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
13 Sep 2007 10:32PM
lol, i think i must have been asleep when I wrote that! I'll get it changed... lol
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
14 Sep 2007 11:11AM

Quote: get it changed... lol

Just scene it, thats more like it Smile
Eix 7
14 Sep 2007 12:45PM
Oh boy, where do we start, first of all, using a discontinued E500 in a review comparing current cameras? What's up with that? Why not use D40 instead of D40x and 350D instead of 400D?

Secondly, you say: "The smaller sensor also means that depth of field is affected and is actually greater on the four thirds system which is great for landscape photographers, but not so good for portraits or macro work."
Please show me 1 macro-photographer who is shooting with f2,8 or larger to achieve small DoF. In portraiture, yes, short DoF is sometimes required, but macro is usually done with F8 or smaller aperture to gain even a little bit of DoF, so more DoF is a plus for macro, not a negative point.
And testing macrophoto with kitlens? What is this, a point and shoot review?

Then there's Noise test, in what you're talking about changed colours. You did use custom white balance, right? (otherwise it's not a noise-test, but testing the AWB metering of the cameras that has nothing to do with noise or sensitivity).

Then the plus and minus points. I find it hilarious, that you have listed dust reduction as a plus in both sony and canon, and failed to mention it for olympus, when several reviews have showed, that only the oly dustreduction actually works ( example ).
Then there's the negative point made about E500 menu. Why do you even go into the menu, everything can be done on the control panel on the screen, just press OK and navigate there. Or did that not work logically?
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
14 Sep 2007 1:32PM
Hello,
Thanks for your comments.
I used the E-500 as at the time of deciding which Digital SLRs to use, research showed that the E-410 was outside the price bracket of the test.
I see plenty of macro shots with a shallow depth of field, for example flowers use a shallow dof, focusing on the centre. Unfortunately, none of the images on the gallery mention the aperture used. Please, feel free to provide samples yourself.
I used the kit lens because this is a budget review and someone on a budget cannot necessarily afford a macro lens.
With regards to Noise, The images were taken in the same controlled light to check to see if the colour changed as well as the development of noise. All this information has to be recorded.
I also don't mention that the Pentax is a good build when I did mention it about the Sony and Nikon. I notice you don't pick me up on this, though. To repeat the same advantages on every camera would be counter productive. It also goes to show that the Olympus has other things going for it apart from a dust reduction which is getting pretty standard on todays DSLRs.
Are you also trying to tell me that you can use a digital SLR without ever going into the menu? My complaint with that was that sometimes you can navigate up and down, left and right and in other parts only left and right which is illogical.
Thanks.

Nb, to make the prices fairer across the board, I have updated the Olympus to the price with one lens.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
14 Sep 2007 8:48PM

Quote: The Olympus E-500 with 14-45mm lens can be picked up for about £439

I don`t Know Matt, that price is still very steep. Thats almost a £100 dearer than the E400 with kit lens. And about £140 more than the E330.

Where did you get your prices from ??? Hope it was`nt W.E there prices for Olympus were well over the top on older models. Example, W.E wanted 599 for an e330 body, digital depot wanted £330 and that included the kit lens. As for price matching, well I better not go there Smile

These are Digitaldepots prices bellow and there a major Olympus seller (official UK stockist) Price of each including a lens.

E500 £269

E330 £300 ,out of stock now

E400 £349
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
14 Sep 2007 11:09PM
I got it from pricerunner. I just needed a price to list it at, the point of the review was not to find the best price. I'm not a personal shopper.Smile I got the price from here .

It gives a varied price on the models tested, so the reader can go out armed with some info and try the cameras for themselves and that's what it's all about.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
15 Sep 2007 12:33PM

Quote: I got it from pricerunner

Thats fair enough Matt Smile

I was not pointing out best prices etc, probally ebay`s the place for that Smile

I find W.E and Digitaldepot very similar as outlets and in most cases prices, so thats why I compared them.

On the issues of depth of field, I`ve come to the conclusion there are none with fourthirds, a year ago my views would have been different.

Most assume that as the sensor is smaller, then depth of field must be greater with 4/3, I was wrong and that is what I used to think Smile

some interesting tables that can be found here Just input a few distances, apertures etc and compare a few different makes. I was a little supprised, if anything 4/3 depth of field was a tad tighter, not wider Smile

With the waranty, the extra twelve months if you register is a Nikon thing and not Olympus. In Europe and the UK all Olympus camera`s come with a standared two year waranty card, and for it to be effective here it must be specificaly stamped UK.
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
15 Sep 2007 12:48PM
Thanks Paul, this info all helps people who may be reading this review. I got a lot of my info from research on the net much the same that someone would looking to buy a camera. Opinions differ though, so it is difficult to get solid info. The warranty thing, I got the info off the card with the camera in the box... The plot thickens. Smile
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
15 Sep 2007 4:56PM

[/quote]The warranty thing, I got the info off the card with the camera in the box... The plot thickens
[/quote]

Looks a little odd, this is what I found in the small print on my warranty card`s and on the Olympus UK site. Its nothing new, been arround since 2004 I believe Smile

"In addition to the one year World Wide Warranty, issued by Olympus Corporation in Japan, the European warranty, issued by Olympus Europa GmbH, is valid for two years from the date of purchase, if purchased after the 1st of April 2004. Please notice that this warranty is in addition to and does not affect the customerís statutory rights"


Quote: I got a lot of my info from research on the net much the same that someone would looking to buy a camera

I`ve found that its not always easy to disifer the facts from the fiction, and must be an absolute mine field for those looking for a first camera Smile

Something worth noting with the E500 deals Matt is the kit lens. there are currently three different versions, the latter is not worth worrying about.

