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Olympus Camedia D-40 Zoom

Super-compact 4 megapixel model takes great pictures!

Review First Posted: 10/8/2001



Click to Buy Now at EPC-Online!
MSRP $799 US

 

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4 megapixel sensor for images to 2288 x 1712 pixels
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2.8x optical zoom lens
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QuickTime movies with sound
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Powered by dual AAs or CR-V3 lithium battery


Manufacturer Overview
Over the past several years, Olympus has been a dominant player in the digicam marketplace. With one of the broadest digital camera lineups in the industry, their models range from pure entry-level, point-and-shoot digicams to the incredible pro-level E-10 SLR. The Camedia D-40 Zoom is the second 4-megapixel model in Olympus' very popular line of Camedia digital cameras -- expanding its already broad range of consumer- and advanced-amateur digicams to a new, high-end prosumer level.

Whereas the earlier C-4040Zoom focused on maximum photographic capabilities, the C-40Zoom aims for a very compact form factor, while giving up relatively few of the powerful features of the 4040 before it. (The main omission relative to the 4040 is an external flash connector.) The net result is an eminently "pocketable" four megapixel digicam, delivering sharp, colorful photos in a take-anywhere package.


High Points


Executive Overview
The 4-megapixel Camedia D-40 Zoom is the smallest 4-megapixel digital camera to date (October 2001). Measuring just 3.4 x 2.7 x 1.6 inches (87 x 68.5 x 43.5mm) and weighing only 9 ounces (250 grams) with the batteries and SmartMedia card installed, the D-40 is only slightly larger than the D-370, Olympus' very compact 1.3-megapixel point-and-shoot model. Its compact size and sliding lens cover design make the D-40 very portable and easy to carry around, fitting easily into just about any shirt pocket or purse. Its sophisticated exposure system provides a wide variety of shooting options, from a fully automatic point-and-shoot mode for novice photographers, to five manual, user customized modes for more advanced users, and five programmed scene modes optimized for specific shooting situations. In addition to flexible exposure, the D-40Z also features Olympus's new Enhanced Color Management technology, which is designed to produce better skin tones in portraits, brighter blues and greens in landscapes, and lower noise levels in long exposures.

The D-40Z features a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch TFT color LCD monitor, with 114,000-pixels, for image composition. A black autoexposure cross-hair target in the center of the viewfinder aids in framing shots. The LCD monitor provides a slightly larger and (notably) more accurate view of the subject area, and features both limited and expanded information displays. A sliding clamshell lens cover protects the 7.25 - 20.3mm 2.8x aspherical glass zoom lens (equivalent to a 35 - 98mm lens on a 35mm camera), the viewfinder window, and built-in flash, plus it also serves as a power switch, turning the camera on when it's opened and shutting it down when it's closed. Focus ranges from 31 inches (0.8 meters) to infinity in normal shooting mode and 3.9 inches (0.1 meters) to infinity in Manual focus mode. When the Macro mode is engaged, focus ranges from 3.9 to 31 inches (0.1 - 0.8 meters) at the wide-angle setting and from 9.8 to 31 inches (0.25 - 0.8 meters) at the maximum telephoto. In addition to the 2.8x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to 2.5x with the Digital Zoom, depending on the image resolution size. (Users should be aware that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom, since the digital zoom is merely cropping and enlarging the center portion of the CCD. As a result, digitally enlarged images often result in higher image noise and/or softer resolution.)

When the LCD monitor is engaged in any shooting mode, it by default displays detailed exposure information, with the current exposure mode, f/stop setting, shutter speed, and exposure compensation listed across the top of the monitor (a nice feature not found on all digicams) and the number of images available in the current resolution setting, a memory gauge showing the amount of space left in its buffer memory (a help in fast-paced shooting conditions), and an MF icon when Manual Focus is engaged, at the bottom of the monitor. Additional information is displayed temporarily when operating the camera's buttons or Mode dial, indicating ISO, quality setting, resolution, and function icons when engaged (i.e.: flash, macro, self-timer, etc.). A distance display shows focus distance in feet or meters when using the Manual Focus option, as well as a separate Zoom bar that shows the camera's 2.5x optical zoom in operation, and the Digital Zoom progress, when you zoom past the optical telephoto limit.

Unlike lower-end, point-and-shoot Olympus digicams, the D-40 Zoom offers a great deal of exposure control, including Spot and Digital ESP metering modes, and Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Speed Priority (S), and Manual (M) exposure modes. Spot metering takes the exposure reading from the very center of the image frame, while Digital ESP metering (the default mode) takes readings from throughout the image frame and averages them to determine the best possible exposure. Program mode controls both aperture and shutter speed, with exposure times as long as 16 seconds. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you control over aperture or shutter speed, while the camera chooses the best corresponding settings. Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8.0 at wide-angle and from f/4.8 to f/8.0 at maximum telephoto, adjustable in one-third steps, while shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second in Auto mode (4 seconds in Night Scene mode). The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but with shutter speeds as long as 16 seconds. Light sensitivity or ISO options include: Auto, 100, 200, and 400 settings, and Exposure Compensation can be used to adjust image brightness from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments.

In addition to its Program and Manual exposure modes, the D-40 Zoom offers an Auto mode and five preset Scene modes -- Portrait, Landscape-Portrait, Landscape-Scene, Night Scene, and Self-Portrait -- all accessed as individual settings on the camera's Mode Dial. In Auto mode, the camera controls all exposure settings, allowing the user to adjust only the Flash and Record (Quality) settings. In Portrait mode, the camera uses a smaller aperture setting to decrease the depth of field, capturing the subject in sharp focus in front of a blurred background. Landscape-Portrait uses a smaller aperture setting to increase the depth of field, so both the foreground subject and background are in sharp focus, sets the flash on Fill-In mode, and optimizes colors for skin tones. Landscape-Scene mode focuses on distant subjects, such as trees or mountains, so they remain clear. It also sets up the color balance to enhance blues and greens. Night Scene mode is optimized for nighttime shooting, using a slow shutter speed to take in as much ambient light as possible and activating the Noise Reduction mode to reduce artifacts commonly found in long exposures. Self-portrait shooting allows you to handhold the camera while aiming it toward your face. Focus is automatically fixed on you (the shooter) and color is optimized for skin tones. In all Scene modes, exposure settings are limited to the basics -- Quality, Exposure Compensation, and Flash -- depending on the subject.

