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Quick Review

Olympus D-560 Zoom Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
User Level
Novice - Amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Good, 3.3-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
4x6, 5x7, 8x10
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
$349



Introduction

Review Links
Overview
Specifications
Design
Recommended Accessories
Operation
Sample Pictures
Conclusion

Olympus is one of the most widely-known names in photography, with an array of consumer, scientific, and industrial products ranging from 35mm cameras to film scanners to microscopes and even high-powered binoculars. Not surprisingly, Olympus has also made a strong showing in the digicam marketplace, building one of the broadest of successful consumer and prosumer cameras, ranging from pure entry-level, point-and-shoot digicams to the excellent pro-level E-20 SLR. The company's "D" series of digital cameras aims to please both novices and more advanced amateurs alike, with sleek, compact styling and a healthy assortment of features.

The newest member of this series, the D-560 Zoom, updates the previous D-550 with a more streamlined look and user interface. To get a lower price point, Olympus dropped a couple of manual controls on the D-560 Zoom, namely the ISO, sharpness, and contrast adjustments. Still, the camera offers a nice array of options, with four preset Scene modes and the same white balance and exposure compensation adjustments. With a suggested retail price of $349 and an average street price of $299 as of this writing in early May, 2003, the D-560 Zoom is a good digicam at a great price.

Camera Overview
With its clamshell sliding lens cover, the D-560 Zoom digicam is the newest entry into Olympus' popular consumer line of "D" series digicams. Slightly smaller than the preceding D-550 Zoom, the D-560 Zoom should fit into average coat pockets and purses with ease, and may slide into larger shirt pockets. A true, 3x optical zoom lens and 3.3-megapixel CCD capture great images, with good quality and detail, suitable for printing as large as 8x10 inches. A lower resolution setting is available for snapshot prints and email attachments.

The D-560 Zoom is equipped with a 3x, 5.8-17.4mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera). Maximum aperture ranges from f/3.1 to f/5.2, depending on the zoom setting. In its normal AF mode, the D-560 Zoom focuses from 1.6 feet (50 centimeters) to infinity, with a macro setting focusing as close as 8.0 inches (20 centimeters). The protective lens cover also acts as the power switch, and places the camera into Record mode, extending the lens another 5/8-inch from the camera body. In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the D-560 Zoom features as much as 3.3x digital zoom, increasing its zoom capabilities to 10x. However, because digital zoom simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD, image quality typically suffers. For composing images, the D-560 Zoom features a real-image optical viewfinder, as well as a 1.8-inch color LCD monitor.

Operating under Program Auto mode by default, the D-560 Zoom has an uncomplicated, straightforward user interface. A multi-page LCD menu system accesses the available settings, although you can adjust flash mode, the self-timer, macro mode, and zoom externally. An initial short-cut menu screen pops up before entering the main Record menu, which accesses the camera's Movie, Image Size, and Mode Reset options instantly, or you can enter the main Record menu. Aperture and shutter speed are automatically determined at all times (and are not reported to the user), with shutter speeds ranging from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second (extended to two seconds in Night Scene mode). By default, the camera uses a Digital ESP metering mode, which analyzes subject contrast and brightness across the entire frame to determine the best exposure. A Spot metering option is available for high contrast or off-center subjects through the Record menu. The camera's Exposure Compensation adjustment lets you increase or decrease the exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-half-step increments. There's also a White Balance setting, for adjusting overall color balance. Options include Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, and Fluorescent modes. The D-560 Zoom's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced (fill), and Suppressed (off) modes.

Program Auto is the main exposure mode for most normal shooting situations, which handles most normal shooting conditions. Four preset Scene modes are also available through the Record menu, including Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, and Self Portrait modes. Portrait mode captures the subject in front of a slightly blurred background, while Landscape gets both the subject and the background in sharp focus, great for portraits in front of scenery. Night Scene mode extends the available shutter times to two seconds, and automatically combines the flash with the slower shutter speed (you can cancel the flash if you want to). Self Portrait mode lets you point the camera at yourself (in-hand) and automatically fixes focus on you. The lens remains locked at the wide-angle setting so that you get a sharply-focused portrait. This is a great mode for those "prove you were there" shots.

