Olympus D-400 Zoom Filmless Digital Camera

"Great Image Quality"

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The Olympus D-400 Zoom Filmless Digital Camera is a compact and easy-to-use point & shoot digital camera from Olympus America, Inc. You just slide open the lens protector and a 3x all-glass, aspherical lens system pops out, ready for action, and you have automatic focus, exposure Front Viewand white balance, plus two quick focus settings at eight feet and infinity. In addition to a telephoto length of up to 105 mm (35 mm film camera equiv.), it also lets you digitally double the focal length inside the camera at any zoom setting. You can shoot a series of shots and stitch them together with the software that's included using the panorama mode. Or capture the details on a flower when you shoot in the macro mode. There is a burst mode that lets you shoot off a series of images at half-second intervals. For individuals who like to make their own adjustments, you can adjust the exposure plus or minus two steps in half-step increments; switch from center-weighted to manual spot metering to highlight certain areas; or adjust the white balance and compensate for fluorescent or incandescent lighting and sunny or overcast conditions. You have a choice of automatic flash in low light and back-lit conditions, red-eye reduction; fill flash or forced off selections with the built-in intelligent flash system. After you have taken your shot, you can review it instantly on the built-in, smudge-resistant, color LCD, and enlarge segments by 3x so you can inspect the details. Or check out pictures in groups of 4, 9, or 16. Depending on the recording mode, you can record 18-122 Back Viewimages or more on the 8MB card that's included, and shots can be locked in to save them or deleted to free up additional storage space. The D-400 Zoom camera connects directly to a TV for big-screen viewing or to a VCR. It also plugs into the Olympus Personal Photo Printer. You can transfer images from the camera to a computer using the FlashPath Floppy Disk Adapter to download them like a floppy. With the included software, you can crop, manipulate, retouch and enhance images for printing, slide shows, or multimedia presentations. The camera, with its 1280 x 960 resolution; excellent color; 3x aspheric zoom lens; multi-mode flash; excellent image quality; rapid operation; image storage in four different quality modes, ranging from uncompressed 1280 x 960, to compressed 640 x 480 pixel sizes; and included 8MB capacity standard Smart Media memory card and FlashPath floppy-disk adapter is an excellent choice. All of the pictures in this review, except for the images of the camera itself, were taken with the Olympus D-400 Zoom Camera. They were taken right after we received the camera, with almost no manual adjustment, and before we even read the manual to see how easy to use the camera would be for a novice. No touch up was done in any image manipulation program, except to crop the pictures and optimize them for the Web. The thumbnails were sharpened, though, because of their small size. Price: $399.00. See the Olympus Web site for information on other cameras and products: http://www.olympus.com

Beginning, Intermediate camera users. This camera is easy enough to use for individuals new toCat cameras, whether digital or traditional. And it has enough features to appeal to intermediate users. Photographic buffs might want a camera with more manual controls, but if they are new to the field of digital photography and just want to try out a digital camera, this is an excellent choice.
  • 1.3 Megapixel sensor CCD
  • 1280 x 960 resolution
  • F2.8 - F4.4 aspherical glass lens
  • 3x optical zoom in a point and shoot body (35-105mm)
  • 2x digital telephoto at any focal length
  • Stores 122 images in SQ mode; 36 HQ; 18 SHO; 2 uncompressed on 8MB card
  • Burst shooting mode up to 10 frames in 1/2 second intervals
  • 3x image inspection
  • TTL auto focus
  • Manual and auto white balance with 5 presets
  • Floppy disk compatible media
  • 4 recording modes, including uncompressed TIFF
  • Auto exposure with +/- 2 step exposure compensation in 1/2 step increments
  • 4 mode pop-up flash: redeye reduction; fill-in flash; auto low light/backlight; & forced off
  • 1/2 - 1/1000 sec. mechanical shutter
  • 2 Quick focus modes
  • Bright 1.8" color backlit LCD
  • Built-in self timer
  • 1, 4, 9 and 16 up display mode
  • Direct print to optional Olympus photos printer
  • Video out capability
  • Optical/electronic viewfinders
  • Spot metering
  • Familiar camera design, look and feel
  • Auto shut off

Design: The design is very similar to the earlier non-zoom digital cameras and also the film-based point & shoot cameras. The body is rectangular with slightly rounded corners and is constructed of metallized plastic. There is a protective sliding lens cover that also serves to turn the camera on and extend the zoom lens. This design protects and blocks the viewfinder when closed, and there is no question when the camera is turned on. The camera is compact and comfortable hold at 5 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (127 x 66.5 x 53 mm) and 9.5 ounces (270 g) without batteries. One-handed shooting is made easy by the top placement of the shutter button and the zoom lens control lever.

