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Back to Full Olympus Brio D-150 Review
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Olympus Brio D-150

Olympus squeezes a 3x zoom lens into its slim, pocketable 1.3 megapixel "Brio" design.

Review First Posted: 7/11/2001



Click to Buy Now at EPC-Online!
MSRP $399 US

 

*
1.3-megapixel sensor, delivering 1,280 x 960 pixel images
*
Ultra-slim profile for a 3x zoom camera
*
Easy user interface
*
Excellent picture quality for a 1.3 megapixel digicam


Manufacturer Overview
Over the past several years, Olympus has been a dominant player in the digicam marketplace. It boasts one of the broadest digital camera lineups in the industry, with numerous models ranging from pure entry-level, point-and-shoot digicams to the incredible pro-level E-10 SLR. With the Brio Zoom D-150, Olympus has crafted an exceptionally sleek little 1.3-megapixel digicam that's the essence of pocketability. Better yet, it's added a 3x zoom lens and given up nothing in the image-quality department to achieve the small size. Just like its fixed-focus companion model, the Brio D-100, the Zoom D-150 displays excellent sharpness and color rendition, easily competing with more expensive models.


High Points



Executive Overview
Slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, the 1.3-megapixel Olympus Brio Zoom D-150 is nearly identical to its companion model, the Brio D-100, except for the addition of a 3x optical zoom lens. The camera measures just 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches (112 x 62 x 35mm), and slips easily into a shirt pocket or small purse. Its trim-line, all-plastic black body is accented with gold features, and weighs only 6.5 ounces (185 grams) without batteries. A sliding clamshell lens cover serves as the power switch, thus eliminating the need for a lens cap, while the limited external controls and menu options support the D-150's claims of "ultrafast point-and-shoot" design.

The D-150 offers both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.5-inch, 118,000-pixel, TFT color LCD monitor. When the LCD monitor is engaged, it automatically displays basic camera information, including the current image quality setting, number of available images, and battery status. The built-in, 5-15mm zoom lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera, and features both normal and macro shooting modes. Aperture is automatically controlled, with an f/2.5-5 range in wide-angle mode and f/4.3-9 in telephoto mode. A through-the-lens autofocus system uses contrast-detection to determine optimum exposure. The D-150 also offers a 2x digital zoom for enlarging images, however readers are reminded that digital zoom inherently decreases overall image quality.

The D-150's simple, point-and-shoot design employs a Digital ESP metering system, which averages readings from the center of the frame to determine exposure. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second, limiting the camera's low-light shooting capabilities. The user can adjust exposure compensation from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV), in one-half-step increments, providing a simple method of overriding the autoexposure system. Also under user control is the camera's White Balance setting, which offers Auto, Clear Sky, Cloudy Sky, Incandescent Lamp, and Fluorescent Lamp settings. The built-in flash operates in either Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In, Forced Off, or Night Scene modes, extending the camera's low-light shooting range slightly. There's also a 12-second Self-Timer and a Continuous Shooting mode for capturing a rapid series of images.

The Olympus D-150 ships with an 8MB SmartMedia memory card for image storage (larger capacity cards are available separately). Images are saved as JPEGs with three image quality settings available: Super High Quality, High Quality, and Standard Quality. Both Super High and High Quality settings record at the 1,280 x 960-pixel resolution size, while Standard Quality records at the 640 x 480-pixel resolution size. You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and if you want a larger monitor for image playback, Olympus also supplies a video output cable for connection to a television set. Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master 2.5 utility package, which provides minor organization and editing tools, in addition to USB drivers for Mac and Windows systems.

The D-150 is clearly intended for those consumers who want an easy-to-use digicam that requires very little user intervention to produce good quality pictures. By eliminating the need for detailed decision making, exposure control, and other extraneous features, the D-150 provides the freedom to simply turn on the camera and shoot. Its small size makes the camera very portable, and its uncomplicated user interface ensures a very short learning curve.