Since the camera kits come in two boxes, some dealers are off loading the not so good 17.5-45mm lens in place of the 14-45, so its something worth looking out for.
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
15 Sep 2007 6:01PM
True, the 17-45 kit is a lot cheaper than the one I reviewed. Smile
Eix 7
15 Sep 2007 6:35PM

Quote: I see plenty of macro shots with a shallow depth of field, for example flowers use a shallow dof, focusing on the centre. Unfortunately, none of the images on the gallery mention the aperture used. Please, feel free to provide samples yourself.
I used the kit lens because this is a budget review and someone on a budget cannot necessarily afford a macro lens..

what i meant, is that it's very hard to get anything but a shallow DoF in macro with DSLR's (I know photographers, who use digital P&S cameras for macro, simply because they provide a bit more DoF than SLR cameras), and most time, it's way more useful to have bit more DoF without having to use extremely small apertures, than to have a bit less.


Quote:
With regards to Noise, The images were taken in the same controlled light to check to see if the colour changed as well as the development of noise. All this information has to be recorded.


controlled lighting yeah, but with custom WB? and still the color changed? hmm, that's new to me....


Quote:
I also don't mention that the Pentax is a good build when I did mention it about the Sony and Nikon. I notice you don't pick me up on this, though. To repeat the same advantages on every camera would be counter productive. It also goes to show that the Olympus has other things going for it apart from a dust reduction which is getting pretty standard on todays DSLRs.


i understand about not wanting to repeat yourself, but i just found it hilarious, the way you did it, in that the one camera in what the dust reduction actually works got no mention for that...


Quote:
Are you also trying to tell me that you can use a digital SLR without ever going into the menu? My complaint with that was that sometimes you can navigate up and down, left and right and in other parts only left and right which is illogical.
Thanks.


i can honestly say, that i very rarely used the menu for my E500 (same for my new E510), almost everything can be changed in the control panel, the only reason to go into the menu was to turn the Noise reduction (ie the dark frame subtraction) on or off, i dont really remember having to use the menu for anything else (well, at first use some other parameters, but not after settling in).
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
15 Sep 2007 6:45PM
Even on the control panel, the options can be navigated up, down, left and right. Go into, say, ISO settings and the only navigation options are left and right. Why? That is what I cannot understand. Their is no reason for it.

The Pentax takes all lenses in Pentax fit. Even screw thread with an adapter. I didn't mention that as a positive either.

As for the colour change, look for yourself. The white balance shouldn't change in controlled lighting. The only time I set a priority is if it gets it totally wrong and the image gets a cast.

I stand by my decision, the Olympus is very capable, but the Pentax won out as it got good scores throughout.
phototime 8 8 United Kingdom
16 Sep 2007 12:51AM
Yes i agree with you the Pentax is a wonderful camera and i am very happy with it and well done Pentax.

Mo.
Eix 7
16 Sep 2007 2:27AM

Quote: Even on the control panel, the options can be navigated up, down, left and right. Go into, say, ISO settings and the only navigation options are left and right. Why? That is what I cannot understand. Their is no reason for it.


I, for one, select the parameter i want to change with that up, down, left, right buttons, and change the values with the wheel, no need to even push OK and enter the submenu there...


Quote:
The Pentax takes all lenses in Pentax fit. Even screw thread with an adapter. I didn't mention that as a positive either.
......
I stand by my decision, the Olympus is very capable, but the Pentax won out as it got good scores throughout.

i have nothing bad to say about Pentax (though i fail to understand the need to mention the compatibility with the older lenses, i use m42 lenses on my E510 aswell with an adapter, so what?), i just debate certain aspects of the review (because it feels like a drive-by-review, done without really getting to know the cameras), the overall conclusion is a subjective one, and subjective things can't be argued...


Quote:
As for the colour change, look for yourself. The white balance shouldn't change in controlled lighting. The only time I set a priority is if it gets it totally wrong and the image gets a cast.

So did you use custom WB or not? I have yet to get an answer to that (and it is NOT mentioned in the review). I have seen AWB give different results in identical circumstance, yet i have not seen a difference in colours happen solely because of sensitivity, that's why i'd like you to specify if you used AWB or custom WB.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
16 Sep 2007 12:08PM

Quote: I used the E-500 as at the time of deciding which Digital SLRs to use, research showed that the E-410 was outside the price bracket of the test

Yes the E410 is out side of the price bracket, plus it has live view. But like I said before, would have made better sense to have used the E400 in place of the E500. The E400 would have fitted in better with age and price.

