Olympus D-565 Zoom Review

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Olympus Camedia D-565 Zoom

Steve's Conclusion

Olympus continues to refine and improve their Camedia D-series of high performance and affordable digital cameras with the introduction of the D-565 with its 4-megapixel image sensor. The D-565 is the successor to the popular D-560 Zoom that we reviewed last year. The D-565 will please beginners with its point-n-shoot simplicity and high-quality images, but intermediate users will find only a limited number of exposure controls.

The D-565 is an attractive package. The sleek and stylish exterior is constructed of a durable plastic, and is small enough to carry in a pocket or purse. When not in use, the lens retracts behind the sliding lens barrier, protected from contact with any objects that might damage it. The camera controls are well-placed on the body and the menu system is logically-organized. The D-565 is powered by either two AA cell batteries or one CR-V3 lithium battery. We've always recommended the use of NiMH rechargeable AA batteries; they supply a lot more power than alkalines and they'll save you money. There's now a money-saving alternative to disposable CR-V3 batteries; check out our list of CR-V3 rechargeable batteries. Powered by a rechargeable CR-V3, the D-565 exhausted its battery capacity after capturing 143 images, including extensive use of the LCD viewfinder for testing the menu system and composing and reviewing shots.

The 35mm-equivalent 35-105mm optical zoom lens produces sharp images. There's noticeable barrel distortion at wide-angle, but no pin cushioning at telephoto. The lens zooms smoothly, but not continuously, through its range; it has 11 distinct steps, adequate for most shot composition needs.

The D-565's shooting performance is about average for cameras in its class. It took 4.5 seconds to capture the first image after sliding open the lens barrier. Waking the camera from its power-saving sleep mode, 3.2 seconds elapsed before the first shot was recorded. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter button and capturing the image, measured an impressive 1/10 second when pre-focused and 8/10 second including autofocus; add 1/10 second to both of those times if using the LCD viewfinder, which delays the live image. The shot to shot performance allowed 3 images to be captured in 2 seconds, with subsequent shots taken at 4 second intervals. Using flash, shot to shot time measured about 8 seconds. In Sequential shooting mode, the D-565 captured 3 frames in 1.5 seconds; 9 seconds elapsed while the camera flushed its buffer before the next 3-shot sequence could be taken. While it is no speed demon, the D-565 is responsive enough to capture most family shooting situations. These timings were based on the camera set to SHQ (2288 x 1712) image size, auto white balance, and flash off with a 256MB FujiFilm xD Picture card.

Like other Olympus cameras we have reviewed, the D-565 employs the TTL digital iESP metering with spot option and an excellent white balance system that consistently produces realistic colors in a wide variety of normal lighting conditions. In addition to automatic exposure mode, the D-565 offers a choice of 4 scene modes to help beginners obtain good results: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, and Self Portrait. Noise reduction is automatic when in the Night Scene mode. To help give you the most noise-free images possible there is a Pixel Mapping option in the Setup menu that lets you map out bad pixels if and when they appear. Only two manual controls are provided: Exposure compensation (+/- 2 EV in .5 EV steps), and White Balance (Sunlight, Overcast, Tungsten, and Flourescent). The ISO sensitivity is automatic and is varied between 50 and 400 as necessary.

I was pleased with the D-565's outdoor results. Images were in sharp focus, well exposed, and richly saturated. The 35-105mm (35mm equivalent) focal length of the optical zoom lens offers enough field of view in the wide-angle range for composing landscape shots, while providing enough magnification in the telephoto range to bring your subjects closer. The LCD monitor was effective as a viewfinder even in bright sunlight; although it is small, you'll appreciate the zoom-coupled optical viewfinder on the brightest of days or when conserving battery power.

The indoor results were also pleasing. The limited range of the built-in flash (about 7 feet) and the field of view at wide angle will limit your flash shots to small rooms and portraits of small groups. You'll be able to include yourself in those group portraits thanks to the D-565's tripod socket and the use of its self-timer, or the self-portrait scene mode that you can use hand-held. Although the D-565 does not have a focus-assist lamp, its autofocus system works fairly well in average indoor lighting conditions. You'll prefer to use the optical viewfinder in dim lighting; the LCD does not automatically brighten in these conditions. The D-565 is very effective at squelching its flash at close range and, combined with its macro focusing capability, would be a good choice for capturing images of small objects for inclusion in online auction listings.

As with most consumer digicams, the D-565 has a movie mode; it is capable of recording 15 second clips at a resolution of 320x240, or 60 seconds at 160x120. Movies are recorded without sound, allowing you to zoom while shooting. During playback you can create an index of 9 selected frames from the movie, and save the index as a still image; it's a unique feature that will allow you to later find the clip containing a subject of interest.

At a street price of under $300 at the time of this review (February 2004), the Olympus D-565 zoom offers a good value to families desiring a digicam combining good image quality with ease of use. Its uncomplicated automatic features produce properly exposed images, its sharp 3x optical zoom lens offers a versatile range, and its 4-megapixel imager has enough resolution for 11x14-inch prints or cropped prints of smaller size. At its highest resolution, the D-565 image files exceed 2-megabytes, so make sure to get a sizable xD memory card. And get a pair of CR-V3 rechargeable batteries to ensure that you don't miss that once in a lifetime photo op because of a dead battery.

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