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Digital Cameras - Olympus D-450 Zoom Test Images

(Original test posting: 10/18/99)

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)

Outdoor portrait: (368k) Excellent color, sharp and detailed. Slightly cool tone, we might have done better to use the warmer "daylight" white balance rather than the "auto" setting. Color is good, shadow detail excellent, higher contrast leads to some tendency to blow-out highlights. The default shot (337k) was typically dark, due to the light background and model's white shirt. Our main exposure (367k) has +1.0EV adjustment, producing good midtones, but somewhat blown highlights. The shot in the table below with +0.5 EV compensation does better with the highlights, but at some cost to the midtones. For those interested, the table below contains links to shots taken with a range of exposure compensations, from 0 to +1.5 EV.

Exposure Variations:
0 EV
(337k)
+0.5 EV
(356k)
+1.0 EV
(368k)
+1.5 EV
(376k)


 
Closer portrait: (377k) As we often find to be the case, with the model's face filling more of the screen, the default exposure becomes more accurate. With the D-450 Zoom, the default exposure (377k) was actually our choice for the main shot for this test. The zoom lens is a real help for portrait shots like this, as the longer focal length at the telephoto end of the zoom doesn't distort facial features (such as the nose) the way a fixed-focus, wide-angle lens would. Excellent resolution, tonal range, and color, although again, in hindsight, we wished we'd used the slightly warmer-cast "daylight" white balance setting. As above, the table below has links to shots taken with a range of exposure compensations, from 0 to +1.5 EV.

Exposure Variations:
0 EV
(377k)
+0.5 EV
(354k)
+1.0 EV
(363k)
+1.5 EV
(351k)


 
Indoor portrait, flash: (327k) Two surprises with the D-450 Zoom on the flash portrait shot: First, it wasn't overly fooled by the large, light background, with even the default exposure (363k) showing a good exposure. Second, the exposure compensation also affects the flash exposure (a relative rarity), letting us adjust the exposure upward by +1.0 EV for our main shot (327K). The color temperature of the flash is very well matched to the household incandescent room lighting, making this camera an excellent one for grabbing shots if indoor family events. The contrast is somewhat flat overall though, and the final picture would benefit from post-exposure adjustment, in an image-editing program.

As above, the table below has links to shots taken with a range of exposure compensations, from 0 to +1.5 EV.

Exposure Variations:
0 EV
(377k)
+0.5 EV
(354k)
+1.0 EV
(363k)
+1.5 EV
(351k)


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (406k) This shot is a very difficult test of the white-balance algorithms of most cameras, given the strong yellowish cast of the household incandescent lighting used to illuminate it. Still, it's a situation likely to be encountered by users, so we think is a valid test. The D-450 Zoom did exceptionally well here! It's automatic white balance pretty much completely removed the strong yellow coloration of the lighting, producing very natural colors, and a great tonal balance. Our main shot (406k) was taken with +1.0EV of exposure compensation, in auto white balance mode. The incandescent setting actually didn't do as well, as seen in this shot (401k), also taken with +1.0EV of compensation. The tables below hold examples shot with exposure compensations varying from 0 to +1.5 EV, with both auto and incandescent white balance settings.

Auto White Balance:
0 EV
(369k)
+0.5 EV
(356k)
+1.0 EV
(406k)
+1.5 EV
(357k)


Incandescent White Balance:
0 EV
(367k)
+0.5 EV
(353k)
+1.0 EV
(401k)
+1.5 EV
(357k)


We also shot a series of three pictures, using each of the available preset ISO values (160, 320, 640), so we could compare the camera's response with different ISO settings. The results are in the table below, all taken with an exposure compensation of +1.5EV. Predictably, the higher ISO ratings produce more image noise, but the result is also much higher shutter speeds than would be possible otherwise, or shots made possible in much lower light. Interestingly, in "Auto ISO" mode, the camera appears to let the shutter speed drop to about 1/30, then smoothly raises the ISO speed as needed to keep the shutter speed high enough for handheld shooting. This smooth variation in effective ISO was something we hadn't previously seen. Again, the variable ISO capability makes this a fantastic camera for indoor photography!

ISO Variation:
ISO 160
(377k)
ISO 320
(439k)
ISO 640
(406k)


 
House shot: (408k) Our standard House poster is one of our strongest tests of detail and resolution. The D-450 Zoom performed very well on this shot, with very good color and resolution. It's clearly at the top of the field of 1.5 megapixel units on this test, easily in the top 10%). We chose the auto white balance setting for our main shot (408k) here. The table below contains a full set of resolution/image quality sample shots, including an uncompressed image at both high resolution. Overall a very good performance on this test.


Resolution Variations:
SHQ
(408k)
HQ
(212k)
SQ
(62k)

Note: This link (3,692K) is to an uncompressed TIFF version of this image. Your browser most likely won't know what to do with it. Download the file to your computer and open in an image-editing program to inspect it.


