Review: Olympus D-40 Zoom
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2001
Tuesday, February 5, 2002
D-40 Zoom ($699) is a very small 4 Megapixel camera that doesn't
skimp on features. In many ways, it works just like the Olympus
our review), minus the support for external flashes and lenses.
Unlike the C-4040Z, this one will easily fit in your pocket, making
it a true "go anywhere" camera.
out more about the D-40 in our review...
in the Box?
Olympus D-40 has an average bundle, with almost everything you need
right in the box. It includes:
4.0 (effective) Mpixel Olympus D-40 Zoom camera
CR-V3 lithium batteries (non-rechargeable)
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and Adobe Photoshop
page "Basic Manual" (printed) + full manual in PDF format
bundle issues with the D-40 are familiar: small memory card, no
rechargeable batteries, and no full printed manual.
camera comes with a 16MB SmartMedia card, which is pretty small
for a 4 Megapixel camera. They did the same thing with the C-4040Z.
With prices for memory so low, shouldn't they at least include a
D-40 uses one CR-V3 battery (non-rechargeable) or two AA batteries.
Olympus includes the former, which does last a while, but ends up
in the trash. I recommend buying a set or two of NiMH rechargeables
to power this camera.
last complaint is one I've been making for a while: Olympus puts
a printed "basic manual" in the box, but leaves the full
manual on CD. If you're already going to print a manual (in three
languages no less), why can't they just print the whole thing instead?
The manuals themselves aren't great -- they're pretty confusing
for a beginner.
enough ranting for now. On to nicer things.
picture of RM-1 remote control
includes the now familiar RM-1 wireless remote control with the
camera, which you can use in both record and playback mode.
nice feature found across the Olympus line now is USB Auto-Connect,
which allows you to just plug the camera in via USB and transfer
pictures -- with no drivers needed. This feature works on most modern
versions of Windows and Mac OS. Speaking of which, the camera is
fully compatible with both Mac OS X and iPhoto.
the camera has a built-in lens cover, there's no need for a lens
the D-40, Olympus has upgraded the bundled software from PhotoDeluxe
to Photoshop Elements. While I didn't have a chance to try it, I
consider this a good thing. The Camedia Master software that is
also included isn't great.
there's the topic of accessories. Well, it's a short topic since
there aren't any to speak of. You can't use conversion lenses, filters,
or external flashes with this camera. If you want that, you'll have
to buy the C-4040Z.
Olympus D-40 Zoom is a very small camera made of what I'd call "high
grade" plastics and metal. In other words, it feels pretty
sturdy. Using the camera is a piece of cake with one hand or two,
and when you're done with it, it easily slips into your pocket.
The D-40 isn't as small as say, the Pentax Optio line, but it's
close. The D-40 is lighter than the Optio cameras, though.
x 2.6 x 1.7
x 2.3 x 1.2
x 2.2 x 1.2
x 2.2 x 1.1
x 2.5 x 1.2
start our tour of the D-40 Zoom now.
camera has a built-in lens cover, which doubles as the power switch.
If you slide the cover open enough, the lens will extend. To shut
off the camera, you close the cover until it hits the lens, which
then retracts, and then you can shut it all the way.
lens is an F2.8, 2.8X optical zoom -- not quite 3X like most zoom
digicams. The focal range is 7.25 - 20.3 mm which is equivalent
to 35 - 98 mm. The lens is not threaded.
items on the front include the remote control receiver, a light
for the self-timer, a microphone, and of course, the flash. The
D-40's flash has a working range of 0.8 - 3 m at wide-angle, and
0.25 - 1.8 m at telephoto.
back of the camera should be familiar to users of Olympus cameras.
The 1.5" LCD is smaller than average, but then again, so is
the camera. The image quality on the LCD is very good.
above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is large considering
the size of the camera. There is no diopter correction, however.
Just above that is another receiver for the remote control.
the right of the viewfinder are controls for:
[record mode] / delete photo [playback mode]
+ Spot Meter [rec] / Protect image [play]
to the right, we have probably the biggest mode wheel ever found
on an Olympus digital camera. In addition to basic options, there
are multiple scenes which choose the best settings for common situations.
The choices on the mode wheel are:
record - camera chooses best settings, locks most manual controls
mode - camera chooses best settings but manual controls available
(aperture priority / shutter priority / full manual mode) - more
Mode - stores your favorite settings - more below
mode - more in movie section of review
- scene mode for taking picture of yourself while holding camera
- gets both the subject and background in focus
you put the camera into A/S/M mode, you can go to the menus to choose
which of the three you want. Here's more:
priority mode - you choose from aperture range of F2.8 - F8.0
(depends on zoom setting), camera picks appropriate shutter speed
priority mode - you choose from shutter speed range of 4 sec -
1/1000 sec, camera picks appropriate aperture
manual mode - you choose both the aperture and shutter speed.
