Review: Olympus Brio D-100
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, May 31, 2001
Thursday, May 31, 2001
all the talk about high-end digital cameras, we sometimes forget
about the "little guys". You know, the entry-level cameras
that most first time buyers are buying? Cameras without a lot of
bells and whistles are getting a lot better, and the major manufacturers
are finally getting into the act. And these aren't those "sign
up for Internet service and get a free camera" products either,
as Olympus' $349 Brio
D-100 can attest to.
The Brio D-100 is known as the C-1 in some countries.
in the Box?
D-100 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
1.3 Mpixel Olympus D-100 camera
CR-V3 lithium battery (non-rechargeable)
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and full manual
page basic manual plus 104 page full manual (PDF format on CD)
kindly includes an 8MB SmartMedia card with the Brio. Now if we
could only get them to include larger cards with their more expensive
camera has a built-in cover over the lens, which negates the need
for a lens cap.
the other hand, I wish they'd include rechargeable batteries with
their cameras. While the CR-V3 (and only one of them) lasts a long
time, they end up polluting landfills and are expensive to replace.
My advice: buy a 4 pack of NiMH rechargeables. Since the camera
only uses 2 AA-sized batteries, you'll be set.
have good news and bad news about the manuals included with the
D-100. The good news is that they're a vast improvement over earlier
Olympus manuals. The bad news is that the main manual is only on
CD, in PDF format. For basic use, however, you should be able to
get by using the basic manual that's in the box.
taken a look
at the included Camedia Master software before, and would rank it
as average among other products bundled with digital cameras.
nice thing about the D-100 and other new Olympus cameras is the
USB AutoConnect feature. This allows users of modern Macs and PCs
to connect the camera without installing any drivers. This also
means that the camera is compatible with Mac OS X.
will reportedly offer an underwater case at some point in the future
for the D-100.
Brio D-100 is a small and very light plastic camera. It shares the
point-and-shoot look of the D-400/500Z series, so you'll know how
to use it right when you pick it up. It fits well in the hand, and
its size and weight allow you to use it with one hand. The dimensions
of the D-100 are 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3, and it weighs just 165 grams (5.8
our tour with the front of the camera: the F2.8 lens has a focal
range of 4.5mm, equivalent to 36mm. There's no optical zoom on the
D-100, so you're stuck with a 2X digital zoom. Do note that digital
zoom degrades the quality of your photos when used. Olympus recently
announced the D-150 Zoom which is similar to the Brio D-100 but
includes a 3X optical zoom lens.
flash on the D-100 has a working range of 0.7 - 9.8 feet.
back of the camera is pretty sparse. The 1.5" LCD is smaller
than your average LCD, but it's just as good as Olympus' other ones.
optical viewfinder, while good-sized, lacks diopter correction for
those of us with glasses.
the left of the LCD are all the controls you'll find on the Brio
D-100. The four-way switch not only moves through the menus, but
it also controls several camera functions, including:
in (digitally) [record/playback]
out (digitally) [rec/play]
the four-way switch you'll find buttons for invoking the menus (which
doubles as the OK button), as well as another for turning the LCD
on and off.
the top of the camera... where there's nothing going on. The only
thing up here is the shutter release button, which works just fine.
There is no LCD info display on the D-100, so you'll need to turn
on the LCD to see settings and how many photos are remaining.
one side of the D-100, you'll find the I/O ports, under a rubber
cover. Let's take a look...
not the best picture, but you can hopefully see the USB, Video,
and power ports.
here's the other side of the camera, with the 8MB SmartMedia card
shown. The door over the slot is solid plastic and won't be coming
apart anytime soon. The slot itself is not spring-loaded, so you
just yank the card out.
but not least, the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the
battery compartment (which holds one CR-V3 or two AAs) as well as
a plastic tripod mount.
the Olympus Brio D-100
camera starts up quickly, since there's no lens to extend. It takes
about 3 seconds before you can start using it. The LCD does not
come on by default so you'll need to hit the Display button to turn
you depress the shutter release halfway to lock focus, there's a
bit of a delay before it happens. There's about a half second wait
before the picture is taken, when the button is fully depressed.
After taking a shot, you'll have to wait about four seconds before
you can take another shot (HQ mode).
digital zoom is somewhat slow to react -- and as I mention, reduces
image quality (see the gallery).
to some other Olympus cameras, the Brio's resolution and quality
choices are simple. Here's a chart to explain:
card (for reference)
(1280 x 960)
(1280 x 960)
(640 x 480)
with the C-700 Ultra Zoom, Olympus has departed from the traditional
menu system of previous cameras. Where the C-700's menus were highly
customizable, the D-100's are very basic. Settings are not saved
when the camera is shut off, and they're a little slow to navigate.
choices you'll find in the menus include:
(auto, redeye, force, slow synch, off) - you can also set this
using the "left" button on the four-way switch
shooting (on/off) - three shots in about 2 seconds
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 0.5EV increments)
(SHQ, HQ, SQ)
Balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent)
you can see, this is as basic as it gets. Let's take a look at some
photos now, shall we?
macro test came out just so-so. While the colors were pretty accurate,
there's a lot of grain in the above shot. The D-100 can shoot between
0.4 inches - 1.6 feet in macro mode.
D-100 did a pretty good job at our nightshot test, especially considering
I couldn't zoom in like I usually do. It took in enough light to
make the skyline recognizable, and there's very little noise.
was pleasantly surprised with the D-100's photo quality -- I wasn't
expecting much from an inexpensive camera. But the D-100 delivered,
except in shots where the digital zoom was used, but you'll find
that issue on all digital zoom equipped cameras. But don't take
my word for it -- decide for yourself after looking at our photo
D-100's playback mode is pretty basic. You've got slideshows, image
protection, DPOF print marking, and "zoom and scroll".
menus in playback mode annoyed me a bit. For example, when you want
to delete all photos or format the card, you have to invoke the
menu, scroll down, choose "yes", pick between format or
erase all, and choose yes again. Perhaps all this is to prevent
accidental formatting? Who knows...
can zoom into your images (up to 2X, no "steps"), and
then scroll around in them. To switch between zooming and scrolling
you hit the Display button.
Brio doesn't tell you much about your photos other than when they
were taken and the quality. I'd like to know the exposure information,
but I'm not sure if the target audience does as well.
camera moves between HQ quality shots in about a second, which is
Does it Compare?
people looking for their first digital camera, I would definitely
consider the Olympus Brio D-100. It's inexpensive, very easy to
use, small and light, and it takes good quality pictures. My only
real complaint is the lack of the zoom lens -- but Olympus has already
remedied this with the Brio
D-150 Zoom, shipping soon.
light, well designed
AutoConnect means no drivers
I didn't care for:
rechargeable batteries included
other cameras to consider while shopping include the Canon
PowerShot A10, Fuji FinePix 1300
and the Sony
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the Brio D-100 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion? How about a third?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the D-100. If you're still hungry, check
out Imaging Resource's review.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.