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"Picky Details" for the Olympus D-540 Zoom digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

Timing
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time or delay before the shutter actually fires. This corresponds to the time required for the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is rarely reported on (and even more rarely reported accurately), and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure both shutter delay and shot to shot cycle times for all cameras I test, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Olympus D-540:

 

Olympus D-540 Zoom Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
3.9
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. About average.
Shutdown
3.1 - 8
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. About average.
Play to Record, first shot
1.5
Time until first shot is captured. A little slow.
Record to play
4.6 - 1.6
First time is that required to display a large/fine file immediately after capture, second time is that needed to display a large/fine file that has already been processed and stored on the memory card. Average to a little slower than average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.44 / 1.06
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Definitely on the slow side of average. (Average is a range of 0.8 - 1.0 second.)
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.213
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Reasonably fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

4.84 / 3.31

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. No buffer memory, all shots take this long. Definitely on the slow side of average, largely due to the lack of buffer memory.
Cycle Time, continuous mode 0.88
(1.13 fps)
Continuous mode is available only for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Buffer clears in 8 seconds after a dozen shots. Pretty modest capability, by current standards, particularly given that it's limited to small file sizes.

Like most entry-level cameras, the D-540 Zoom is no speed demon. It's shutter response is positively leisurely, as are its shot to shot cycle times. If you can become accustomed to "prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button a second or two before the critical moment arrives, the shutter lag in that mode is manageable. - But this approach also relies upon your subject not moving toward or away from the camera between when you prefocus and when you finally snap the shutter. Adequate for relatively static subjects, the D-540 Zoom definitely wouldn't be the camera to use for fast-paced action.

 

Power

The Olympus D-540 Zoom uses two AA batteries or a CR-V3 lithium battery for power. Two ordinary alkaline AA are provided, though NiMH rechargeable AA's are recommended. The test numbers are for a pair of NiMH AA's, with the 1600 mAh "standard capacity" I've continued to use for the sake of consistency with numbers posted in older reviews. Current cells are availble with true (vs advertised) capacities of 2000 mAh or higher, so your results should be better than the numbers shown, provided you purchase good-quality cells. (See my Battery Shootout page for actual test results from a variety of brands.)

Operating Mode
Power
(@3.2 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(two 1600 mA cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
646 mA
111
Capture Mode, no LCD
6.9 mA
175 hours(!)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
637 mA
113
Half-pressed w/o LCD
452 mA
159
Memory Write (transient)
771 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1802 mA
n/a
Image Playback
290 mA
249

With a worst-case run time of almost two hours (based on older 1600 mAh NiMH cells), the D-540 Zoom has fairly good battery life, particularly for a camera powered by only two AA cells. Like many Olympus cameras though, it offers amazing battery life when the LCD display is left off in capture mode. Unfortunately though, the D-540's optical viewfinder is so inaccurate that you'll be forced to use the LCD for framing in all but the most hurried/casual situations.

Storage Capacity
The Olympus stores its photos on Compact Flash memory cards, and a 16 MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64 MB card, preferably a 128 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 16 MB card at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
2,048 x 1,536 Images
(Avg size)
6
2.4 MB
20
790 KB
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1
1,600 x 1,200 Images
(Avg size)
32
500 KB
n/a
Approx.
Compression
11:1 n/a
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
166
96 KB
n/a
Approx.
Compression
10:1 n/a

 

Download Speed
The Olympus connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony desktop running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), I clocked it at 667 KBytes/second. This is about as fast as cameras with USB v1.1 interfaces get. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast v1.1 interfaces run as high as 600 KB/s. Cameras with USB v2.0 interfaces run as fast as several megabytes/second.)

D-540 Review
D-540 Test Images
D-540 Specifications
D-540 "Picky Details"
Up to Imaging Resource digital cameras area

 

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