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Olympus D-520 Digital Camera

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Update Date
08/27/02
Review Date
03/19/02
User Level
Novice - Amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Good, 2.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
4x6, 5x7, 8x10
Availability
April, 2002
Suggested Retail Price
$299


Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Sample Pictures
Specifications
Conclusion

Introduction
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 microscopes and medical equipment, 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 very capable pro-level E-20 SLR. The Camedia D-520 Zoom is an entry level digicam, sporting a 2.0-megapixel CCD and a 3x optical glass zoom lens. Designed primarily for the beginning photographer, the D-520 leaves nothing to chance. Its fully automatic exposure system requires very little user intervention, although it does permit some exposure and white balance adjustments at the user's option. 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 (even though it only uses two AA cells), and the automatic USB connection (pioneered by Olympus, but quickly becoming a standard in the industry) means you can walk up to virtually any computer and immediately download and view your images.


Camera Overview
The Olympus Camedia D-520 Zoom is now the fifth camera in a long and successful line of products stretching back to the original D-400 Zoom almost 3 years ago. Introduced as an update to the previous Camedia D-510 from Olympus, the D-520 features a more compact body and a handful of updated exposure options. Though the CCD resolution remains the same at 2.0 megapixels, and the body style is very similar, there are subtle differences between the two models. For example, the D-520 now features expanded capture options for dual-subject portraits and a split-screen image view. However, I was disappointed to see that the D-520 does not feature the ISO, Sharpness, or Contrast adjustments that were available on the D-510. (I suppose Olympus eliminated these features in an effort to reduce the camera's price point.)

The D-520 maintains Olympus' popular sliding lens cover design, which enhances portability by allowing you to stash it in a pocket or purse without worrying about bumping or scratching the lens. The D-520's streamlined, all-plastic body is portable and lightweight, with slightly smaller dimensions than the previous D-510 model. A 3x, 5-15mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera) offers a maximum aperture that ranges from f/2.8 to f/4.4, depending on the zoom setting, and a normal focal range from 31 inches (80 centimeters) to infinity. A Macro shooting mode lets the camera focus from eight to 31 inches (20 to 80 centimeters) for small subjects. Focus is set automatically, thanks to an efficient contrast-detection autofocus system. In addition to 3x optical zoom, the D-520's 3x Digital Zoom function lets you "zoom" in even closer, although like all digital zooms, it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD thereby resulting in lower image quality. The 2.0-megapixel CCD produces high-resolution images, good enough for printing to 8x10 inches, as well as lower-resolution images for sending via email or for printing 4x6- and 5x7-inch snapshots.

Exposure control on the D-520 is very simple, as the camera operates under automatic exposure at all times. Sliding open the lens cover activates the camera and places it in shooting mode, making it quick on the draw (although the telescoping lens causes a slight startup delay). Most of the exposure options are controlled through the multi-page LCD menu system. To ease menu navigation, Olympus redesigned the menu system on the D-520 to include an initial shortcut menu screen similar to those on their other recent cameras. The shortcut screen pops up before entering the main Record menu, providing quick access to setting menus for Drive, Image Size, and Function options. Aperture and shutter speed are automatically determined, but 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 are all user-adjustable. The D-520's built-in flash pops up automatically whenever the lens cover is opened, and is effective to approximately 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) in telephoto mode and 13 feet (4 meters) in wide-angle mode. In addition to the standard flash modes, the D-520 also includes a Red-Eye setting that reduces the occurrence of red-eye in portraits as well as a Slow Sync setting for twilight portraits.

As I alluded to above, the D-520 also offers some interesting creative options, some of which represent enhancements over the capabilities of the D-510. A Movie mode records QuickTime movies (without sound) at 320 x 240-pixel resolution, great for capturing (brief) special moments at parties or special events. A Self-Timer mode lets you get in your own pictures, by providing a 12-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the image is actually captured. The Continuous Shooting mode captures as many as five images in rapid succession while the Shutter button is held down (assuming there's room on the SmartMedia card). As with many Olympus cameras, a panorama mode is also available when using special Olympus SmartMedia storage cards. Panorama mode records as many as 10 consecutive images which can be blended together on your computer to form a single, large panoramic photo. (The Olympus software bundled with the program has the ability to "stitch" together multiple images to make panoramic photos.) New on the D-520 is a Dual-Subject Portrait mode, which focus and expose accurately when photographing two or more people. (A camera's autofocus and exposure systems can have trouble when two or more people are in a shot, because the off-center subjects are outside the normal metering and autofocus areas.) Another new feature is the "2 in 1" capture mode, which records two vertically-oriented, half-sized images. After capture, the images are saved side-by-side as one image, giving a split-screen effect. (I have to confess that I don't know why this feature is included, as I can't imagine using it in my own photography.) Finally, you can transform your full color images into sepia-toned or black-and-white pictures through an option available on the camera's Playback menu.

