Olympus E-410 SLR Review

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Steve's Conclusion

The Olympus EVOLT E-410 10-megapixel digital SLR will make a great choice for either an experienced or novice photographer. This camera is aimed squarely at people who plan to step up from a prosumer or point- and-shoot type model, and want more versatility and overall better quality pictures. The E-410 features a "Live View" LCD function that allows you to compose shots on the LCD or the optical viewfinder, there's even a little targeting computer for the auto focus. Other companies have only provided this feature on exclusive pro models. However, be warned that Live View introduces significant and widely varying shutter lag. This model has a big and bright 2.5-inch LCD, using Olympus' HyperCrystal technology, offering more contrast than a conventional LCD even in bright sunlight. The E-410 shares many of the same features with its new big brother, the E-510, which sells for about $100 more.

Another stand-out feature is the use of a dust reduction system, which helps reduce dust spots on photos. The Olympus Supersonic Wave Filter is a high tech ultrasonic technology that vibrates to remove dust and other particles from the front of the image sensor, and captures the debris on a special adhesive membrane every time you turn on the camera. This dust reduction system liberates you from hours of retouching photos.

Ergonomics are great for a dSLR. Unlike many other small SLRs we've reviewed, the Olympus E-410 doesn't have much of a grip. Its more of a subtle arrangement of contours that help enhance your hold. There is a soft pad on the back for your thumb, and a raised ridge on the front. These are enhanced by a soft, textured, surface for improved grip. The small footprint of the E-410 makes holding it for long periods of time not as easy as holding the slightly larger E-510, but when just heading out for some quick casual shooting, the E-410's small and light profile, along with its small lenses are just right for the job.

All Olympus E-Series cameras support the "Four Thirds Lens Standard". Both Olympus, and other manufacturers, produce many high-quality Four Thirds-compliant lenses and accessories that are specifically designed for digital SLRs. Because the E-410 is part of the Olympus E-System, it works with a large number of E-System accessories to further enhance personal shooting styles and applications. This includes the full line of Zuiko Digital Specific lenses and flashes. The Two Lens Outfit I reviewed contained a Zuiko Digital 14 - 42mm lens giving good wide-angle coverage and a Zuiko Digital 40-150mm lens with its 80-300mm 35mm-equivalent focal length giving an effective telephoto zoom range for your distant subjects. Both lens are a great complement for the E-410.

As with all the dSLRs, new technology is a must, and The E-410 is not exception. It uses Olympus' TruePic III Image Processor to produce crystal clear photos with accurate color, true-to-life flesh tones, brilliant blue skies and precise tonal representation in between. TruePic III also lowers noise in images shot at higher ISO settings, enabling better results in low-light situations.

The E-410's single image shooting performance is average in the consumer digital SLR class. From power-on till the first image was captured measured 2.1 seconds. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was 1/10 second when pre-focused, and 4/10 second including auto focus time for a high-contrast subject. Rapid shooting in single shot mode without flash captured 8 images at 8/10 second intervals, with subsequent shots at 1.8 second intervals. With flash, shots could be captured at intervals ranging between 1 and 5 seconds, depending on subject distance. The Zuiko Digital 14-42mm lens was used for the AF performance measurements.

The Auto Focus system is accurate and has 3 focus points organized horizontally across the frame. There are several focusing modes to choose from including Manual, Single AF, Continuous AF and simultaneous use of MF with both single and continuous AF. AF point selection can be performed automatically by the camera, or you can manually select the AF point. Custom Functions are provided to give you control of shutter release priority in both S-AF and C-AF modes; the camera defaults to focus priority in S-AF and release priority in C-AF.

To help novice users, the E-410 incorporates Scene Modes that optimize camera settings for 18 distinct shooting conditions and subjects. While most cameras shield the photographer from the exposure settings chosen by the current scene mode being used, the E-410 displays all of the exposure settings on the LCD. This information can be a great teaching tool for the intermediate photographer, helping them to learn using the E-410's more advanced shooting modes.

With 10-Megapixels, there's plenty of resolution for producing large prints and high-quality cropped images. The E-410's results were well-exposed, and color reproduction was realistic. The E-410's image quality was very good at ISO 100 and 200 but at higher ISO's, some noise becomes evident. Outdoors, with good light, proved to be the best environment for shooting in the E-410's automatic modes. Colors came out rich, with decent contrast most of the time. Even though I typically prefer the viewfinder for shooting, the high-contrast display did well in the blazing sunlight for both Live View and post-shot review. Shooting with a flash indoors was a mixed bag. When there was enough ambient light, the flash filled in only what was necessary, and shots came out bright and true. With lower natural light, however, the camera took its time to acquire focus, exposure and light adjustments before snapping its shot. When the camera finally did take the shot, the pictures showed good flash coverage and were not at all washed out, even at close range. Take a look at our sample images to see examples of the E-410's capabilities.

In-camera editing is not a feature you'll find on many dSLR's, but the E-410 provides an effective image editing function that can operate on RAW and JPEG images. It allows you to convert an image to Black and White, apply a sepia tone, fix red eye and adjust saturation, saving the result as a separate image file. While it doesn't have the features and flexibility of an image editor, the E-410's in-camera editing feature will appeal to beginners or those who print directly from the camera using DPOF or PictBridge printers.

For out of camera editing the E-410 is supplied with a CD-ROM containing Olympus Master 2.0 - simple image transfer, browsing, basic editing, simple RAW conversion, printing and sharing, and Olympus Studio 2.0 Trial - a 30 day trial copy of Olympus's more advanced image editing and RAW conversion application. Ease of use combined with clever functions make these programs a perfect choice for all types of users. Incorporating a special Quick Start Guide, the software even lets complete beginners get great results with a minimum of effort - right from the word go.

Bottom line - The Olympus E-410 is a very capable dSLR, offering terrific image quality, an extensive list of useful features and an automatic mode to please the more armature photographer. It is also a terrific value; for under $900 you can get the E-410 in a Two Lens Outfit with both the Zuiko Digital 14-42mm and 40-150 lenses, a package that covers an effective focal length range of 28-300mm. It competes well with other consumer dSLR's and offers a good alternative to those considering high-end prosumer digicams. The E-410's Auto and Scene modes will produce high quality snapshots for beginners, while its advanced operating modes will satisfy the photo enthusiast. This camera grew on me the more I used it, therefore I feel it will make a great compact dSLR model that the entire family will enjoy using.

Olympus Posts EVOLT E-410 Firmware Updates

The EVOLT E-410 Firmware Update Ver 1.1 adds/revises the following:

  1. Improved reliability when writing to the new UDMA type (ultra direct memory access) high-speed Compact Flash cards.

The EVOLT E-410 Firmware Update Ver 1.2 adds/revises the following:
  1. Improved preview of the white balance settings when in Live-View mode.
  2. Addressed the issue of file names being reset after images are deleted.

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