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Olympus D-490 Zoom

Olympus updates a popular 1.3 megapixel model to 2 megapixels, with improved features.

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 10/28/2000

The D-490 Zoom looks a lot like preceding D-400 models, with the exception of a black plastic back panel and a slightly different control layout. The D-490 weighs in at 9.5 ounces (270 grams) without the batteries, or 13 ounces (370 grams) with a set of 4 AA cells, and measures 5 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (127 x 66.5 x 53mm) without the lens extended. Its small size and relative light weight make it very portable, while its smooth contours and brushed aluminum appearance make it an attractive accessory that can slip easily into most pockets. An accompanying wrist strap and recessed grip design help to provide a secure hold.

Olympus's sliding lens cover design doubles as the main power mechanism. When the cover slides open, the lens extends into its operating position, and the top status display panel turns on. To shut the camera off, you partially close the cover and wait for the lens to retract before sliding it to its fully closed position. This relatively hassle-free design may prevent misplaced lens caps, but the pause necessary to wait for the lens to retract is slightly annoying. Plus, the open lens cover obstructs access to the memory card compartment, so you must close the lens before switching out SmartMedia cards. (This is probably a useful precaution against removing the memory card while the camera is still writing to it - which can damage the card - but it is annoying none the less.) In addition to the sliding lens cap and flash card cover, the camera’s front panel also holds the pop-up flash.

The shutter button, zoom control, and status display panel are located on top of the camera, all cleanly designed with a relatively flat surface. The smooth shutter button and rocker toggle zoom control just barely protrude from the surface.

The right side of the camera is quite plain, with only the covered slot for the SmartMedia card. (While the majority of the card compartment hatch appears on the front of the camera, you actually access the card from the side.)

The Video Out, AC, and Computer connectors are all found on the bottom left side of the camera (looking at the back), beneath a duotone plastic cover that snaps into place.

The majority of the camera controls are on the back panel, along with the optical viewfinder, LCD monitor, Arrow Pad, and a recessed thumb grip on the right side. The three rectangular buttons across the top of the back panel include (left to right): the Flash/Erase, Self-timer/Print, and Macro/Digital Zoom controls. (The third button also serves as an image write-protect control.) The round Arrow Pad next to the LCD monitor helps navigate through Record and Playback menu options, as well as the Focus Preset functions. Surrounding the Arrow Pad are three more buttons which control (top to bottom): Monitor On/Off, Menu Display, and the OK button used to save settings. As with earlier D-400 Zoom models, the D-490 controls are simple to navigate.

The D-490 has a nice, flat bottom, taken up primarily by the battery compartment cover. One small problem we noticed here is that the tripod mount is on the far left side of the camera body. This placement causes the mass of the camera to hang off the edge of the tripod's mounting platform, and places extra stress on the camera's tripod threads, resulting in a less rigid attachment.

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