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skidawg


Sep 22, 2008, 5:58 PM
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Best DSLR for climbing/wildlife/outdoors
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This might not be the best place to ask this question because I'm really looking for a camera set up for wildlife/outdoors but assume I can at least get help on the body if not the lense too (and these forums have always been a good resource). I don't want to slim my options too much from the start, but have been looking at Canon for the most part, with Nikon as a second choice. I'm also not rich by any means, but will get this piece by piece in time if that's what it takes (I know it will be pricey...especially when it comes to the lense(s)). Thanks for any help.
cheers,
Justin


Sarah_Sunshine


Sep 22, 2008, 7:00 PM
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Re: [skidawg] Best DSLR for climbing/wildlife/outdoors [In reply to]
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Hey, I posed this question to my techno nerd friend who helped me pick out a camera recently, the Digital Rebel XSi. I bought it on eBay from Pyxis Camera. I got a kit for $985 with tons of stuff, including a backpack, which would be useful for toting around outside. Here's what my friend said:

since he's not rich, i'd recommend what you bought. there are much more expensive Canon DSLRs out there, but the XSi is a good value for what he wants. he can buy lenses piece by piece ... there's no reason he needs to buy anything more expensive than the Digital Rebel XSi, to be honest, unless he plans to go pro. and even then, not entirely necessary.

Happy photo taking!


Myxomatosis


Sep 22, 2008, 7:01 PM
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You should be able to get a good price on a Canon 40D as the new 50D has just hit the stores (the next model up from the XSi/400D).


skidawg


Sep 23, 2008, 5:37 PM
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Thanks for the replies guys. Are there any glaring advantages to the 40D over the rebel XSi? I notice there is a large price difference. Obviously I still have a bit to learn about the details but from what I understand, it's the lens that is most important...as long as I get a decent Canon/Nikon dSLR it would be hard to go wrong...is this the right way to think about this? Like I mentioned I am not exactly rolling in the dow, but this stuff costs enough that I want to get high quality results even if it takes me a while to get each component.
Thanks again


guangzhou


Sep 23, 2008, 8:15 PM
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Becuase newer models have come out, you can now get a good deal on both the Nikon D80 and the D200.

Cheers
Eman


dlintz


Sep 25, 2008, 6:02 AM
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Re: [skidawg] Best DSLR for climbing/wildlife/outdoors [In reply to]
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There are several points that make the 40D superior to the Xsi but whether you will need them depends on how you plan to use it.

The 40D has a better build (durability) than the Xsi. It'll have a slightly faster and more accurate focusing system and perform better at higher ISOs. For many the deal breaker is the 40D will shoot up to 6.5 framer per second.

The differences between these two cameras matters only on how you plan to use the camera. For many the plusses of the 40D don't offset the added cost over the XSi. FWIW I know nothing about Nikons. Good luck with your search.

d.


roy_hinkley_jr


Sep 25, 2008, 9:44 AM
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Do not consider any camera that lacks a dust-removal system--that is an absolute must-have, way more important than pixels. If you're serious about outdoor photography, you're probably better off with either Olympus or Pentax. With Canon or Nikon, you either get a light flimsy toy or a heavy durable brick.


ryanb


Sep 25, 2008, 10:17 AM
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Traditionally the two most important parts of an outdoor photographers arsenal are a sturdy tripod (usually several hundred to a thousand dollars) and a good selection of lenses. Buy into a system that allows the best lenses, modern dslrs are out of date quickly but lenses last forever.

The one really compelling feature of the latest generation of SLR's is the high ISO low noise performance so get one with that (in the nikon line that means d90,d300,d700,d3). This,in combination with Vibration Reduction/Image stabilization is letting some people get by without tripods. Dust reduction sounds awesome but i haven't tried it yet.

Lens wize you are going to want something wide for scenic and shots where you are very close to the climber and something long for distant shots. This probably means at least two lenses and don't worry if there are gaps in the middle of the range.

