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Digital Cameras - Olympus D-380 Test Images

(Original test posting: 06/20/02)

I'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, I'm posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!


Outdoor Portrait:

The high contrast leaves midtones a little dark, but color is very good.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the D-380's shots were just a little contrasty overall. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which gave good highlights but somewhat dark midtones. Adjusting the exposure compensation to +0.7 EV brightened the midtones significantly, but lost a lot of highlight detail. I chose the Daylight white balance setting as the most accurate overall, as the Auto setting produced a warm, yellowish cast. Skin tones look good, if a little magenta. The blue flowers are bright, but show purplish tints in the deeper shadows (not too bad a performance though, considering the trouble many digicams have with this blue). Resolution is moderate, with the flowers showing strong detail. Detail is also fairly strong in the shadows, with moderately low image noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files D38OUTDP0.HTM through D38OUTDP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



Closer Portrait:

The wide-angle, fixed focal length lens on the D-380 meant I'd have had to get so close that Marti's nose would have filled an appreciable part of the photo. She's too nice a lady, doesn't deserve that kind of treatment. ;-) Seriously, cameras with wide angle lenses like the D-380 aren't the ideal choice for close-up portrait shots. - Check out the D-520 for a similar camera with a zoom lens.



Indoor Portrait, Flash:

Normal Flash +0.7 EV
Slow-Sync Flash +0.7 EV

Bluish tints from the flash, but overall color is very good.

The D-380's built-in flash was a little dim at the camera's default exposure setting. The background incandescent lighting produces an orange cast on the back wall, and Marti shows bluish tints from the flash itself. Boosting the exposure to +0.7 EV brightened the shot significantly, decreasing the color casts and producing more accurate color on Marti (though some bluish tints remain in the shadows of her shirt). I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, which allowed more ambient light in to brighten the exposure, particularly the background. I again found the best results with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which produced a brighter, more even, exposure. Some bluish tints remain on Marti though, especially on her face. Color on the flower bouquet is slightly washed out from the flash, but still looks much better than average.d. (Click here for the Slow-Sync setting at the default exposure.)



Indoor Portrait, No Flash:

Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Strong color casts, but good exposure.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The D-380 had a little trouble here, producing color casts with both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings. I chose the Auto setting for the main shot, with an exposure adjustment of +0.7 EV. Picking the best shot was a bit of a toss up here: The Auto was really rather sepia-looking, while the Incandescent version looked a bit too pinkish. I ended up choosing the Incandescent white balance as being the most natural-looking. Skin tones are very ruddy from the color cast, and Marti's shirt and flower bouquet show the cast as well(the blue flowers are very dark and purplish, a common problem with this shot). Here's a sample image at the +1.0 EV exposure compensation setting, in the Auto white balance.



House Shot:

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slightly high contrast and only average resolution, but good overall color.

Despite a slight reddish tint, the Auto white balance setting produced nearly accurate color here, with vibrant hues throughout. Alternatively, the Daylight white balance resulted in a warmer, yellow color cast. Though the limbs above the roof show reasonably good detail, resolution is only average overall. Details are also soft throughout the frame, with increased softness around the corners of the image. Contrast is rather high again, as well.



Far-Field Test

Only average detail and resolution, but color and saturation are good.

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.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the D-380's fixed focal length lens and 2.0-megapixel CCD limit its capabilities here. While the tree limbs above the roof and the shrubbery in front of the house show a moderate amount of detail, the entire image is quite soft. It's almost impossible to judge the camera's dynamic range because of the lack of definition, but the highlight area around the bay window shows some detail. (The harsh sunlight and bright white paint tricks many digicams here.) I also had a hard time distinguishing the brick pattern in the shadow area above the door, more likely due to the low resolution of the image than any loss of detail in the shadows. Color looks good, however, with nearly accurate saturation.



Lens Zoom Range

Typical fixed focal length, slightly wide angle performance.

I routinely shoot a series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (none, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The D-380's lens is equivalent to a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera, and a 4x digital zoom option is available (which dramatically softens details). Following are the results at both settings.