Other camera features include a Self-Timer mode, which provides a 12-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the image is actually captured. For a motor-drive effect, the Sequential Shooting mode captures a rapid series of images while the Shutter button is held down. The actual number of images depends on the size and quality settings, as well as the amount of memory card space. The "2 in 1" photography mode records two vertically-oriented, half-sized images. After capture, the images are saved side-by-side as one image, giving a split-screen effect. As with many Olympus cameras, a panorama mode is available when using special Olympus xD-Picture Cards, and records as many as 10 consecutive images to blend into one panoramic image. For more creative effects, you can transform your full color images to sepia tone or black-and-white pictures through the camera's Playback menu. Finally, the D-560 Zoom has a Movie mode that records moving images (without sound) as long as the memory card has room, at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels.

The D-560 Zoom stores images on xD-Picture Cards, and comes with a 16MB card. I strongly suggest buying at least a 64MB card though, so you don't miss any important shots. A CD-ROM loaded with Camedia Master 4.1 accompanies the camera, compatible with both Windows and Macintosh platforms (including Windows XP and Mac OS X). Camedia Master provides minor image editing tools, as well as utilities for organizing images, and even a tool for "stitching together" multiple images into a single large panorama. 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 a single CR-V3 lithium-ion battery pack (all sold as separate accessories). I recommend picking up a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries, keeping the spare set freshly charged at all times. Click here to read my "battery shootout" page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, or here for my review of the Maha C-204F charger, my longtime favorite. The optional AC adapter is recommended for time-consuming tasks such downloading images to a computer. Also included with the D-560 Zoom is a video cable for connecting to a television set, and a USB cable for downloading images to a computer.


Basic Features

  • 3.3-megapixel CCD.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.8-inch color LCD display.
  • 3x, 5.8-17.4mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • 3.3x Digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control, with four preset Scene modes.
  • Built-in flash with four operating modes.
  • xD-Picture Card storage.
  • Power supplied by two AA batteries, CR-V3 lithium-ion pack or optional AC adapter.
  • Olympus Camedia Master software for both Mac and Windows.

Special Features

  • QuickTime movies (without sound).
  • Sequential Shooting mode.
  • Self-timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Panorama mode for stitching together multiple images.
  • "2 in 1" multi-exposure 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.
  • 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.)
Three Megapixel, 3x zoom
Canon A70 Prices
Fuji A303 Prices
Kodak DX4330 Prices
Minolta Xi (subcompact) Prices
Nikon 3100 Prices
Olympus 560 Prices
Olympus 550* Prices
Pentax 330GS Prices
Sony P72 Prices
* - model phasing out
Confused?
Check out Dave's Picks!

A compact, 3x optical zoom lens, 3.3-megapixel CCD, hassle-free point-and-shoot operation, and very good picture quality make the D-560 Zoom another excellent consumer digicam from Olympus. The availability of preset Scene modes helps deliver better pictures in common shooting situations, and the handful of exposure options provides some creative control. Image quality is high enough for making sharp 8x10-inch photographic prints or sending lower-resolution email attachments over the Internet. With its user-friendly interface, travel-worthy design, and good ease of use, the D-560 Zoom is a great entry-level camera with more than entry-level features. This would be a good camera for a family, easy to use but with enough capability to bring back good-looking photos from a wide range of situations.



Design
The D-560 Zoom features Olympus' definitive sliding lens cover, which serves not only to protect the lens but also as a power switch. Small and compact, the D-560 Zoom should find its way into coat pockets and purses with no problem, and may fit into larger shirt pockets. At a size just slightly smaller than the preceding D-550 Zoom, the D-560 Zoom measures 4.2 x 2.2 x 1.6 inches (108 x 58 x 40 millimeters). A molded plastic body keeps the D-560 Zoom's weight down to 8 ounces (229 grams) with batteries. With the included wrist strap attached, the D-560 Zoom is easy to hold and fits the hand well.

Beneath the sliding lens cover on the D-560 Zoom's front panel is the 3x zoom lens, an optical viewfinder window, flash, and a self-timer lamp. The sliding lens cover also controls the power, activating the camera and placing it into Record (Shooting) 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. Opening the lens cover also signals the lens to extend from the camera body another 5/8-inch.

The camera's right side holds the battery and xD-Picture Card compartments, as well as the USB jack and an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap. The battery compartment door slides down before opening outward to reveal the battery slot. Next to the battery compartment is the xD-Picture Card slot, protected by a hinged, plastic door, which swings open toward the rear panel. A small, rubbery flap protects the USB jack, which is directly above the memory compartment.

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

The top of the D-560 Zoom holds only the Shutter button and the zoom control.