Nikon offers the best selection of lenses on the used market. Many of them are old pre auto focus lenses which will have limited functionality on cheaper bodies...you may have to guess exposure and check the histogram to see if you got it.

Here are are a couple taken with a used nikon d200 (no high iso, no dust cleaner) and a used 180mm f2.8 manual focus lens. Image files are straight from the camera with no post processing beyond resize.


Scott Witcomb atempting to Onsite "Dreamin'" 12a R at Smith Rocks.


Ben kuntz, banks lake.

and here is one with a mf 24 f/2.8


Lisa flashes "off the couch" v7. i may have botched the focus a bit on this one.


dlintz


Sep 25, 2008, 1:22 PM
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roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
Do not consider any camera that lacks a dust-removal system--that is an absolute must-have, way more important than pixels. If you're serious about outdoor photography, you're probably better off with either Olympus or Pentax. With Canon or Nikon, you either get a light flimsy toy or a heavy durable brick.

Pentax may have nice weather sealing on their cameras but that's a somewhat moot point if their "affordable" lesnes don't have the same quality. Their bodies have some nice features but Canon/Nikon destroy them in focus speed. I know nothing about Olympus DSLRs so I can't comment there.

I don't think my 40D is all that heavy....now throw a 24-70L on there and it's a different story.

d.


kriso9tails


Sep 25, 2008, 3:45 PM
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guangzhou wrote:
Becuase newer models have come out, you can now get a good deal on both the Nikon D80 and the D200.

Cheers
Eman

But you're better off not getting a good deal since the newer models are light years apart.


guangzhou


Sep 25, 2008, 6:37 PM
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The D200 is still a very good camera that many pros are still carrying around today. Plenty of camera for sure.


williamjbauer


Sep 25, 2008, 8:06 PM
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I really like the D80, a lot of value for the price and my experience is that Nikon is a bit more durable than the Canon.

Another note, I broke a lens by dropping my camera, totally my fault and Nikon fixed it for FREE, no questions asked.


braaaaaaaadley


Sep 25, 2008, 9:18 PM
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Food for thought:

I want to add a couple things that I didn't see mentioned above. First, the new Nikon D90 is capable of shooting HD video. I think that would be a huge plus for a climbing photographer. Obviously this is not the camera to get if you are on a tight budget. Secondly, Nikon is in the process of updating many of their prime lenses which means that old models will be selling for cheap (which is important if your on a budget) and updated optics will be available which is good if your interested in unmatched image quality. If you are a beginner SLR shooter and plan only to shoot climbing/outdoorsy images in good light, I would get a D70s or cannon's counterpart. I would do this because there are great deals to be had on these bodies (~$300). If you decide to go this route, you won't feel too bad when you drop your camera off a cliff or it gets wet etc. Also you will have more money to spend on lenses, which are in my opinion more important than the body. If you don't plan on shooting indoors or at night and you don't plan on printing shots greater than 8X10, an older body like the d70 is all you need. Goodluck with your decision. Feel free to pm me if you have any more specific questions.


pico23


Sep 27, 2008, 8:28 PM
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Re: [dlintz] Best DSLR for climbing/wildlife/outdoors [In reply to]
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dlintz wrote:
roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
Do not consider any camera that lacks a dust-removal system--that is an absolute must-have, way more important than pixels. If you're serious about outdoor photography, you're probably better off with either Olympus or Pentax. With Canon or Nikon, you either get a light flimsy toy or a heavy durable brick.

Pentax may have nice weather sealing on their cameras but that's a somewhat moot point if their "affordable" lesnes don't have the same quality. Their bodies have some nice features but Canon/Nikon destroy them in focus speed. I know nothing about Olympus DSLRs so I can't comment there.

I don't think my 40D is all that heavy....now throw a 24-70L on there and it's a different story.

d.

Oh shit, I haven't been on here in weeks, maybe months, and I return to bullshit like this.