Design
Measuring a mere 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches (112 x 62 x 35mm), and weighing only 6.5 ounces (185 grams) without the battery or SmartMedia card, the Olympus Brio Zoom D-150 joins the fixed-focus D-100 as the two smallest digicams released to date (June 2001) in the Olympus Camedia line. The attractive black casing is made of a rugged molded plastic, with gold tone accents that give it a touch of class. Although the D-150 is small enough to slip into any pocket or purse, a braided nylon wrist strap provides a little added security.



The front of the D-150 is smooth and simple, with a sliding clamshell lens cover that powers on the camera when opened, exposing the lens, built-in flash, self-timer lamp, and optical viewfinder window. When opened, the lens cover slides over the SmartMedia compartment door, preventing you from removing the card until you shut down the camera.



The right side of the camera houses the SmartMedia slot compartment and the wrist strap attachment rod (which is part of the SmartMedia door hinge). The compartment door opens from the camera's front by sliding your thumb into a recessed latch and pulling back on the plastic door. When closed, the SmartMedia door snaps firmly into place. There is no eject button for the SmartMedia card, you simply pull the card out with your fingers. A diagram on the inside of the slot door shows how to load the card (gold electrodes going in first, facing the back of the camera).



On the opposite side of the camera is the connector jack compartment, covered by a soft, rubber-like flap. When opened, the flap remains attached to the camera by a flexible rubber tab, which is easily bent back and out of the way to make room for attaching the cables. Inside the compartment are the USB, Video Out, and DC In jacks.



A goldtone Shutter button and small gray Zoom lever are the only two controls on the camera's top panel, positioned on the far right side.



The few external camera controls are all located on the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and 1.5-inch LCD monitor. Control buttons include the Menu / OK, Display, and Arrow rocker pad (which also controls the Flash and Macro modes). Two LED lamps next to the optical viewfinder eyepiece report the camera's status. The top one blinks orange when the flash is charging and glows steadily when the flash is charged. The green LED lamp on the bottom glows steadily when focus and exposure are set, and flashes when the autofocus system is having trouble. (If both lights flash together, the batteries are low.)

A plastic, threaded tripod mount is located on the right side of the D-150's bottom panel, adjacent to the battery compartment door. They are much too close to allow quick battery changes while the camera is mounted on a tripod, a feature to which we pay close attention when recording our studio test shots, but that's probably a non-issue for the average consumer. More pertinent for most folks is that the tripod socket is plastic: We much prefer to see metal, for durability. The battery compartment door slides forward before opening outward, exposing the battery slot, which accommodates either a CR-V3 lithium battery pack or two AA batteries.


Viewfinder
The D-150 offers a real-image optical viewfinder and a color LCD monitor for composing images. When the camera is powered off and the lens cover is fully closed, both the lens and optical viewfinder window are covered to obstruct the photographer's view. An autofocus / autoexposure crosshair is imprinted in the center of the viewfinder display, to help line up shots. Two LED lamps on the left side of the viewfinder eyepiece indicate when the flash is charging or charged (top orange lamp), as well as when the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms are set (bottom green lamp). Though the D-150 doesn't offer a diopter adjustment, it has a moderately high eyepoint, which should accommodate the majority of eyeglass wearers.


The 1.5-inch, color TFT LCD monitor is turned on and off by the Display button next to the LCD monitor. An information display reports the image quality setting and number of available images in the lower left corner of the LCD, as well as the Flash, Self-Timer, Macro, Exposure Compensation, Drive mode, and White Balance settings, when engaged. A green battery icon displays temporarily in the top center of the monitor when it's switched on, reporting the current level of battery power, and a telephoto / wide-angle range indicator appears on the right side of the monitor when Digital Zoom is engaged and the Zoom lever is pushed past the maximum optical telephoto range.

The LCD monitor does not include a backlight for sunny shooting conditions, so we found it a little difficult to see the full image in bright sunlight. However, the settings menu features an LCD brightness adjustment, which increases and decreases the monitor's contrast level. In Playback mode, the LCD monitor offers a nine-image index display mode, as well as a 2x playback zoom for enlarging captured images. To conserve battery power, the monitor automatically shuts down 60 seconds after the camera becomes idle.