Aperture range is the same, shutter speeds now as slow as 16 seconds.
still wonder why Olympus will only let you do the really long shutter
speeds in full manual mode.
My Mode is something new to Olympus cameras. Basically it lets you
store your favorite settings, and easily access them just by turning
the mode wheel. I found this feature to be pretty handy. Even in
the other modes (except Auto and the scene modes), the camera can
store the last settings used.
back to our tour now. Below the mode wheel is a button for turning
the LCD on and off. Just below and to the right of that are the
menu navigation buttons. These buttons (left and right) also change
the exposure compensation in playback mode (-2EV to +2EV, 1/2EV
here's something you don't see everyday." Most tiny cameras
do away with the LCD info display to save space, but not the D-40.
Thank you, Olympus, for realizing that people do like to see basic
camera settings without having to turn on the main LCD! Here, the
display is showing flash, ISO, battery life, quality, and remaining
to the right of that is the familiar zoom control / shutter release
button. The zoom mechanism is quite, but a little on the slow side
for my taste.
this side of the D-40, you'll only find one thing: the speaker.
on the other side, you'll find the I/O ports. I'm a bit worried
about the plastic door over these -- it seems like it could bust
off easily. The ports here are USB and DC in (for optional AC adapter).
here's the bottom of the D-40. You'll find the battery compartment,
SmartMedia slot, and the plastic tripod mount down here. Let's take
a closer look...
the battery compartment and SM slot opened up. Note that the 64MB
card is not included with the camera.
the Olympus D-40 Zoom
D-40 takes about five seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start taking pictures. Olympus has gotten
flashier on the D-40 - there's now a startup screen and sound, and
even one for turning the camera off. You can customize these in
a limited way.
apologize for the poor quality on these screen shots. My usual camera
is "in the shop" at the moment.)
you depress the shutter release halfway, the camera generally locks
focus in under a second. I didn't have any major problems focusing
in sub-optimal lighting conditions, even though the camera has no
AF assist lamp. There's a bit of shutter lag when you press the
button fully -- probably half a second or so. One thing that may
help you get the shot is to turn off the phony shutter sound, so
you don't move the camera prematurely (since the sound plays before
the shot is taken).
speed is very good on the D-40. You'll wait about 3 seconds between
shots at SHQ, but most people will use HQ for everyday shooting,
and the delay there is shorter. Recording a TIFF image, however,
will lock up the camera for over 30 seconds.
of image quality, here's a look at the resolution and size choices
available on this camera:
addition to these choices, the D-40 can also "enlarge"
images to 2560 x 1920, 2816 x 2112, or 3200 x 2400. In case you're
wondering how a 4 Megapixel CCD creates an 8 Megapixel image, it's
done through interpolation. In other words, the camera guesses what
the data would be, in order to produce the larger image. As a result,
the quality of interpolated images is not great. They also take
more space on the memory card.
D-40 Zoom uses the new menu system that was first seen on the C-700
Ultra Zoom. It's harder to pick up at first, but I think you'll
like it more in the end. You can customize buttons and menu choices
for easy access to your favorite settings.
you first press the menu button in record mode, you are presented
with the screen above. The Self-timer, quality, and white balance
choices are customizable, so you could put whatever setting you
want in those spaces. The Mode Menu choice enters the "regular"
menu system at the top level.
the full menu. There are tabs on the left for Camera, Picture, Card,
and General settings. In the main area you'll actually change the
settings. There's lots of button pushing in this system, and I'm
not sure if I like it that much.
a look at all the choices available in the menu, and what they mean:
/ remote control (on/off)
(Single-shot, sequential shooting, AF sequential shooting,
(Auto, 100, 200, 400)
(chooses the manual mode to use)
intensity (-2.0EV to +2.0EV)
Flash (internal+external, external only)
flash settings (first or second curtain)
after stills (on/off)
with movies (on/off) - option shows in movie mode only
helper (requires Olympus-branded SM card)
(black & white, sepia, black board, white board)
movies (on/off) - whether to use self-timer/remote control
with movie mode)
(see chart above)
balance (auto, sunlight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, manual)
balance color - makes color bluer/redder
(-5 to +5)
(-5 to +5)
(-5 to +5)
Reset (on/off) - choose if camera settings are stored
Sound (volume, sound) - choose a phony shutter sound and set
On/off - choose a startup and shutdown screen/sound
View (shows picture after it's taken - on/off)
timer (30 sec, 1, 3, 5, 10 min)
name (reset, auto)
Cut (lets you customize that first menu screen, as described
features to talk about here: pixel mapping, and noise reduction.