Can you substantiate a single word you spewed?

Please for the love of god, make up total lies on a Canon forum, but don't waste everyones time on here.

Canon lenses are absolutely fine, but the build quality is just ok. The reason Canon and Nikon are so big in photojournalism is they fought tooth and nail to win that market. There is nothing wrong with what they make, it's good gear, but it's just gear, it's not magic, it doesn't self heal when you drop it, it does break, it takes time to be fixed, it cost money, and it's not gold.

If you really want to ENJOY using your camera pick up a Pentax Limited lens or a DA/FA* these are simply some of the best lenses ever made.



Oh and before I go any further, let me just mention the FA* 85mm 1.4, you do realize that MANY Canon shooters have taken this lens, and attached it to there Canon rigs because quite simply it is THE BEST 85mm ever built.

Pentax has some sort of evil shadow over it simply because it didn't battle Canon and Nikon for the pro market of 35mm. And that perhaps was a mistake but the fact is owning the pro market and making quality cameras have little to do with anything. Look at Leica, they produce the finest lenses, and cameras that last decades, if not lifetimes and don't even make an auto focus lens.

I always have to point out that Pentax was the only brand of the 5 major Japanese brands (Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Minolta and Olympus) that had a medium format line, and not only that but it had 2 medium format lines, 645 and 67.

I should point out that the Pentax LX was perhaps the finest manual focus 35mm pro camera ever built, simply blew away the Nikon F3 and Canon (was it F1) of the era. The sealing, complete mechanical operation (yes it worked just fine even if the batteries died), the on the film metering, etc.

I really ask anyone to even pick up a current national geographic or outdoor photographer magazine, even in the day of 5Ds and Hassy $40,000 medium format digital, the Pentax 645 or 67 system often has a few images credited to it.

Am I a Pentax fanboy? Maybe, but I also shoot Nikon, and I've had quite a few different brand digital and film compacts including Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, etc. I like cameras, but I think they are a tool.

The reason I like Pentax, aside from the stellar glass, that some idiots don't even realize exist, is the value for money.

Because Pentax didn't offer a photojournalism oriented SLR or DSLR since the LX (1980s), it was able to put features in it's moderately priced top of the line cameras that simply were not found on Canon or Nikon cameras.

My film PZ-1P matched the Nikon N90 spec for spec, and actually had a few nicer features in some spots, the N90 has a slightly more diverse AF system (more focus points, but having used the N90 and PZ-1P I can say that since I default even today to center point for sports, the PZ-1P was equally fast and more accurate).

Anyway, the N90 is one of the best selling 35mm auto focus SLRs of all time, yet the PZ-1P is simply a better camera.

Pentax is auto focus accuracy test consistently beats Nikon and Canon. Yes, Canon cameras fire off more shots when Pentax cameras stutter for confirmation but the shots are always sharp!! What good is a unsharp shot?

The point of course is that Pentax was able to bundle lots of value into great cameras, the lenses, well, the 31mm FA Limited was rated by PopPhoto as one of the 3 BEST AF LENSES OF ALL TIME!!!!!

The 50mm FA 1.4 also just recently ranked tops above both Canon and Nikons offerings in the 50mm field.

The Limiteds are solid aluminum barrels with MILLED aluminum focus rings (no cheap rubber). These lenses are simply the finest build you can get without going Zeiss or Leica. The bokeh and rendering qualities of these lenses is something special as well.

The Pentax 14mm DA was at the time of it's release both the smallest and fastest digital wide angle lens by any of the big Japanese makers.

The Tokina 12-24, is a sister design of the Pentax 12-24 f/4 which beat out the Nikon equivalent in PopPhoto's digital wide angle test. The Tokina is not the same construction or grouping but quite a few Canon and Nikon owners have this collaborative lens on there cameras.

The Pentax kit lens also ranked at the top of the camera kit lens test.