In our tests, the D-150Zoom's optical viewfinder was a little tight, at 89% frame coverage, but better than average. By contrast, the LCD viewfinder checked out at a near-perfect 98%.


Optics
The D-150's 3x, 5-15mm zoom lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera. The 3/8-inch telescoping lens is protected by the sliding plastic clamshell cover, which also serves as the camera's power switch. The all glass lens is made up of eight elements in seven groups, with aperture settings ranging from f/2.5-5 in wide-angle mode and f/4.3-9 in telephoto mode. Focal range is 1.6 feet (50cm) to infinity in Normal mode, and from 8 inches to 1.6 feet (20 to 50cm) in Macro mode. The D-150 employs a contrast-detection autofocus mechanism, determining focus from the subject in the center of the frame. Although there is no automatic focus lock, you can manually lock focus by pressing the shutter button halfway with your subject in the center of the frame, and then recompose the image while continuing to hold down the shutter button). A green LED lamp on the optical viewfinder eyepiece glows steadily when the camera has set focus and exposure, and is ready to take the shot. If the LED lamp blinks, the camera is having trouble setting focus, and you need to adjust the framing, lighting, or switch to Macro mode.

The D-150 also offers a 2x digital telephoto option, which is turned on in the Record menu and automatically engages when you exceed the optical zoom's maximum telephoto range. (Users should be aware that digital zoom merely crops and enlarges the center portion of the CCD, resulting in higher image noise and / or softer resolution in digitally enlarged images.) Since it doesn't reduce the pixel size of the image at all the D-150's digital zoom produces images with more artifacts and noise than cameras that just crop the image. - It's really "six of one, a half-dozen of the other" with most any "digital zoom" though, as they all directly trade off resolution for magnification.


Exposure
The D-150 operates in programmed automatic exposure mode, with limited external controls and LCD-based menu options. The camera's Digital ESP metering system determines the exposure by taking several exposure readings from the center of the image area and averaging them together to calculate the best overall exposure. Though you can't change the metering area, you can manually lock the exposure (and focus) by aiming the camera at the subject you want metered, halfway pressing the Shutter button, then recomposing the shot while keeping the Shutter button halfway pressed. This locks the exposure and focus until the Shutter button is fully depressed or released. Manually locking the exposure works well with high-contrast subjects, where you want to base the exposure on either highlights or dark areas.

The D-150 offers an aperture range from f/2.4 to f/9, depending on the zoom setting, and a range of shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second. You can lighten or darken exposures by adjusting the Exposure Compensation setting from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-half-step increments. White balance is also manually adjustable, with Auto, Clear Sky, Cloudy Sky, Incandescent Lamp, and Fluorescent Lamp options to match a variety of light sources. The majority of camera settings are controlled through the Record settings menu, activated by pressing the Menu / OK button on the back panel. (If the monitor is off, activating the settings menu will turn the LCD monitor on. Likewise, deactivating the menu will turn the LCD off.)

A 12-second Self-Timer mode is activated through the Record settings menu. Once in Self-Timer mode, a full press of the Shutter button triggers the countdown. A red LED lamp on the front of the camera lights steadily for the first 10 seconds, then blinks for the remaining two. Once the timer starts, the only way to cancel it is to shut the camera off by closing the lens cover.


Flash
The D-150 features a built-in flash with five operating modes (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In Flash, Night Scene, and Flash Off), and a working range from 8 inches to 11.5 feet (0.2 to 3.5 meters) at the wide-angle setting. The right arrow key on the camera's back panel changes the Flash mode, or you can use the LCD menu system. The Auto flash mode fires the flash based on the existing exposure conditions. Red-Eye Reduction mode fires a series of small pre-flashes before firing the full flash, to reduce the occurrence of red-eye effect (a reflection of the flash from the subject's pupils). Fill-In Flash mode triggers the flash with every exposure, regardless of shooting conditions. Flash Off completely disables the flash. Finally, Night Scene mode works with a slower shutter speed, allowing more ambient light into an image. Night Scene is good for photographing subjects in front of colorful night scenes, where the flash properly exposes the subject and the longer shutter speed helps retain the background color.