Wide Angle


4x Digital Telephoto




Musicians Poster

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Great color, with fairly good resolution.

This shot is typically a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition often tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. Both Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced warm color casts, but neither was too far off the mark, and the Daylight setting produced the most neutral of the two. I chose it for the main image, because skin tones and overall color looked the most natural. Despite the (very slight) warm cast, the blue robe looks about right, with only the faintest purple tints in the deep shadows (a common problem with this shot). Resolution is moderately high, with a nice level of visible detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.



Macro Shot

Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Below average macro performance.

The D-380's wide angle fixed-focus lens meant it performed well below average in the macro category, capturing a rather large minimum area of 9.7 x 7.3 inches (247 x 186 millimeters). Resolution is only average, with reasonable detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are all quite soft, likely due to the camera's fixed focus. Exposure is about right, though color is warm from the Auto white balance. The D-380's flash throttles down well for the macro area, with some falloff in the corners of the frame.


"Davebox" Test Target

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Rather warm color balance, but good exposure and good color apart from the overall color cast.

Both the Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced warm color casts, with the Daylight setting producing the strongest of the two. Contrast is again a little high on this shot, but the D-380 manages to pick up the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well, up to the "B" range. Despite the warm cast, the large color blocks are nearly accurate, with good saturation. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows good detail, with moderate noise.



Low-Light Tests

Just sensitive enough for average city night shots.

With only automatic exposure control, and a limited shutter speed range, the D-380 has limited low-light shooting capabilities. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), about as bright as standard city street lighting at night. The target was still visible at the 1/2 foot-candle light level (5.5 lux), but the exposure was very dim. Thus, you'll need the flash for darker shots. Noise is moderately high, and color is about right. 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 of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

Click to see D38LL03.JPG

1/ 2 secs

Click to see D38LL04.JPG

1/ 2 secs

Click to see D38LL05.JPG

1/ 2 secs

Click to see D38LL06.JPG

1/ 2 secs

Click to see D38LL07.JPG

1/ 2 secs



Flash Range Test

Good intensity all the way to 14 feet.

The D-380's flash maintained a bright intensity all the way to 14 feet from the test target. (The target appears soft in the test shots because I used the camera's digital zoom to keep the target somewhere close to full-frame.) Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.


8ft. 9ft. 10ft. 11ft. 12ft. 13ft. 14ft.
Click to see D38FL08.JPG

1/ 30 secs

Click to see D38FL09.JPG

1/ 30 secs

Click to see D38FL10.JPG

1/ 30 secs

Click to see D38FL11.JPG

1/ 30 secs

Click to see D38FL12.JPG

1/ 30 secs

Click to see D38FL13.JPG

1/ 30 secs

Click to see D38FL14.JPG

1/ 30 secs



ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

About average performance, with strong detail to 800 lines/picture height.

The D-380 performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500 lines per picture height , but I found "strong detail" out to at least 800 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 950 lines.

The res chart test shows pretty good performance for the D-380, but I found that shots at infinity looked a good bit softer than this. Not horrible, but the camera doesn't do quite as well sharpness-wise as most two megapixel models I've tested.

Optical distortion on the D-380 is a little high for a fixed focal-length lens, as I measured a 0.76 percent barrel distortion. (That amount of distortion would be typical of a 3x zoom lens at its wide angle setting, most fixed focal length lenses do a bit better than this.) Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about three or four 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.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle

Large / Normal
Medium / Normal
Small / Normal
Tiny / Normal


Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Tight optical viewfinder, but accurate LCD monitor.

The D-380's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing approximately 86 percent frame accuracy. The final image is slanted toward the lower right corner, showing that the CCD may actually be shifted inside the camera body, but I think my test shot may also not have been lined up perfectly. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, actually just slightly loose, as my bottom lines of measurement were just outside the frame. Still, the LCD monitor appears close to 100 percent accuracy, which is something I always look for in a digicam. Flash distribution is somewhat uneven, with dark falloff at the corners and edges of the frame.

Optical Viewfinder



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