A new feature on the D-40 Zoom is the "My Image" exposure mode, marked on the Mode dial by a small graphic with the word "My" in the center. The My Image Shooting mode allows users to program their own default settings by choosing from a full set of menu options, including available exposure settings, and automatically saving them to memory for the next time they return to the My Image setting, even after powering off the camera. This is a great feature for more advanced photographers who want to create their own shooting environment without having to go back and reset menu items every time they turn on the camera.

The D-40Z also offers many more advanced user controls, including Auto, Preset, and One-Touch White Balance options (with a White Balance Correction function for minor color adjustments); Contrast, Sharpness, and Color Saturation adjustments; Sequential (Continuous) and AF Sequential shooting captures multiple images at up to 3.3 frames per second; automatic Exposure Bracketing enables you to take three images at three different exposure options; and a Function sub-menu option allows you to capture images in black and white or sepia tone (with additional White Board and Black Board settings for capturing text). The camera also incorporates several new features, including an advanced Noise Reduction System, which compares similar images and uses that information to minimize background noise (even in low-light conditions and long exposures); an Optimum Image Enlargement Mode that boosts resolution to 3,200 x 2,400 pixels -- creating a file size large enough for 16 x 20-inch prints; and a redesigned Menu Navigational System, introduced this year in the Camedia D-510 and C700 models (2001).

The D-40 Zoom's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with or without sound, for as long as the SmartMedia card has available memory space, in either SQ (160 x 120 pixels) or HQ (320 x 240 pixels) modes. Four-second sound clips can be recorded to accompany still images, either during image capture, or later during image playback. A Panorama mode allows you to take up to 10 formatted shots for merging with Camedia's Panorama Stitch software in the computer (an Olympus brand SmartMedia card is required to capture the images). There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and an infrared (IR) remote controller with a three-second shutter delay.

The camera's internal flash offers seven operating modes. Four options are selectable via the external Flash / Erase button: Flash Off, Auto-Flash, Fill-in Flash, and Red-Eye Reduction. Three options are accessed through the Mode menu: Slow Synchro 1, Slow Synchro 2, and Slow Synchro 1 with Redeye Reduction. Slow Synchro flash uses a combination of flash and a slow shutter speed to balance the background with the foreground subject in low-light or nighttime shooting. Slow Synchro 1 fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure and Slow Synchro 2 fires at the end. The D-40Z's flash power extends from 2.6 to 9.8 feet (0.8 to 3 meters) in wide-angle mode and from 9.8 to 5.9 feet (0.25 to 1.8 meters) in telephoto mode. Using the Mode menu, you can increase or decrease the internal flash power from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments through the Shooting menu.

The D-40Z's image file sizes include: 2,272 x 1,704; 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1,280 x 960; 1,024 x 76; and 640 x 480 pixels in normal mode, and 3,200 x 2,400; 2,816 x 2,112; and 2,560 x 1,920 pixels when using the Optimum Image Enlargement function. Image quality options include two JPEG compression ratios (2.8:1 and 8:1), plus an uncompressed TIFF format.

The Olympus D-40 Zoom ships with a 16MB SmartMedia memory card for image storage (larger capacity cards are available separately). You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed Auto USB interface to download images (requiring no USB driver on recent computer models), and if you want a larger viewfinder (or image playback) display, Olympus has provided a video output cable for connection to a television set (which works nicely with the included remote control). Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master utility package, which provides minor organization and editing tools, in addition to a panorama "stitching" application. Apple QuickTime and USB drivers for Macintosh and Windows are also supplied.

Power is provided by one CR-V3 Lithium battery pack or two standard AA alkaline batteries (alkaline, lithium, NiMH, or NiCd . An optional AC adapter is available as a separate accessory, which can significantly extend battery life if you're doing a lot of downloads on the computer or working in a studio environment.

The new Camedia D-40 Zoom offers exceptional creative control, great low-light capabilities, and large file sizes for maximum print output. Combine this with first-rate image quality, and you have what we think will be another extremely popular digicam in the Camedia line.


Design
The Olympus D-40Z's silver and gray toned body is very compact, measuring only 3.4 x 2.7 x 1.6 inches (87 x 68.5 x 43.5mm), and employs the familiar sliding lens cover design that has become a standard in Olympus's consumer-level digicams. The molded plastic body keeps the D-40Z's weight down to just 9 ounces (250 grams) with the batteries and SmartMedia card installed, adding to its highly portable design. As a result, it should fit easily into any shirt pocket, waist pack, or small purse, and the included wrist strap ensures a more secure grip.

 

 

On the front of the camera, you'll find the majority of features clustered near the center of the front panel, covered by the clamshell style sliding lens cover. These include a 2.8x optical zoom lens, an optical viewfinder window, a built-in flash window, remote control receiver, and a self-timer / remote control lamp to indicate when the self-timer countdown is in progress or when the camera is communicating with the infrared remote control. The clamshell sliding lens cover also serves as the power switch, activating the camera when opened, and placing it in Record 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. In the top left corner is a built-in microphone for recording audio with still images or QuickTime movies.

 

 

On the bottom of the camera's right panel is a small covered compartment for the DC In jack and USB / AV Out connector, with a wrist strap attachment eyelet located directly above it. The hard plastic compartment door opens from the bottom, hinged to the camera body so that it swings upward. We found it rather difficult to open, requiring a very strong thumbnail or a hard flat instrument to pop it up.

 

 

The opposite side of the camera is blank except for the speaker used to play back recorded sound.

 

 

The top of the D-40 Zoom features a small black-and-white Control Panel on the left and Shutter button on the right. Surrounding the Shutter button is a telephoto / wide-angle Zoom lever that doubles as an Index Display / Close-up lever in Playback mode. The Control Panel displays a series of icons and camera readings to indicate the current image quality, flash, metering, and focus settings, as well as the image number, battery level, and any camera functions that have been activated through external or on-screen menu controls.

