The Imaging Resource
Olympus D-370 Digital Camera
Olympus has long been a dominant player in the traditional imaging market, with a wide array of consumer, scientific, and industrial products that range from 35mm cameras, to film scanners, microscopes, and even high-powered binoculars. Not surprisingly, Olympus has also made a strong showing in the digicam marketplace, building a diverse line of successful consumer and prosumer cameras, ranging from pure entry-level, point-and-shoot digicams to the excellent pro-level E-10 SLR. The Camedia D-370 is an entry level digicam, sporting a 1.3-megapixel CCD and fixed-focus, all-glass, wide-angle lens. Designed primarily for the beginning photographer, the D-370 leaves nothing to chance. Its fully automatic system requires very little user intervention and only a handful of creative options, including a QuickTime movie mode. Olympus has also incorporated two new key technologies in this model: a long-life battery circuit for extended battery power (the company claims hundreds of pictures while using the LCD and flash 50 percent of the time), and AutoConnect USB for fast connectivity to late-model computers, without the need for additional driver software. Both of these features are important for the consumer user. The extended battery life provides more hours of continuous performance from one set of batteries, and the automatic USB connection (quickly becoming a standard in the industry) means you can walk up to virtually any computer and immediately download and view your images.
The Camedia D-370 is a compact, easy to use, point-and-shoot digital camera, with a streamlined body design that is long on portability and light on weight (just over 8 ounces with batteries installed). The clamshell sliding lens cover protects the camera's front elements, making it an ideal design for stashing in deep pockets or a small purse, and toting inconspicuously on vacation, to family outings, or to social events. The focus-free lens is made of high-quality glass with a wide-angle view that is great for small group snapshots, local scenery, landscapes, and indoor activities where space is at a premium. Though it has limited resolution (1.3-megapixels), it's more than adequate for making 4 x 6-inch prints of the kids' pool party (to hand out to their friends) or for emailing pictures of Amy's first birthday to absentee family members. In short, it's a great "memory maker" for active teens and adults!
The D-370 has a fixed focal length lens, equivalent to a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera. Focus is also fixed, covering a range of approximately 2 feet (0.6 meters) to infinity in normal shooting mode. This is somewhat limiting in people photography, since its wide-angle view causes distortion in close-up shots (an effect you can see in our "Close-Up Portrait" test image). It also prevents you from zooming in on a faraway subject, like individual sports players or nature shots of wild animals. While the D-370 does have a 4x Digital Zoom, we don't recommend using it often, since it merely enlarges the center pixels of the camera's CCD, rather than magnifying the image optically, as is the case with a true optical zoom lens. The D-370 does provide a Macro switch next to the lens, which allows you to focus on subjects as close as 10 inches. For snapshots at a low price, the D-370 is fine. If you intend need a zoom lens, plan on spending about $100 more. (See the Olympus D-510 Zoom for a higher-end model with zoom.)
Exposure control on the D-370 is very straightforward, as the camera operates under automatic exposure at all times. Simply opening the clam shell cover turns it on and places it in the shooting mode, so it's very quick on the draw. It's focus free lens also means there's very little shutter lag from the time you press down on the Shutter button to the time the shutter actually fires. The majority of exposure options are controlled through the on-screen menu system, which means you need to navigate three pages of menu items if you want to change quality settings or make exposure adjustments. Aperture and shutter speed are automatically determined, but the user can control the Exposure Compensation (to lighten or darken the image), White Balance (to adjust the color), Metering (to read light from the whole frame or just the center), and Flash modes. The D-370's built-in flash is effective to approximately eight feet (2.5 meters) from the camera and includes a red-eye setting that reduces the occurrence of red-eye in portraits.
Along with simplicity and portability, the D-370 also offers some interesting (and fun) creative options. For example, you can record QuickTime movies (without sound) -- another great method for remembering special moments. A self-timer mode lets you mount the camera on a tripod, trip the shutter button, and zip around front to take your place in a group photo. There's also a Sequence Shooting option that works much like a motor drive on a professional 35mm SLR. You can capture eight or more high-quality images in quick succession by holding down the shutter button, assuming you have room for them on your memory card. When special Olympus SmartMedia storage cards are used, the D-370 can also record up to 10 consecutive images to blend into one panoramic image. After capture, images are downloaded to a computer and "stitched" together with the camera's bundled software. Finally, You can transform your full color images to sepia tone or black-and-white pictures through the camera's Playback menu.
