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Olympus D-460 Zoom

Olympus updates a popular 1.3 megapixel model with improved features and a simpler interface.

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 6/14/2000

Test Results
As always in our reviews, we strongly encourage you to view the sample pictures we shot with the D-460Zoom. If you're shopping for a camera, there's simply no substitute for looking at and directly comparing images from various cameras you may be considering. What makes a "good" picture is almost entirely subjective, and it's ultimately up to each person to decide what makes them happy. (Kinda like life, that way... ;-) View the pictures on the D-460Zoom sample photo page, and compare them with ones shot under similar conditions by other cameras, in the Comparometer(tm). Download them and print them out on your printer, since appearances on-screen can be deceiving. Then make your decision, based on what you see!

A worthy update to its predecessor (the D-450Zoom), the Olympus D-460Zoom offers a simple user interface with fewer external buttons, while providing improved image quality in virtually every area: Colors are brighter and more accurate, color saturation is more correct in more instances, and the lens seems sharper as well. Providing 1.3 megapixels of resolution, a true 3x optical zoom lens, and excellent exposure control, it is a powerful entry in the middle range of the current (June, 2000) digicam market. Color accuracy is very good, and images sharp and contrasty. One consequence of the higher contrast (and snappy-looking pictures) though, is the D-460 tends to lose detail in strong highlights and shadows, as on our outdoor portrait test. Detail was very good, we felt it offered a noticeable improvement in this area relative to the D-450. Part of this excellent detail is that the camera seems to do a just-right job with the in-camera sharpening, making edges nice and crisp but showing no evidence of the "halo effect" produced by over-sharpening.

In our laboratory resolution test, the D-460Zoom scored about in the middle of the 1280x960 pixel pack, with a visual resolution of 600 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and 550 in the vertical, both numbers measured with the lens at its wide angle setting. Telephoto resolution measures about the same, but the images is slightly softer, a typical behavior among digicam zoom lenses we've tested. (Oddly, in this "laboratory" resolution test, the D460 didn't perform as well relative to the earlier D450 as it did with "natural" subjects. It appears there's a bit more in-camera sharpening applied by the D-460Zoom, which may increase the apparent detail on natural subjects, but interfere with the finest target elements on our resolution target. This discrepancy between the "objective" test target and the natural subjects is another example of why we use both in our evaluations.)

The D-460Zoom also did pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.89 x 2.17 inches (73.41 x 55.06 mm) at the furthest telephoto setting.

Although superior to it's predecessor in most respects, the D460 slipped slightly in the low-light category. While the C-450 could work reasonably well all the way down to light levels of 1/2 of a foot-candle (5.5 lux), the D-460 really only goes down to about 1 foot-candle (11 lux). Still, this is quite adequate for a wide range of uses, since a typical city night scene under average street-lighting corresponds to a light level of about 1 foot-candle.

We found the D-460's optical viewfinder to be a little "tight", showing about 88 percent of the final image area in wide angleand about 87 percent of the final view at telephoto(the smaller image size, 640 x 480, produced the same level of accuracy). (Note this is a change in our nomenclature: Previously we would have called this viewfinder behavior "loose", but have switched to better reflect what the user sees when actually looking through the viewfinder.) We also noticed that the optical viewfinder produced a slightly rotated final image, possibly due to a shifted CCD sensor. The LCD monitor was only slightly more accurate, showing about 89 percent of the final image area in wide angle and about 90 percent accuracy at telephoto.(As with the optical viewfinder, the percentage stayed the same with the smaller image size.) We generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible: Many digicams show about 90-95% of the final image on their LCD displays, so the D-460's LCD monitor is toward the lower end of the typical range. The upside though, is that the optical and LCD viewfinders agree with each other unusually well, making it easier to switch between the two without having to rethink your framing choices.

Geometric distortion on the D-460Zoom was is moderate to high, with the lens showing a 0.8 percent barrel distortion at the wide angle end although only a 0.3 percent pincushion distortion at the telephoto end. (This is actually a very typical range among consumer digicams, even a bit lower distortion than average on the telephoto end. We'd really like to see less barrel distortion at the wide angle end of the lenses' range, so have begun to judge cameras a little more harshly in that area. Thus, we report the D-460Zoom's barrel distortion as being "moderate to high", even though most cameras it competes with show about the same amount of distortion. Hopefully our critical attitude towards this characteristic will encourage manufacturers to reduce this distortion in their lens designs.) Chromatic aberration ranges from moderate at wide angle (we caught about two pixels of coloration on each side of the corner elements in our resolution test target), to quite good at the telephoto lens setting. (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). Flash distribution looks good, with just a little falloff at the corners at the wide angle setting.

In summary, as we stated at the outset, we were quite impressed with the D-460Zoom's image quality, and feel it is a very solid performer in the midrange digicam category.



Conclusion
Overall, we found the D-460 Zoom an excellent camera for consumers accustomed to the point and shoot style. There are some manual controls available, but the majority of the exposure settings are automatically selected. The straightforward user interface and the uncomplicated LCD menu system mean you won't spend too much time flipping through the manual. We still find the need to pause as you shut the camera down annoying, but the resulting smooth, pocket friendly contours make up for it. Compact and very portable, the D-460 Zoom's low price, nice assortment of features, and excellent image quality make it a great solution for those wanting a good digicam that'll go just about anywhere.

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