 

 

Most of the D-40Z's external controls are 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, are two LED lamps that report camera status. Outside of the viewfinder window, on the right side, are the Flash / Erase button (on top) and the Macro / Spot metering button, which also write-protects images and rotates them in Playback mode. Located in the top center of the back panel, the Mode dial has 10 Shooting positions, including Auto, Program, Manual, My Image, Movie, and five Scene modes. Below the Mode dial is the Monitor button, which turns the monitor on or off and activates Playback mode, and the Card Access lamp at the bottom of the back panel. To the right is the Four Way Arrow pad, which is used to change exposure settings in Program and Manual modes and to navigate through menu options. Located in the center of the pad is the Menu / OK button. Along the bottom edge of the rear panel is a hinged door used to access the memory card compartment, and along the right side is an elongated thumb rest with raised nodules for added grip.

 

 

The D-40 Zoom has a flat bottom panel, which holds the battery compartment door and plastic threaded tripod mount. The tripod mount is near the middle of the panel, too close to the battery compartment door to allow for quick battery changes while mounted on a tripod (though we don't think the D-40Z is likely to be used for studio shooting). The battery compartment has a sliding plastic door with a release button in the middle.


Viewfinder
For composing images, the D-40Z offers a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch TFT color LCD monitor. The optical viewfinder features a central autoexposure cross hair target, and the viewfinder's position above the lens means that its view is only visible when the lens cover is open. The camera does not have a diopter adjustment, but the optical viewfinder has a fairly high eyepoint. We were able to see the majority of the view at a fair distance from the eyepiece, so it should accommodate even thick eyeglasses. Two small LED lamps on the right side of the eyepiece blink or light solid to indicate camera status. The top orange light blinks if a flash is required and the flash is turned off, or when the flash is recharging. It glows steadily to indicate that the flash is ready to fire when the shutter button is depressed halfway. The bottom green light glows when exposure and focus are set and blinks when the subject is out of focus. The green lamp also blinks when the camera is processing an image or when there is no space left on the memory card.

The LCD monitor features a full-color image display made up of approximately 114,000 pixels. When the LCD monitor is engaged in any shooting mode (by pressing the Display button), it automatically shows detailed exposure information, including the current exposure mode, f/stop setting, shutter speed, exposure compensation, the number of images available in the current resolution setting, and a memory gauge showing the amount of room left on the SmartMedia card. Additional information is displayed temporarily when operating the camera's buttons or Mode dial, indicating ISO, quality setting, resolution, and function icons when engaged (i.e.: flash, macro, self-timer, etc.). A distance display shows focus distance in feet or meters when using the Manual Focus option, as well as a separate Zoom bar that shows the camera's 2.5x optical zoom in operation, and the Digital Zoom progress, when you zoom past the optical telephoto limit.

In Playback mode, the LCD monitor's information display reports information similar to that shown in Shooting mode, though it can be set to Info Off (limited display) or Info On (full display) through the Playback Top Menu. In the off mode, the information display shows the quality setting, image number, date and time it was recorded, and battery power. The monitor also shows any printing or write-protect information. When the Info option is turned on, the detailed display includes the file size, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation setting, and white balance setting. The Index Display is activated by pushing the Zoom lever toward the wide-angle setting to display either 4, 9, or 16 thumbnail images at a time on the LCD screen. (The number of thumbnails displayed is set in the Playback menu.) You can also enlarge captured images as much as 4x on the LCD, for checking fine details of composition or focus, rotate images, or play back images in an automated slide show.

In our tests, the D40's optical viewfinder proved to be a little tight, showing only 80 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 81 percent accuracy at telephoto. The LCD monitor produced more accurate results, showing about 97 percent at wide angle, and about 98 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D40 did an excellent job in this respect. We'd really like to see better accuracy for the optical viewfinder though, particularly given the D40's fairly short battery life when the LCD is used as a viewfinder.


Optics
The D-40Z features a telescoping 7.25 - 20.3mm 2.8x aspherical glass zoom lens (equivalent to a 35 - 98mm lens on a 35mm camera), made up of seven elements in five groups. Focus ranges from 31 inches (0.8 meters) to infinity in normal shooting mode and 3.9 inches (0.1 meters) to infinity in Manual focus mode. When the Macro mode is engaged, focus ranges from 3.9 to 31 inches (0.1 - 0.8 meters) at the wide-angle setting and from 9.8 to 31 inches (0.25 - 0.8 meters) at the maximum telephoto.

In addition to the 2.8x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to 2.5x with the Digital Zoom, by engaging the Digital Zoom option in the Shooting menu and zooming past the camera's maximum telephoto range. A red bar in the on-screen zoom gauge indicates when you've entered Digital Zoom. As always, we remind our readers that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom, as it simply crops out and enlarges the central portion of the CCD image, resulting in lower image quality and increased image noise.

Focus is set on the subject that falls within the center target mark of the camera's viewfinder. The default focus mode is single frame autofocusing, which sets the focus when you depress the shutter button halfway. You can also select Fulltime AF in the Mode menu to maintain continuous focus whenever you change the camera position, or when your subject moves across the viewfinder. A Manual Focus mode is accessed by holding down the OK button for more than one second. Once engaged, a distance indicator appears on the right side of the monitor and you adjust focus using the Up and Down Arrow buttons.

In our testing, optical distortion on the D40 was about average (which is still more than we'd like) at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.72 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only one pixel of barrel distortion there. Chromatic aberration was low, showing only about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, and the color was fainter than average. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The lower than average chromatic aberration was also apparent in our Far Field test shot, where the amount of "purple fringe" in the upper corners of the image was a bit less than we're accustomed to seeing. Overall, it looks like the D40 has a pretty good lens.


Exposure
The D-40 Zoom offers extensive exposure control, including Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes, plus five Program Scene modes optimized for specific shooting situations: Portrait, Landscape-Portrait, Landscape-Scene, Night Scene, and Self Portrait. All of these Shooting modes are accessed via the Mode dial on the camera's back panel, as well as a new Shooting mode that has been added for users who want to program their own default settings. "My Image" mode allows you to choose from a full set of menu options, including available exposure settings, and then automatically saves them to memory for the next time you return to the My Image setting, even after powering off the camera.