The D-370 stores images either in the 2MB internal memory or on a 3.3v SmartMedia card (available as a separate accessory in capacities as large as 128MB). While the internal memory is nice to have as a backup, it can only store one or two high-quality images. We suggest buying at least a 16MB SmartMedia card (or larger) so you don't miss any important shots. The camera comes with a set of four single-use AA alkaline batteries, but can also use NiMH, lithium, or NiCd batteries, as well as two CR-V3 lithium-ion battery packs (sold as an accessory). Based on our test results, this camera really lives up to its promise of low power drain. Working from high-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries, we clocked over three hours of continuous operation in Shooting mode with the LCD on, almost limitless on-time with the LCD off, and more than four hours of continuous playback time. Very nice! Even with these impressive figures, we still recommend picking up an extra set of rechargeable batteries, and keeping a spare set freshly charged at all times. The optional AC adapter is recommended for time-consuming tasks such downloading images to a computer.
- 1.3-megapixel CCD.
- 2MB internal memory.
- Optical viewfinder.
- 1.5-inch color LCD display.
- All-glass, fixed-focal-length lens (equivalent to a 35mm lens).
- 4x Digital zoom.
- Automatic exposure control.
- Built-in flash.
- 2MB Internal memory
- SmartMedia Card Storage (Optional).
- Power supplied by four AA batteries or optional AC adapter.
- Olympus Camedia Master software (Version 2.5) for both Mac and Windows.
- QuickTime movies (without sound).
- Sequence (rapid-fire) shooting mode.
- Self-timer for delayed shutter release.
- Panorama mode for stitching together multiple images.
- Black-and-white and Sepia effects.
- Macro (close-up) lens adjustment.
- White balance (color) adjustment with five modes.
- Digital ESP (full frame) and Spot metering options.
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
- USB AutoConnect (no driver software needed)
The D-370 is a good-quality point-and-shoot digicam with just enough user options to handle most average shooting conditions. Its streamlined, compact design is clearly meant to go places, and image quality is perfect for making 4 x 6-inch photographic prints or sending e-mail attachments over the Internet. The D-370's limited external controls will keep the learning curve at a minimum, along with the simple-to-follow LCD menu system. The D-370 is an ideal starter digicam for families, teens, or young adults who want to get into digital photography without a major investment.
The Olympus D-370 employs the familiar sliding lens cover design that has become a trademark of consumer-level Olympus digicams. The molded plastic body keeps the D-370's weight down to just 0.4 pounds (190 grams) without batteries. Likewise, its long, thin dimensions are less bulky than previous models, measuring only 4.8 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches (123 x 65 x 44.5mm). The D-370 is a bit long for most shirt pockets, but it should slide easily into a coat pocket or purse, and the included wrist strap makes it quick on the draw and easy to hold onto.
On the front of the camera, you'll find the 35mm equivalent, fixed-focal-length lens, an optical viewfinder window, built-in flash, and the tiny self-timer lamp that counts down the 12-second delay before the shutter fires. Below the lens is a sliding Macro switch that positions a close-up lens over the normal lens (inside the camera). The clamshell sliding lens cover also serves as the power switch, activating the camera and placing it into Record (Shooting) mode. When opened, the cover provides a sculpted ridge near the right edge of the camera, which serves as a grip for your fingers as they wrap around the camera.
On the camera's right panel is the SmartMedia compartment and wrist strap attachment eyelet. The SmartMedia compartment door opens from the back of the camera and is hinged to the camera body so that it can open as wide as necessary to access the card. The central portion of the door hinge serves as the wrist strap eyelet.
On the opposite side of the camera are the DC In and USB jacks, covered by a long rubber strip that lifts up at either end to reveal the connectors. The center of the strip remains attached to the camera, so you can pull out the top or bottom ends as needed, without worrying about losing the protective cover.
The top of the D-370 is smooth and feature-free, with only the small silver Shutter button on the far right side.
The limited external controls are all located on the camera's rear panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and 1.5-inch LCD monitor. Adjacent to the viewfinder eyepiece, on the right side, is a single LED lamp that reports camera status. Control buttons on the rear panel include the Four Way Arrow pad, a Display button, and a Menu / OK button. Along the far right side of the rear panel is a gently sculpted groove that accommodates your thumb as you hold the camera in your right hand.
