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Olympus Evolt E620 12.3MP  DSLR with IS, 2.7-inch Swivel LCD with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 and and 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 ED Zuiko Lenses
Olympus Evolt E620 12.3MP DSLR with IS, 2.7-inch Swivel LCD with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 and and 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 ED Zuiko Lenses
Offered by Wall Street Photo
Price: $1,141.79
10 used & new from $339.00

269 of 272 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars quality, size & value, June 5, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've had the E-620 for a few weeks now and am quite pleased. Other options I considered were the Nikon D5000, Canon T1i & XSi, Panasonic G1, Sony A300 & A350, and Pentax K200D & K20D. Some comments with comparison notes:

1) SIZE & WEIGHT -- There's no point in having a camera that is so bulky that it doesn't get much use. Only the Panasonic G1 is smaller than the E-620 but not by much. There is a more dramatic difference in the size of the lenses, with Olympus being much smaller than all but Panasonic. Makes for a very compact outfit. For anyone used to the size of film SLRs, the E-620 is very similar. My wife also found it the most comfortable for her to hold.

2) BUILD QUALITY & HANDLING -- Very impressed with Olympus here. Solid, dense and with lots of sensibly placed buttons for direct access to settings. The other cameras had a less solid, plasticy feel, and their larger grips still weren't large enough for a comfortable pistol grip with my average size hands. The Sonys, in particular, had awkward button placement. The E-620 has a different style of grip where you hold the camera in the same way as old film SLRs, and is more appropriate to such a small camera. I carry the camera comfortably in my *left* hand, grasping the body and lens barrel with my fingers on the zoom ring; this frees my right hand from having to support the camera while working controls, and leaves my good hand open (I'm a righty).

3) LENSES -- The kit zooms from Olympus are reputed to be of higher quality than the others, as well as being more compact. So far I have been very impressed. I didn't want to buy a camera only to feel the kit lenses needed replacing; I'd rather spend on lenses that offer new capabilities, like fast primes or dedicated macro lenses. For anyone interesting in using legacy manual focus lenses, inexpensive adapters are available to attach virtually any MF SLR lens to Olympus bodies; used lenses can be quite inexpensive on eBay. Panasonic is limited by a very small range of lenses. For a two lens kit, the E-620 was the cheapest option.

4) IMAGE QUALITY -- I wanted to spend my time taking pictures, not fiddling with them in post-processing; Olympus has the best out-of-camera JPGs of the bunch (Canon and Pentax, in particular, fall short here). Although the smaller Olympus sensors are reputed to be a bit noisier, what noise there is is primarily luminance noise, giving images a film-like grain, rather than the colored blotches of chroma noise. I've found noise very well controlled through ISO1000, even with noise reduction set to LOW. For printing up through 8x10 and monitor display, I don't think noise is a concern up through ISO1600 (certainly with noise reduction set to standard). One caveat: be sure to keep gradation set at NORMAL (the default), not AUTO, unless you really need it; using AUTO gradation will noticeably increase noise.

5) IN BODY STABILIZATION -- I prefer in body stabilization to lens-based stabilization for two reasons: in body works with all lenses, and lenses can be more compact. You only carry one body but you are likely to carry multiple lenses, so it pays to keep them small.

6) LIVE VIEW & LCD -- Olympus has the best live view implementation (maybe tied with Sony) with quite quick autofocus. This is very important if you want anyone, e.g. my wife or random bystanders, who's used to compact cameras to use your SLR for snapshots or the like. The tilt & swivel LCD is very handy and seemed more natural than Nikon or Sony's implementations.

Overall, I found the E-620 to be the best value for a two lens kit.

Here are a few notes on the other cameras I considered:
Nikon D5000 -- Good build & handling, but a bit bulky. Live view isn't great. Much more expensive for a two lens kit than the Olympus.

Canon T1i -- Not impressed by the build quality, felt plasticy. Not comfortable for me to hold. Out of camera JPGs not so good. Inferior kit lenses. Much more expensive for a two lens kit than the Olympus.

Canon XSi -- Not impressed by the build quality, felt plasticy. Not comfortable for me to hold. Out of camera JPGs not so good. Bulkier than the Olympus. Inferior kit lenses.

Panasonic G1 -- Limited lens selection; will take legacy MF lenses but doesn't offer image stabilization with them since it isn't in the body. Plasticy. Not much smaller than the Olympus. More expensive than Olympus for a two lens kit.

Sony A300 & A350 -- Hated the button placement--ruled them out on that alone. Live view is very good though.

Pentax K200D & K20D -- Poor out of camera JPGs. Great handling and build quality. Short on features. Kit lenses aren't great. No live view / live view useless.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 1, 2011 3:28 PM PST


Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment
Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment
by David F. Swensen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.68
227 used & new from $1.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent for the intellectually-oriented investor, July 2, 2008
Swensen provides a excellent analysis of different asset classes and the roles they play (or fail to play) in diversifying portfolios. For example, he clarifies the different diversifying roles of conventional Treasury bonds and TIPS, and explains why corporate, municipal and foreign bonds cannot be substituted. He also demonstrates the advantages of periodic portfolio rebalancing for the disciplined investor.

In what almost amounts to a book within a book, Swensen forcefully chronicles the failure of the mutual fund industry and its regulators to serve the interests of individual investors. This discussion is a must-read for anyone concerned about the implications of the shift towards investor managed defined contribution pension plans as the primary vehicle for retirement savings.