Exposure control varies depending on the Shooting mode you choose. For example, in Auto mode, you have access only to the flash settings and limited resolution settings. The camera controls all other exposure options. In Program mode, the camera selects aperture and shutter speed, while you control the remaining exposure options such as ISO, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and metering modes. Aperture Priority lets you set the aperture from f/2.8 to f/8.0 and the camera chooses the best corresponding shutter speed. In Shutter Priority, you can select shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to four seconds, and the camera selects the best corresponding aperture setting.

In Manual mode, you control both aperture and shutter speed with the addition of much longer shutter speed times (as long as 16 seconds). A helpful feature of the Manual mode is that, as you scroll through the various selections, the camera indicates whether or not the setting will give you a correct exposure. It does this by showing the f/stop, shutter speed, and the exposure differential (the difference between your settings and what the camera meters as correct) in white when everything is OK. If it disagrees with your choice, the exposure differential shows the amount of under- or overexposure in red. The exposure differential is given in exposure values (EV), within a range of +3 to -3 EV.

In situations where exposure compensation is necessary, simply press either the Right or Left Arrow buttons (in all exposure modes except Auto, Manual, and some Scene modes) to increase or decrease the exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments, up to +/- 2 EV. Values are displayed in the upper right corner of the LCD. (The LCD viewfinder must be enabled to adjust this setting, but once it is set, you can turn the LCD off to conserve power, and the setting will remain in effect.) We applaud the accessibility of this important exposure adjustment in Olympus' user interface design. Some manufacturers bury this control in a menu interface, making it much less convenient. If exposure compensation is currently activated, a small +/- icon also appears in the top status display panel, to let you know there's an adjustment in force.

In addition to the basic exposure modes, there are the five preset shooting modes (listed above). In Portrait mode, the camera uses a smaller aperture setting to decrease the depth of field, capturing the subject in sharp focus in front of a blurred background. Landscape-Portrait uses a smaller aperture setting to increase the depth of field, so both the foreground subject and background are in sharp focus, sets the flash on Fill-In mode, and optimizes colors for skin tones. Landscape-Scene mode focuses on distant subjects, such as trees or mountains, so they remain clear. It also sets up the color balance to enhance blues and greens. Night Scene mode is optimized for nighttime shooting, using a slow shutter speed to take in as much ambient light as possible and activating the Noise Reduction mode to reduce artifacts commonly found in long exposures. Self-Portrait shooting allows you to handhold the camera while aiming it toward your face. Focus is automatically fixed on you (the shooter) and color is optimized for skin tones. In all Scene modes, exposure settings are limited to the basics -- Quality, Exposure Compensation, and Flash -- depending on the subject.

Additional exposure options include four ISO settings (Auto, 100, 200 and 400), Exposure Compensation, Auto Bracketing (BKT), two metering modes --Spot and ESP multi-pattern -- and six White Balance settings. The more sensitive ISO settings (those with the higher numbers) are often useful for working in limited light conditions, but they can result in noisier images. In extremely low light, you can mix faster shutter speeds or larger lens openings with the higher ISOs to let in more light, or you can create slow shutter effects (like a motion blur) by using a lower ISO setting. (Note: When ISO is set to Auto in Program exposure mode, it automatically resets to 100 when you switch to Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual exposure modes.) Exposure Compensation can be used to adjust image brightness from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments.

Auto Bracketing (BKT) function is selected through the Shooting Mode Menu (Drive sub-menu), setting the camera to automatically bracket each exposure by as much as +/- 2 EV in either three- or five-step increments (0.5 or 1.0 EV units each). The bracketing function centers its efforts around whatever exposure you've chosen as the starting point, including any exposure compensation adjustments you've made. Spot and ESP metering modes are accessed by pressing the Macro / Spot button on the camera's back panel. Under the default ESP multi-patterned setting, the camera takes readings from a variety of areas in the viewfinder for proper overall exposure. Spot metering reads the exposure from the very center of the image, so you can pinpoint the specific area of the photograph you want properly exposed and lock in on that exposure by depressing the shutter button halfway and holding it down until you recompose the scene.

White Balance is also set in the Mode Menu, with Auto, One Touch (Manual), or one of four Preset options: Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, or Fluorescent, to accommodate a variety of lighting situations. In One Touch mode, white balance is calculated by placing a white card in front of the lens and pressing the OK button. You can also fine-tune the white balance setting with the "WB+/-" setting under the Picture sub-menu. An adjustment bar appears on the LCD screen, with options to increase or decrease the red or blue tones. (We really like this idea of fine-tuning the white balance. Most digicams tend to have slight biases in their white balance systems under various lighting conditions. Once you get used to how a particular camera shoots, it can be very helpful to have this sort of "tweaking" adjustment available to modify the color to suit your own preferences.)

A Record View function, which is enabled through the Shooting menu (Setup sub-menu), displays the most recently captured image on the LCD screen while the image is being recorded to the memory card. This feature gives you the option of deleting an image instantly by pressing the Flash / Erase button while the review image is still on-screen. It's a great way to check your images without wasting time switching back and forth between Playback and Shooting modes. The camera's Quick View function also allows you to check previously captured images in Shooting mode, by pressing the Monitor button twice, very quickly. You can review the most recent image or scroll back through other stored files until you return to the Shooting mode (by pressing the Monitor button a second time).

The D-40 Zoom has a 12-second Self-Timer (which can be used with the infrared remote) for self-portraits or those occasions when you don't want to risk camera shake by pressing the shutter button to make the exposure. You can also use the IR remote control to trigger the shutter without the Self-Timer, which gives you a three-second delay after pressing the remote's Shutter button, before the shutter is fired. The remote control works as far as 16.4 feet directly in front of the camera, or as far as 9.8 feet when at a 15-degree angle from the sensor window.

The Function menu option enables you to capture images in Black & White or Sepia modes, or to use the White and Black Board settings for capturing text on white or black backgrounds respectively. (These modes appear to adjust image contrast and default exposure levels to maximize contrast and force the background toward the appropriate tonal value.) The D-40Z also features Sharpness, Contrast, and Color Saturation adjustments, accessed via the Picture sub-menu in the Shooting Mode menu.