The D-520 stores images on a 3.3v SmartMedia card. The camera ships with a 16MB card, and larger cards are available in sizes as large as 128MB. I strongly suggest buying a larger card, at least 32MB, so you don't miss any important shots. Memory cards are cheap enough these days that there's no reason to skimp on storage space.

The camera comes with a set of two single-use AA alkaline batteries, but can also use NiMH, lithium, or NiCd batteries, as well as the CR-V3 lithium-ion battery pack (sold as an accessory). Olympus has made real strides with power consumption on their cameras, but as always, I still highly recommend picking up couple of sets of rechargeable batteries and a good charger, and keeping a spare set freshly charged at all times. The optional AC adapter is handy for time-consuming tasks such downloading images to a computer, although having high-capacity rechargeable batteries largely eliminates the need for it. Also included with the D-520 is an NTSC video cable (US and Japanese models, European units presumably ship with a PAL cable) for connecting to a television set, and a USB cable for downloading images to a computer.


Basic Features

  • 2.0-megapixel CCD.
  • Optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD display.
  • 3x, 5-15mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • 3x Digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control.
  • Auto ISO range from 80-200.
  • Built-in, pop-up flash.
  • SmartMedia memory card storage.
  • Power supplied by two AA batteries (alkaline cells included) or optional AC adapter.
  • Olympus Camedia Master software for both Mac and Windows.

Special Features

  • QuickTime movies (without sound).
  • Continuous Shooting mode.
  • Self-timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Panorama mode for stitching together multiple images on your computer.
  • Dual-Subject Portrait mode.
  • 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) and USB cable.
  • NTSC video cable for connection to a television set.


Recommendation

Midrange Point & Shoots
If you're interested in the camera in this review, here are some competing models that may also interest you. (Camera names that aren't links are those we haven't reviewed yet. - Stay tuned.)
Two Megapixel, 3x zoom
Canon A60 (no review yet)  
Fuji A203 (no review yet)  
Nikon 2100 Prices
Olympus 520* Prices
Sony P52 (no review yet)  
* - model phasing out

The D-520 is a good-quality point-and-shoot digicam, offering all the basic user options to handle average shooting conditions. Its streamlined, compact design is clearly meant to go places, and image quality is high enough for making 8x10-inch photographic prints or sending e-mail attachments over the Internet. The D-520's limited external controls keep the learning curve to a minimum, along with the simple-to-follow LCD menu system. However, the 3x optical zoom provides great opportunities for improving the framing of your photos, and for capturing more distant subjects. Perfect for young adults or novice users who want to gradually step into digital photography, the D-520 offers good picture-taking capabilities and an easy learning curve in a very affordable package.


Design
The Olympus D-520 conforms to the familiar sliding lens cover "clamshell" design that has become a trademark of consumer-level Olympus digicams. A molded plastic body keeps the D-520's weight down to just 6.1 ounces (174 grams) without batteries, and its thin dimensions are less bulky than previous models at 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches (112 x 62 x 35 millimeters). The D-520 is just the right size for most shirt pockets, and will also be at home in coat pockets, purses, hip-packs, and the like, thanks to the sliding cover that protects the lens when the camera is stowed. With the included wrist strap attached, the D-520 is easy to hold onto.

 

 

The front of the camera contains the 3x zoom lens, an optical viewfinder window, built-in flash, and the self-timer lamp that counts down the 12-second delay before the shutter fires. The clamshell-style sliding lens cover also serves as the power switch, activating the camera and placing it in Record (Shooting) mode. When opened, the cover provides a sculpted ridge near the right edge of the camera (as viewed from the back), offering a convenient grip for your fingers as they wrap around the camera. Opening the lens cover also signals the lens to extend from the camera body, and pops up the built-in flash.

 

 

On the camera's right side is the SmartMedia compartment and an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap. The SmartMedia compartment door opens from the front of the camera, hinged such that it can open as wide as necessary to access the card. The central portion of the door hinge functions as the wrist strap eyelet.

