Well, here we go again...Canon 40D...Olympus E510...Finally..D80 and 18-200! That's it! no more!...
I ended up returning the E510 after all. I liked the size, loved the lenses, but could see a darned thing out of that viewfinder! I also had a credit store, so since Olympus are offering their 30-day money back guarantee, I took advantage of it.
I just cold not - repeat: could not, come to grips with the Oly's small viewfinder. I wear glasses and I don't like pressing them against the rubber piece of the viewfinder. Consequently, I really felt the "tunnel" effect, and I also could not see very well the viewfinder's info. It was not a pleasant experience taking photos like that. I thought I could get used to it. No go.
So I took the plunge and decided to get the D80. I remembered Gordon's very flattering review, including the 18-200 review and final comments about the D80/18-200 combo. The bright viewfinder sold me in the shop. Now, that's what I'm talking about! Plus, the size didn't actually feel that much bigger than the Oly E510 - a credit, no doubt, to good ergonomics on the part of Nikon.
There were also a few other things that niggled me over time with the Oly, and which were supposedly superior on the Nikon, according to numerous reviews. The main point of frustration was about the Oly's metering. It was inconsistent, giving me three different exposures taken one after the other, whereby only one was acceptable and the other two were either too bright or too dark (no, I didn't have exposure bracketing ON...). I could not believe that it was so inconsistent; I even called Olympus about it, and they said to send some pics. Eh....In contrast no pun intended!) the Nikon is rock-solid. If it meters a scene in a certain way, then it won't change its mind the next picture around, when that scene is exactly the same as the first one. Very good.
The other thing was that the Oly constantly under-exposed the pictures by about .5 of eV, at least, in my opinion. Yes, you can boost it, but why, wen the Nikon does it just right (I certainly remembered Gordon's comments about how good Nikon's metering is). So fair enough, I rush home with my new kit, put it together and take some same pics that I had taken previously with the Oly,, dialed similar settings (i.e. "vivid" and low noise filtering) and shot away. I had these shots were there was highly contrasted features, i.e. bright sky vs. shadowed building. with the Oly, I swear that each picture was either overexposed so that the shadows were visible, or totally dark if I wanted to see cloud details in the sky. There was no way to get a proper balance. No, I'm sure that my large inexperience played a big part in that, but I also tried all modes, including exposure adjustment, and all three metering systems available. No go. either overblown, or under-exposed in high contracts.
In reply (sorry, I can't use "contrast" here...) the Nikon - and to my amazement, really - exposed these shots perfectly. I don't know how they do it, because it's not like a feature is emphasised over another - dark versus bright areas. No, it's perfect: The sky is nice and blue, and detailed (not overblown), and I could see the shadows perfectly exposed too. How do the do it? I guess that many years experience count for something (but, to be fair, it's not like Olympus started yesterday either, did they?).
Another thing?...Ok, then. What about auto-focusing onto dark objects in the shadow?...you like that?...With the Oly (poor Oly...I'm really giving it, aren't I? I did like it, honest!) The auto-focus was hunting like it was looking for a squirrel. It really struggled with that part. To be fair, it was better wen I had the 14-54mm f2.8-3.5. But not perfect, either. Just a bit quicker than with the 14-42 kit lens. So...same story: I take the D80, and shoot exactly the same dark object in the shadow, and other dark matters. ...And, it's zoomed in on the 18-200mm, meaning that it's on slow aperture (purposely, to really give it some!). Result: no issue whatsoever. I think it fired its focusing light beam (thank God for that - I do hate strobe lights!) and, yes, it did boost its ISO to 1600 (on Auto mode (wanted to see how good ISO noise was, with my eyes - sorry Gordon...). But it focused almost immediately, and the shot was clear, and the noise was low, to my eyes anyway. lower, for sure, than that of the Oly (man, am I giving it! Did I say I liked the Oly?...Yes?...good).
So, so far, Nikon blew me away. Ah yes...the LCD screen... Useless in the Oly. I found it dark and uninviting, even after boosting its brightness to max. Bizzarre. Please bear in mind that all these things really came up later using the Oly quite intensively , albeit for a short period of time. I really don't think that you would pick up on all of them in the shop. Well, mabe some, but not me, anyways...
I could go on...The Oly's live view (with that lcd?...no joy)...
One thing that was really great with the E510, and I think probably better than with many other DLSR is that class, is the way in which you can change settings quickly on the lcd screen. Magical. Really fast. also, that rocker wheel on top right of camera that is used to zoom on pics in view mode. Great! no pushing - and + little buttons... Size and weight were great too.
But, hang on, I'm supposed to talk about the D80 and the 18-200mm, right? Well, Mesdames et Messieurs, I know in which forum I am: Nikonians, nest. No one here needs re-asserting how good the D80 and 18-200mm are, because you're all Nikon fanboys, aren't you?
Question: Room for one more?...
(More later, I'm exhalted, and exhausted...and happy happy joy joy!)