Swensen has not written a practical how-to guide to personal investing or asset allocation; rather, he argues for an approach to personal investing built around core principles. Intellectually-oriented investors will be well served by this book as preparation for developing a personalized investment program.


BLACK+DECKER G48TD 3-in-1 Waffle Maker & Indoor Grill/Griddle, Silver
BLACK+DECKER G48TD 3-in-1 Waffle Maker & Indoor Grill/Griddle, Silver
Price: $39.99
92 used & new from $15.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Some negatives, May 8, 2008
Having owned this product for 1.5 years, I have noticed a number of negatives:
1. Nonstick coating chips *very* easily, much more easily that other nonstick items I own. Even though I am careful not to use abrasives or metal utensils, it is now unusable as the coating flakes into food.
2. The upper griddle surface does not get as hot as the lower surface: this is fine when using the unit closed, but when using it open as a griddle the surfaces are not the same temperature.
3. Outside surfaces get very hot; you must be very careful so as not to burn yourself.


Brother HL-5250DN Refurbished Network Ready Laser Printer with Duplex
Brother HL-5250DN Refurbished Network Ready Laser Printer with Duplex

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best value for duplexing printer, March 29, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have had this printer for almost a month and am very impressed so far. Under light use, I have had no problems, jams, etc. Duplexing has worked flawlessly. Setup (over ethernet) was very easy once I figured out that Mac OS X (Leopard) has the necessary drivers built in and will add the printer virtually automatically. Had I not known this was a refurbished item, I would not have guessed.

I bought this printer to replace an old inkjet which needed its ink cartridges replaced. For a little more than 2.5 times the price of new cartridges I was able to purchase this instead. As I anticipate my print volume increasing, I was looking for lower cost per page, better performance and print quality, and duplexing to save paper and my back. I also considered the lower-cost Brother lasers (lacking duplexing) but, with their starter toner cartridges, they end up costing more than this refurbished model once the starter cartridge is replaced.


Mountain Woods Multi-Purpose Cutting Board and Crumb Tray
Mountain Woods Multi-Purpose Cutting Board and Crumb Tray
Offered by Mountain Woods
Price: $59.95

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars works well but some warping, March 8, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've had this product for a few months now. It is nicely constructed and works well. However, some of the top slats have warped slightly, so the cutting surface is no longer even. Occasionally this makes it hard to completely cut through the bread at the bottom.


Black & Decker CHV1400 14.4-Volt Cyclonic DustBuster
Black & Decker CHV1400 14.4-Volt Cyclonic DustBuster

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very handy, March 8, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's a dustbuster: so you should know basically what you're getting and what it is good for. It is quite powerful and hasn't run out of juice on me yet. My impression is that it looses suction more quickly than I would like, but it is very easy to clean and the turning the ring-thingy does temporarily restore suction quickly.


Sanyo ECJ-D100S 10-Cup Micro-Computerized Rice Cooker/Steamer, White with Stainless Accent
Sanyo ECJ-D100S 10-Cup Micro-Computerized Rice Cooker/Steamer, White with Stainless Accent

5.0 out of 5 stars perfect brown basmati, March 8, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've had this rice cooker for a few weeks now, using it primarily to make brown basmati, and have been very happy with it. The timer function works great: put in rice, water and spices in the morning and it has perfect rice ready at the time you select. I have found it easy to use and easy to clean.

Regarding the chemical smell others have reported: I removed the sticker from the inside of the rice cooker (underneath where the cooking vessel goes) before using it, but I did detect a chemical odor from the heating element area the first time I used it. The odor did not permeate the rice though, and I have not detected it again. Many small appliances will emit a chemical smell when they are fist used and manufacturing oils and solvents burn off; my guess is that this is what is going on here and that it does not indicate a problem.


Fujifilm FinePix F30 6.3 MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom
Fujifilm FinePix F30 6.3 MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom
7 used & new from $49.88

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars overall very happy, November 8, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The other reviews really have this camera covered, so I'll keep this brief. Overall I find this camera quite easy to use. Battery life is excellent. The Natural Light & with Flash (two shots sequentially) mode is very useful. Overexposure/blown highlights/purple fringing is annoying when it makes an appearance; correcting using the exposure controls is annoyingly only available in manual mode, so you can't combine expose adjustment with the various scene presets. No way to delete multiple images at once: it's one or all only. Having enjoyed this camera's low light capabilities, I don't think I could do without them: there are too many shots I wouldn't have got without it.


Lowepro Ridge 10 Camera Case (Blue)
Lowepro Ridge 10 Camera Case (Blue)
Offered by Reel Distributions
Price: $9.94
8 used & new from $4.85

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fits Fuji F30, November 8, 2006
Happy with this bag so far. It fits my Fuji F30 snugly. Seems well made.


No Title Available

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hot coffee, no leaks, October 17, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had this vacuum bottle for two months now, and my experience has been only positive. I have experienced no leaks, coffee remains hot enough to enjoy drinking 6 hours later, and it is easy to use one handed. It is approximately the size of a bicycle water bottle, and will fit into many of the same holders, including the bottle pockets on my messenger bag. I've been pleasantly surprised as how little the coffee has stained the interior of the bottle and cover, especially since I haven't been meticulous about cleaning.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2011 7:01 PM PDT


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