Menu Screens(While in Record mode)
Set the image quality and choose whether or not to use the SHQ uncompressed
Adjust the exposure override (EV compensation) from -2 to +2
Chose the desired ISO sensitivity, Auto is the default
Enable or disable the spot metering option
Change the White Balance setting.
Adjust the brightness of the LCD's backlight.
Play mode screen showing the last image recorded with all of the
image data overlayed on the display screen.
Common to most all digicams is the thumbnail preview mode, the D-450 Zoom
lets you select 4, 9 or 16 thumbnail images per screen. You use the
+ and - buttons to easily select one for full screen display.
To critically examine you image in the field you can use the 3x playback
zoom feature. You select one of the nine gridded areas and then zoom into
it to check focus or color quality.
Zoomed-in at 3x to the center grid square as seen above.
The Olympus D-450 Zoom is the upgraded version of the popular D-400 Zoom camera. Improvements include a large internal RAM buffer that allows for up to two shots per second at full resolution but only in the SQ quality setting. It's still quite fast but the sequential shooting speed is inversely proportional to the quality setting. The condition of the internal buffer is shown on the data LCD in the form of four little rectangles that fill and empty.
The internal buffer also helps accelerate the normal shot to shot times too. Shooting in maximum resolution it took less than 5 seconds and that time was reduced down to about 2 seconds for the lowest resolution setting. These times are only valid while there is room in the buffer, once it is filled the image processing times slow accordingly. For the average user this will not be much of a problem though.
Images can be stored in SQ (Standard Quality), HQ (High Quality) or SHQ (Super High Quality) mode using JPEG compression or for the ultimate in image quality you can use the SHQ uncompressed TIFF mode. Be forewarned that you can only store two of those uncompressed images on the 8MB Smartmedia card that comes with the camera.
Adjustable ISO sensitivity is another thing you don't usually find on cameras in this class but the D-450 Zoom has got it. You can select from ISO 160, 320, 640 or the default which is Auto-ISO where the camera will select the best speed for existing light conditions. The higher the sensitivity the more low-light capable the camera is but this comes at the cost of induced "noise" in your pictures. There are many times when a flash is just not appropriate and it's nice to be able to photograph in those situations by boosting the ISO speed.
The D-450 Zoom also offers a spot metering option to handle those tricky lighting conditions much better. It's unusual to find spot metering on a "lower priced" digicam and I'm happy to report that it works very well. Most cameras use an averaging type of metering that takes the light values from the entire frame and then bases the exposure on that value. Spot metering uses a very small "spot" right in the center of the viewfinder to calculate the exposure. It can handle such things as strongly backlit subjects or a shady place in the middle of the Sahara desert at high noon.
The ergonomics of the D-450 Zoom are excellent. The camera body is stylish and very compact and highly functional. The camera is ready to record almost as soon as you slide the lens cover back and there's no lens cap to lose. For those using the D-450 Zoom as a point and shoot camera, all you do is slide open the lens cover, look through the viewfinder and shoot. And speaking of viewfinders ... the D-450 Zoom's optical (and LCD) viewfinder is one of the most accurate I have used in a long time. It shows about 90% of the captured final image, most camera viewfinders show a lot less than that.
All of the user controls are placed on the back of the camera with the exception of the shutter button and zoom lever which are located on the top. When you want to use the advanced features all you need do is push the Menu button and access the desired option screen and change it accordingly. Shutter lag (the time between pressing the shutter and capturing the image) time on the D-450 Zoom is about average at around 0.5 seconds.
The zoom lens exhibits some barrel distortion at extreme wideangle and some pin cushioning at full telephoto but it is all within tolerable limits. As always, the Olympus Camedia Master software can correct for these optical abberations (unless you're an iMac user, sigh).
The D-450 Zoom ships with several software CDs that contains Adobe PhotoDeluxe 3.0 for Windows 95/98/NT4.0, Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0 for Macintosh OS 7.1, 8.x, Enroute QuickStitch for Macintosh and Windows and Olympus Camedia Master 1.1. The iMac is not compatible with this image transfer system so they will need to get a USB-based card reader to access their photos.
The bottom line is that I have no reservations whatsoever in recommending this camera to those who do not need to make prints bigger than 4x6" size. The D-450 Zoom is a highly refined 1.3 megapixel camera with a sharp and fast lens. It's easy to use but still packs the features that advanced shutterbugs desire in a camera. It's fairly small and compact and if your LCD useage is kept to a minimum it will run all day on a charged set of NiMH batteries. The real bottom line is image quality and this camera delivers that in spades. The overall color, saturation and sharpness is very good, even when used in mixed lighting conditions.
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