The remaining external controls are all located on the camera's rear panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. Adjacent to the viewfinder eyepiece, on the right side, 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 (with multi-functional keys), a Display button, and a Menu / OK button. Along the far right side of the rear panel is a gently sculpted recess that accommodates your thumb as you hold the camera in your right hand, providing a secure grip.

The D-560 Zoom has a flat bottom panel, which holds the plastic threaded tripod mount. (I'm glad to see side access was given to both the battery and memory compartments, which allows for quick changes when shooting on a tripod.)


Camera Operation
Since the D-560 Zoom offers limited exposure control and a small number of external buttons, learning to use the camera shouldn't take too much time. Simply opening the lens cover puts it in Shooting mode. Entering Playback mode is a little less obvious, but just as simple, as you only have to press the Display button on the back panel when the lens cover is closed. Pressing the display 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, and navigates through on-screen menus. It also scrolls 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. (A function worth remembering, as the D-560's power consumption drops nearly to zero when the LCD is turned off, letting you run the camera literally for days without running down the batteries.) The LCD menu system accesses the majority of the D-560 Zoom's exposure options, and features four pages of options (although each page contains only a few settings) that are set up as subject tabs along the left side of the screen. The short-cut screen quickly takes you to often-changed settings, making operation even easier. Anyone already familiar with Olympus LCD menu systems should have no trouble, and even novices should get the gist of it after a few minutes.

Record-Mode Display
The D-560 Zoom has but a single record-mode display, shown at right. The display shows the center autofocus area along with currently-selected options for image size/quality, macro and flash mode, white balance, etc, as well as the number of images of the current size and quality that can be stored in the remaining space on the memory card.


Playback-Mode Display
In playback mode, you can use the D-560's zoom control to zoom in or out on an image, with a maximum enlargement of 4x. Zooming out from a full-frame view brings up a thumbnail display of the images on the card, letting you move quickly between them by via the arrow keys on the camera's back panel. The screen shot at right shows the progression of playback displays, beginning with the thumbnail index view and ending with a zoomed view at the maximum 4x magnification.

External Controls


Sliding Lens Cover
: Protecting the lens on the front of the camera, this sliding cover also serves as the power switch. Sliding the cover open turns the camera on and places it into Shooting (Record) mode, extending the lens. Likewise, closing the cover turns the camera off and returns to the lens to its closed position. (I like sliding covers of this sort , because they avoid the problem of the always-missing lens cap.)


Shutter Button
: The dominant control on the top panel, the Shutter button sets the camera's focus and exposure when halfway depressed. Fully depressing the button fires the shutter.


Zoom Rocker Button
: 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
: Adjacent to the top right corner of the LCD monitor on 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 accesses Macro shooting mode, or returns to the normal AF (autofocus) mode. The down arrow controls the Self-Timer mode, and the right arrow button selects Flash modes, cycling through Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, and Off.

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

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.


Display Button
: Just above 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, this button accesses Playback mode.

When the lens cover is closed, pressing this button powers 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).


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 (some options may change depending on the Scene mode selected):

  • Movie: Puts the camera into Movie Record mode, for recording moving images without sound. Recording times vary depending on the available memory space and the set resolution.
  • Image Size/Quality: Sets the image resolution and JPEG compression level. Available resolutions are 2,048 x 1,536 (SHQ); 2,048 x 1,536 (HQ); 1,024 x 768 (SQ1); and 640 x 480 (SQ2) pixels for still images. Movie resolutions are 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels.
  • Mode Reset: Resets the camera settings to their defaults.


  • Mode Menu: Displays the following four-page menu system:
    • Camera:
      • Scene Select: Selects the camera's exposure mode. Choices are Program Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, and Self-Portrait.
      • 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 have very different brightness levels. Digital ESP metering reads the entire image frame to determine exposure.
      • Exposure Compensation: Increases or decreases the overall exposure from -2.0 to +2.0 exposure values (EV) in one-half-step increments.
      • Drive: Activates One-Shot or Sequential Shooting capture modes.
      • Digital Zoom: Turns digital zoom on or off.
      • Panorama: Available only with Olympus special function cards, this mode captures as many as 10 consecutive shots to be stitched together on a computer into one panoramic image. Alignment guidelines appear on the screen to perfectly line up each shot.
      • 2 in 1: Somewhat the opposite 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.


    • Picture:
      • White Balance: Adjusts the overall color balance of the image, based on the light source. Options include: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, or Fluorescent.


    • Card:
      • Card Setup: Formats the xD-Picture Card, erasing all files (even write-protected ones).