And Pentax does use metal lens mounts on all it's cameras, Canon does not. Even the base cameras (till this year) were always stainless steel lens mounts on both the low end camera body and the kit lenses.

Pentax just released 5 weather sealed zooms/primes, which when the in body stabilization is factored in are a steal.

DA* 16-50 2.8

DA* 50-135 2.8

DA* 200mm 2.8

DA* 300mm f/4

DA* 60-250 f/4

Also on the horizon is a weather sealed 30mm 1.4, and a weather sealed 55mm 1.4 was just announced and should be out around Christmas.

The 35mm DA 1:1 macro I was just testing is a great lens. Simply amazing.

And the older FA 35mm 2.0 makes Canon and Nikons offerings just look silly. The FA35 is sharp wide open, and I mean tack sharp with over 70 lines of resolution at F/2.0 and it reaches just shy of 100 lines at f/5.6-11 where it peaks.

So while you should be loyal to whatever gets you the best images, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't spew utter nonsense that you have absolutely no data to back up.

So what do we have:

We have weather sealed lenses for under $1000.

We have some of the finest primes made.

We have weather sealed bodies for as little as $600.

We have more accurate focusing.

We have the highest resolution sensor on the market second to the Canon 1DsMIII (which cost $8000) compared to the $1100 14.5MP Pentax CMOS.

We have in body stabilization and non crippled lens mounts that allow us to use ANY LENS made for Pentax cameras including those old, and robustly built M42 screw mounts.

All our cameras have spot meters (does anyone not remember when Canon made 20D buyers upgrade to 1DMIIs to get a spot meter?)


(This post was edited by pico23 on Sep 27, 2008, 9:13 PM)


pico23


Sep 27, 2008, 8:40 PM
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just as a note, there is a seam in the counter right where the 50-135mm is which is making it tilt.


Oh and just for shits and giggles, it's hard to see the relative size of those Limited primes.

Here is a good example of the size.

The lens on the left is a $800 weather sealed DA* (does Canon make any weather sealed lenses for less than $1000??)

The middle lens is a Pentax 21mm DA Limited F/3.2 (1/3 stop slower than 2.8)

The right lens is a Sigma EX 20mm f/1.8 (about 1/3 stop faster than f/2.0)

Simply put the robust all metal construction of the DA Limited pancake design, the size and the rendering qualities of this lens make it one of my favorite lenses.

I took the sample shot with a 25 year old Vivitar Series 1 28mm f/2.0.

The 28mm f/2.0 works flawlessly with my 2008 K20D, my 2006 K10D, my 2003 D, as well as all my film cameras. The Vivitar 28mm 2.0 was made by Kiron and is a cult classic. It's not quite the size of the 21mm Limited, but for it's relative speed, and robust construction it's a lens that is a true pleasure to use even in 2008, or about 30 years post production.


(This post was edited by pico23 on Sep 27, 2008, 8:42 PM)


wes_allen


Sep 28, 2008, 6:12 PM
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If wildlife is important to you, then your number one priority is access to afordable long (400mm+) glass. I think canon has a slight edge in this area right now over nikon, both buying and renting. I am on my way home from my forth trip to yellowstone in the last 18 months, and you can never have enough reach, from lens to pixel density. Other then that, it is hard to buy a bad dslr these days, even if it is a generation or two old.


michael_c


Sep 28, 2008, 8:17 PM
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What does everyone think of the K200D? I'm looking at getting a new camera and I've liked the look of this compared to say the 450D, since it is weather sealed and the lenses seem to be much more affordable.

I'm not so worried about the lesser continous drive function or not having a live view.


pico23


Sep 29, 2008, 1:56 AM
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michael_c wrote:
What does everyone think of the K200D? I'm looking at getting a new camera and I've liked the look of this compared to say the 450D, since it is weather sealed and the lenses seem to be much more affordable.

I'm not so worried about the lesser continous drive function or not having a live view.