Flash
The D-40 Zoom has a fairly standard built-in flash unit, with four basic operating modes: Auto, Redeye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, and Flash Off modes. The D-40Z's flash power extends from 2.6 to 9.8 feet (0.8 to 3 meters) in wide-angle mode and from 9.8 to 5.9 feet (0.25 to 1.8 meters) in telephoto mode. Any of the flash modes can be combined with the Slow Synchro mode (set through the Shooting menu) to increase exposure. The Slow Synchro setting uses a slow shutter speed with flash to let more ambient light into the background, producing more natural lighting behind a flash-illuminated subject. When photographing moving subjects, Slow Synchro will record some motion blur because of the longer exposure time, with the initial or final image frozen by the flash exposure. We say "initial or final," because Slow 1 fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure (producing a blur behind the subject), and Slow 2 fires the flash at the end of the exposure (producing a blur in front of the subject). A Slow Synchro with Redeye Reduction introduces a brief pre-flash to reduce the effect of redeye in people pictures.

Another nice feature of the D-40 Zoom's internal flash system is its Flash Brightness adjustment, which allows you to change the flash brightness from +2 to -2 EV in one-third-step increments. This option is accessed through the on-screen Shooting menu.

In our testing, we found the D40's flash effective all the way out to 14 feet from the test target, with good intensity. Intensity is brightest at the eight foot distance, with flash power decreasing only slightly with each additional foot of distance. There was some falloff in the corners when the lens was set to its maximum wide angle position, but uniformity was good through most of the zoom range. Overall the D-40Zoom's flash did better than those on most compact cameras we've tested.


Special Exposure Modes

Movie Mode
The D-40Z's Movie mode is accessed via the Mode dial on the camera's back panel (marked with a small movie camera symbol). Movies can be recorded in either HQ (320 x 240-pixel) or SQ (160 x 120-pixel) resolution modes. Both record at approximately 15 frames per second. Sound recording can be turned On or Off in the Movie menu, as can the infrared remote control option. For HQ resolution movies, memory capacity is approximately 32 seconds (with sound) per movie on the included 16MB SmartMedia card. For SQ resolution movies, memory capacity is about 130 seconds (148 without sound) per movie. The remaining seconds count down in the status display panel (and on the LCD monitor if activated) while you record the movie.

Recording begins by pressing the Shutter button once and releasing it. Pressing the Shutter button again will stop recording. While shooting in Movie mode, you can only use the Digital Zoom option when audio is turned on (default mode). If you turn audio off through the Movie Mode menu, you can use both optical and digital zoom. (Note that digital zoom in Movie mode has the same effect as optical zoom in normal still photography, in that no image degradation should be visible as a result of using the zoom.) Manual focus, Exposure Compensation, Self-Timer, ISO setting, White Balance, and Function (B&W and Sepia) are also available while in Movie mode.

First seen in the Camedia C-3030 (February 2000), the D-40 Zoom again offers in-camera "editing" of movies in Playback mode. This capability is accessed via the Playback menu, Movie Play sub-menu, and Edit option. In this mode, you can scroll forward and backward in the movie, and set cut points at the beginning and end of the sequence. Movie content between the two cut points will be preserved, the rest discarded. In a nice touch though, Olympus allows you to choose whether to modify the original movie file, or just save a new copy of it, reflecting the effect of the edit you've made -- a feature that makes the Movie mode much more useful.

With the D-40 Zoom, Olympus has addressed one of our major complaints about the Movie Playback mode by providing a speaker so you can hear the movies you've recorded while playing them back on the camera. The camera can also output both video and sound to a TV or VCR via the included A/V cable, making that an effective playback mode if you have a TV handy.

Audio Record Mode
The D-40 Zoom's Audio Record mode records up to four seconds of sound to accompany an image. Activated through the Shooting Mode Menu (Camera sub-menu), the audio recording takes place immediately after you make an exposure. A status bar appears on the LCD monitor with the word "Busy" displayed. Green dots light up along the status bar to indicate how much time you have left until the recording is finished. You can also add audio clips after the image is recorded by selecting the Audio option in the Playback menu (Play sub-menu).

Panorama Mode
The D-40 Zoom offers a Panorama exposure mode when used with Olympus brand panorama-enabled SmartMedia memory cards. In this mode, the exposure and white balance for a series of shots are determined by the first exposure. The Panorama function is accessed in the Shooting menu through the Camera sub-menu, in Program mode only. When activated, it provides light blue guide lines at the edges of the pictures to help you align successive shots, leaving enough overlap between them for the stitching software to do its job. Up to 10 shots can be taken in a panoramic series. Images are saved individually and then compiled on a computer after they've been downloaded.

Sequential Shooting Modes
The D-40 Zoom's Sequential and AF Sequential modes mimic the motor drive on a film camera, continually recording images as the Shutter button is held down, or until the memory runs out (this varies with the image quality and subject, as well as available SmartMedia space). Accessed through the Shooting Mode's Drive option (Camera sub-menu) Sequential Shooting sets focus, exposure, and white balance with the first frame, and records subsequent frames at approximately two frames per second (HQ resolution) for a maximum of eight frames. AF Sequential mode sets focus and exposure with each capture, which decreases the recording speed.

One notable limitation of the Sequence mode is that the camera's internal flash cannot be used, nor can the Noise Reduction option be activated. Therefore, since the slowest available shutter speed in Sequence mode is 1/30 second (to prevent blurring from camera movement), low-light scenes are likely to be rather dim and grainy.


Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag or delay time before the shutter actually fires. This time is required for the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms 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 routinely measure it using an Imaging Resource proprietary test setup. The table below shows the times we measured for various camera operations.