 

 

On the opposite side of the camera are the DC In, Video Out, and USB jacks, covered by a rubber strip that lifts up and out of the way to reveal the connectors. The bottom of the strip remains attached to the camera, so you don't have to worry about losing the protective cover.

 

 

The top of the D-520 is fairly smooth when the flash is in its compartment, and features only the smokey silver Shutter button and the lens zoom control in addition to the pop-up flash.

 

 

The remaining external controls are all located on the camera's rear panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and 1.5-inch, color LCD monitor. Just to the right of the viewfinder eyepiece are two LED lamps that report camera status. (For example, the top lamp flashes orange when the flash is charging, and the bottom, green, lamp indicates when focus is set.) 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 indentation that accommodates your thumb as you hold the camera in your right hand.

 

 

The D-520 has a very flat bottom panel, which holds the battery compartment door and plastic, threaded tripod mount. The tripod mount is off-center from the lens, and too close to the battery compartment door to allow for quick battery changes while mounted on a tripod. A sliding plastic door, hinged on the top side, protects the compartment.


Camera Operation
Thanks to its limited exposure control and relatively few external controls, learning to use the D-520 shouldn't take too much time. Simply opening the lens cover places it in Shooting mode, extending the lens and instantly popping up the flash (the flash automatically enters automatic mode, firing when the camera thinks it appropriate). Entering Playback mode is a little less obvious, but just as simple, as you need only 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 accessing Macro, Self-Timer, and Flash modes, navigating through on-screen menus, and scrolling through captured images in Playback mode. 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-520's exposure options are accessed through the LCD menu system which features five pages of options (though each page has only a few settings on it). Olympus redesigned the menu system to include an initial screen of shortcuts (similar to other recently-released Olympus digicams), which also accesses the main Record menu. Though file size and Drive modes are now more easily accessed through the shortcuts, remaining options like Exposure Compensation and White Balance still require navigation through the multi-page menu system. Despite the multiple menu pages though, the D-520 is very uncomplicated and quick to learn. A novice user shouldn't require much more than a half-hour to an hour to get the hang of it.

External Controls

Sliding Lens Cover: Protecting the lens when the camera's not in use, this sliding cover also serves as the power switch. Sliding the cover open turns the camera on and places it in Shooting (Record) mode. Opening the cover causes the lens to telescope outward and pops up the built-in flash. Likewise, closing the cover turns the camera off and returns to the lens to its closed position. (You must manually close the flash, however, and shutting down the camera is a two-step process, first partially closing the lens cover to start the lens retracting, then fully closing it once the lens has retracted all the way.)


Shutter Button: The dominant control on the top panel, the Shutter button sets the camera's exposure when halfway depressed, and triggers the shutter when fully pressed.


Zoom Toggle: Directly to the right of the Shutter button, this two-way rocker button controls the optical and digital zoom (when enabled) in Shooting mode. In Playback mode, this button controls the digital enlargement of captured images, and also accesses the index display mode.


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 arrow enables the Macro shooting mode, the down arrow controls the Self-Timer mode, and the right arrow button selects Flash modes, cycling through Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, Slow Sync, and Slow Sync with Red-Eye Reduction.

In Playback mode, the right and left arrows scroll through captured images. When an image has been enlarged, all four arrows navigate within the zoomed view.


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, it switches the camera to Playback mode.

When the lens cover is closed, pressing this button turns 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:

  • Drive: Selects One-Shot (the default), Continuous Shooting, or Movie capture mode.
  • Image Size/Quality: Sets the image resolution and JPEG compression level. Options are SHQ (1,600 x 1,200 with low image compression), HQ (1,600 x 1,200 with more image compression), SQ1 (1,024 x 768), and SQ2 (640 x 480).
  • Function: Activates one of the special function modes:
    • 2 in 1: A miniature version of the Panorama mode, this mode lets you capture two vertically-oriented "half" images which are fused together and saved as one file (images are placed side-by-side). Thus, you can capture two individual portraits and have them placed together in the same image, like a split-screen view.
    • Dual-Subject Portrait: Adjusts the camera for capturing a portrait of two or more people. Instead of basing the exposure and focus on a centrally-placed subject, this mode sets up the camera to judge for two subjects on either side of the center of the frame.
    • Panorama: Available only with Olympus SmartMedia cards, this mode captures as many as 10 consecutive shots to be stitched together on your computer into one panoramic image. Alignment guidelines appear on the screen to help line up each shot, and exposure for all shots in the series is set based on the first image.

