Choosing a system: Nikon D90 vs. Olympus E-620
The ever-wonderful Jes is in the market for a new DSLR! She sold her entry level Canon DSLR and is ready to move up to the heavy-hitting power of a Nikon D90 (or similar).
So Many Choices!
Anytime a friend is considering a new camera purchase, it always gets me thinking about the different DSLR systems. Here is are just a few: Canon (full frame, non-full frame), Nikon (FX, DX), Sony (full frame, non-full frame), Olympus (four thirds, micro four thirds), Pentax, Panasonic (now primarily micro four thirds). Whew, that’s a lot to choose from!!!
DSLRs have come to the point where all the top brands product excellent cameras in the $800-$1500 range. Any of these cameras can take excellent photographs. It comes down to a choice between systems and philosophies.
The following is not targeted at Jes, who already knows what she wants, this info is targeted at people planning on entering the DSLR world. It’s easy to struggle with choosing a system, so hopefully this info will be helpful! I’ll keep this focused on two popular cameras
PREFACE ABOUT LENSES:
In my photography I’ve found that lenses make a bigger difference than cameras. Most cameras today can proficiently capture a large amount of detail with minimal noise. However, a bad lens on an expensive camera is always going to produce bad images. An excellent lens on an economical camera can produce excellent results. So, if I was starting fresh, my first priority would be to peruse the lenses available for each camera system. When I found the lenses that I liked best, only then would Iproceed to choose a camera body.
Specifically, a good lens may last through many camera bodies. Take for example the 50mm F2.0 Digital Zuiko, it has lasted me through a number of camera (E-1, E-410, E510, E620…) and will continue to. Eventually your investment in lenses is going to be more than your investment in a single camera body, so choose wisely!
Now back to cameras…
I’m all for the D90. It takes the stellar characteristics of the D300 and finagles them into a more compact body while simultaneously lowering the price.
However, having chosen Olympus as my DSLR system, I am obligated to put in a plug for the E620 ;-).
COMPARISON OF THE D90 to the E620
In the comparison below I am BOLDING the points that I feel are most important.
The D90 may ultimately be the better camera for most photographers, for a number of reasons:
- FOCUSING: Nikon focusing is uber quick / Olympus focusing is often only super-quick with SWD lenses
- VIEWFINDER: The D90 viewfinder is larger
- HIGH ISO: ISO 3200/6400 are better on the D90 than on the E620
- COMMITMENT: Nikon is committed to the system and they are one the top 2 manufacturers (Canon/Nikon) in sales numbers
- FRIENDS: You will likely have friends/family with Nikon DSLRs that you can commiserate with and share lenses/gear
- VIDEO: the D90 can take video
- UPGRADEABILITY: you can use full frame lenses on the D90 and later if you upgrade to a FX (full frame) Nikon, your lenses will still be useful
- KILLER LENSES: an avid Nikon user will know this better than me, but the 18-200mm is a popular lens…
However, the E620 has some nice features for certain purposes:
- IMAGE STABILIZATION: the E620 has effective in-body image stabilization, so you get IS (or “VR”) for ANY lens
- COMPACT SIZE: very compact size, ideal for carry everywhere
- PRICE: the E-620 price is substantially lower
- LCD: articulating LCD is actually pretty darn handy for photos of cats, flowers, other low/odd subjects
- EXCELLENT LEGACY LENS COMPATBILITY: the four thirds system can utilize more legacy lenses (manual focus, manual aperture) [with mechanical adapters] than any other system (except for micro four thirds). This means you can pickup a F1.4 57mm lens for <$100 (114mm equivalent when mounted on the E620) whereas a new Nikon F1.4 85mm lens (approx 128mm when mounted on the D90). is > $1200
- UPGRADEABILITY: if you add a compact micro four thirds camera (like the Olympus E-P1 or to a lesser degree the Panasonic GF1) you can still use all your four thirds lenses
- KILLER LENSES: the 35-100mm F2 is an AMAZING lens, the 12-60mm is a nice all around lens. 50mm F2.0 is razor sharp, but Nikon may have a similar lens with better focusing.
- FUTURE OF THE SYSTEM? Olympus may focus more on micro 4/3 development rather than 4/3. I don’t think this will necessarily be the case.
- -NOT THE BIG TWO: Olympus is often right around number four in DSLR sales behind: Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
Recommendation for the photographer: Nikon D90
For someone who wants to take good photos, simply and reliably go with the Nikon D90, you just can’t go wrong with it as a mid level (price) camera.
Recommendation for the tinkerer and experimenter: Olympus E-620
For someone who wants to experiment and play with a variety of lenses at minimal cost, the Olympus E-620 is an extremely capable camera at an extremely reasonable price.
FINAL CONCLUSION: Both great cameras!
To reiterate: DSLRs have come to the point where all the top brands product excellent cameras in the $800-$1500 range. Any of these cameras can take excellent photographs. It comes down to a choice between systems and philosophies. The Nikon is an effective solution, widely renowned, that can produce excellent results. The Olympus system is not as widely known as Nikon, but it can be equally effective (in my opinion).
BONUS Fun photos:
Two fun photos from some flickr folks that use Olympus:
(if you have time, browse some of their other photos… they do amazing stuff!)