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Olympus Camedia D-40 Zoom

Super-compact 4 megapixel model takes great pictures!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 10/8/2001

Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the D40's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the D40 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

The D40 performed very well throughout our testing, producing high quality images with accurate color in most cases. The camera's white balance system did a good job interpreting our test light sources, and the Auto setting most often produced the best color balance. Surprisingly, the camera's Manual white balance option tended to produce slightly cool images. The camera handled the very tough incandescent lighting of our no-flash Indoor Portrait test better than most, though all of the primary white balance settings resulted in slight color casts. We tried "tweaking" the color balance with the D40's white balance adjustment tool, which allowed us to adjust the color to our liking, and in fact let us achieve a very good color balance on this shot, leaving in just enough of the original cast to retain the warmth of the incandescent lighting. Color looked good and accurate on our Davebox target, as the D40 distinguished the subtle pastel tonal variations of the Q60 target, and reproduced the large color blocks with good saturation. We felt that skin tones had a slightly orange tint in our Outdoor and Indoor portraits, and though the blue flowers were nearly accurate in color, they showed some purple tints at the edges of the petals. Despite these minor points, the D40 did an excellent job overall.

The D40 performed very well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns (albeit extremely subtle ones) at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines though. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines. Overall, the resolution test was very "clean".

Optical distortion on the D40 was about average (which is still more than we'd like) at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.72 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only one pixel of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was low, showing only about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, and the color was fainter than average. (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.) Overall, it looks like the D40 has an excellent lens.

The D40 offers a wealth of manual exposure controls, with exposure times as long as 15 seconds available. This gave the D40 a definite advantage in the low-light category, as the camera captured clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (or 0.67 lux) limit of our test at all three ISO settings. Color looked good, even at the dimmest, 1/16 foot-candle light level, as the camera's Auto white balance setting accurately interpreted the low light source. (This is quite unusual, most cameras have white balance troubles this dim.) The D40's Noise Reduction feature did an excellent job of removing excess image noise, with very noticeable improvements when it was activated, even at the 1/16 foot-candle light level and the 400 ISO setting. We shot a series of images at this lowest light level without the Noise Reduction system activated, and observed dramatically different results, with very high noise.

The D40's optical viewfinder was a bit tight, showing only about 80 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 81 percent accuracy at telephoto. The LCD monitor produced more accurate results, showing about 97 percent at wide angle, and about 98 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D40 did an excellent job in this area. Given too that the D-40Zoom consumes as much power as it does when the LCD viewfinder is enabled, we'd really have preferred to see a more accurate optical viewfinder.

The D40 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.18 x 2.38 inches (80.82 x 60.48 millimeters). Color, resolution, and detail all looked great, with a lot of fine detail visible in the dollar bill and coins. We noticed some corner softness from the camera's lens, but the overall image looked good. The D40's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area at such a close range, badly overexposing the shot and losing most of the detail. Apart from the flash behavior though, we were impressed with the camera's macro shooting capabilities.

With great color and image quality in our test shots, we were very pleased with the D40's performance (especially given the camera's tiny size). Though we'd like the Manual white balance setting to be more accurate, the Auto setting remains commendable as does the ability to adjust the overall color balance at any given time. The camera overcame some of our most difficult obstacles with ease, producing great results in the low-light and macro categories. Overall, a job well done!

Olympus has really produced a very appealing camera in the D-40Zoom. They've managed to combine very small size with great picture quality, and an excellent feature set. The only complaints we found to make were in its relatively short battery life and an optical viewfinder that was a bit less accurate than average. Although they'd normally seem unrelated, these two factors actually exacerbate each other somewhat. - While the D40's power drain with LCD on is very high, with it off, it's almost zero. A more accurate viewfinder would make it easier to live without the LCD viewfinder, at which point its battery life would be quite a bit better than average. (Not to harp too much on the optical viewfinder though, at 80% frame coverage, it's not that far off the 85% average we've found in other digicams.) Our minor complaints aside, the D-40Zoom looks like a great "take anywhere" camera for people who aren't willing to give up picture quality or features for small size. Overall, a great little camera!

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