Sequential Shooting
Available through the Record settings menu, the Sequential Shooting mode captures a series of images at short intervals, for as long as the Shutter button is held down. The actual number of recordable images varies, depending on the amount of SmartMedia space available. The shot-to-shot cycle time also varies, depending on the amount of image information being recorded and the available buffer memory. Sequential Shooting mode stores each image in the buffer upon capture. Once the Shutter button is released, or the camera runs out of memory, the recorded images are transferred to the SmartMedia card. Exposure and White Balance are set with the first image in the series, and the flash is not available.


Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time is to allow the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it using an Imaging Resource proprietary test system. 

Olympus Brio D-150Zoom Timings
Operation
Time (secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
 4.6
About average.
Shutdown
2.4
Fairly fast.
Play to Record, first shot
1.4
Quite fast
Record to play (max/min res)
2.0/1.1
Pretty fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.1
A bit slower than average overall, average to faster than average for its price class.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.38
Average to slightly slower than average.
Cycle time, large/fine files
3.0
Very fast, same speed no matter how many shots. (Not buffer-dependent.)
Cycle time, small/basic files
2.9
Quite fast.


Overall, the Brio D-150Zoom is a pretty speedy little camera, living up to its billing as an "Ultra Fast Point & Shoot". Cycle times are very fast, at 3 seconds shot to shot for maximum-quality files. Shutter lag in autofocus is a little slow when compared to the digicam field as a whole, but average to faster than average for its price range. Prefocus shutter lag (shots taken by half-pressing and holding the shutter button prior to the shot itself) is average to a bit slower than average. Overall, a zippy little camera!


Operation and User Interface
The D-150's operation is very simple and straightforward thanks to a limited number of user controls. The majority of Record features are controlled through the settings menu, except for the Optical Zoom, which is controlled with the small Zoom lever next to the Shutter button. Macro and Flash modes can also be controlled by pressing the Up and Right arrow keys (respectively) on the camera's four-way Arrow Pad. The LCD Record menu is fairly uncomplicated, with only three pages of options to scroll through. The camera's point-and-shoot design maintains the automatic exposure control, with only Exposure Compensation and White Balance adjustments available to override the camera's settings. While we normally like to see as many external controls as possible, the D-150's size limits the number of buttons that can be included. The sliding lens cover makes activating the camera very quick and easy, and eliminates the worry of holding onto a lens cap. We think most users won't have any trouble learning to use the D-150, and the multi-lingual manual (though brief) should answer any questions.

Sliding Lens Cover: Sliding horizontally across the front of the camera, this clamshell design plastic lens cover powers on the camera when slid open and automatically places it in Record mode. Likewise, closing the cover turns the camera off. The Playback mode is activated by closing the cover fully or partially, and pressing the Display button.


Shutter Button: Located on top of the camera, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed. When fully pressed, the Shutter button triggers the shutter to open and close, making an exposure.


Zoom Lever: Next to the Shutter button on top right side of the camera, the Zoom lever magnifies the viewfinder scene by 3x in Record mode when pulled toward the right ("T" symbol) and returns to normal magnification when pushed all the way to the left ("W" symbol). When the Digital Zoom option is turned on in the camera's Record menu, pulling the Zoom lever to the right, past the maximum optical telephoto setting engages the 2x digital zoom. In Playback mode, pushing the Zoom lever to the left changes the image review to Index mode (four images with one push, and nine images with the second push). Pulling the Zoom lever to the right enlarges the single-image display by two times, for closer inspection of details.


