I have had my Olympus E-510 for over a year now, and I can say it has served me well. From time to time people ask me why I chose to go with Olympus for my DSLR purchase. There were a couple of factors at work. The kit I purchased (E-510 with two lenses) was very competitively priced compared to what Canon and Nikon had to offer. To get comparable equipment from the other two would have cost me a few hundred dollars more. Sensor resolution (10MP) was the same as the other two manufacturers. And then there was the big deciding factor – image stabilization. Olympus was the first with IS for their DSLR cameras. You had to buy the 510 to get it, but it was there. Even better, it is in-camera. That means the lenses don’t cost extra if you want IS (or VR) in them. That really helped frame my opinion up front. But this wasn’t (to me) a small purchase.
Wolf Camera, in conjunction with Olympus, had a special deal going where you could “borrow” a camera (E-400 or E-510) for a weekend to take some pictures and see what you thought. I jumped at that chance. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, they were out of the 510s. I took the 400 home for the weekend and really enjoyed shooting with it. I must admit, I was intimidated by making the jump from my P&S (Canon Powershot G5) to a full on DSLR. But I had a good weekend of shooting, and decided what the heck.
I then started doing my research online. I found the 510 for an even better price from B&H Photo/ Video. Fortunately for me, the manager at Wolf decided to match the prices I found at B&H when I was ready to walk out the door. That willingness to eat the margin a bit also meant I will buy from them in the future – mostly prints and stuff I think.
Now that I have had this camera for roughly a year, I naturally have my list of likes and dislikes about it.
– Lightweight (in my camera/ laptop backpack, this hardly adds any weight)
– Great image quality (never had an issue with the image quality)
– Sensor cleaning (the sensor cleaning system seems to work well, don’t see any problems in my images)
– Kit lenses are good quality (I wouldn’t know what ‘great’ glass is, but these do everything I ask)
– Live view (even if I never use it)
– Limited EV bracketing (3 shots, in one stop increments)
– Unique Olympus USB connector (cables are more expensive and harder to find)
– No tilt/ swivel LCD (was useful on my G5)
– Requirement of Oly xD card for pano mode (I can take panos manually and stitch in something else though)
– “Live capture” software has additional $$ cost
– FL-36 (seriously, why did they even build/ sell this?)
All in all, I can’t say I made a very poor decision in buying this Olympus. It continues to serve me well. That said, Olympus as a whole doesn’t seem to be very innovative at the moment. This worries me. I don’t have a huge investment in Olympus glass and gear, but it would be nice if they had an upgrade path that looked enticing. Compared to what I am seeing from Canon and Nikon, Olympus has a lot of catch up to do. I am not ready to upgrade just yet, so this isn’t of immediate concern. Who knows, maybe they do have something impressive in the works. They need to. The E-3 is outdated now, and the E-30 is not even close to being an evolution.