Complete D-SLR System Guide
With 10 companies offering D-SLRs today, there’s something for everyone
For several years, Olympus was the only producer of Four Thirds System D-SLRs, but now it has been joined by Leica and Panasonic. Based around a standardized 17.3x13mm image sensor with a 4:3 aspect ratio rather than the familiar 3:2 aspect ratio used by 35mm camera-based D-SLRs, the system features cameras and lenses designed specifically for that sensor, thus optimizing performance and eliminating any compromises involved in adapting camera bodies and lenses that were designed for 35mm film to digital use.
Olympus currently offers three camera bodies in the U.S.: the economically priced 8-megapixel entry-level EVOLT E-500; the versatile 7.5-megapixel EVOLT E-330, which introduced the live-view tilting LCD monitor to the D-SLR; and the original E-1, a rugged and water-resistant 5-megapixel pro model. The E-1 introduced Olympus' wonderful Supersonic Wave Filter that protects the image sensor and ultrasonically vibrates dust off each time you switch the camera on; now all Four Thirds System cameras have it.
System Accessories: All Four Thirds System cameras can use all Four Thirds System lenses, one of the benefits of the system. Olympus currently offers 14 lenses for its D-SLRs, from an 8mm ƒ/3.5 fisheye and a 7-14mm ƒ/4.0 zoom to a 300mm ƒ/2.8 supertelephoto, with more in the works. Because of the Four Thirds sensor's 2x crop factor, that 300mm ƒ/2.8 acts like a 600mm ƒ/2.8 lens on a 35mm SLR. Sigma and Leica have introduced Four Thirds lenses, Sigma's 300-800mm ƒ/5.6 zoom providing Four Thirds users with the equivalent of a 1600mm lens on a 35mm SLR. The Olympus system also includes a 1.4x teleconverter, an OM adapter that allows use of manual-focus OM-system lenses on the D-SLRs and a 25mm extension tube.
There are also three flash units: the FL-50 (ISO 100/GN164 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. Other 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.