Just as a note on the K200D, it's virtually a K10D but with some downgrades and some upgrades. Overall it's not quite a K10D in any regard. Ironically, the K10D for about 2 months before it was officially discontinued sold at below the K200D price. I'd recommend if you can locate a new K10D going that route first, but the K200D does have at least 1 feature I really wish Pentax had given me in a firmware upgrade. A DR expansion setting. On the K20D this was impressive, giving me an extra stop in the highlights.

The build on the K200D blows away the other entry level cameras which is something to consider. Just the fact that it's sealed should give an idea of the tighter tolerances.

I haven't confirmed this, but my source told me that while the K200D is weather sealed, the K10D/K20D along with the Olympus E-1/E-3 are the only 2 "splash" proof DSLRs on the market when a weather sealed lens is attached.

Basically, the difference is the K200D will stand up to rain, mist, dust, moisture (humidity) while you can literally run the K10D/K20D under a faucet (and the president of Pentax USA had a youtube video of his K10D under the faucet), or throw a bucket of water on it. However, the only spot I could see a real difference in sealing was the battery door on the K200D.


lvpyne


Sep 29, 2008, 8:49 PM
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I've been really happy with my Nikon D70. I won't rehash the stats of it -- you'll need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself and for what kind of outdoor photography you want to do.

Also, if you're on a budget, I would recommend finding a camera that you like and looking for it on eBay. As a grad student, I definitely could not have afforded a new Nikon, but was able to pick up my D70 for an incredibly good price. (I bought it from a wedding photographer and everything was well cared for and in great condition.)

Just something to think about as you shop around. Oh, and some D70 nature photos to show different detail:








Maddhatter


Oct 2, 2008, 12:10 AM
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Sorry, Don't mind me I just want to see how bad this looks next to some really nice shots. It is a junk shot that was shot on junk gear.




(This post was edited by Maddhatter on Oct 2, 2008, 12:27 AM)


skidawg


Oct 2, 2008, 9:34 PM
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Thanks everyone for the VERY helpful advice, I knew I could count on this community. With my budget and the recent trouble we are having with the economy, my purchase might be even further off than I had hoped...but that's fine...I'd rather wait and save up for quality gear than settle for less now and have to upgrade later. Anyway, that just leaves me more time to research like mad. I've sort of come to settle on the Canon EOS D40 right now though...does that sound like a good choice to everyone? I know these questions are going to be met with a ton of different responses because of brand loyalty and bias towards certain gear and applications...I expect that. Like I said though, I want something for outdoor photography, primarily action stuff...mostly wildlife (so I'd hope for a durable weather resistant body too). Of course crisp quality is a must as well. I guess I'd hope at some point down the line to get a 400mm lense too, so that's something to keep in mind as well. Anyway, thanks again everyone, and I'll keep checking this thread constantly like I have been.
cheers,
Justin


wes_allen


Oct 3, 2008, 9:14 PM
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You can get a used 40d in good shape for around $800 or less. A 400 5.6, or 100-400 4.5-5.6 IS are great lenses for wildlife, and you can find used copies for around 1100, maybe less. In a year, the lenses will probably cost about the same, but the 40d will be down to $600 or less.

I haven't found the whole weather sealing thing to be that big a deal. Only twice in many, many days out have I really needed the weather sealing, so that I could keep shooting. Usually when the weather is crap, the light is crap, and you just end up with rain in the photo. I also use, and have used the non weather sealed bodies without issue in less then prime conditions. If it is really going to be nasty, then just buy one of the rain covers.


pico23


Oct 4, 2008, 12:23 AM
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Re: [wes_allen] Best DSLR for climbing/wildlife/outdoors [In reply to]
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wes_allen wrote:
If it is really going to be nasty, then just buy one of the rain covers.

I almost bought an olympus E-1 a few years ago for the sealing (and robust build not found in any other sub $4000 cameras at the time).

keep in mind, rain is only one factor. Humidity and DUST are others. As are spills and we've all spilled something near or on a piece of electronics. Sealed bodies keep that crap out. Dust doesn't just get in during lens changes, it creeps in all the entry points on a camera.