D-40 Zoom Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
8.7
Rather slow.
Shutdown
4.8
Also slow. (This is time to retract lens. Allow longer if file being saved to card, before card can be removed.)
Play to Record, first shot
1.7
Very fast.
Record to play (max/min res)
7.0/1.96/1.0
Longer time is for max res uninterpolated JPEG, immediate switch to quick review. Shorter time is for quick review, with camera already done saving image to card. Shortest time is for immediate "preview" display in record mode.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.09/1.23 
First time is for wide angle, second for telephoto. A bit slower than average.
Shutter lag, continuous AF
1.16/1.32
Strangely, slower than normal AF.
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.80
Rather slow.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.14
Quite a bit faster than average. (Average is about 0.3)
Cycle time, large/fine files
2.0/7.6
Shorter time is for first four shots, then need to wait for the buffer to clear. Quite fast.
Cycle time, small/basic files
1.88
Pretty fast. Variable times, 2.1 seconds is the slowest we saw, down to 1.6. 1.88 is the average.
Cycle time, Full-size TIFF files
31.9
TIFF mode files are huge, take a long time to write. Not bad time, compared to other cameras.
Continuous mode, large files, w/AF
1.55/8.2
First time is for first four shots, then slower after buffer is full. These times are for AF enabled between shots.
Continuous mode, large files, no AF
0.89/7.9
First time is for first four shots, then slower after buffer is full. These times are for no AF between shots.
Continuous mode, small/basic files
0.80
Pretty fast. ~145 frames before buffer full.

While it's slow starting up and shutting down, the D-40Zoom is pretty fast between shots. We'd like to see the shutter lag lower, but the prefocus lag (obtained by half-pressing and holding the shutter button before the shot itself) is very fast. Shooting full-size (uninterpolated) maximum-quality JPEGs, cycle times are very good, and the buffer holds four shots before forcing you to slow down. Very good performance. (But can we have faster autofocus next time?)


Operation and User Interface
The D-40's menu system employs the new, simplified interface introduced on their cameras in early in 2001. When you press the Menu / OK button, it brings up the main menu (known as the "Top Menu"), which is divided into three or four smaller sub-menus, each selected using the Arrow button that corresponds to its position on the screen. The right button is the Mode menu, which includes all of the sub-menus available for that particular Shooting or Playback mode. In Program and A / S / M modes, the Mode menu is divided into four subject tabs -- Camera, Picture, Card, and Setup -- with sub-menus appropriate to that particular subject tab. In the Movie and Scene modes, the Mode menu includes all but the Setup subject tabs. The other two or three buttons (top, left, and bottom) are "Shortcut" menus that provide shortcuts to the most frequently used sub-menus, such as ISO, White Balance, and Quality settings. In Auto mode, the Top menu has only three Shortcut menus -- Resolution, Clock set, and Format -- it does not include a shooting Mode menu. Though this system takes some getting used to, it is much more efficient than previous models, as you can make fast adjustments to three of the most often used settings.


Control Enumeration

Sliding Lens Cover: Protecting the lens on the front of the camera, the clamshell-style sliding cover also serves as the power switch. Sliding the cover open turns the camera on and places it into Record mode. Likewise, closing the cover turns the camera off.


Shutter Button: Located on top right side of the camera, and surrounded by the Zoom lever, the Shutter button sets exposure when halfway depressed and triggers the shutter when fully depressed.


Zoom Lever: Surrounding the Shutter button, the Zoom Lever controls the optical zoom in all exposure modes, and the Digital Zoom when enabled through the Shooting menu. In Playback mode, the lever switches between Index view, normal image display, and playback zoom.


Flash / Erase Button: Positioned on the top right of the optical viewfinder, this button controls the Flash mode in all exposure modes. Pressing it cycles through Auto-Flash, Redeye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, Slow Shutter Sync (1st or 2nd curtain), Slow Shutter Sync w / Redeye (1st curtain), and Flash Off modes. In Playback mode, this button pulls up the Erase menu, which allows you to erase the currently displayed image.


Spot / Macro / Protect Button: Located beneath the Flash / Erase Button, this button alternates between normal metering (Digital ESP), Spot metering, Macro (Close-up) focus mode, and Macro with Spot Metering modes. In Playback mode, it write-protects individual images against accidental erasure (except from card formatting).


Mode Dial: On the top of the back panel, near the center, is the Mode Dial, which selects the various camera Shooting modes: Auto, Program, Aperture / Shutter Speed / Manual (A/S/M), My Image, Movie, Night Portrait, Night Scene, Landscape, Backlight, and Portrait modes.


Display Button: Just below and to the left of the Mode dial, this button controls the LCD display 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 into Playback mode. A second press of this button shuts off the camera (only while the lens cover is closed).


Four Way Arrow Pad: Positioned in the lower right section of the back panel, the Arrow Pad controls many of the camera's operations. In all Shooting modes except Auto and Manual, the left and right Arrow buttons increase or decrease the exposure compensation setting (provided the LCD monitor is active). In Aperture or Shutter Priority exposure modes, the Up and Down Arrow buttons adjust the lens aperture or shutter speed settings, depending on which mode you've selected. In Manual mode, the up and down Arrows control shutter speed, while the left and right Arrows control aperture.

In Playback mode, the Up and Down and Left and Right Arrows move forward or backward through the pictures stored on the card, or scroll around portions of the expanded image in Zoom Playback mode.

In the LCD menu system, the Arrow buttons navigate through menu screens and select settings.


Menu / OK Button: In the center of the Four-Way Arrow Pad,, this button calls up the settings menu in both Record and Playback modes. It also serves as the "OK" to confirm menu selections. If the LCD monitor is turned on when you press the Display button, it will call up the menu options and display them over the image. If the LCD monitor is off when you press Display, it brings up the camera's menu system with no viewfinder image. Holding this button down for approximately one second brings up the Manual Focus distance range, along with the AF and MF icons. Highlighting the MF icon with the right Arrow button engages the Manual Focus mode.


Battery Door Release Button: Located on the bottom panel, in the center of the battery chamber door, pushing down on this button releases the door latch and allows you to slide it open.


Camera Mode Menus

Auto Shooting Mode
The Auto shooting mode maintains full control over all exposure settings except Flash, Resolution, and Quality. When you press the Menu / OK button, it brings up only a Top menu with three Shortcut sub-menus: -- Resolution, Clock set, and Format -- it does not include a shooting Mode menu.