Arrow Pad (Macro and Flash Buttons): This series of four arrow buttons, positioned around a raised circular pad, is located on the right side of the LCD monitor. At the base level, these arrow buttons allow the user to navigate through menu options in either Record or Playback mode, or scroll through captured images in Playback mode. The Up arrow is marked with a Macro flower symbol. When pressed once, this button pulls up the Macro menu option. Pressing it a second time changes the Macro setting to On or Off. The Right arrow button is marked with a lightning bolt, and controls the built-in flash's operating mode. When pressed once, the button pulls up the Flash menu option. Each subsequent press of the Flash button changes the flash setting in the on-screen menu.


Menu / OK Button: Positioned below the Arrow Pad on the right side, this button calls up the LCD menu display when pressed. (If the LCD monitor is switched off, pressing this button activates the display.) When making menu selections, this button serves as the "OK" button to confirm menu choices.


Display Button: Directly to the left of the Menu / OK button, the Display button controls the LCD monitor, turning it on or off. If pressed and held down when the lens cover is closed (fully or partially), this button powers on the camera and places it in Playback mode. Pressing it again turns the camera off. Pressing the button twice quickly while in Record mode allows you to scroll through captured images (a third press returns the camera to Record mode).


Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Accessed by sliding open the lens cover, Record mode sets up the camera for capturing images. Exposure is under automatic control. Pressing the Menu / OK button displays the following menu options:



Playback Mode: Playback mode is entered by holding down the Display button while the camera is off (with the lens cover fully or partially closed), or by pressing the Display button twice quickly while in Record mode. You can scroll through images using the Left and Right Arrow buttons, with on-screen information for each image displayed briefly, including the date and time it was recorded and the image number. Using the Playback menu, images can be deleted, protected, set up for printing on a DPOF device, or played back automatically in a slide show. Pressing the Menu / OK button pulls up the following settings menu:



Image Storage and Interface
The D-150 stores all images on a 3.3v SmartMedia card, and an 8MB card is supplied with the camera. Currently, you can upgrade to card sizes as large as 128MB. The SmartMedia slot on the camera's right side is protected by a hinged, plastic door. When the lens cover is fully opened, it covers up the SmartMedia door, making it impossible to remove the card when the camera is on. SmartMedia cards insert into the camera with the gold electrodes going in first, facing the back of the camera (a diagram on the inside of the door shows the process). To remove the card, you simply pull it out of the slot with your fingers.

The D-150 stores images in a compressed JPEG file format, with a variety of resolutions and quality settings available. Compression levels are Super High Quality (SHQ), High Quality (HQ), and Standard Quality (SQ). Both SHQ and HQ compression levels record images at 1,280 x 960-pixel resolution, while the SQ setting records images at the 640 x 480-pixel resolution.

The D-150 allows you to write-protect individual images from accidental erasure through the Playback menu. Entire SmartMedia cards can be write-protected by placing a write-protection sticker over a specified spot on the card. While individually protected images can still be erased by a card format operation, cards that are write-protected with a sticker are also protected against card formatting. Write-protection stickers can only be used once and must be clean to be effective (a set of stickers accompany the SmartMedia card).

The table below summarizes the compression ratios and number of images that can be stored on the included 8MB memory card with each size / quality combination.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
8MB Memory Card
Super High Quality
High Quality
Standard Quality
High Resolution
(1280 x 960)
Images 8 24
N/A
Approx.
Compression
4:1 11:1
N/A
Standard Resolution
(640 x 480)
Images
N/A
N/A
82
Approx.
Compression
N/A
N/A
9:1


The D-150 comes with Camedia Master 2.5, USB drivers, and cables for both Mac and Windows computers. The D-150's AutoConnect USB technology enables you to download images directly to PCs running the latest operating systems, including Windows 2000 / Me and Mac OS 8.6 or higher, without drivers or software installed. We clocked the D-150's transfer speed at 233 KBytes/sec on our PowerMac G4, a respectable if not stunning speed. The good news though, is that with a speedy USB connection built into the camera, you won't need to buy an external card reader. And, if your computer has a recent enough operating system (Windows 2000 or Me or Mac 8.6 or later), you won't even have to worry about separate software drivers: Just plug and go!