That said, I agree, I've shot a lot in the rain/mist/snow over the years without a sealed body. A little care during and a lot of drying afterwards usually keeps gear running for years.

The difference is sealed bodies give piece of mind, non sealed will probably not fail, but probably is a risky word with $1000+ gear.

I was shooting a softball tournament this summer, and my Nikon and Pentax sealed gear were exposed to pouring rain and heavy drizzle for almost an hour (they don't stop play in weekend tournaments unless it is lightening). Both did fine, although the nikon saw less action because the lens wasn't sealed. In truth it probably wasn't worth exposing my gear for 45 minutes as only 1 shot from that span sold, BUT there was the threat of rain with some isolated showers the entire weekend, and while the rain shots didn't make me any money, the whole weekend did without worring about if I was going to loose $2000 in camera gear to make a few hundred dollars.

In the end sealed gear last longer and is probably better built because tolerances must be tight.


skidawg


Oct 4, 2008, 5:56 PM
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Re: [pico23] Best DSLR for climbing/wildlife/outdoors [In reply to]
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So does anyone know how well the Canon EOS 40D is sealed? It is apparently sealed to a certain extent, but for the life of me I can't find to what extent it truly is weather resistant/proof. With an item of this price I don't want to have to worry about it (too much). I do a lot of mountaineering, hiking, and skiing, and in these sports it's not uncommon to get caught in a mist, rain, or even blizzard. I have a little pocket Kodak that I've carried with me on every outdoor adventure and it's still working...but it was also cheap, and on clearance so I never really had to worry about it like I would a dSLR.
cheers,
Justin


pico23


Oct 4, 2008, 11:50 PM
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Re: [skidawg] Best DSLR for climbing/wildlife/outdoors [In reply to]
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The 40D has a seal on the CF card door, but it's not fully sealed. For instance the K20D has 72 seals, the Canon 1DMII has about 72 seals. I don't know the seals on the D200/D300 off hand, but again, it's fully sealed.

This was a nifty way to compete with the D300/E-3/K20D without spending the money on actually sealing it (it's why I'm not a huge Canon fan, I always feel like they hold back a little bit to make you buy the next model up, it's not that they don't make equally good gear which I think Wes tends to think is my impression).

It's what Sony (similar sealing on the A700) calls "environmental sealing", although Sony does have a few more seals than the card door.

Anyway, since MOST non sealed cameras will not fail due to moisture or dust, it would stand to say the 40D basic sealing is plenty.

If you want/need more, and you are like me and think the best shots are those made in adverse weather, than you might want to consider the other truly sealed cameras.

While I shoot Pentax and Nikon, you should seriously look at the Olmypus E-3 (or even a used E-1 for the near future). The E3 is fully sealed.

I know Canon people rave about the focus speed of their cameras, but take a look at the speeds of the E-3 with a SWD lens attached. Rated as the fasted AF system ever. And not by Oly users, by independent test in every major online and printed publication.

Oly SWD lenses are all sealed, largely hand built, and the glass is hand polished rather than fully machine polished, and compare the price to the similar Canon/Nikon glass.

Compare the Zuiko 50-200 2.8-3.5 SWD to the Canon 70-200 IS L.

The Zuiko 300mm 2.8 is a $5000 lens, but gives the equivalent of a 600mm FOV. So you need to compare it in price to either the Canon 400mm f/4 or 600mm f/5.6 to get an idea how it looks through the finder.

One thing about the Olympus cameras is that they have a short film register, which means that you can (with adapters) mount just about any brand lens to the cameras (aside from Canon which also has a short register). So you aren't limited to Zuiko glass only upfront.

http://www.cameraquest.com/adapt_olyE1.htm

The 4/3 system is also setup to more closely match standard print sizes, so you aren't cropping off so much for final print output.

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