Manual (A / S / M), Program, and My Image Shooting Modes
The D-40 has four Manual shooting modes: Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual (A / S /M), which are all accessed via one position on the Mode dial, and My Image mode which is indicated by the "My" icon on the Mode dial. These Manual modes allow you to adjust all camera settings, including aperture, shutter speed, and expanded Quality options. The My Image mode allows you to save custom settings as default values for any time you turn on the camera and select that mode. The Camera's Program mode (P) provides the same exposure adjustments as the Manual modes, with the exception of aperture and shutter speed settings, which are selected by the camera's exposure system. When the camera is in one of these five Shooting modes, pressing the Menu / OK button brings up the Shooting Top Menu. Three of the top menu items are Short Cuts to user-specified menu options. The fourth menu option is the Mode Menu, which brings up the following sub-menus (individual items may be unavailable in some modes):

Scene Shooting Modes
The D-40 offers five Program Scene modes for taking specific types of images (each with its own Mode dial setting): Portrait, Landscape-Portrait, Landscape Scene, Night Scene, and Self-portrait These modes have an abbreviated menu selection that does not include the Picture sub-menus or the full complement of Camera sub-menu settings that are available in Manual and Program modes. The following menu and sub-menu options are available. (Since the menu entries here are the same as those described above, we won't repeat the menu screen shots.):

Movie Mode
Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera symbol, Movie mode allows you to capture movies with or without sound for as long as the SmartMedia card allows. Shutter speed is automatically set from 1/10,000 to 1/30 second, depending on light levels. When the camera is in this mode, pressing the Menu / OK button brings up the Movie Top Menu, which consists of three Short Cuts to specific menu options (Quality, Sound, and WB) and the Mode Menu.

Playback Mode
Playback Mode is available by turning to the green Playback symbol on the camera's Mode dial, or by depressing the display button twice in any Shooting mode. The Playback Top Menu has three options, which differ slightly between Shooting (Record) playback and Movie playback:

Shooting Playback:

Movie Playback:


Image Storage and Interface
The D-40 Zoom stores images to the provided 16MB SmartMedia card (additional cards available as separate accessories in capacities as large as 128MB). A 16 MB memory card is really inadequate for a four megapixel camera: You'll want to buy a larger one immediately. (64 MB is a good size, and pretty affordable these days.) The green LED lamp next to the optical viewfinder eyepiece flashes quickly when the camera is accessing or recording to the memory card. The SmartMedia slot is on the lower right side of the camera's back panel, covered by a hinged, plastic door. The card inserts into the slot with the gold electrodes going in first, facing the front of the camera. To remove the card, simply pull it out of the slot (but only when the LED lamp has finished flashing).

SmartMedia cards come with a set of write-protection stickers that, when applied to the card, prevent it from being erased or written to. Each sticker can only be used once, and must be clean to be effective. You can write-protect individual images through the D-40Z's Playback menu. Write-protection prevents images from being altered in any way, except through card formatting, which erases the entire card.

The D-40 Zoom comes with interface software and cables for both Macintosh and Windows computers. It employs a USB Auto-Connect interface for high-speed computer connection. Like all of Olympus' most recent digicams, it is a USB "storage class" device. This means it can connect directly to Mac OS Version 9.1 or later, or Windows Me or Windows 2000 computers (and soon Windows XP), without separate driver software. Storage-class or Auto-Connect connections are also generally faster than device-class ones. In our tests, we found the D-40Zoom was very fast, downloading files at 636 KBytes/second, among the fastest we've tested.

The D-40Z offers numerous (!) image sizes and formats as well as two JPEG quality settings. In Manual, Program, and My Image modes, options include uncompressed TIFF: 2,272 x 1,704-, 2,048 x 1,536-, 1,600 x 1,200-, 1,280 x 960-, 1,024 x 768-, or 640 x 480-pixel resolution; SHQ (Super High Quality) 2,288 x 1,712- or (Enlarge Size) 3,200 x 2,400-pixel resolution; HQ (High Quality) 2,272 x 1,704- or (Enlarge Size) 3,200 x 2,400-pixel resolution; SQ1 (Standard Quality) 2,048 x 1,536-, 1,600 x 1,200-, or 1,280 x 960-pixel resolution, High or Normal compression ratio; SQ2 (Standard Quality 2) 1,024 x 768- or 640 x 480-pixel resolution. We're not sure why you would need quite this many image size options, particularly the interpolated("Enlarge Size") ones. - We personally see little advantage to interpolation, even if doing it in-camera provides "cleaner" results than doing it after the fact in Photoshop or other imaging application. There's no harm in having the interpolated sizes available on the D-40's menus, but we really see little point to it.

Following are the number of images that can be stored on the provided 16MB SmartMedia card:

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16MB Memory Card
Hi
Fine
Normal
(Interpolated)
3200 x 2400
Images
(Avg size)
- 2
5.8 MB
8
1.9 MB
Approx.
Compression
- 4:1
12:1
(Interpolated)
2816 x 2112
Images
(Avg size)
-
3
4.3 MB
10
1.5 MB
Approx.
Compression
-
4:1
12:1
(Interpolated)
2560 x 1920
Images
(Avg size)
-
4
3.6 MB
13
1.2 MB
Approx.
Compression
-
4:1
12:1
Full Size
(4 MP)
2272x 1704
Images
(Avg size)
1
5
2.8 MB
16
0.99 MB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
12:1
3 MP
2048 x 1536
Images
(Avg size)
1
7
2.3 MB
15
1.05 MB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
9:1
2 MP
1600 x 1200
Images
(Avg size)
2
11
1.39 MB
32
0.50 MB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
12:1
1.3 MP
1280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
4
18
0.89 MB
49
0.32 MB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
12:1
SVGA
1024 x 768
Images
(Avg size)
6
27
0.58 MB
76
0.21 MB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
11:1
VGA Resolution 640x480
Images
(Avg size)
16
66
0.24 MB
166
0.10 MB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
10:1

 


Video Out
The D-40 Zoom has a Video Out / USB Multiconnector port that supports the NTSC timing format. (We assume that PAL systems are available for European customers.) The video output can be used for reviewing previously captured images and movies, or running slide shows from the camera. It also shows all of the LCD menu screens, as well as the preview display from the LCD viewfinder. Combined with the supplied infrared remote control device, the D-40 Zoom's video capabilities make the camera a unique presentation device.