    • Setup:
      • All Reset: Resets all of the camera settings to their defaults.
      • Language: Sets the menu language to English, French, German, or Spanish.
      • 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.
      • File Name: Resets file number with a new memory card.
      • Pixel Mapping: Checks the CCD and image processing system for any errors.
      • LCD Brightness: Adjusts the brightness level of the LCD monitor display.
      • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
      • Video Out: Specifies PAL or NTSC as the video signal.


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 allows you to review 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 memory card. (One press of the Menu button cancels the playback.) If a movie file is displayed, this option plays back the movie.
  • 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 displayed image 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise.
      • DPOF: Marks the 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 memory card.


    • Edit:
      • Black & White: Converts the displayed image to black-and-white and saves it as a new file.
      • Sepia: Converts the 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 displayed image to a smaller resolution (320 x 240 or 640 x 480 pixels) perfect for emailing.
      • Index: Creates an index image of a movie file, with nine frames.


    • Card:
      • Card Setup: Erases all files on the memory 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.
      • Language: Sets the menu language to English, French, German, or Spanish.
      • Beep: Turns the camera's beep sounds on or off.
      • LCD Brightness: Adjusts the brightness level of the LCD monitor display.
      • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
      • Video Out: Specifies PAL or NTSC as the video signal.
      • Index Display: Determines whether 4, 9, or 16 images are displayed on the Index Display screen.


Sample Pictures

See the full set of 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 Flash
Indoor
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy

 


"Gallery" Photos
For those readers interested in a set of less "standardized" photos from the P10, here are some thumbnails of more random shots snapped with it. Click on one any of the thumbnails below for a larger view. Click on the larger view again to see the original image from the camera. (Photos in this gallery were shot by Gibbs Frazeur or Stephanie Boozer. Thanks Gibbs and Stephanie!)

NOTE: that these are big files, so be aware that (a) they'll take a while to download, and (b) they'll chew up a pretty good chunk of bandwidth on us. (Read the "support this site" blurb at the top the carrier pages, and think about it while you're waiting for the images to download.

NOTE TOO: Some browsers have difficult with very wide images, and distort them a lot when they display them. (I don't know about others, but IE 5.0 on the Mac definitely does this. If the full-sized images appear to be stretched horizontally, you may need to just download them to your hard drive and view them in an imaging application, or possibly try another browser.)

Click to see YP4290001.JPG
YP4290001.JPG
1,659.4 KB
Shutter: 1/ 200
Aperture: F4.4
Exposure EV: 11.9
ISO Speed: 64
Click to see YP4290002.JPG
YP4290002.JPG
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Shutter: 1/ 100
Aperture: F8.7
Exposure EV: 12.8
ISO Speed: 64
Click to see YP4290004.JPG
YP4290004.JPG
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Shutter: 1/ 400
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure EV: 12.2
ISO Speed: 64
Click to see YP4290006.JPG
YP4290006.JPG
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Shutter: 1/ 250
Aperture: F4.5
Exposure EV: 12.3
ISO Speed: 64
Click to see YP4290009.JPG
YP4290009.JPG
1,706.8 KB
Shutter: 1/ 800
Aperture: F3.8
Exposure EV: 13.4
ISO Speed: 64
Click to see YP4290010.JPG
YP4290010.JPG
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Shutter: 1/ 200
Aperture: F4.6
Exposure EV: 12
ISO Speed: 64
Click to see YP4290012.JPG
YP4290012.JPG
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Shutter: 1/ 320
Aperture: F4.6
Exposure EV: 12.7
ISO Speed: 64
   


Specifications

See camera specifications here.


Picky Details
Cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc. can be found here.


User Reviews

 

Test Results
In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the D-560 Zoom's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how the D-560 Zoom's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

  • Color: Overall, the D-560 Zoom produced pretty pleasing color, although I'd say that none of my test shots had dead-on accurate color. Typically, the Auto white balance setting produced a slightly reddish-pink cast, and the Daylight setting was often somewhat warm. Nonetheless, overall color wasn't at all bad, and the slight color casts could be corrected post-capture with image editing software. On the difficult Indoor Portrait shots, the D-560's auto white balance setting did a better than average job with the very warm-hued room lighting. The camera handled pastel tones well, though I did notice that the some of the strong additive primary colors (intense red and blue shades) were just a bit oversaturated. Skin tones tended to be a bit on the pink side, but I expect that most consumers would find the net result pleasing.

