Buyer's Guide 2007: D-SLR Systems
For your best images, digital SLR systems offer the latest technologies and flexibility
Olympus cocreated the Four Thirds System, and until recently, was the only manufacturer to offer Four Thirds System D-SLRs. The system is based on a standardized 17.3x13mm image sensor (smaller than the sensors used in other D-SLRs, and with a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than a 35mm-based 3:2 aspect ratio). Four Thirds System cameras and lenses are designed specifically for that sensor, thus optimizing performance and eliminating presumed compromises involved in adapting camera bodies and lenses that were designed for 35mm film to digital use.
Cameras. Currently, there are three bodies in the Olympus line: the entry-level 8-megapixel Evolt E-500, the 7.5-megapixel Evolt E-330 with a live-view tilting LCD monitor and the original E-1, a rugged and water-resistant 5-megapixel pro model. All incorporate Olympus' wonderful Supersonic Wave Filter, which automatically vibrates dust off the image sensor each time you switch the camera on.
Lenses. Olympus offers 14 lenses for its D-SLRs, from an 8mm ƒ/3.5 fish-eye and 7-14mm ƒ/4.0 zoom to a 300mm ƒ/2.8 super-telephoto. Because of the small size of the Four Thirds image sensor, the focal-length factor is 2x: on Four Thirds System D-SLRs, that 300mm ƒ/2.8 acts like a 600mm ƒ/2.8 lens on a 35mm SLR.
Since Four Thirds is a standardized system, all Four Thirds lenses can be used on all Four Thirds cameras. Sigma and Leica have recently introduced Four Thirds lenses, including the Sigma 50-500mm ƒ/4-6.3 zoom, providing Four Thirds users with focal-length equivalents out to 1000mm. The Olympus system also includes a 1.4x tele-converter, an OM adapter that allows use of manual-focus OM-system lenses on the D-SLRs and a 25mm extension tube.
Flash. Olympus offers three flash units for its D-SLRs: the FL-50 (ISO 100 GN 164, in feet), FL-36 (ISO 100 GN 118) and FL-20 (ISO 100 GN 76), and all of the cameras, except the E-1, have built-in TTL flash units.
Accessories. System accessories include an underwater housing for the E-330, optional power supplies and grip straps. All D-SLRs come with the Olympus Master CD, which contains RAW image downloading and processing software.