We also shot a series of three shots of this image, at the three fixed ISO settings available. - This image is good for evaluating image noise, in the flat gray tints of the shingles.

ISO Variations:
ISO 160
(408k)
ISO 320
(424k)
ISO 640
(410k)


 
 
Far-Field shot: (408k) This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles, and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

Despite the seasonal variability, this shot is perhaps the strongest test of camera resolution of any we do, and the D-450 Zoom again did very well with it. Given the changes in the subject from test to test, it's hard to make exact comparisons with it, but the D-450 Zoom appears to perform very well relative to other 1.5 megapixel digicams we've tested to date (October, 1999). Our main shot (408k) was taken with auto white. The daylight color balance setting produced this image (63k), shot at low resolution for the sake of download time. The D-450 Zoom not only showed excellent color and superior resolution here, but did an exceptionally good job capturing the wide tonal range of this subject. An impressive performance!

The table below shows all variations of image size and quality:

Resolution Variations:
SHQ
(409k)
HQ
(215k)
SQ
(63k)

Note: This link (3,692K) is to an uncompressed TIFF version of this image. Your browser most likely won't know what to do with it. Download the file to your computer and open in an image-editing program to inspect it.

 
Lens Zoom Range (new): We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with respectively, the lens at full wide-angle, the lens at full telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with "digital telephoto" enabled. (All shots taken in "SQ" mode to ease download times.)

Wide
(64k)
Tele
(59k)
Tele/Digital Tele
(55k)

"Musicians" poster: (393k) While this is just a picture of a poster, the color values for the various skin tones are pretty representative of the three ethnic groups represented. Skin tones are tough for digital cameras, both because the Caucasian skin color is so sensitive to over-saturation, and because all of the tones are "memory colors:" People are so familiar with the range of "correct" colors that any deviation is immediately obvious.

The D-450 Zoom again did pretty well here, as seen in our main shot (393k). This image was shot using the "daylight" white balance, as we felt that gave the best color balance for this shot. There was still some color cast though, which would be an ideal candidate for handling by the PhotoGenetics application we review elsewhere on this site! Detail again is very good, well up there with other 1.5 megapixel cameras we've tested.

As before, we've arranged a full set of resolution/image quality samples in the table below, as well as samples.

Resolution/Image Quality:
SHQ
(393k)
HQ
(212k)
SQ
(62k)


Note: This link (3,692K) is to an uncompressed TIFF version of this image. Your browser most likely won't know what to do with it. Download the file to your computer and open in an image-editing program to inspect it.

We also shot a series of three shots of this image, at the three fixed ISO settings available. - This image is good for evaluating image noise, in the flat gray tints of the shingles.

ISO Variation:
ISO 160
(408k)
ISO 320
(424k)
ISO 640
(410k)


Finally, we shot a series of images, showing the effect of different white balance settings on this image.

White Balance Variation:
Auto
(60k)
Sunny
(60k)
Cloudy
(60k)

 
Macro shot: (388k) The D-450 Zoom's macro function does pretty well, although it's not in the "microscopic" range of some current digicams. At closest approach, it captures an area of 2.25 x 3.0 inches (57 x 76 mm), as shown in our main shot (388k). The flash throttles-down quite well for closeups, in fact slightly underexposing this shot (383k), due to the strong reflection from the brooch.

 
"Davebox" test target: (289k) Again, the D-450 Zoom performed very well, showing good color balance and saturation, and good tonal range, with a surprising amount of shadow detail in the charcoal bricks. Here, we actually found almost no difference in color balance between the "auto" and "daylight" white-balance settings. The matrix below shows the effect of varying compression settings and image sizes, all show with the white balance set to "auto". The lower matrix shows the effect of the various settings for in-camera sharpening, all at the large image size.


Resolution Variations:
SHQ
(289k)
HQ
(163k)
SQ
(53k)

Note: This link (3,692K) is to an uncompressed TIFF version of this image. Your browser most likely won't know what to do with it. Download the file to your computer and open in an image-editing program to inspect it.

We also shot a series of three shots of this image, at the three fixed ISO settings available. - This image is good for evaluating image noise, in the flat gray tints of the shingles.

ISO Variations:
ISO 160
(287k)
ISO 320
(332k)
ISO 640
(399k)


 
 
Low-Light Tests 
Olympus' "official" ratings for equivalent ISO speed, aperture and shutter range result in an "official" light-sensitivity range of EV 4.3 to EV 22 (in our prior, incorrect terminology), more properly 0.16 to 32,000 foot-candles, or 1.7 to 350,000 lux. We didn't manage to get the D-450 Zoom quite all the way down to *that* level, but found that it worked surprisingly well down to EV 6, or 0.5 foot-candles/5.5 lux. Not only did it capture useful detail at that low a light level, but color balance was exceptionally good. This last is really unusual even in high-end digicams under very low light conditions. To be sure, at that level, the camera was figuratively straining for every photon, producing a good bit of noise in the process, but the images were far beyond what we'd normally expect from a camera at the low price point of the D-450 Zoom!

