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Sample Images for the
Olympus D-520 Digital Cameras

Review update posted: 08/27/02

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:

Slightly warm color balance, but otherwise good color, resolution and detail.

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 (and why I don't use fill flash on it). The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the D-520 Zoom did pretty well. The shot at right was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in slightly dark midtones due to the high contrast. Increasing the exposure compensation to +1.5 EV brightens the midtones, but loses too much detail in the highlights. I shot with the Auto white balance setting, which produced similar results as the Daylight setting. Both resulted in a slightly warm color balance. The blue flowers of the bouquet are a little dark and purplish, but less so than I've seen with many cameras. (These blues are difficult for many cameras to handle.) Aside from the slightly warm cast, skin tones look pretty good. Resolution is high, and details are sharp throughout most of the frame. (Marti's face and hair are a little soft though.) The shadow areas show good detail as well, with moderate noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.5 EV, see files D52OUTAP0.HTM through D52OUTAP3.HTM on our thumbnail index page.



Closer Portrait:

Fine detail increases, though contrast is again high.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the D-520 Zoom's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. The level of fine detail increases in her face and hair, and details are sharper than in the wider shot above. The main shot was taken without any exposure compensation adjustment. Again, the shot has high contrast, with slightly dark midtones. Detail is good in the shadow areas, and noise is low.

To view the entire exposure series, from zero to +1.0 EV, see files D52FACAP0.HTM through D52FACAP2.HTM on our thumbnail index page.



Indoor Portrait, Flash:

Normal Flash
Slow Sync Flash

Best results with the normal flash mode and an EV boost.

The D-520 Zoom's flash was just a little dim at the default exposure, though it still illuminates the model reasonably well.(It was probably tricked into underexposing a bit by the light background.) The household incandescent lighting produces a strong orange cast, which appears on Marti as well. Increasing the exposure compensation to +1.0 EV brightens the exposure dramatically, decreasing the orange cast and providing better coverage on the model. Color looks good and well saturated. I also snapped an image at +1.5 EV, but found the highlights much too bright. Switching to the Slow Sync flash mode lets more ambient light into the exposure, but results in a fairly dim shot at the default setting. The orange cast becomes more yellow in this mode, and a blue tint appears on the model from the flash. Increasing the exposure compensation to +1.0 EV still results in a dim image, but the blue tint is eliminated.



Indoor Portrait, No Flash:

Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

The white balance system has some trouble with the incandescent lighting, but exposure is good.

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-520 Zoom's white balance system had some trouble here, producing warm casts with both the Auto and Incandescent settings. The Incandescent setting was the closest to neutral, so I chose it for the main series. Skin tones are slightly orange from the warm cast, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish (a common problem with this shot). The main shot selection has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is just on the verge of blowing the highlights.

To view a shortened exposure series showing compensations of zero,+1.0 and +1.5 EV, see files D52INTP0.HTM, D52INTP2.HTM, and D52INTP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



House Shot:

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Moderate resolution and detail, color balance is rather warm.

Both the Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced similar images here, with rather warm color balances. I chose the Auto setting as the more neutral of the two, though by only the slightest difference. Resolution is fairly high, as the tree limbs above the roof and the shrubbery in front of the house show moderate detail. The fine foliage details of the trees and shrubbery are very soft, though the vertical and horizontal details of the house front are more defined.



Far-Field Test

Good resolution and color, slightly limited dynamic range, slightly soft details.

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-520 Zoom captures a lot of fine detail throughout the frame. The finer details in the tree limbs above the roof and in the shrubbery in front of the house are fairly soft though, apparently due to an underaggressive in-camera sharpening algorithm. The cameral loses all but the strongest details in the bright white bay window area, so the D-520 Zoom has a slightly limited dynamic range. However, the shadow area above the front door fares a little better, with essentially all of the brick pattern visible. Color is accurate with the Auto white balance setting, though the green values are slightly oversaturated and yellowish.

Resolution Series:
Large / Fine
Large / Normal
Medium / Fine

Small / Fine



Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The D-520 Zoom's lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
2.5x Digital Telephoto




Musicians Poster

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slightly warm color balance, but color is otherwise quite good, as is the resolution.

