Olympus D-380 Review

Steve's Digicams

Olympus D-380

Steve's Conclusion

The Olympus Camedia D-380 is a small (pocket-sized) digital camera that offers a combination of good image quality with point-n-shoot ease of use. It doesn't have any advanced exposure modes but it does capture QuickTime movie clips. It's priced within reach of most people's budget and has a robust shot to shot speed (~1.5 secs) when compared to other 2.0 megapixel cameras. It's ready to shoot about 1.5 seconds after you slide open the lens cover. It lacks a zoom lens but it does have a digital zoom feature to extend the range of its wide angle, fixed focal length lens.

Small cameras also mean small LCD displays, the D-380 has a better than average 1.5-inch color display. The refresh rate when used as a viewfinder is very close to real time, there is no smearing or herky-jerky motion when panning. It is bright and the colors are true but I wouldn't say it's any easier to use in the bright sun than most other LCD displays. The optical viewfinder is the best choice for most picture-taking tasks other than macro. It saves your battery power and allows the camera to be put up to your eye which is the way most of us are used to holding a camera. The optical viewfinder shows about 85% of the captured image but offers no viewfinder information other than a set of cross hair marks.

The D-380 is powered by four AA size batteries or two of the Olympus CR-3V lithium one-use batteries. I used the camera with a set of 1600mAH NiMH type batteries and was quite impressed with the runtime. The battery saving technology that Olympus introduced with the C-3020 is apparently incorporated here and I was very impressed. You could easily fill a 128MB size memory card with an all-day visit to your favorite tourist hangout using just a single set of batteries.

Overall the image quality is good for a 2 Megapixel camera with a non-zoom lens. Outdoors the wide angle lens will "see" a lot of bright sky so it tends to underexpose foreground objects. And it can often go the other way with the foreground objects being right with the sky getting overexposed, this is common when using only matrix metering. The color rendition is true and I was satisfied with the saturation on 95% of the pictures.

The Macro for this Hyper focal (focus free) camera is a switch on the front next to the lens that changes the aperture form F/4 to F/8 giving you two F stops more depth of field and less flash burn. I found it to greatly help all images at about 5 feet or less.As to be expected with a wide angle lens, there is a certain amount of wide angle distortion which becomes more pronounced with closeup objects.

One of the many improvements over the D-370 was the D-380 allows sequential numbering of images even after re-formatting the card. The D-380 we tested was a pre-production unit but we feel very comfortable that it was performing as a final production unit. If you want a good, no fuss digicam that is capable of making 4x6" up to 8x10" prints and fits in your pocket and under $200.00 -- the D-380 may be just what you are looking for.

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