One of the first things any new digicam owner will need is a larger memory card for their camera: The cards shipped with the units by the manufacturers should really be considered only "starter" cards, you'll definitely want a higher capacity card immediately. - Probably at least a 32 megabyte card for a 1.3 or 2 megapixel camera, 64 megabytes or more for a 3, 4, or 5 megapixel one. (The nice thing about memory cards is you'll be able to use whatever you buy now with your next camera too, whenever you upgrade.) To help you shop for a good deal on memory cards that fit the D-150, we've put together a little memory locater, with links to our price-comparison engine: Just click on the "Memory Wizard" button above to go to the Olympus memory finder, select your camera model , and click the shopping cart icon next to the card size you're interested in. You'll see a list of matching entries from the price-comparison database. Pick a vendor & order away! (Pretty cool, huh?)
Video Out
The D-150 has a Video Out port which supports the NTSC timing format. (PAL systems are available for European customers.) The video output can be used for reviewing previously captured images, or running slide shows from the camera.


Power
The D-150 is powered by a single CR-V3 lithium battery pack, two AA batteries (alkaline, lithium, NiMH, or NiCd), or by an optional AC adapter that can significantly extend battery life if you're doing a lot of downloads on the computer, or working in a studio environment. An auto shutoff feature turns the camera off after a period of inactivity (the camera is reactivated with a press of the Shutter button).

Whenever the LCD monitor is activated, a small green battery icon in the top center of the monitor display flashes briefly to report the battery status. The battery icon turns red and is cut in half when the battery is partially drained, and when it is very low, both the orange and green LED lamps on the side of the optical viewfinder eyepiece flash in unison. The ability to turn off the LCD monitor should save on battery power, but we highly recommend picking up a spare battery pack as a backup.

Operating Mode
Power
(@ 3v)
Est. Minutes
(1500mA NiMH)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
840 mA
86
Capture Mode, no LCD
180 mA
400
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
850 mA
85
Half-pressed w/o LCD
440 mA
164
Memory Write (transient)
n/a
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1260 mA
n/a
Image Playback
510 mA
141
Sleep Mode
170 mA
424


Usually, when we see a "dual-AA battery" camera like the D150, we wince, expecting woefully short run times. We were thus quite pleased with the power consumption numbers we found for the D-150Zoom. It looks like Olympus is getting a handle on power consumption, more so than most digicam makers. While we still strongly recommend buying several sets of high-capacity rechargeable NiMH batteries, the D-150Zoom actually runs for a reasonable amount of time on a pair of NiMH AA cells. (And it accepts Olympus' CR-V3 Lithium cells for a nice backup power solution. - The CR-V3s are really too expensive in our opinion to be used for routine operation, but their shelf life is measured in years, and they provide a lot of power. Very nice to carry in your camera bag as a "just in case" backup when your rechargeables run out of juice at a critical moment.)

About Batteries
We've gotten so many emails about power issues for digicams, that we're now inserting this standard notice in the reviews of all AA-powered cameras on our site: Don't even *think* about using alkaline AA batteries in a digicam! Despite their being packed in the box with many cameras, they simply don't have the juice to handle typical digicam demands. (Even the "high power" ones the battery manufacturers say are designed for devices like digital cameras.) Spend the $35-40 or so it takes to get a set (or two) of high-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good charger! The few dollars up front will save you literally hundreds of dollars in the long run, not to mention the hassle of wimpy batteries running out in the middle of the action. We suggest you buy two sets of batteries, so one can always be in the charger, ready to go, and so have two sets available for longer excursions. Good brands of batteries include Maha (our favorite), GP, Kodak, and Nexcell. Also, buy the highest capacity AAs the manufacturer makes, the few extra dollars for the extra capacity is usually well worth it. Getting a good charger is critical though, almost more so than buying good batteries. We recommend the Maha C-204F (see the photo at right), the charger we use the most in our own studio. - Read our review of it for all the details. Or, just click here to buy one, you won't regret it.