Viewfinder: The camera includes both optical and LCD viewfinders. With the bright optical viewfinder, you will see "crosshairs" which mark the center of the image area and zoom along with the lens as you move from wide angle to telephoto and back again. Also the optical viewfinder includes a "doptric corrector" adjustment to compensate for near-or far-sightedness. The back-panel LCD can be activated for use as a viewfinder at any time and automatically illuminates when entering digital tele or macro modes. The LCD display screen on the D-400 is heavy on your battery, so it is good to watch your use to conserve battery life. The LCD screen has only 72K pixels of resolution, but it has a very fast refresh time and an excellent glare-reduction filter. It also has a brightness-control adjustment available through the back-panel menu system, and provides good feedback for captured images. As with other digital point and shoot cameras, both the optical and LCD viewfinders on the D-400 Zoom don't quite show the entire field of view of the image sensor. When you frame a subject exactly using the optical viewfinder, you'll find that the area you framed occupies only 89% of the final image are in telephoto mode, and 88% in wide-angle mode. The image is well-centered in the optical viewfinder at the wide-angle end of the focal-length range, but shifts slightly at the telephoto end, producing final images biased toward the top of the viewfinder. With the LCD viewfinder, you will find that it shows only 89% of the sensors field of view in either the wide-angle or telephoto modes, but the area it does show is accurately centered. This viewfinder performance is fairly typical of digital point & shoots.

Optics: The D-400 Zoom has a high-quality glass, "aspheric" zoom lens design that contributes to the excellent image quality. With a focal length range equivalent to 35 - 105mm on a 35mm camera, Dogthe fast f2.8 - 4.4 (wide-tele) lens ranges from moderate wide-angle to moderate telephoto focal lengths. There are three fixed apertures: f2.8, f5,6, or f11 which are automatically selected by the autoexposure system, but the actual aperture in use is not reported to the user. The lens autofocuses from 31 inches (79cm) to infinity in "normal" mode, and from 8.0 to 31 inches (20 to 79 cm) in "macro" mode. The macro mode is great for close-ups of small objects, covering an area of approximately 2.4 x 3.2 inches (6.0 x 8.0 cm).

Digital Tele/Wide Mode: The "digital tele" function that you find used by other digicam manufactures was pioneered by Olympus. Many other digital cameras have digital zoom capabilities in which the camera electronics interpolates data from just the central portion of the sensor array to Roseproduce a full-size image. The result is a zoomed-in but soft image, with a slightly longer in-camera processing time. Olympus has a different approach to digital zoom, which is to simply crop-down to the central 640 x 480 pixel area of the sensor array, and save it as an "SQ" quality (640 x 480) image. In this mode, the rear-panel LCD automatically illuminates to provide a "live" viewfinder, rather than having you use a set of markings in the optical viewfinder, which would be less accurate. No additional information is being added to the image beyond that contained in the central 640 x 480 area. It is the same as if you had simply cropped into the full high resolution image, to select a smaller area to display full-frame.

Exposure: The exposure capability is at an equivalent ISO of either 60 or 120, depending on the lighting conditions. When shooting in bright conditions, the camera electronics reduces sensitivity to ISO 60, giving you improved noise and color purity. When shooting in low-light conditions, the ISO rises to a value of 120. With a shutter speed range of 1/2 to 1/500 of a second, and lens apertures ranging from f2.8 to f11, the usable lighting range of the D-400 Zoom should be from about EV7 to EV21.5. The camera performed well all the way down to a light level of about EV6. At EV7, it was capable of capturing a very bright image, which is excellent low-light performance. When setting exposure, the camera first selects one of the three available f-stop openings on the lens, and then picks the exact shutter speed needed to produce the required exposure. There is a 12-second self-timer to give you time to get into the picture. The autoexposure system offers both center-weighted averaging and spot metering modes. This is useful when dealing with backlit subjects and other situations where the subject brightness is significantly different than its surroundings. The spot metering mode is selectable on the back-panel LCD menu system. For difficult subjects, whether a light object against a dark background, a backlit subject, or one that is uniform in overall brightness (such as a snow scene, the D-400 Zoom includes an exposure adjustment control with a range of +/-2 f-stops, in half-stop increments. The focus/exposure lock function is handy to allow you to pre-set the exposure prior to the shot. Pressing the shutter button halfway actuates the autofocus and autoexposure systems, without firing the shutter. Once the exposure and focus is set, they will stay "locked" at the selected settings as long as you continue to hold down the shutter button. This feature is great for off-center subjects. The range of the built-in automatic flash is 8 inches to 10.5 feet (20 cm to about 3 meters) in wide-angle mode, or 8 inches to 6.6 feet (20 cm to a little over 2 meters) in telephoto mode. The flash operating modes include: "redeye" reduction, force fill, auto low-light and auto back-light, and off. The flash worked well at close distances for macro shots. The camera has good white-balance compensation. In regard to amount of time to process and store one image before you can capture another one, the D-400 Zoom has a "write-through RAM cache," thus the maximum cycle time between images in the highest resolution mode is less than 7 seconds, decreasing to only 3 seconds in "standard" quality mode. Along with the faster normal cycling, the D-400 Zoom has a "burst" mode, in which it can take a "standard resolution" (640 x 480 pixel) picture every half-second, up to a maximum of between 6 and 10 successive images.

