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Olympus Camedia D-510 Zoom

Olympus updates its popular 2.1 megapixel D-490 model with a new user interface and improved features.

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 6/18/2001

Executive Overview
The Olympus Camedia D-510 digital camera is the company's latest update of the popular 2.1-megapixel D-490 Zoom. It features a sturdy polycarbonate body with an attractive metallic silver and gray finish, black telescoping zoom lens, and bright silver detailing. The clamshell style cover and automatic pop-up flash make the D-510 body very compact and portable, with the sliding cover serving as both the power switch and lens protector -- thus eliminating the need for a separate lens cap. Most of the external controls are located on the camera's back panel, with the exception of the shutter button and zoom lever, which are on top. A slight swell on the right side of the back panel provides a natural thumb grip for cradling the camera, while the sliding lens cover (in open position) provides a textured grip plate in front. These features, combined with reasonably lightweight materials (12 ounces with batteries and card), make the camera much easier to shoot one-handed than models sporting larger hand grips.

An Olympus AF 5.4-6.2mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera) offers maximum apertures from f/2.8 to f/4.4, depending on the zoom setting, and focal ranges from 8 to 31 inches (20 to 80cm) in Macro mode and from 31 inches (80cm) to infinity in normal mode. Through-the-Lens (TTL) autofocus is set using an efficient contrast detection system, or you can use a preset Quick Focus mode that locks on distant objects from 4.3 feet to infinity at wide angle and 22 feet to infinity at telephoto. The optical zoom lens is controlled by the Zoom lever next to the Shutter button on top of the camera, and an optional Digital Zoom function is automatically engaged by zooming past the optical zoom range when the Digital Zoom option is activated in the Camera settings menu.

On the back panel, the real-image optical viewfinder features a diopter adjustment dial to accommodate eyeglass wearers. Next to the finder are two LED lights -- one orange and one green -- that indicate flash- and camera-ready status when you depress the shutter button halfway. Below it, the 1.8-inch LCD monitor features a Thin Film Transfer (TFT) color display with a total of 61,000 pixels. The screen is activated by pressing the Monitor power button next to it -- the last in a row of three camera controls stacked vertically along the right side of the monitor. The middle button is a Menu / OK button, which engages the camera's settings menus and confirms selections, with or without the Monitor button turned on. Above the Menu button is a large, four-way Arrow Pad controller with arrow buttons facing in opposite directions. Among other things, these buttons control the Macro, Image Lock, Flash, Self-Timer, and Trash functions.

Since there's no Record / Playback / Movie mode dial on the D-510 (usually integrated with the power control), the camera is automatically put into Record mode when you open the lens cover. In Record mode, the camera's default is Auto exposure, which chooses the aperture and shutter speed based on Digital ESP matrix metering. While you cannot manually select the aperture or shutter speed, you can override the camera's automatic exposure through the Shooting menu. Specific exposure functions include: Digital ESP or Spot metering; Exposure Compensation, which can be adjusted from - 2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-half-step increments; Auto or 100, 200, and 400 ISO equivalency settings; and one of five White Balance settings -- Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, and Fluorescent light.

The four-way Arrow Pad allows you to scroll through these and other menu functions, which are divided into four submenus: Camera, Picture, Card, and Setup. All of the abovementioned exposure options (except White Balance) are found in the Camera submenu, along with the Panorama shooting mode. White Balance is the first option in the Picture submenu, in additional to Record mode (image quality settings), Sharpness, and Contrast. The Card Setup submenu can be set to erase all files on the SmartMedia card, except write-protected or Locked files, or to Reformat the card, which erases all of the images regardless of whether or not they are Locked. The Setup submenu options include: Record View, which displays the last recorded image while it is being written to the SmartMedia card; File Naming; Clear Settings, which allows you to Hold or Reset stored camera settings when you turn the camera off; Beep Sound On / Off; Date and Time function; and Monitor Brightness adjustment.

Playback mode is activated by pressing the Monitor button on the back panel while the front lens cover is halfway or fully closed, or by pressing the Monitor button rapidly twice in succession while the camera is in Record mode. Captured images are displayed on the LCD monitor one at a time or as multiple index thumbnails. Pressing the Zoom lever on top of the camera toward the wide-angle side brings up the Index display, which can be configured to show 4, 9, or 16 frames simultaneously. Pressing the Zoom lever toward the telephoto side enlarges the displayed image up to 3x, for better inspection of details.

As in Record mode, the Playback settings menu is activated by the Menu / OK button. Functions are divided into three submenus: Playback (Play), Card, and Settings (Set). The Playback submenu items include: Automatic Playback, which displays still images in a continuous slide show; Movie Playback, for viewing QuickTime movies; Print Reserve, used to set up images for DPOF-compatible printers; Rotate, which allows you to rotate images 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise; Info, which determines the amount of picture information that will be displayed on-screen with each captured image; and Edit, which enables you to change an image to black-and-white or sepia tone, or to reduce the image to 320 x 240 pixels for e-mailing. The Card submenu can be set to Erase all images on the SmartMedia card except Locked files, or Format the SmartMedia card, which erases all files, even Locked images. The Settings submenu offers: Index Display, which sets the index to show 4, 9, or 16 images; Clear Settings, which allows you to Hold or Reset stored camera settings; Beep Sound On / Off; Date and Time function; and Monitor Brightness adjustment.

Each button on the Arrow pad controls specific shooting functions when the camera is in Record or Playback mode. In Record mode, the top arrow button switches between Auto, Macro, and Quick Focus options. (Quick focus fixes the focus on distant subjects for foolproof focusing on faraway moving targets.) The right arrow button cycles between Auto Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In Flash, No Flash, Night Scenes, and Night Scenes with Red-Eye Reduction. The bottom arrow button controls the shooting mode, with four options: Single frame, Sequence, Self-Timer, and Movie mode. In Playback mode, the Arrow pad is used to scroll through stored images on the SmartMedia card. The right and left arrows scroll forward and backward (respectively) through images one at a time, while the top arrow button jumps back 10 images and the bottom arrow button jumps forward 10 images. If you hold down the arrow buttons for more than one second, the top arrow doubles as an image Lock function to write-protect individual images from accidental erasure, and the bottom arrow Deletes the image currently displayed on screen.

The C-510's 2.1-megapixel interlaced CMY CCD provides a maximum resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 pixels. Images are stored on 3.3V SmartMedia cards (an 8MB card comes with the camera) as uncompressed TIFF files measuring 1,600 x 1,200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 786, or 640 x 480 pixels; Standard High Quality (SHQ); High Quality (HQ); or Standard Quality (SQ) files measuring 1,280 x 960, 1,024 x 768, or 640 x 480 pixels, with either High or Normal compression ratio. The supplied 8MB card will hold 1 to 82 images, depending on the quality level, resolution, and compression ratio.

Video Out and USB connector ports are housed in a covered compartment on the camera's bottom left side. By plugging in the supplied video cable, you can connect the camera to a television for large-image playback. An AC adapter connector on the outside of the compartment provides a hookup for the optional AC Adapter -- which we highly recommend purchasing for battery conservation during time-consuming tasks, such as downloading images to your computer.

The supplied software CD-ROM includes Camedia Master 2.5 for Macintosh and Windows. This basic program provides image management and manipulation tools -- including panorama-stitching -- plus sample images, template borders for creating image montages, and QuickTime Movie software.

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