Steve's Digicams

Olympus D-490 Zoom
User Review

Review posted 8/21/00


Click to take a QuickTime tour of the Olympus D-490 Zoom
Click to take a QuickTime tour of the 490Z

Continuing the long and successful line of the D-4xx series digicams, Olympus now delivers the D-490 Zoom, a 2.11 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom. It produces 1600 x 1200-pixel, 24-bit color (16.7 million colors) images in JPEG or uncompressed TIFF format. The new QuickTime movie mode lets you capture motion picture clips at 15 frames per second. Note that it is not capable of recording sound as it lacks a microphone.  Burst mode shooting from 5 to 45 pictures at 1.3 frames per second depending on quality mode.

Recording mode options let you choose the quality and size of your images; 1600 x 1200 SHQ in uncompressed TIFF or low compression JPEG, 1600 x 1200 HQ in standard compression JPEG or two 640 x 480 SQ modes, one is highly compressed for email attachments. QuickTime movie recording options lets you capture up to 60 seconds in SQ mode or up to 15 seconds in HQ mode.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

The stylish, compact and lightweight D-490 Zoom closed up and ready to slip in your pocket and go. You never need to worry about losing the lens cap. When you slide back the protective lens barrier the camera automatically turns on, close it to turn it off.

Advanced features include selectable Digital "ESP" matrix or spot metering, Automatic Exposure with +/- 2-step exposure control in 1/2-step increments, equivalent ISO settings of Auto, 100, 200 and 400, White Balance (Full TTL Automatic, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten and Fluorescent)

Olympus D-490 Zoom

New on the D-460/490 is the 4-way jog switch used on other Olympus cameras. There's a high-resolution, 1.8-inch, Wide-View LCD that displays images in brighter light and at greater angles than standard LCD displays, and uses less power.

When the camera is first powered up in Record mode the color LCD is off but can be turned on by pressing the LCD control button on the back. The D-490 displays very little information on the LCD, all pertinent camera settings are shown on the data LCD on the top.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

The D-490 Zoom follows the same basic design as many of Olympus' other digital cameras and their Stylus line of compact film cameras.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

The bottom of the D-490 is flat and the only things found here are the battery door (see below) and the tripod socket. The latter is rather badly located to the opposite side of the camera from the batteries and makes for a somewhat unstable mount.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

Olympus lens 5.4 - 16.2mm, F2.8-F4.4, 8 elements in 6 groups and Digital telephoto 1.6x, 2x, 2.5x (at any focal length).   For closeup photography switch to macro mode and shoot as close as 8 inches.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

The zoom lever is located on the top of the camera and easily actuated with your index finger without taking your eye off the viewfinder. In play mode it toggles between thumbnail and zoom playback.

The user controls are minimal as this is basically a point-n-shoot type of digital camera.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

Starting at the top is the LCD control button to turn the color LCD on or off. It can also be used to go from Rec to Play mode by quickly pushing it twice.

Next is the Menu button which calls up or discards the menu system.

The 4-way jog switch is used for navigating the menus, scrolling around a zoomed playback image, selecting pictures to display or as Quick Focus presets of 8ft and infinity.

The OK button accepts menu selections.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

The three buttons across the top edge of the back are dual purpose, their functions change depending on whether you are in Rec or Play mode.

(Left to right) Flash mode/Delete, Selftimer/DPOF, Macro and Digital Zoom/Protect.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

View your subjects clearly with either the real-image optical zoom viewfinder (with dioptric correction) or with the Wide-View color LCD. The optical viewfinder shows about 85% of the captured image.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

The monochrome data LCD on the top indicates recording mode, number of remaining pictures, flash modes, self-timer, battery check, macro mode, spot metering mode, exposure compensation, white balance, burst mode, image sharpness and panorama mode.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

When you need some extra light just pop up the 5-mode flash:

  • Auto fires automatically in low light or back-light
  • Red-Eye Reduction mode emits a series of pre-flashes right before the shutter snaps, allowing the subject's eyes to adjust to the flash
  • Slow Synchro Flash Mode for shots requiring long exposure
  • Fill-In Flash Mode softens the sharp contrasts, for a more natural look in photos when your subject is in both bright light and dark shadow
  • Flash Off is for when flash photography is not permitted or to allow for up to -second exposures, like sunsets and night scenes

Olympus D-490 Zoom

The D-490 Zoom comes with an 8MB card and can use 8, 16, or 32 MB 3.3v Olympus SmartMedia cards for exposure lock, panorama "stitching" functions.

