Olympus D-40 Zoom Review

Steve's Digicams

Olympus Camedia D-40 Zoom

Playback Modes and Menus

When in record mode you can press the Monitor button twice to quickly review the last picture taken or you press the Monitor button with the front lens cover closed to enter normal Play mode.

Olympus D-40 Zoom

From the shortcut menu select the INFO option. You will now see the following information overlayed on each picture: The image quality and file size (SHQ 2288 x 1712), the aperture (F5.6), the shutter speed (1/50), exposure compensation (0.0), white balance (automatic) and the ISO sensitivity (100.) The next line is the date and time and on the bottom is the folder and filename.

Olympus D-40 Zoom

To quickly search through your stored images you move the zoom control lever to the wideangle position and it brings up a thumbnail index page. Using the 4-way jog switch you can select an image and then display it fullscreen. This display can be set for 4, 9 or 16 thumbnail images per page.

Olympus D-40 Zoom

While viewing an image fullscreen you move the zoom control lever to the telephoto position and magnify the image up to 4x. You can now scoll around the image using the 4-way jog switch.

Olympus D-40 Zoom

HQ quality 320x240 QuickTime movie clips playback in fullscreen mode on the color LCD or a television set if using the video out cable. On the bottom is the running time - we're at 2 seconds of a 19 second clip.

Olympus D-40 Zoom

You can edit movie clips in the camera. You mark the desired start and end frames and then either overwrite the original file or create a new one.

Olympus D-40 Zoom

Shortcut Play menu

    - Slideshow playback start

    INFO - Enable or disable the camera and exposure information shown in playback mode.

    PRINT - Set the DPOF printing options.

    MODE MENU - Go to the full menu, see below.

Full Play menu

    - Play sound clip for picture being displayed.

    CARD SETUP - Delete images or format SM card.

    ALL RESET - Reset all settings to default.

    VOLUME - Adjust playback volume level.

    - Beep sound: Off, Low, High

    PW ON SETUP - Select the screen and audio shown at power up

    PW OFF SETUP - Select the screen and audio shown at power down


    - Adjust LCD backlight intensity

    - Set the time and date

    - Thumbnail display: 4, 9 or 16 images

Steve's Conclusion

The D-40 Zoom gives you the resolution and features of the C-4040 Zoom in a palm-sized camera that fits easily in your pocket or purse. Now you can carry the power of a fully-featured 4-megapixel digital camera wherever you go, no more excuses for not having it when needed. The D-40 Zoom builds on everything that Olympus has perfected in their previous compact cameras and gives the user an almost mind-boggling choice of image sizes from VGA up to Optimum Image Enlargement (OIE) size of 3200 x 2400. The OIE images are the product of in-camera interpolation, but it uses the raw image data before any JPG compression has been applied.

No matter what you want in the way of features this camera has got it -- from the point and shoot simplicity of AUTO to Program AE, shutter speed priority, aperture priority or full manual with shutter speeds as long as 16 seconds. Metering options of matrix or spot and full control of the white balance. Autofocus or manual focus with a distance gauge and a magnified LCD display to aid in critical focusing.

The D-40's Mode Dial with 10 positions means that you quickly change the shooting mode without having to access a menu or use the color LCD. The user controls like the mode/power dial, zoom lever and shutter button are ergonomically placed and easy to operate. Particularly useful is the new "My Mode" where you can program your favorite combination of image size, quality, operational mode and many other camera options and then recall it by turning to that position on the Mode Dial.

In addition to the still modes it also has 320x240 and 160x120 QuickTime movie modes at 15fps with sound. Movie recording time is limited to 32 seconds in HQ and up to 130 seconds in SQ quality. The movies are sharp and clear but unfortunately you can't use the optical zoom when the audio is enabled. Wise move considering that it is next to impossible to keep from picking up the noises of the zoom mechanism. Disabling the audio gives you a little more memory to record slightly longer movie clips and lets you use the optical zoom.