Pixel mapping is a feature which removes dead or hot pixels from
your CCD. Olympus recommends running this feature once a year. Noise
reduction starts working on exposures slower than 1/2 sec, and it
helps to reduce, you guessed it, the "noise" that appears
in these shots. Do note that it will take twice as long to record
an image with noise reduction turned on.
of the other features mentioned above should be familiar to DCRP
visitors. The sequential shooting mode can take up to 8 shots at
2 frames/sec, in HQ mode. If you want the camera to refocus each
time, you can turn on AF sequential shooting, though the frame rate
manual white balance feature lets you shoot a white or gray piece
of paper to get better white balance in those places with strange
will take 3-5 shots at varying exposure compensation values, so
you can get a properly exposed shot with less pain.
onto our photo tests.
got two different night test shots for you in this review. One was
taken using the D-40's manual controls, the other with the "night
one above was taken in manual mode, with noise reduction on, ISO
of 100 I believe. As you can see, it came out quite well. Don't
forget, a tripod is a must for these shots!
here's the other one, taken with the night scene mode. The ISO has
been cranked up (I'm not sure about the noise reduction), and you
can tell. I really dig the colors in this shot though.
is the traditional macro test shot. The D-40 did an admirable job
here too. In macro mode, you can get as close as 10 cm (at wide-angle).
The zoom lens is usable in macro mode.
I was very happy with the D-40's image quality. It was able to take
good quality images indoors and outside. I only saw the dreaded
chromatic aberration problem crop up once or twice in all my test
shots. I also noticed that edges can be a little jagged at times.
Take a look at the photo gallery and
judge for yourself.
D-40Z has a pretty standard-issue movie mode. They are recorded,
with sound at 15 frames/second. The zoom lens cannot be used during
filming. Here's how much video you can fit on a memory card:
on 16MB+ card
is a thrilling movie of a train arriving.
to play movie (QuickTime format, 4MB)
D-40's playback mode covers all the bases. There's slideshows, image
protection, DPOF print marking, zoom & scroll, and more.
the "mode menu" isn't exciting, here's the shortcut menu
instead. You can see that it gives you instant access to Slideshow,
Info, and DPOF print marking.
camera takes under one second to go between photos. It goes straight
to the high res shot too, no low res image is shown. You can zoom
out to 9 thumbnails at once, or zoom in to take a closer look at
your photo. The zoom & scroll mode, as I call it, is pretty
good - you can zoom in as far as 4X, and then move around inside
the picture. The only wish I have here is that the scrolling around
was a bit snappier -- you've got to hold the four-way switch down
for a bit before it really starts moving.
you want to get more info about a photo, jump into the menu and
choose Info. While not as detailed as some cameras (e.g. no histogram)
, I think most users will be happy with the information given.
Does it Compare?
was concerned when Olympus took a long time to send out the D-40
Zoom for review. My conspiracy-seeking side thought there must be
a reason why they didn't want me to see it. Well, as it turns out,
it was supply and demand, and the camera was definitely not disappointing
in any way. In fact, it's right up at the top of my list for ultra-small
cameras. Great photo quality, full manual controls, a movie mode,
and a small body make it a winner in my book.
people want comparisons between the D-40 and its closest competitors:
the Pentax Optio 430 (read
review) and Canon PowerShot S40 (read
review). I liked all three of them, and ultimately it comes
down to your personal preference. The Canon has the nice metal body
and Microdrive support, while the Olympus has a lighter, easy to
pocket body. The Optio is a nice camera as well but doesn't have
as many manual controls as the other two. A negative for the D-40Z
in this competition is the 2.8X lens versus the 3X lenses on the
other two. All three are nice choices, and I encourage you to read
the other reviews, try them out, and decide for yourself.
of manual controls
good photo quality
Mapping removes bad pixels
reduction for better low light shots
I didn't care for:
optical zoom in movie mode
edges on many images
rechargeable batteries, tiny 16MB SmartMedia card included
manual found on CD (and isn't great to begin with)
high resolution, ultra-small cameras worth looking at include the
Canon PowerShot S30
Finecam S3, Nikon
Coolpix 885 (sort of), Pentax Optio 330
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the D-40Z and it's competitors before you buy!