Other brands of 3.3v Smartmedia up to 64MB can be used but you will not be able to use the camera's panorama mode.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

I/O ports include a standard RS-232 serial port for PC or Mac computers. NTSC video out for connection to TV, VCR or other video devices. And a DC power input jack for the optional AC power supply or external battery packs.

Sadly lacking here is a USB port. You will grow old (literally) waiting for this camera to download high resolution images to the computer via the serial port. A card reader is a mandatory accessory.

Olympus D-490 Zoom

Powered by four AA size batteries, NiMH is recommended for optimal performance. Olympus sells an optional kit with four NiMH batteries and a compact charger.

Continue on to
Page Two

Olympus D-490 Zoom Specifications
Type: Digital camera with 4.5cm/1.8-inch color TFT LCD monitor
Memory: Removable 3V (3.3V) SmartMediaTM (SSFDC) card (2MB, 4 MB, 8MB, 16MB, 32MB and 64MB); One 8MB card including Panorama function is supplied with camera
Number of storable frames with 8MB SmartMediaTM card:
  • 1 (SHQ mode; non-compress), File size = 5.6MB
  • 5 or more (SHQ mode; compress), File size = 1.3MB (max.)
  • 17 or more (HQ mode), File size 470KB (max.)
  • 109 or more (SQ1 mode), File size 75KB (max.)
  • 37 or more (SQ2 mode), File size 220KB (max.)
Recording system: JPEG (DCF), TIFF (non-compress)
Image pickup element: 1/2.7-inch CCD solid-state image pickup, 2.11 megapixel
Recording Image: 1600x1200 pixel (SHQ/HQ mode); 640x480 pixel (SQ1/2 mode)
Lens: Olympus lens 5.4 - 16.2mm, F2.8 - F4.4, 8 elements in 6 groups (Equivalent to 35-105mm lens on 35mm camera) including 2 aspherical lenses
Focusing: TTL system auto focus, one-touch focus (2.5m & Infinity)
Working range: 20cm - 80cm (Macro mode), 80cm - infinity; LCD finder is turnd on automatically in Macro mode
Digital Telephoto: Digital 1.6x, 2x, 2.5x Tele at any focal length is possible
Photometric system: TTL digital ESP metering with imager, spot metering possible
Sensitivity: Auto, Equivalent to ISO 100, 200 and 400 fix selectable
Exposure control: Programmed auto exposure ( 2Ev by 1/2Ev steps exposure compensation possible)
Aperture: Wide; F2.8 or F8, Tele F4.4 or F8.6 (Auto select)
Shutter: 1/2 - 1/1000 sec. mechanical shutter
White balance: Full Auto TTL, Pre-set (daylight, overcast, tungsten light, fluorescent light)
Viewfinder: Optical real image zoom viewfinder, LCD monitor
LCD monitor: 4.5cm/1.8-inch color TFT with 61,000 pixel (brightness adjustment is possible)
Display mode: One frame, slide-show mode, index-display mode (4/9/16 frames), close-up display, file-name
Motion picture mode:
  • Format: QuickTimeTM Motion JPEG
  • HQ: 320x240 pixels, 15 frames/sec. up to approx. 15 seconds
  • SQ: 160x120 pixels, 15 frames/sec. up to approx. 60 seconds
Flash mode: (manual) Pop-up Flash: Auto (low- and back-light), Red-eye reducing, Off, Fill-in, Slow synchronization, Slow synchronization and red-eye reduction
Flash working range: Wide; 0.2 - 4.0m, Tele; 0.2 - 2.6m
Sequence mode: Takes up to 5 shots in HQ and up to 45 shots in SQ mode; 1.3 shots/sec. (LCD off)
Self-timer: 12-second delay
Outer Connector: DC input terminal, Data input/output terminal (RS232C), Video Output terminal (PAL or NTSC)
Operating environment: Temperature 0-40 Celsius (operation); -20 - 60 Celsius (storage); Humidity 30-909% (operation); 10-90% (storage)
Power supply: Main power source: 4xAA alkaline batteries/4xAA NiMH batteries/4xAA Lithium batteries/4xAA NiCd batteries/2xCR-V3/Optional AC adapter
Date/Time/Calendar: Simultaneous recording onto image data; up to year 2030
Dimensions: 5-in. (W) x 2.6-in. (H) x 2-in. (D)
Weight: 9.5 oz. - 270g (without battery and SmartMediaTM card)

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