Included Software
A USB cable and software CD accompany the D-150, allowing you to quickly connect to a computer and download images. The CD contains Olympus' own software, Camedia Master 2.5, compatible with Windows 95/98/98SE/Me/2000/NT4.0 and Mac OS 8.6-9.0.4 systems. USB drivers for both platforms are also included. Camedia Master allows you to download and organize images, as well as perform minor image correction and enhancement functions (such as adjusting contrast, sharpness, and color balance). A complete printing utility works with the Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) settings, allowing you to print images directly to Olympus or other DPOF-compliant photo printers.


In the Box
Packaged with the D-150 are the following items:



Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the D150's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the D150 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, the D150 produced good quality shots, with an accurate color balance the majority of the time. The camera's White Balance system handled a variety of light sources well, with the Auto setting providing the most accurate results in most instances. Color balance looked pretty good on our Davebox target, though saturation is just a tad low. The D150 also did well with the blue flowers in our Outdoor Portrait, though skin tones were slightly orange. Throughout our testing however, the D150 does a good job.

Resolution on the D150 on our "laboratory" resolution test chart is about average for a 1.3 megapixel camera, with (very subtle) artifacts showing in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 250 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. Alternatively, we found "strong detail" out to at least 600 - 650 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 750 lines. Overall, a good performance, although the details seemed a little soft. (The detail was there, but the image wasn't quite as crisp as some we've seen.)

Optical distortion on the D150 is pretty high at the wide angle end, where we measured an approximate 1.21 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared better, as we measured a 0.32 percent barrel distortion. That said, chromatic aberration was quite low, with only two or three faint pixels of coloration visible along the target lines. Other than the high barrel distortion, it looks like the D-150 has a good lens.

The D150's lack of exposure control gave it some trouble in the low-light arena, as the camera provided usable images only down to about two foot-candles (about twice as bright as a well-lit city street at night). It could capture images quite a bit darker than that (as far as 1/4 foot-candle), but the noise levels increase and the image is very dim. We also felt that the flash tended to underexpose shots even when the subject was in range.

The D150's optical viewfinder is a little tight (but a bit better than average), showing approximately 89 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 89 percent at telephoto (though at the telephoto setting, our left measurement line is cut off). The LCD monitor fares much better, showing approximately 98 percent of the image area at wide angle and telephoto. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D150's LCD viewfinder performs well here. Flash distribution is fairly even in the center of the frame at wide angle, though there's a fair amount of falloff at the corners of the frame. At the telephoto setting, flash distribution is very even.

With good resolution, and detail, the D150 performs well in the macro category and captures a minimum area of just 2.51 x 1.88 inches (63.81 x 47.86 millimeters). Corner softness is evident at all four corners, and color is a little warm. The D150's flash throttles down nicely for the macro area though, producing good exposures, even at the minimum focusing distance.

Despite slightly understated in-camera image sharpening, the D150 did a good job throughout our testing. Color is pretty accurate in most cases, and the camera captures a good level of detail for a 1.3 megapixel camera. The automatic exposure control limits the camera's low-light performance, however, the D150 should handle most average (daylight) shooting conditions just fine.


Conclusion
The D-150's small size makes it easy to carry along on just about any outing, fitting easily into shirt pockets, purses, or even hip pouches (great for hikers), and Olympus did a great job at miniaturizing the optical design, managing to squeeze a 3x zoom lens into a very slim profile. The point-and-shoot design is very easy to use, with no adjustments necessary to make good overall exposures. The camera makes all of the exposure decisions, leaving you the option to change image size and quality, white balance, and exposure compensation. A little weak on nighttime shooting, the D-150 nonetheless handles daylight shooting conditions very well, making it a nice option for consumers on a budget who want to take good-quality pictures without puzzling over details. Overall, a very nice "pocketable" digicam.


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