First Look: Olympus D-380
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, March 25, 2002
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
is a "preview" of the Olympus D-380. The camera described
here is a pre-production model, and features and look-and-feel are
subject to change. When a production model is available, I will
update the review and provide a conclusion.
D-380 ($199) is the latest fixed focal length camera from Olympus.
Their product line can be somewhat confusing, with the Brio
D-230 and this camera being quite similar.
D-380 has the following new features compared with its predecessor,
Self-portrait Mode - sets up the best conditions to take a great
2 in 1 Image Merge creates 2 side-by-side photos in one
Image Resize feature
out more about this camera in our special preview!
in the Box?
Olympus D-380 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
2.0 effective Mpixel Olympus D-380 camera
AA alkaline batteries
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
(not included with my pre-production camera)
D-380 includes an 8MB SmartMedia card, which will get you started
with digital photography. But if you really want to get serious,
you'll need a larger card -- 32MB or better is my recommendation.
recommendation is about batteries. Olympus includes four AA alkaline
batteries, which end up in the trash (please recycle them if possible!)
quickly. My advice: two sets of NiMH rechargeables, which last longer
and are much less expensive than throwaway alkalines.
you can see, the lens cover, which doubles as the power switch,
eliminates the need for a lens cap.
likes to talk about their AutoConnect USB system, which lets you
use the camera with a Mac or PC running a modern version of their
respective OS -- without installing drivers first. The camera works
fine with Mac OS X.
far as accessories go, don't count on many. This is a point-and-shoot
camera, so there won't be any external lens or flash support.
it wasn't included with my pre-production camera, Olympus has updated
their Camedia Master Software to version 4.0, and it sounds better
from reading the description. I'll put it to the test when I get
it, and will update this review.
was no manual included with my test camera -- in the past, I've
complained about the manual being on CD. We'll see what happens
when I get the real thing.
D-380 looks similar to the Brio D-230 and the new D-520Z. It's larger
than the D-520Z, but is still small enough to slip into a pocket.
The body style should be familiar to consumers who have used 35mm
camera is made mostly of plastic, but it feels "high grade"
and should survive trips into the wilderness. The camera fits pretty
well in your hands -- better, in fact, than the D-520Z since there's
no popup flash.
official dimensions of the camera are 4.8 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches (WxHxD),
and it weighs about 190 grams without batteries installed.
the front of the camera, with the lens cover pulled back.
D-380 uses a 4.5 mm fixed focal length lens, which is equivalent
to 35 mm. The switch below the lens puts the camera into macro mode.
There are no lens accessories for this camera, as I mentioned.
the top-right of the photo, you can see the D-380's flash. The working
range of the flash is 0.25 - 2.5 m. Flash strength is not adjustable.
I'm happy to see that the flash isn't the popup variety found on
the D-510Z and D-520Z.
thing I'd like to see on this -- and all Olympus cameras -- is some
sort of AF illuminator to aid in low light focusing.
the back of the D-380. The 1.6" LCD is slightly larger than
the 1.5" on the D-520Z I just reviewed. The LCD is bright and
fluid, which is nice for a low cost camera. LCD brightness is adjustable
via the menu system.
above the LCD is a decent-sized optical viewfinder. There's no diopter
correction available. Nose smudges on the LCD should not be a problem.
to the right, you'll find the four-way switch plus two more buttons.
The four way switch is used for menus as well as these other functions:
zoom in (up)
zoom out (down)
buttons below the four-way switch toggle the LCD and menu system
on and off. That LCD button is also used to enter Playback mode.
only thing you'll find on the top of the camera is the shutter release
button. I would've liked to see an LCD info display, which saves
you a trip to the big LCD on the back to see shots remaining and
basic settings. I guessing it got axed to keep the cost of the camera
this side of the camera are the I/O ports, found under that rubber
cover. On top is the DC in port (for optional AC adapter) and on
the bottom is USB. There is no video out support on the D-380.
the other side of the camera, opened up. You can see the SmartMedia
slot (just pull the card out to remove it), and the included 8MB
here's the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the battery
compartment as well as a plastic tripod mount. The D-380 uses four
AA-sized batteries versus only two on the D-520Z. You can also use
CR-V3 batteries for this -- Olympus sells CR-V3 Lithium batteries
that you can use. These last longer than alkalines and perhaps NiMH,
but are not rechargeable.
the Olympus D-380
a fixed focal length camera has its advantages. The camera turns
on instantly, and has no lag normally seen on autofocus cameras.
There is a tiny bit of shutter lag, but nothing terrible. Shot-to-shot
speed is pretty good, with less than a 3 second wait between photos.
disadvantage of a fixed focus camera is digital zoom. This is no
replacement for a true glass optical zoom lens. Digital zoom essentially
crops the image and then magnifies that area. Image quality goes
down rapidly as you increase the digital zoom.
resolution and quality options are quite simple on the D-380. Here
photos on 8MB card (included)
first thing I want to mention is that the SHQ resolution is not
a typo. You get a few extra pixels in that mode, for some reason.
D-380 uses the newest Olympus menu system, though it's not customizable
like on some more expensive cameras. When you first start it, you're
presented with four choices:
(Single-shot, continuous shooting, movie mode)
Menu - see below
(2-in-1, self-portrait, panorama) - more below
- described in chart above
shooting mode will take a photo at a rate of 1.3 frames/second,
for up to 8 shots (in HQ mode).
function menu has two new features that weren't seen on the D-380.
The first is 2-in-1 mode, which lets you take two pictures and put
them side-by-side into one. So for before and after pictures, perhaps?
There's always a catch, and the catch here is that you can't do
this in playback mode. So unless the after happens soon after the
before, this won't work for that. Hopefully I'm totally wrong about
this, but I can't see any other way to make it work. I'll do a sample
photo when I get a production-level camera.
mode lets you turn the camera on yourself and take a picture.
take a look at the Mode Menu now. As you can see, your choices are
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/2EV increments)
Metering (ESP, Spot)
Balance (Auto, sunlight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent)
Setup (erase all, format)
reset (on/off) - retain settings after camera is powered off
View (on/off) - shows image after it's taken on LCD
I get a production model D-380, I will do the usual photo tests.
In addition, Olympus has asked me not to post any images from this
camera since the image quality is not representative of the final
D-380 can record Quicktime movies, without sound. You can choose
from 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 sizes -- both are recorded at 15 frames/second.
are limited to 15 seconds in HQ (320 x 240) mode and 60 seconds
in SQ (160 x 120) mode.
I get "the real thing", I'll put up a sample movie.
D-380 has a pretty standard playback mode that's easy to use. Basic
functions such as slideshows, DPOF print marking, protection, and
thumbnail view are available.
zoom and scroll feature lets you zoom in as close as 3X. You can
then use the four-way switch to move around inside the image.
nice feature is rotation mode -- unfortunately it's only for viewing
on the LCD or the TV, as the image isn't actually re-saved in its
D-380 provides much more information about photos than its predecessor,
as you can see above. The camera moves through images almost instantly.
Does it Compare?
I get the production model camera, I will post the usual final thoughts
and other cameras to consider.
has requested that I do not post any images from this pre-production
a second opinion?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the D-380.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please do not ask me for a personal recommendation, or missing