Olympus D-595 Zoom Review
The Camedia D-595 is the successor to popular D-590 from last year and offers users 5-megapixels of resolution , a 3x
optical zoom lens, and a wide variety of user friendly exposure modes. There's
also various help screens that explain the workings of each shooting mode as well
as other settings (flash modes, macro, etc.)
Ergonomics are good. It is a bit larger than the D-590, yet still small enough to carry in almost any pocket or purse. This size allows for a comfortable feel in your hands and one-handed shooting was a breeze. The minimal camera controls are well-placed on the body, and the menu system is logically-organized. Its large 1.8-inch Semi- Transmissive LCD works great outdoors in bright sunlight and "gains up" when shooting in low ambient lighting; you can also opt to use its optical viefinder to save precious battery power.
The Olympus AF 3x optical zoom lens covers a 35mm-equivalent range of 38 - 114mm. It produced sharp results throughout its range with mild barrel distortion present at wide-angle, and slight pin cushioning at telephoto (typical of cameras in this class.) The lens zooms smoothly, but not continuously through its range; it has 12 distinct steps, adequate for most shot composition needs.
The D-595's shooting performance was robust. Power up to first image captured was about 4 seconds. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter button and capturing the image, measured an impressive 1/10 second when pre-focused and just 4/10 second including autofocus. In single exposure mode, the shot to shot delay averaged 1 second without the flash and between 4 and 5 seconds with flash, depending on the distance to the subject. Using its Sequential shooting mode, I was able to capture 6 frames in under 4 seconds; it then took approx. 5.5 seconds to flush its buffer and start capturing the next sequence. However in order to use this mode you have to use the HQ or lower image quality settings, the SHQ setting will not work. Our tests were done using an Olympus 512MB xD-Picture card, SHQ quality, Program AE mode, preview off, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, photographer response, media, etc.
Beginners will appreciate the choice of 15 pre-programmed scene modes that optimize camera settings for a wide variety of shooting conditions. This will allow the most inexperienced user to capture great pictures in almost any situation. Its Night Scene shots are improved by the D-595's Noise Reduction feature, automatically activated when the shutter speed is slower than 1/2 second (when it is enabled via the menu system); don't forget to use a camera support in this mode, or you'll have shots blurred by camera shake. To prevent "hot pixels" from ruining your otherwise perfect shot, its Pixel Mapping feature (accessible from the Setup menu) maps-out bad pixels if and when they appear. While the D-595 allows you to pre-set white balance (Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent, and Custom), I found the Automatic setting worked well in producing proper color balance. Only under some very mixed lighting conditions did I see any problems. When shooting our M&M man in ambient lighting, images were a bit warm. However this can easily be fixed in an image editor and wasn't a big issue.
I was pleased with the overall image quality when using Its SHQ 2560x1920 (5- megapixel) image quality mode. Outdoors, our sample images were consistently sharp, well exposed, and richly saturated. Its 3x optical zoom lens offers enough field of view in the wide-angle range for composing landscape shots, while still providing plenty of magnification in the telephoto range to bring your subjects closer. I did notice an average amount of noise in high/low contrast areas as well as slight traces of purple fringing (aka Chromatic Aberration) around highlights. However, you have to view an image at 100% to see this and your unlikely to notice anything in your prints. Indoors, I found its limited flash range (about 12.5 feet) to be sufficient for most indoor situations (portrait of individuals or small groups), and when combined with the 3x field of view, it produced well exposed flash images in small to medium sized rooms. You can include yourself in those group portraits thanks to the tripod socket and self- timer. Although there is not a focus-assist lamp, its autofocus system works fairly well in average indoor lighting conditions at the wide angle end of the zoom range; the more you zoom the less effective it will be. Like most consumer digicams, the D-595 was 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.
I was disappointed to see that the D-595 does not feature a VGA resolution (640x480) movie mode, which seems to now be the standard. It is capable of recording at 320x240 (HQ, 30fps) and 160x120 (SQ, 15fps) with sound; the length of a clip is limited only by the amount of available memory. Because sound is recorded you may zoom and preset the focal length before recording, but not during. Overall it produced average quality movies. The autofocus system did a good job of keeping up with fast moving objects, but the exposure system had some trouble. We saw "highlight streaking" around objects that were brightly lit. You can see an example by taking a look at the movie on our samples page.
The D-595 is powered by a set of two AA-type batteries. This means you can use alkaline, NiMH, or lithium cells. It is also compatible with CR-V3 lithium batteries, which offer a longer shelf life and runtime but are a bit more expensive. Olympus does not specify battery life, but our test show it was quite good. I was able to capture all of our samples (about 90 shots) and conclude our other test on a single set of 2500mAh rechargeable NiMH cells and still had plenty of power left.
Bottom line - the Olympus Camedia D-595 Zoom is a well rounded digicam. With an estimated street price of around $220, great image quality, and speedy performance, it offers an excellent value for those who are seeking an inexpensive alternative to film. Its 5-megapixel SHQ images have enough resolution for 13x19-inch prints or cropped prints of a smaller size. At its highest resolution, file sizes average 2.5MB, so make sure you get a larger (128MB - 512MB) xD- Picture card. If you like the features of this model, but need something even more compact and can brave the occasional rainstorm (or hurricane), check out our review of the Stylus Verve S.
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