Drive modes include: Single, Burst, AF Burst, AE Bracketing (3-5 frames with +/- 0.3, 0.6 or 1.0 stop increments), Selftimer and Remote. Burst mode is good for 2fps up to eight JPEG-compressed HQ pictures, it is not useable in TIFF mode. When using an Olympus brand SmartMedia card there is also a special Panorama mode available. As with previous models, Olympus has again included the handy RM-1 infrared remote control. You can operate the zoom and snap a picture in record mode or control the camera during playback on the TV from the other side of the room. It is very useful for tripping the shutter when doing macro shots on a tripod to eliminate camera shake and blurring. New on the D-40 Zoom is a second IR receiver on the back of the camera so the RM-1 works in front or behind the camera.

The D-40's sensitivity by default will change automatically to suit the conditions or you can manually lock it in at ISO 100, 200 or 400. Using ISO 200 or 400 with shutter speeds longer than 1/2 of a second used to result in varying amounts of CCD noise that will appear as speckles and Christmas lights (red, green and blue hot pixels.) The new Noise Reduction feature gives you vastly improved long exposures by using an in-camera "dark frame" to get rid of hot pixels.

Olympus D-40 Zoom Noise Reduction

How well does Noise Reduction work? Here are two un-edited clips from 16 second night exposures, the one on the left uses Noise Reduction, the one on the right does not. This graphically demonstrates how the majority of the "hot pixels" have been removed from the finished image. The full-size images can be found on our sample photos page for even closer examination.

White balance options are: Automatic, daylight, cloudy, incandescent, flourescent or manual preset. The builtin speedlight's output can be controlled (+/- 2.0 in 0.3 increments) and offers Auto-Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in or Off modes. Its working range is excellent from 4 inches (macro) out to about nine feet and with little to no redeye problems.

The new all glass, 2.8X optical zoom lens covers a focal range of 35-98mm (35mm equivalent) which makes it perfect for anything from wideangle scenics to portrait shots and anything inbetween. It does exhibit the usual amount of barrel distortion in full wideangle and a moderate amount of pincushioning at full telephoto. The motorized zoom mechanism is smooth and positive although it often seemed a little too fast. The focus range is from 31 inches to infinity in normal mode and about 4 inches to 30 inches in macro mode. And of course the lens is protected by the front, sliding cover when it's not in use.

The 1.8-inch color LCD is a very good display with excellent resolution, 4x playback zoom and an adjustable backlight to suit a wide range of viewing conditions. The refresh rate is realtime so there is no herky-jerky display even when fast panning. It does tend to streak a bit when used outdoors and the sun gets in the frame but this is something we see with most digicams. Screen visibility is good in all but direct sunlight where you should be using the optical viewfinder unless you need to access the menus. The D-40 has a good eyelevel, coupled optical viewfinder but it does not have a diopter adjustment. It is a large and bright viewfinder, even those wearing glasses will have no problems using it. It shows slightly less than 90% of the final image. The LCD if used as a viewfinder shows about 98% of the capture area.

The D-40 Zoom is powered by either one of the CR3V lithium batteries (one-use throw away but great shelf life) or two AA size batteries. You'll need to buy a set of NiMH batteries and a charger to complete this otherwise excellent camera system. The good news is that the camera uses two AA size batteries and they usually come in sets of four so you'll have two pairs. Get the highest capacity cells you can find, preferably 1600 to 1800 mAh will give you the power to capture a hundred pictures if you keep your use of the color LCD and the flash down to a minimum. You'll also need to buy a bigger SmartMedia card too. Unless you shoot in SQ mode be prepared for some BIG files, the average 4-megapixel image is around 2.5 megabytes. If you shoot in the Enlarged Mode these files are more like five megabytes and uncompressed TIFF images tip the scale at 12.6MB each.

The D-40 Zoom joins a growing list of Olympus cameras (C-4040, C-3040, C-3030, C-2100UZ, C-700UZ) that I recommend without reservation. These cameras are loaded with features but easy to use in Auto or Program mode and ready to satisfy the needs of advanced users at the turn of a dial. As with all digicams the bottom line is image quality and Olympus cameras consistently deliver properly exposed, sharp, true to the original color images. The D-40 Zoom produces images that equal its mid-sized siblings and better the other "world's smallest" cameras out there at the time of this review. This camera is small but very useable by those of us with average to large size hands, something I can't say about the others. And Olympus has added to the value of the package by including the RM-1 infrared remote control.

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Sample Photos

Other D-40 Zoom Reviews

Imaging-Resource's D-40 Zoom review

DC Resource's D-40 Zoom review

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