The D-370 has a very flat bottom panel, which holds the battery compartment door and plastic threaded tripod mount. The tripod mount is directly under the lens, too close to the battery compartment door to allow for quick battery changes while mounted on a tripod. The battery compartment has a sliding plastic door that's hinged on the left side. We found this door a little tricky to close at times, especially when loading batteries.
Because of the D-370's limited exposure control and small number of external buttons, the camera's user interface is very straightforward. Simply opening the lens cover places it in Shooting mode. Entering Playback mode is a little less obvious, but just as simple, as you only have to press the Display button on the back panel when the lens cover is closed. (Pressing the button twice while in Shooting mode also activates Playback mode.) A four-way Arrow pad on the back panel serves several functions, including Digital Zoom control, navigating through on-screen menus, and scrolling through captured images. The Menu / OK button activates menus and confirms menu selections, while pressing the Display button once turns the monitor off in Shooting mode.
The majority of the D-370's exposure options are controlled through the LCD menu system, which features about three pages of options. These are fairly easy to navigate, but they can also be quite time-consuming to change things like file size and image quality. Otherwise, we found the D-370 very uncomplicated and quick to learn -- for a novice user, you'll need about 30 minutes to an hour to become familiar with its operation.
Sliding Lens Cover: Protecting the lens on the front of the camera, this clamshell style sliding cover also serves as the power switch. Sliding the cover open turns the camera on and places it into Shooting (Record) mode. Likewise, closing the cover turns the camera off.
Macro Switch: Located under the lens on the front of the camera, the Macro button slides the close-up lens into place, changing the focus range from normal to macro shooting.
Shutter Button: The only control on the top panel, the Shutter button sets the camera's exposure when halfway depressed. Fully depressing the button triggers the shutter.
Four-Way Arrow Pad: Located in the center of the rear panel, each of the four arrows points in a different direction (up, down, left, right). In any mode, the arrow keys navigate through menu options.
In Record mode, the up and down arrows control the digital zoom. The right arrow button selects Flash modes.
In Playback mode, the right and left arrows scroll through captured images. The up and down arrows control the Playback Zoom, enlarging captured images on screen. The down arrow also accesses the Index Display mode.
Display Button: Just below and to the left of the Four-Way Arrow pad, this button controls the LCD monitor in Record mode, turning it on or off. If pressed twice quickly while in Record mode, this button accesses Playback mode.
When the lens cover is closed, pressing this button powers on the camera and places it in Playback mode. A second press of the button shuts off the camera (only while the lens cover is closed).
Menu / OK Button: Directly to the right of the Display button, this button calls up the settings menu in both Record and Playback modes. It also serves as the "OK" to confirm menu selections.
Camera Modes and Menus
Record Mode: Activated by sliding the lens cover open, this mode sets up the camera to take pictures. The following exposure and camera options are available through the Record menu:
- Exposure Compensation: Lightens or darkens the overall exposure from -2.0 to +2.0 exposure values (EV) in one-half-step increments. One full EV unit is 2x (twice as much) or 1/2x (half as much) as the light that would normally be let into the camera. One step of shutter speed or lens aperture equals one EV unit.
- Flash Mode: Sets the flash mode to Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Flash On, Flash Off, Night View, and Night View with Red-Eye Reduction.
- Drive: Controls the camera's shooting mode. Choices are Single frame, Self-Timer, Sequence Shooting, and Movie.
- Spot Metering: Turns the Spot Metering option on and off. Spot metering reads the exposure from the very center of the frame. When switched off, the camera uses Digital ESP, which reads the entire image frame to determine exposure. Spot metering is handy for backlit subjects, or any time the subject and background have very different brightness.
- Function: Enables the Panorama shooting mode, or any other special function provided by Olympus brand SmartMedia cards.
- White Balance: Adjusts the overall color balance of the image, based on the light source. Options include: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, or Fluorescent.
- Quality: Sets the image size and quality settings. Options are Super High Quality (SHQ) at 1,280 x 960 pixels; High Quality (HQ) at 1,280 x 960 pixels; Standard Quality 1 (SQ1) at 1,024 x 768 pixels, and Standard Quality 2 (SQ2) at 640 x 480 pixels. In Movie mode, options are HQ at 320 x 240 pixels, and SQ at 160 x 120 pixels.
- Format: Formats the SmartMedia card, erasing all files (even write-protected ones).
- Record View: Turns the instant image preview on or off. When activated, instant image preview displays the most recently recorded image for several seconds after you trip the shutter.