Could you not have borrowed Davids in the office Smile


Quote: because it feels like a drive-by-review, done without really getting to know the cameras), the overall conclusion is a subjective one, and subjective things can't be argued...

Yes, and I think that is true of all group reviews, not just Matts.
Eix 7
16 Sep 2007 8:30PM

Quote:
Yes, and I think that is true of all group reviews, not just Matts.

but if a site (like this one), does reviews also of one camera at a time, then if same testingprocedure is followed each time, is it even necessary to make such groupreviews, when it's understandably hard to get to know all of the cameras sufficiently (or it would take a long time for that, i for one would not write a review about anything i have used less than 2 weeks in depth and constantly, i would not feel confident enough to start making judgements and giving advice)....
MattGrayson 7 622 3 England
16 Sep 2007 10:49PM

Quote: The E400 would have fitted in better with age and price.

I understand what you're saying, Paul, but I stand by my decision to use the E-500. If you were in the market for a camera would you not want to look at the best one you couldfor the same money? Or look at all similar models? I'd want to look at both which is why I included a broad range at different prices.

Eix, I'm sorry you do not agree with my decision, you are obviously a fan of Olympus and the camera was a close second. I figure you feel let down because I used an older model, but it was a higher spec than the others. If I was not able to pick up a camera, use it and write in depth about it and give judgement in a short time, I would not be doing my job.

In answer to your recurring question, I do use AWB in noise tests, not a custom one. In controlled light, the WB will not change anyway so the discussion is moot.
Eix 7
16 Sep 2007 11:30PM

Quote: Eix, I'm sorry you do not agree with my decision, you are obviously a fan of Olympus and the camera was a close second. I figure you feel let down because I used an older model, but it was a higher spec than the others. If I was not able to pick up a camera, use it and write in depth about it and give judgement in a short time, I would not be doing my job.

In answer to your recurring question, I do use AWB in noise tests, not a custom one. In controlled light, the WB will not change anyway so the discussion is moot.

Yeah, i like oly, though i do not consider myself a fan, i know the weaknesses and strenghts of my equipment and don't follow any manufacturer blindly. Should you read my comments again, i have not suggested anywhere that oly should be somehow superiour to others, simply tried to adress some bit odd testing methods (macro with kit lens and AWB in noise tests) and some conclusions that also felt bit strange (need for shallow DoF for macro and about menusystem, though the last one is subjective, it felt like very superficial approach without getting to know the equipment). Why most of my comments are adressed to oly-specific topics, is that i own and am familiar with oly DSLRs, i have not used the other models enough to try and refute anything said about them.


And now the main point of my comments.

Quote:
If I was not able to pick up a camera, use it and write in depth about it and give judgement in a short time, I would not be doing my job.


In my view only thing possible to test in a relatively short time, are lab-specific tests, like ISO testing (though for instance, in the case of new oly's and their ability to turn Noise filter on or off would take quite a bit experimenting to gather all the necessary data) and similar measurable testing with numerical values.
Anything as subjective as overall image quality, build quality, usability, menusystem etc can only be judged after a sufficiently long field-testing period, ie taking pictures. No human is able to grasp everything about a new camera in a short period of time, thinking otherwise leads only to superficial reviews.

And once again, this is not oly-specific, i would have written everything i wrote here even if you would have declared the E500 (or E510) the greatest gift to photographers ever manufactured.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.2k 6 England
17 Sep 2007 12:28AM

Quote: Canon EOS 400D - compared against rivals

Matt I agree with the review for the best part, out of these the only model I`ve handled is the 400D and even that I don`t no a great deal about Smile

But is the E500 a rivel for the 400D, in the real world its not even a contender Smile

If you must use it, then include the realistic current market price like you have for all the other`s tested, with a simple explanation of why its so cheap.

The price your quoting of £439 is even a fair bit more than that of the E400 with kit lens.
17 Sep 2007 10:49AM
What about the K10D?

An interesting result, in fact it mirrors my own feelings. I too would choose the K100D Super, but price wise, the K10D could also be considered a rival to the EOS-400D as it is avialable at less than £480, with the 18-55 lens, which is within the price range tested.

The K100D Super is undoubtably an excellent "starter" camera, and would be my choice of those tested, but the massive increase in usability and operational speed provided by the K10D for so little extra, makes it a steal for those seeking a more "advanced" camera.

It was my choice over the K100D when I decided to replace my *istD (plus the others tested as well as some more expensive bodies) and has far exceeded my expectations, and probably my skills!
25 Sep 2007 10:03PM
A very interesting and well written review. I like the amusing intro as well as the conclusion. I own a Pentax K100D.

I think the AA battery issue with the Pentax is a little bit of a red herring as the latest generation of rechargables, such as the Hybrio from Uniross or Eneloops from Sanyo, make it a non issue.

Personally I think the biggest weakness with the Pentax is not the camera body but that Pentax 'DA' lenses currently stop at the 50-200 range.

Still a great camera which represents great value for money.

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