Operation and User Interface: The operation of the camera is fairly easy, with most of the camera's setup adjustments made via the back-panel LCD screen and 9 back-panel buttons. The Interfacerocker-toggle (for zoom adjustment), and the shutter release are on the top of the camera. There is a small LCD readout on the camera's top that displays status information, such as operating mode, shots remaining, and battery condition. Depending on what mode you are in, you have different functions assigned to the back-panel buttons. There are two modes: display and record. You are in the record mode whenever the front of the camera is slid open to reveal the lens. The display mode is accessible when you close the camera front and press the monitor on/off button or if you press the monitor button twice rapidly, to change directly from record to display mode. Some of the record mode functions include: the various flash modes; burst, macro, panorama, and digital telephoto modes; the self-timer; and two fixed-focus settings, one for infinity, and the other for 2.5 meters or 8 feet. In the display mode, you can: review your photos, one at a time or in the multi mode that shows small thumbnails; use the 3x zoom display; select printing options; erase images; chose to print the date on print; set the date and time; format your card; and adjust LCD screen brightness.

Image Storage and Interface: SmartMedia stamp-sized memory cards are used with the D-400 Zoom. The camera comes with an 8 MB card and will also take a 16 MB card. With the "FlashPath" floppy-disk adapter unit that comes free with the camera, you can copy files from the SmartMedia card into your computer. The SmartMedia card slips into a slot in the side of the FlashPath adapter, which is the same size and shape as a floppy disk. Then after installing the appropriate driver software, you just put the FlashPath into your floppy disk drive like any other floppy disk and copy away. This is a very easy way to transfer data and worked faster than I would have thought. The number of images that can be stored on each SmartMedia card will vary depending on the combination of image size and compression level that you select. You can save the images as standard JPEG files at two different image sizes (1280 x 960 and 640 x 480), and three different compression settings (uncompressed, low, and high). Average file sizes range from 3.6 megabytes for the uncompressed format, to about 450K for SHQ, 225K for HQ, and 65K for SQ. You get from 2, 18, 36, and 122 images per 8 meg card depending on the file format.

Video Out: In addition to the serial computer interface, the D-400 Zoom also has a connector for connecting the camera to a standard NTSC video monitor. This is great for slide shows of your trips.

Power: The D-400 Zoom uses 4 AA batteries, but the large sensor, zoom lens, LCD screen, and flash makes it important to use rechargeable NiMH batteries. The standard alkaline batteries only last a few minutes under heavy use, but the NiMH batteries lasted over days.

Software: The Olympus D-400 Zoom camera comes with an excellent array of software. For direct camera control and image downloading, there is Olympus' own Camedia software package. It is convenient and easy to use, and is not sluggish in downloading images. Other commercial software packages are also included: Adobe's PhotoDeluxe, for image editing, and QuickStitch from Enroute Imaging. QuickStitch is used for panorama shots. It not only stitches conventional panoramas, but can assemble images two-dimensionally to create huge, high-resolution images from multiple smaller ones.


  • D-400 Zoom Digital Camera
  • 8 MB SmartMedia Card
  • FlashPath floppy disk adapter
  • Windows and Macintosh connectivity kit
  • Video output cable
  • 4AA alkaline batteries
  • User Guide and registration card
  • Strap
We really liked the Olympus D-400 Zoom camera. Basically, we wanted a camera for review shots of products, but once we started using it for other outside shots, we immediately fell in love with the easy of use, the quality of the images, and the ability to immediately transfer the images from the card to the camera and see our results. No more waiting for development. We really didn't thing that a digital camera could compete with a regular camera in quality of of the photos, but the D-400 Zoom does. We found the images were well-exposed and had bright, clean colors and good detail. Color accuracy and saturation were good. Both optical and LCD viewfinders were about typically accurate. The camera did well in the macro mode, and the flash worked well even in a close focus distance. You couldn't go wrong with this camera, with its stylish look, excellent image quality, and features like spot metering, expanded white balance control, and optical uncompressed image storage.


Windows 95, 98, & NT 4.0
CD-ROM Drive
24MB RAM or greater
45MB minimum available HD space
Standard RS-232 Interface (D-SUB 9-pin connector)
Monitor with 256 colors; 640 x 480 screen resolution


68040 CPU or later
MacOS 7.x or later
CD-ROM Drive
24MB RAM or greater
45MB minimum available HD space
Macintosh serial port
Monitor with 256 colors; 640 x 480 screen resolution