- Beep: Turns the camera's beep sounds on or off.
- LCD Brightness: Adjusts the brightness level of the LCD monitor display.
- Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
Playback Mode: Entered by pressing the Display button while the lens cover is closed, or by pressing the Display button twice quickly when the lens cover is open, this mode allows the user to review captured images. The following playback options are available through the Playback settings menu:
- Auto Playback: Starts an automated slide show of captured images on the internal drive or the SmartMedia card.
- Erase: Erases the currently displayed image, with an option to cancel.
- Protect: Write-protects (or removes protection) from the currently displayed image. Write-protection locks the image file so you can't accidentally erase it or change the file in any way (except by formatting the card).
- DPOF: Marks the currently displayed image, or all images on the card, for printing on a DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatible printer. You can also establish the number of prints or remove the print mark. Note that this setting is only available for images saved on the SmartMedia card.
- Info: Activates or cancels the more detailed image information screen.
- Index Display: Determines whether 4, 9, or 16 images are displayed on the Index Display screen.
- Black & White: Converts the currently displayed image to black-and-white and saves it as a new file.
- Sepia: Converts the currently displayed image to sepia tone, giving it the appearance of an old fashion picture, and saves the converted image as a new file.
- Resize: Allows you to resize the currently displayed image to a smaller resolution.
- Rotate: Rotates the currently displayed image 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise.
- Format: Formats the SmartMedia card, erasing all files (even write-protected ones).
- Beep: Turns the camera's beep sounds on or off.
- LCD Brightness: Adjust the brightness level of the LCD monitor display.
- Backup: Backup images from internal memory.
- Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
See our sample pictures and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of our test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.
See camera specifications here.
Cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc. can be found here.
- Color: Overall, color was very good on the D-370. The camera's automatic white balance system worked well in most situations, except for the "Indoor Portrait" test, when it had some trouble with the difficult incandescent lighting. By setting the White Balance to the Incandescent setting, we achieved good results though. Color was generally good, a little undersaturated, but quite accurate. There was no tendency to push blues into purples, which is the case with many digicams we've tested.
- Exposure: The D-370 performed well in the exposure category, recording bright clear images in most cases. We did observe a high level of "noise" in the shadow areas of outdoor pictures and in low-light situations. (Noise is made up of image artifacts present in the CCD and appears as grainy areas in the photograph.) The extreme tonal range of our "Far Field" picture (a house in bright sunlight) tricked the D-370 into overexposing the image slightly, so that it lost practically all of the fine detail in the sunny bay window trim. The camera fared only slightly better in the shadow areas of the porch on that shot, where the brick pattern is only faintly visible.
- Sharpness: Image sharpness is about average for a 1.3-megapixel camera, though we noticed some corner softness from the wide-angle lens. Optical distortion was also about average for 35mm equivalent lens, and chromatic aberration was very low, indicating good quality glass elements.
- Close-Ups: Because of its wide-angle lens and limited focusing range, the D-370's macro capabilities are very limited. The camera captures a rather large minimum area of 9.88 x 7.41 inches (251.01 x 188.26 mm). Color is good, but details are very soft. If macro shooting was a primary consideration for buying the camera (shooting small objects for eBay, for instance), the D-370 wouldn't be our first choice.
- Night Shots: The camera has very limited low-light capabilities, recording bright pictures at nighttime at only two foot-candles (22 lux) or higher, which is approximately twice as bright as a well-lit city street at night. (We prefer to see clear images down to at least one foot-candle.) Therefore, we don't recommend the D370 for taking available-light pictures at night or in low-lit interiors.
In the Box
Packaged with the D-370 are the following items:
- USB cable
- Four AA alkaline batteries
- Basic Manual and registration information
- Wrist strap
- Software CD
- SmartMedia card (at least 16MB)
- AC Adapter
- Two sets of rechargeable AA batteries and charger. (Click here to read about our recommended charger.)
- Small camera case for outdoor protection
The Olympus D-370 is clearly aimed at the entry-level point-and-shoot user. As such it does a good job of delivering good-quality, color-correct images with a minimum of hassle. It isn't the camera to use for low-light or macro shooting, but it really isn't intended to compete in those areas. It does a good job of meeting the needs of entry-level users, at a very affordable price. It also offers very good battery life, a feature we like to see in digicams, regardless of their price point.
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Olympus D-370, or add comments of your own!
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420