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TCON-300S, SA1 & SA2 Support Arms (Updated Review; February 27, 2003))

The TCON-300S is not just an ordinary add-on for a digital camera. This lens will take your E-10 from the standard maximum zoom length of 140mm to a nice 420mm. What's unique about this attachment to the E-10 (unlike other lens attachments), is that it is not threaded at the end that connects to the E-10. You just slide your E-10 into the tight-fitting rubber glove (as you see can see in the above picture), attach the support arm, and you're set to go. Now, you might be thinking that unwanted little bits of light may find its way into the rubber seal, and I first was worried about this myself. However, the rubber ring fits very tight and snug. I do need to mention that there may be just a very little bit of manuevering room, between the TCON-300 and the E-10. It takes a few times, but eventually, they can be conformed to a snug fit. It all has to do with tightening of the attachments in-sync, and not tightening down one all the way, and then the next one. I'm not sure why the TCON-300S is not threaded at the connecting end. Maybe Olympus is discouraging other cameras from being attached to the TCON-300S? Hmmm.

Alright, so let's discuss whether or not you should fork out 5 big bills for this sucker (now, if you live outside of the United States, this will cost you a lot more). Are you a Macro kinda person or are you the kind of person that just loves to zoom on objects that are far away? For me, the answer is: Both. In addition, you can use the TCON-300 as a Macro lens if you're clever. I think having the TCON-300S is a good investment. Why? Well, this is an accessory that still sells for about as much as what you paid for it, which is rare with camera accessories these days, because camera accessories are the biggest depreciation area of digital photography, especially with proprietary accessories such as the TCON-300. Since you purchased an E-10, you made a great step in digital photography already, even though there are newer and "better" cameras on the market. To be honest, I was not going to get the TCON-300S. I really couldn't afford it, and I was thinking to myself, "Why do I need this thing?"

After looking at the many photos presented by professional and even amateur photographers, it became clear to me this accessory, although the most expensive, was worth getting. In situations where you just cannot get as close as you would like, the TCON-300S steps in as the distance reducer. The TCON-300S is a prime candidate for major events or areas where there are a lot of people around a particular situation, and you just cannot physically get in there with them. If there is a fence between you and the object, whip that TCON-300S out and do your duty (although being careful to avoid vignetting that occurs when you shot through a diamond chain-link fence, or the like).

I should say at this point that there is still a little disagreement amongst E-10 owners who cannot justify getting a TCON-300S. And I can understand them completely. And when you read further, you may think I was crazy for getting the TCON-300S.

Ok, so now you've decided to get the TCON-300S. Take a look at the support arm above, which is supporting the the TCON-300 lens and the E-10. If you already have (or plan on getting) the B-30LPS Lipo Battery Grip set (or the newer B-32LPS Set that has double the power longevity), you will have to get another support arm. I think it would have been nice if Olympus would have made a single support arm, which was adaptable for use with the LiPo Battery Grip AND without the grip. This is one of the few, but major peeves (the other one being low shutter speed) I have discovered with the E-10. Unfortunately, we can do nothing about it. By the time a person sends an email to Olympus and informs them of their idiotic development team, the E-10000 will have been released in the year 2092. Alrighty then, let's check out the second Support Arm, which is aptly called, the TCON-SA2....

Nothing much to say here, except for the fact that it's an extra $175 or so. If you already have the B-30LPS LiPo Battery set, then you'll definitely need this is if you plan on getting a TCON-300S. I should mention that this whole contraption, when assembled, reminds me of an exotic missle launcher you would see on the shoulders of a foreign terrorist. Enough said on that, just try to get by airport security with this thing. You'll be asked, "Hey mister, what's that you got there?" And you'll respond, "Why, it's just an E-10 with a TCON attachment, that's all." And airport security says, "E-10? What's that? A SAM Launcher? Come with me please, sir..."

I'm really irritated that this piece of metal is $175. After all, it's only a support arm. There is nothing that comes with it (except for an empty case to carry your TCON-300S--which is a good thing). If you have a Lipo Battery Grip, you might want to seriously consider it. If there's a really talented craftsman out there, work on an integrated and lightweight plastic support arm for the E-10!

Taking a look back (February 27, 2003)

After owning the TCON-300S and going with a different camera system, I would like to add a few comments to the above. One of the problems I had, was the time-frame it took to attach and unattach the zoom lens from the E-10. Since there is no actual mount for the lens, its sole support, is the SA1 or SA2 Arm. A little over a year ago, I took a trip through Nevada and Utah, and had the chance to take some photos of wildlife. One of the major problems I encountered, was attaching the lens to get a close-up, and then taking off the lens, if the wildlife was relatively close to me. This can be very frustrating, and I recommend that this lens not be used for quick-action situations, because more than likely, your subject will have gone out of view. I'm not saying to avoid purchasing this lens, but a person should be aware of the limitations the TCON-300 has, because of its design.

Another problem is achieving correctly-focused photos. While I have taken many sharp photos with the TCON-300, there are just too many that were OOF (Out Of Focus). The TCON-300 lens itself is a very wide-open aperture lens, and my problem was the E-10 not focusing. While I took perfect photos with the E-10 without the lens accessory, for some reason it had a slight problem focusing with the TCON-300 attached to it. I used the 14B lens as well and had no problems.

It is too bad that Olympus did not construct a better design for the zoom lens, because I would have used it a lot more. A few other situations that presented themselves were the fact that carrying the accessory lens along on a shoot, was very tedious. You can't just put the lens in your camera bag and whip it out and attach it to your E-10 when the opportunity arises.