This shot is typically a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the image often tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The D-520 Zoom's white balance system fell victim to this trap, producing slightly warm, reddish images with both the Auto and Daylight settings. Though the image is slightly warmer, I preferred the more natural skin tones of the Auto setting, and chose it for the main shot. The warm cast results in a reddish tint in the blue background, which isn't present in the original image. Additionally, the blue robe has greenish highlights, and purplish tints in the deep shadows (again, a tough blue for many digicams to get right). Resolution is moderately high, as the embroidery of the blue robe shows good detail.



Macro Shot

Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Below average macro coverage, though good flash performance. (Probably not your first choice if you need a lot of macro pictures.)

The D-520 Zoom captures a larger than average macro area, at 7.24 x 5.43 inches (184 x 138 millimeters). Resolution is moderate, and details are soft throughout the frame (making it difficult to determine any additional corner softness). Color balance is warm from the Auto white balance setting, and the image is a bit underexposed (which may contribute to the warm cast). I noticed a little barrel distortion from the wide-angle lens setting, although it's hard to tell in this shot, as there aren't any straight lines very close to the edges of the frame. The D-520 Zoom's flash throttled down fairly well for the macro area, though some falloff occurs in the corners of the frame.


"Davebox" Test Target

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Warm color balance, and a bit underexposed, but color is otherwise pretty good.

Again, the Auto and Daylight white balance settings produced similar, warm images. The Auto setting resulted in a lesser warm cast, so I chose it for the main image. Exposure is slightly dark, which aids the camera in picking up all of the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks are warm from the color cast, but saturation looks good. Detail is a little limited in the charcoal briquettes, and noise is moderate.



Low-Light Tests

Just barely sensitive enough for average city night scenes.

The D-520 Zoom's full automatic exposure control limits its low-light shooting capabilities, as the camera captured bright, clear images at light levels no darker than two foot-candles (22 lux). The target was visible, though exposure was fairly dim, at one foot-candle (11 lux), but could likely be brightened with digital imaging software. Since average city street lighting at night is equivalent to about one foot-candle, you'll need the built-in flash for most night exposures. Noise is low, and color balance is just a hint warm from the Auto white balance setting. The table below shows the best exposure I was 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 D52LL00.JPG
1/3 secs
Click to see D52LL01.JPG
1/4 secs
Click to see D52LL02.JPG
1/ 2 secs
Click to see D52LL03.JPG
1/ 2 secs
Click to see D52LL04.JPG
1/ 2 secs
Click to see D52LL05.JPG
1/ 2 secs
Click to see D52LL06.JPG
1/ 2 secs
Click to see D52LL07.JPG
1/ 2 secs



Flash Range Test

A range of about 11 feet, but marginally usable as far as 14 feet.

The D-520 Zoom's flash maintained the brightest intensity as far as 10 feet from the test target, before the first decrease in brightness at 11 feet. The decreased intensity also resulted in a bluish color cast. The flash remained effective at 14 feet from the target, though overall brightness was a bit lower. I also noticed that the blue color cast vanished at the 13- and 14-foot distances, replaced by a warmer cast. Overall, I'd rate this camera's flash as usable to about 11 feet. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

Click to see D52FL08.JPG
1/100 secs
Click to see D52FL09.JPG
1/100 secs
Click to see D52FL10.JPG
1/100 secs
Click to see D52FL11.JPG
1/100 secs
Click to see D52FL12.JPG
1/100 secs
Click to see D52FL13.JPG
1/100 secs
Click to see D52FL14.JPG
1/100 secs



ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Average performance, good detail to 800-850 lines.

The D-520 Zoom performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to 800-850 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,050 lines.

Optical distortion on the D-520 Zoom is quite high at the wide-angle end, as I measured a 1.11 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, with a 0.4 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is low, showing about two or three 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 / Fine
Medium / Fine
Small / Fine
Small / Fine

Large / Fine



Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, but very accurate LCD monitor.

The D-520 Zoom's optical viewfinder is just a little tight, showing approximately 90 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 88 percent at telephoto. Though a little tight, this is a bit better than average for an optical viewfinder. The LCD monitor fared much better, as I measured about 99 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the D-520 Zoom does an excellent job here. Flash illumination at wide angle is good, with modest falloff in the corners of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even, and slightly dim. 

Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


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