Power
Power is provided by one CR-V3 Lithium battery pack or two standard AA batteries (alkaline, lithium, and rechargeable NiMH or NiCd). An optional AC adapter is available as a separate accessory, which can significantly extend battery life if you're doing a lot of downloads on the computer or working in a studio environment.

Operating Mode
Power Drain
(@ 3.0 v)
Estimated Minutes
(Pair of 1600 AAs)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
1180 mA
65
Capture Mode, no LCD
10 mA
(days)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
1620 mA
47
Half-pressed w/o LCD
1180 mA
65
Memory Write (transient)
1630 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1800 mA
n/a
Image Playback
660 mA
116

Like most cameras operating from just two AA cells, the D-40Zoom has a very high current drain. With moderately high capacity NiMH AA cells (1600 mAh), you'll only get about an hour of operation with the LCD powered on in capture mode. The good (great?) news is that, like most Olympus cameras, the D-40Zoom's power consumption drops to near zero when the LCD is turned off. This means you could literally shoot all day on a set of batteries if you just leave the LCD off. Unfortunately though, the D-40Zoom's optical viewfinder is rather tight, showing only 80% of the final field of view, so you'll be forced to the LCD viewfinder to frame critical shots. A more accurate viewfinder would have been a significant help with power consumption.


About Batteries
Time for our standard battery tirade: 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. This is especially true for a high-drain camera like the D-40Zoom. 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. (Be sure to buy an extra set of batteries to accompany it though, you'll want them with the D-40Zoom.)


Included Software
The D-40 Zoom comes with Olympus' very capable Camedia Mater program on CD-ROM. Camedia Master provides direct camera control and image downloading for both Mac and Windows platforms (Macintosh OS 8.6 and higher, Windows 98/98v2/Me/2000/XP). USB drivers for both platforms and an Apple QuickTime reader are also included.

Camedia Master software 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). For panoramic images, Camedia Master supplies a "stitching" utility to piece together shots vertically or horizontally. A complete printing utility works with the DPOF settings and allows you to print images directly to Olympus or other DPOF-compliant photo printers.


In the Box
Packaged with the D-40 Zoom 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 D40'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 D40 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

The D40 performed very well throughout our testing, producing high quality images with accurate color in most cases. The camera's white balance system did a good job interpreting our test light sources, and the Auto setting most often produced the best color balance. Surprisingly, the camera's Manual white balance option tended to produce slightly cool images. The camera handled the very tough incandescent lighting of our no-flash Indoor Portrait test better than most, though all of the primary white balance settings resulted in slight color casts. We tried "tweaking" the color balance with the D40's white balance adjustment tool, which allowed us to adjust the color to our liking, and in fact let us achieve a very good color balance on this shot, leaving in just enough of the original cast to retain the warmth of the incandescent lighting. Color looked good and accurate on our Davebox target, as the D40 distinguished the subtle pastel tonal variations of the Q60 target, and reproduced the large color blocks with good saturation. We felt that skin tones had a slightly orange tint in our Outdoor and Indoor portraits, and though the blue flowers were nearly accurate in color, they showed some purple tints at the edges of the petals. Despite these minor points, the D40 did an excellent job overall.

The D40 performed very well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns (albeit extremely subtle ones) at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines though. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines. Overall, the resolution test was very "clean".

Optical distortion on the D40 was about average (which is still more than we'd like) at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.72 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only one pixel of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was low, showing only about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, and the color was fainter than average. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Overall, it looks like the D40 has an excellent lens.

The D40 offers a wealth of manual exposure controls, with exposure times as long as 15 seconds available. This gave the D40 a definite advantage in the low-light category, as the camera captured clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (or 0.67 lux) limit of our test at all three ISO settings. Color looked good, even at the dimmest, 1/16 foot-candle light level, as the camera's Auto white balance setting accurately interpreted the low light source. (This is quite unusual, most cameras have white balance troubles this dim.) The D40's Noise Reduction feature did an excellent job of removing excess image noise, with very noticeable improvements when it was activated, even at the 1/16 foot-candle light level and the 400 ISO setting. We shot a series of images at this lowest light level without the Noise Reduction system activated, and observed dramatically different results, with very high noise.

The D40's optical viewfinder was a bit tight, showing only about 80 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 81 percent accuracy at telephoto. The LCD monitor produced more accurate results, showing about 97 percent at wide angle, and about 98 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D40 did an excellent job in this area. Given too that the D-40Zoom consumes as much power as it does when the LCD viewfinder is enabled, we'd really have preferred to see a more accurate optical viewfinder.

The D40 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.18 x 2.38 inches (80.82 x 60.48 millimeters). Color, resolution, and detail all looked great, with a lot of fine detail visible in the dollar bill and coins. We noticed some corner softness from the camera's lens, but the overall image looked good. The D40's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area at such a close range, badly overexposing the shot and losing most of the detail. Apart from the flash behavior though, we were impressed with the camera's macro shooting capabilities.

With great color and image quality in our test shots, we were very pleased with the D40's performance (especially given the camera's tiny size). Though we'd like the Manual white balance setting to be more accurate, the Auto setting remains commendable as does the ability to adjust the overall color balance at any given time. The camera overcame some of our most difficult obstacles with ease, producing great results in the low-light and macro categories. Overall, a job well done!


Conclusion
Olympus has really produced a very appealing camera in the D-40Zoom. They've managed to combine very small size with great picture quality, and an excellent feature set. The only complaints we found to make were in its relatively short battery life and an optical viewfinder that was a bit less accurate than average. Although they'd normally seem unrelated, these two factors actually exacerbate each other somewhat. - While the D40's power drain with LCD on is very high, with it off, it's almost zero. A more accurate viewfinder would make it easier to live without the LCD viewfinder, at which point its battery life would be quite a bit better than average. (Not to harp too much on the optical viewfinder though, at 80% frame coverage, it's not that far off the 85% average we've found in other digicams.) Our minor complaints aside, the D-40Zoom looks like a great "take anywhere" camera for people who aren't willing to give up picture quality or features for small size. Overall, a great little camera!

<<Camedia D-40 Zoom Sample Images | Additional Resources and Other Links>>

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