  • Mode Menu: Displays the following four-page menu system:
    • Camera:
      • 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) light as would normally be let into the camera.
      • Digital Zoom: Turns digital zoom on or off.
      • Metering: Sets the camera's metering system to Spot or ESP (default). Spot metering reads the exposure from the very center of the frame, handy for backlit subjects, or any time the subject and background are very different in brightness. Digital ESP metering reads the entire image frame to determine exposure.
    • Picture:
      • White Balance: Adjusts the overall color balance of the image, based on the light source. Options include: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, or Fluorescent.
    • Card:
      • Card Setup: Formats the SmartMedia card, erasing all files (even write-protected ones).
    • Setup:
      • All Reset: Resets all of the camera settings to their defaults.
      • Beep: Turns the camera's beep sounds on or off.
      • 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.
      • 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 lets you review previously-captured images. The following playback options are available through the Playback settings menu:

  • Slide Show: Automates a slide show of all still images on the SmartMedia card. (One press of the Menu button cancels the playback.)
  • Info: Activates a more detailed information display of exposure settings for each captured image, which displays for a few seconds and then disappears.
  • Erase: Erases the currently-displayed image, with an option to cancel.





  • Mode Menu: Displays the following four-page menu:
    • Play:
      • 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).
      • Rotate: Rotates the currently displayed image 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise.
      • 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, whether or not the date and time are printed over the image, or remove the print mark. Note that this setting is only available for images saved on the SmartMedia card.
    • Edit:
      • 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-fashioned picture, and saves the converted image as a new file.
      • Resize: Allows you to resize the currently displayed image to a smaller resolution.
    • Card:
      • Card Setup: Erases all files on the SmartMedia card (except for write-protected ones), or formats the memory card entirely. Both options can be canceled.
    • Setup:
      • All Reset: Resets all camera settings to their defaults.
      • Beep: Turns the camera's beep sounds on or off.
      • Index Display: Determines whether 4, 9, or 16 images are displayed on the Index Display screen.
      • LCD Brightness: Adjust the brightness level of the LCD monitor display.
      • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.

 

Sample Pictures
See my sample pictures and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of my test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.

Outdoor
Indoor
Indoor Flash
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy

 


Specifications
See the specifications sheet here.


Picky Details
Click here for detailed test data on cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc.


Test Results
Test Results
This section has now been updated based on results obtained from a full production-level camera. See the D-520's sample pictures page for a full analysis.

  • Color:The D-520 produced good, very natural-looking color under a variety of shooting conditions. It did have some trouble with the very warm color cast of the household incandescent lighting of the "Indoor Portrait" test though. There, the incandescent white balance setting did the best job, but the resulting photos could really stand a little color cleanup in an image editing program. Under outdoor conditions though, it produced very natural looking skin tones and even managed to do a good job with the always-difficult blues in the Outdoor Portrait test that are a problem for so many cameras. Its white balance tended a bit toward the warm side, but the overall color nonetheless came out looking pretty good. Bottom line, a noticeable improvement from previous D-5xx models, and a good performance overall.
  • Exposure: The D-520's automatic exposure system did a good job in most instances. Like most cameras I test, it responded to the very bright and harshly lit outdoor portrait shot with with a slight underexposure, requiring roughly 0.7 EV of manual exposure compensation to get a good exposure. Contrast and tonality was pretty good, as the camera managed to hold highlight detail pretty well under contrasty lighting, without overly darkening the midtones and shadows. A good performance overall, with only slightly more contrast than I personally prefer.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: The D-520's shots showed pretty average sharpness and resolution for a two megapixel camera. It turned in an average to slightly better than average two megapixel performance on the laboratory resolution test target, with a measured resolution of 800-850 lines per picture height. Beyond the resolution though, sharpness was better than come competitors in its price range. (Not astonishingly so, but enough to be worth mentioning.) It should produce acceptable-looking prints as large as 8x10 inches..
    .
  • Closeups: Closeup shooting isn't the D-520's strong suit. It captured a larger than average macro area, at 7.24 x 5.43 inches (184 x 138 millimeters). Resolution was moderate, and details were a little soft throughout the frame (making it difficult to determine any additional corner softness). I noticed a little barrel distortion from the wide-angle lens setting required in the D-520's macro mode, although it was a little hard to tell in the D-520's shots of my target, as the greater shooting distance meant there weren't any straight lines close to the edges of the frame. On the plus side though, the D-520 Zoom's flash throttled down fairly well for the macro area, albeit with some falloff in the corners of the frame. Bottom line, The D-520 wouldn't be your first choice if you had lots of very small objects to shoot, but if you can live with its larger than average minimum area, you'll at least be able to use the flash for your macro shots.
  • Night Shots: With automatic exposure control and a maximum shutter time of 1/2 second, the D-520 can only handle light levels as low as about 2 foot-candles (22 lux). This is about twice as bright as a typical city night scene, so you'll find you need to use the flash under such conditions. Color balance in low light conditions is pretty good though, and the flash has a usable range of about 11 feet, with fairly uniform coverage.
  • Viewfinder Accuracy:The D-520 Zoom's optical viewfinder is just a little tight, showing approximately 90 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 88 percent at telephoto. Though a little tight, this is a bit better than average for an optical viewfinder. The LCD monitor fared much better, as I measured about 99 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D-520 Zoom does an excellent job here.) Overall, better than average viewfinder performance.
  • Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the D-520 Zoom is quite high at the wide-angle end, as I measured a 1.11 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, with a 0.4 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about two or three pixels of light coloration on either side of the target lines. (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.) I'd really like to see less barrel distortion in the D-520's optics, so I'd give it a B- grade for lens quality.
  • Battery Life: Like many of Olympus' cameras, the D-520 Zoom does very well in the battery life department. This is particularly impressive, given that it runs from only two AA-sized batteries. Even it its worst case power-consumption mode, it'll give you well over three hours of run time from true 1600 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. Better yet, its power consumption drops to almost zero if you leave the LCD monitor turned off. (And the more-than-usually-accurate optical viewfinder helps reduce your dependence on the LCD for accurate framing.) Run time in playback mode stretches to nearly six and a half hours (!) with the same high-quality NiMH batteries. While these are really excellent run times, I still strongly recommend buying a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger. Click here to read my "Battery Shootout" page, to find which of the current crop of NiMH cells perform the best. Click here to read about my favorite NiMH battery charger.