The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

Range/Illumination: 
10 EV
8 fc
(425k)
9 EV
4 fc
(363k)
8 EV
2 fc
(408k)
7 EV
1 fc
(398k)
6 EV
0.5 fc
(427k)
5 EV
0.25 fc
(279k)


"Real" shooting conditions: Scientific laboratory measurements are fine, but how does the camera do in "real life"? Very well! Here is a series of shots taken at the local mall/movie complex. Illumination is about 1 foot-candle (11 lux), from a mix of high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor, and incandescent lighting. We shot one picture at each of the preset ISO values, the only difference being the resulting shutter speed and the image noise. All shots came out *far* better than we'd have expected from an under-$500 digicam!

ISO160
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(343K)
ISO320
Shutter: 1/4
Aperture: F2.8
(406K)
ISO640
Shutter: 1/8
Aperture: F2.8
(404K)


 
Flash Range Test (New)
(This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available.)_

Not all digicam on-board strobes work as far out as the manufacturers say they do. The on-board flash of the D-450 Zoom appears to be pretty conservatively rated however: Olympus says it's good to 8.5 feet in telephoto mode, but we in fact found it quite usable out to 10 feet or more. Plus, you can combine flash and boosted ISO to get *really* good flash range, out to perhaps 20 feet or so! The table below contains flash shots taken at ranges from 8 to 14 feet in telephoto mode.


Flash Range/Distance: 
8 ft
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4

(329k)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4
(367k)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4
(365k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4
(358k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4
(368k)
13 ft
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4
(391k)
14 ft
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4
(301k)
14 ft, ISO640
Shutter: 1/91
Aperture: F4.4
(417k)


ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (300k) This test is always interesting, as a way to pick apart "in the laboratory" what the camera is doing resolution-wise. In the case of the D-450 Zoom, we felt it performed very well in the resolution/sharpness department in the other tests we conducted. In particular, the images seemed quite sharp for a 1.5 megapixel camera.

Overall, resolution on the D-450 Zoom was good: It tested-out with a visual resolution of roughly 700 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and 650 lines per picture height vertically. These numbers are very much in line with other 1.5 megapixel digicams we've tested. Images shot in low-res mode are of good quality, although the single option for JPEG compression ratio leaves moderate artifacts. The images show almost no color artifacts. Shots in digital telephoto mode (51k) show less resolution than those taken as low-res shots in the first place. The tables below show the usual array of images shot in various combinations of size, quality, and sharpness setting.

Wide Angle
SHQ
(301k)
HQ
(163k)
SQ
(56k)

Note: This link (3,692K) is to an uncompressed TIFF version of this image. Your browser most likely won't know what to do with

Telephoto
SHQ
(308k)
HQ
(163k)
SQ
(55k)

Note: This link (3,692K) is to an uncompressed TIFF version of this image. Your browser most likely won't know what to do with

 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: We were surprised by how closely the optical and LCD viewfinders of the D-450 Zoom agreed with each other: The optical was a bit more accurate than most, the LCD slightly less. Overall though, very serviceable, and we think it's probably a good thing for most users to have the two viewfinders give more or less the same view. At the wide-angle end of the lens' range, the optical viewfinder (227k) shows about 91% of the final view, while the LCD viewfinder (227k) shows about 90.5%. At the telephoto end of the lens' range, the optical viewfinder (142k) shows 87.5% of the final view, while the LCD viewfinder (141k) shows 90%. (Surprising as it may seem, most LCD viewfinders show less than the full image area, so the less than 100% result for the D-450's LCD is about typical.) We unfortunately neglected to explicitly test the LCD viewfinder in Digital Telephoto mode.

Flash uniformity is better than most cameras, with only slight light falloff in the corners at the wide-angle end of the zoom range.

We've recently begun testing cameras for optical distortions, such as barrel/pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration. The D-450 Zoom showed moderately severe barrel distortion at the wide angle end, measuring 1.15% deviation across the width of the frame, but only a small 0.5% pincushion distortion in telephoto mode. Olympus is unique (at least to our knowledge) among digicam manufacturers, in that the software they supply with the camera has the ability to precisely correct barrel and pincushion automatically(!). The Camedia program has a "filter" that removes distortion, using the zoom information stored in the file header to determine the proper correction to apply.

Chromatic aberration was very low, with only the tiniest hint of color on test elements at the extreme corners of the resolution target. (We estimated chromatic aberration at ~0.5 pixels at the frame edges.)
 

 

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