My new (second hand) E1 has arrived this morning, courtesy of Ffordes of Inverness and City Link. We got back at 12.30am from visiting my in-laws in West Yorkshire, so to say I'm tired is a bit of an understatement, but first impressions are very favourable. Was quite pleased to find a spare battery in the box - maybe that's why it was more money than the other E1s they had (see last post).
I decided to get the E1 as a second body following some very helpful feedback from correspondents on the DP Review Olympus Talk forum (http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/forum.asp?forum=1022). Although the camera is "only " 5MP - half that of E510 - the image quality, in some people's view, is unsurpassed in the 4/3rds format even by the new E3. One writer even said I would probably come to prefer the E1 over the E510 and end up using the newer camera as a back-up. I look forward to putting this to the test.
One thing that immediately strikes me is how much bigger than the E510 my new camera is - and the E3 is bigger again apparently. This does seem a retrograde step for Olympus, as the USP for the OM series was very much based around small size and weight (it was one of the key factors influencing my investment in the system). While I had to endure the jibes of other Pro photographers for having "toy" cameras, I got the last laugh when they discovered my gadget bag weighed half as much as theirs!
Olympus still have an edge from their smaller sensor size, of course, my Sigma 135-400mm has equivalent reach/field of view to a 35mm 270-800 zoom, and has the 400mm's depth of field at the long end - 900mm @ 25metres and f8, compared to 450mm for the equivalent 800mm lens at the same distance and aperture. This is isn't always an advantage of course: the wider depth of field for a given field of view has implications when you want to throw the background out of focus. However, the nearest equivalent Canon lens weighs an extra 140g and costs well over twice the price - although image stabilisation is built into the lens. I only have IS with the E510 body. Having said that - that means I have IS with all of my Zuiko Digital and Sigma 4/3rds lenses, and with Olympus's latest firmware upgrade, with legacy OM lenses as well. This is a big advantage in my opinion - and I have my eye on a fast Sigma 400mm OM fit lens on eBay at the moment!
When I can afford an E3, my plan is to sell the E510 (as the E3 is basically an upgraded, weather-proofed, hard shell E510 on steroids) and use it together with the E1 as a pro outfit. Both bodies will be weather-sealed and have the robustness to put up with anything I am ever likely to throw at them. Insofar as it matters, they also have the pro "look": I don't care as much about that as it seems some people do, but it matters to clients (although one of my Flickr contacts swear her E500 doesn't hurt her - it's still bigger and more impressive looking than the compacts her clients use themselves!).