In the Box
The D-520 Zoom ships with the following items in the box (in the US, other countries may have different bundles of included accessories and/or software):

  • Camedia D-520 Zoom digital camera.
  • Wrist strap.
  • 16MB SmartMedia memory card.
  • Video cable.
  • USB cable.
  • Two single-use AA alkaline batteries.
  • CD-ROM loaded with Olympus Camedia Master 4.0 software and drivers.
  • Instruction manual, quick start guide and registration kit.

Recommended Accessories

  • SmartMedia card (at least 32MB).
  • AC Adapter.
  • Two sets of rechargeable AA batteries and charger. (Click here to read about the recommended charger.)
  • Small camera case for outdoor protection.

Recommended Software: Rescue your images!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. I get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

 


About Batteries
Time for my standard battery tirade: I've gotten so many emails about power issues for digicams, that I'm 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 though the D-520's battery life is far better than average, you should do yourself a favor, and get a couple of extra sets of high-capacity NiMH AA cells, and always keep one set charged and ready to go while the other is in the camera. Click here to read my "Battery Shootout" page, to find which of the current crop of NiMH cells perform the best. Click here to read about my favorite NiMH battery charger. There's nothing more frustrating than running out of battery power in the middle of an outing. Spend the money on good-quality batteries and you'll be glad you did.


Conclusion

Midrange Point & Shoots
If you're interested in the camera in this review, here are some competing models that may also interest you. (Camera names that aren't links are those we haven't reviewed yet. - Stay tuned.)
Two Megapixel, 3x zoom
Canon A60 (no review yet)  
Fuji A203 (no review yet)  
Nikon 2100 Prices
Olympus 520* Prices
Sony P52 (no review yet)  
* - model phasing out

My first look at the D-520 Zoom was pretty encouraging, and thorough testing of a production model confirmed all my early impressions. The D-520 looks to have all the necessary accouterments for a successful consumer point & shoot. The previous D-510 was an exceptionally popular 2 megapixel camera, and the 520 adds several new features, runs on only two batteries, is a fair bit smaller overall, and has much improved image and color quality. Though I'd have preferred that Olympus again include the ISO, Sharpness, and Contrast adjustments that were on the previous D-510 model, I still think the D-520 is flexible enough to handle most normal shooting conditions, and the simpler controls will doubtless appeal to the novice users it's aimed at. It's not a barn-burner in the low light or macro categories, but in other areas it does quite well indeed. Given the good image quality it showed in my testing, I'd say Olympus has another winner on its hands. If you're looking for a basic camera that's easy to use and snaps good photos, the D-520 Zoom deserves a hard look.

 

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Olympus D-520 Zoom, or add comments of your own!


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