  • Exposure: The D-560 Zoom's exposure system had a tendency to slightly underexpose some shots, but it did better than most on the Outdoor Portrait shot. Shadow detail was moderate, but midtones were reasonably bright in the high-key outdoor portrait. On my "Davebox" test, the D-560 Zoom had no trouble distinguishing the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target. The indoor portraits required an average amount of positive exposure compensation, as did the outdoor portrait, and the camera's photos tend to get rather contrasty under harsh lighting. Overall, though, a good job.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: The D-560 Zoom performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height vertically, and around 600 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines in the vertical direction, and as high as 1,050 lines in the horizontal direction. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,200 lines.

  • Closeups: The D-560 Zoom captured a fairly large macro area, measuring 7.71 x 5.78 inches (196 x 147 millimeters). Resolution is moderately high, with good detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Corner softness is present, but barely noticeable. The D-560 Zoom's flash almost throttles down too much for the macro area, with strong falloff in the corners of the frame. (Overall, the D-560 wouldn't be your first choice if you had a lot of macro shooting to do.)

  • Night Shots: The D-560 Zoom has a maximum two-second exposure time, accessible through the camera's Night Scene exposure mode. (The longer exposures are only available in Night Scene mode.) Even in this mode, the camera captured bright, usable images only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), about the equivalent of city street lighting at night. Color balance was slightly warm and reddish with the Auto white balance, going to a pinkish cast in the darker images. Image noise is low. Based on information in the EXIF headers of the JPEG files, it seems that the D-560 boosts its ISO setting automatically at low light levels, but this effect didn't seem to kick in quite as early as it should have. (If the ISO had been boosted a bit more, the photo at 1/2 foot-candle would have been perfectly acceptable.)

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: The D560 Zoom's optical viewfinder was very tight, showing only about 74 percent of the final frame at wide angle, and approximately 78 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 97 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 98 percent at telephoto. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D-560 Zoom's LCD monitor performed well in that regard, but I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder. (On the D-560, it's doubly regrettable that the optical VF isn't more accurate, as the camera's power consumption when it's run with the LCD left off is almost nonexistent.)

  • Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the D-560 Zoom was slightly higher than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I found only about a half-pixel of pincushion distortion. (That'd be about 0.03 percent pincushion.) Chromatic aberration is pretty good: There's as much as 5-6 pixels of blurring in the corners of the frame, but the color from the chromatic aberration is pretty weak. (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 only other distortion I noticed was some fairly slight corner softness in a number of my test photos.

  • Battery Life: Like most Olympus cameras I've tested, the D-560 Zoom showed very good battery life, particularly for a compact model, and most especially when the LCD was left off in capture mode. I still strongly recommend purchasing a couple of spare sets of batteries when you buy the camera, as Murphy's law definitely applies to digicam battery capacity (they always run out of juice at the worst possible moment), but the D-560 Zoom does much better than most compact digicams in this area. The one fly in the ointment is that the D-560's optical viewfinder is less accurate than most, which will force you to use the LCD more often than you otherwise might have to. Click here to read my "battery shootout" page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, or here for my review of the Maha C-204F charger, my longtime favorite.



In the Box
The D-560 Zoom ships with the following items in the box:

  • D-560 Zoom digital camera.
  • Wrist strap.
  • 16MB xD-Picture Card.
  • Video cable.
  • USB cable.
  • Two AA alkaline batteries (or one CR-V3 lithium battery).
  • CD-ROM loaded with Camedia Master 4.1 software and drivers.
  • Instruction manual and registration kit.



Recommended Accessories

  • Larger capacity xD-Picture Card (at least 64MB).
  • 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...



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.)
Three Megapixel, 3x zoom
Canon A70 Prices
Fuji A303 Prices
Kodak DX4330 Prices
Minolta Xi (subcompact) Prices
Nikon 3100 Prices
Olympus 560 Prices
Olympus 550* Prices
Pentax 330GS Prices
Sony P72 Prices
* - model phasing out
Confused?
Check out Dave's Picks!

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The D-560 Zoom is the next generation of Olympus' user-friendly "D" series digicams. With its available Scene shooting modes, 3.3-megapixel CCD, and 3x optical zoom lens, the D-560 Zoom is flexible, convenient, and easy to use. The point-and-shoot style will put novices at ease, while a handful of exposure and capture modes keeps the camera fun. The D-560 Zoom's compact size is perfect for travel as well. With a street price at introduction of $299, the D-560 Zoom is an affordable option for any consumer looking to step into digital photography without making a large investment. With its easy "pocketability," the D-560 Zoom is also a good second camera for more experienced enthusiasts. Overall, a very nice "all around" digicam.



 

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