Jan 20, 2005

Olympus and Pentax DSLRs Head to Head

PCWorld has an article in which they put the Olympus EVolt E-300 Digital SLR and the Pentax *ist DS to the test in a head to head comparison.

"The Olympus is easily the more eye-catching of the two. There's no hump on the top of the camera--the signature mark of all SLRs for the past 45 years. Olympus moved the viewfinder's optical path to the left side of the body, which makes the camera slightly shorter than most other digital SLRs. Though it isn't a significant savings in size, the flat-top design does seem to slide in and out of an overstuffed camera bag more easily. Our shipping Olympus has a polished look and feel. Its solid, bricklike body feels as if you could pound nails with it. The dials turn smoothly and easily, and the body fits firmly in two hands.

The Pentax has a more traditional SLR shape, though its overall body is smaller than those of most digital SLRs (it's about three-quarters of an inch narrower than the E-300). For any photographer with a Pentax film body and late-model lenses, the unit provides an obvious transition to digital. Our shipping unit isn't as finely finished as the Olympus (its dials are stiffer and its controls aren't as sophisticated, for example), but its black body looks more professional than the silver Canon EOS Digital Rebel.

If the Olympus has a liability, it's the fact that it's a completely new SLR that requires specific lenses. Unlike the cameras from Canon, Nikon, and Pentax, there is no massive base of existing 35mm film camera lenses to choose from. Even if you're starting from scratch, buying clean used lenses can save you a significant amount. And while Olympus's selection of Zuiko Digital lenses is pretty good, it's still a fairly new line and doesn't have nearly the breadth of the competition.

The Pentax does have one distinct advantage over most of today's digital SLRs: While the vast majority--including the Olympus--use proprietary rechargeable batteries, the Pentax uses two disposable CR-3Vs or four AAs. That means you can buy your own rechargeable batteries, and in a pinch you can find replacements easily almost anywhere on the globe.

After two days of head-to-head shooting with these cameras, I lean toward the Olympus. Much of that comes down to personal preference, though. I like the overall feel of the E-300 and I'm more comfortable with its controls, plus I generally preferred the images it produced over those the Pentax shot."

Click to read the whole article...