Olympus Stylus Digital 410 Review
The latest Stylus Digital from Olympus, the 410 combines stylish design, a durable all-metal body,
and the ability to take pictures no matter what the weather conditions are. It offers users 4.0
megapixels of resolution and a high quality 3x optical zoom lens. Its "P"rogram (Auto) mode allows
any level user to capture great images without any fuss, and if you want to explore your creative
side, simply select one of the eight pre-programmed scene modes (Portrait, Indoor, Beach/Snow, Cuisine,
Landscape + Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Self Portrait) from the virtual mode dial. It includes
all of the features found on the Stylus 400, but adds
an all-weather microphone and speaker, which allows you to now capture audio with movies as well as
add voice memos to your still pictures. It also incorporates a fine-tuned image processor for faster
image processing speeds, and the power of PictBridge technology to print out images quickly and
easily (to any PictBridge compatible printer) without the use of a personal computer.
The Stylus 410 employs a metal exterior and durable rubber materials on the inside to seal gaps and prevent moisture from entering the body, they can survive a downpour or a gentle sprinkle. If you're like me, your picture taking probably stops when the rain starts falling. Nobody wants their expensive camera ruined by water damage and with this camera it's no longer a problem. The ergonomics are great. The controls are well placed and functional, and the menu system is logically organized. Its 1.5" low-temperature poly-silicon LCD works great outdoors, even on the brightest of days, and when used in low-ambient light, it "gains up" to help brighten your subject.
Shooting performance was average for a camera in this class. From power up to first image captured measured approx. 5.5 seconds, this includes the time it takes to slide the lens cover door open and extend the lens itself. Shutter lag was a fast 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 7/10 of a second including autofocus. Shot-to-shot delay averaged 2.5 seconds without the use of the flash and about 5 to 6 seconds with the flash. When using its continuous (burst) mode, I was able to capture 6 frames in about 2.5 seconds before the buffer filled. It then took approx. 13 seconds for the camera to clear its buffer. Our test we done using an Olympus 256MB xD-picture card, quality/size set at SHQ 2272x1704, preview off, flash off (unless otherwise noted), and all other settings a default. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
It's powered by a small but powerful lithium rechargeable battery. Olympus does not specify the battery life but our testing revealed it to be quite good. I was able to capture all of our sample images (approx 80 pictures) and conduct our other test before that camera posted a low battery warning (LCD used 100% of the time.) There's a good optical viewfinder on this camera and if you use it instead of the LCD, then you can expect considerably better battery life. Exactly how many pictures you can capture is going to vary depending on how many are taken with flash, how often the lens is zoomed in or out and how frequently you change settings or review pictures on the LCD. As with all cameras that use a proprietary battery, we recommend the purchase of a second battery. Lithium batteries hold their charge much longer than NiMH type batteries and can be "topped off" whenever desired without shortening the life span of the pack.
I was pleased with the overall image quality in SHQ 2272x1704 mode. We've recommended many Olympus cameras in the past for their highly accurate white balance and exposure systems, and continue to do so with the Stylus 410. This is pretty much a "point-n-shoot" camera, but it does offer manual selection of the white balance presets, spot metering, variable exposure compensation and eight Scene modes. Four-megapixels of resolution is all that most users need, whether you need web images, email attachments, 4x6", 11x14" or larger size prints, this camera has got an appropriate resolution size for you. The majority of our samples were sharp, well exposed, showed true color, and were nicely saturated. However, there was an average amount of noise in low/high contrast areas. Movie mode is adequate for 20-second QVGA clips or 60- second 160x120 clips, and thanks to the added all-weather speaker and microphone, they also include audio.
Bottom line -- the Stylus 410 makes a great choice for anyone with an active lifestyle. It's durable, takes great pictures, is compact, weather proof, and most of all, it can be had for only $379! All you need to do is add two things to complete the purchase, a second battery and a larger xD-Picture Card. Other than that Olympus has put together an excellent package. We definitely recommend this one for any level photographer and it will make a great vacation digicam.
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