Review: Olympus D-510 Zoom
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2001
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
D-510 Zoom ($399) is the latest revision of the very popular
Olympus point-and-shoot line. The D-510Z replaces the D-490Z (see
our review), adding USB
support, a new 3X digital zoom (in addition to the 3X optical zoom),
and a new, smaller body. Unfortunately, they also took away some
nice features, as I'll detail in this review. Read on, and find
out if the D-510Z is still one of the best midrange digicams out
D-510Z is also known as the C-200 Zoom in some countries.
in the Box?
Olympus D-510 Zoom has a decent bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
2.1 Mpixel Olympus D-510 Zoom camera
AA alkaline batteries
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
page manual (on CD) and 35 page Basic Manual (printed)
must say I'm a bit disturbed by two recent trends with Olympus cameras.
The first is the the manual is no longer included in the box --
it's in PDF format on the CD. Sure there's the 35 page "Basic
Manual", but it's just that -- Basic. How much could it possibly
cost to print it? As far as quality of the manual, I will say that
Olympus' manuals are steadily improving and are much better than
they were a year ago.
second, stranger trend is with the batteries. Last year, Olympus
stopped including rechargeable batteries, instead giving you their
Long Life Lithium batteries. These CR-V3 batteries last a long time
but aren't rechargeable and end up in the trash. On the D-510Z,
they've gotten worse: only alkalines are included. These will be
gone very quickly, and end up polluting the landfills in your area.
What's strange is that the lower end Brio D-100 and D-150Z cameras
both included the lithium batteries. My advice (after that long-winded
diatribe): buy yourself some NiMH. You'll do your wallet and the
environment a big favor.
design of the D-510Z makes the lens cap obsolete, as you can see
of the big new features on the D-510Z is support for USB connections.
If you're using Mac OS 8.6 and above, or Windows 2000/ME, you can
take advantage of Olympus' USB AutoConnect feature. What that means
is that you won't need to install any drivers. If you've got Windows
98, you'll still have to install them.
bundled software, Olympus Camedia Master, is just decent. I took
a closer look at it in last year's Olympus
far as accessories go, there really aren't any for either the D-400
or D-500 series. If you want a similar camera that can use accessory
lens and filters, take a look at the Sony DSC-P50 (see our review).
you've used any of the D-400 series cameras before, you'll feel
right at home with the D-510Z. In my eyes, the design of the 510Z
is actually a step backwards from the D-490Z. I'll explain more
about that below.
510Z is a small, plastic camera that feels quite solid. It can be
used with one hand, though I preferred to use both. Unfortunately,
that darn pop-up flash makes it difficult to do so. The dimensions
of the 510Z are 4.6 x 1.9 x 2.6 (W x H x D) inches, and it weighs
240 grams empty. By comparison, the D-490Z had dimensions of 5.0
x 2.6 x 2.0, and it weighed 270 grams.
begin our 360 degree tour of the D-510Z now, shall we?
first stop is the front of the camera. The 3X optical zoom F2.8
lens is the same lens that was on the D-490Z. It has a focal range
of 5.4 - 16.2 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 105 mm. The lens is
not threaded. If you need additional zoom power, you can turn on
the 3X digital zoom -- but do note that the quality will decrease
if you do so.
pop-up flash is my #2 most irritating change to the D-510Z (I'll
save #1 for a bit later). On the D-490Z, it still popped out of
the body like that, but only when you lifted it into position. Now,
every time you pull open the lens cover, up it pops, and it won't
go back down until you close the cover again. I rarely take flash
pictures, and I found it very annoying to have the flash right where
I want to put my left hand, and not being able to do anything about
it. To the powers that be at Olympus: please return the flash to
the "only when you want it" style!
back to the facts: the working range of the D-510Z flash is 0.2
m - 4.0m at full wide-angle, and 0.2 m - 2.6 m at full telephoto.
The flash strength is not adjustable on the D-510Z.
onto the back of the camera. The 1.8" LCD seems a little grainy
compared to the D-490Z (though I can't say for sure), but it's still
fluid and bright.
optical viewfinder is good-sized and has diopter correction for
those of you with glasses.
the right of the LCD are several buttons, including the four-way
switch, Menu/OK, and Display.
four-way switch also does other functions, some of which are not
so obvious. The "up" button doubles as the Macro/Infinity
(Rec) and Protect (Play) button. The "right" button also
handles the flash. And at first glance, it looks like "down"
handles self-timer and delete. When I couldn't figure out how to
put the camera into continuous shooting mode, I opened up the manual
and saw that the down button is actually the "drive" button,
rather than (just) the self-timer button.
the top of the camera is my #1 most annoying change on the D-510Z:
they got rid of the LCD info display! I find this feature very useful,
providing information about remaining shots, flash mode, quality
settings, and more. Now, to find this information out, you need
to turn on the LCD. It seems like a step backwards to me!
what will you find on the top of the D-510Z? Just the shutter release
button and the zoom control. I'm not a fan of the zoom button's
shape, but it works well enough.
this side of the camera are the I/O ports. The power input is towards
the left, while under a rubber cover, you'll find the USB and video
out ports. There's no serial support available on the D-510Z.
the other side of the camera is the SmartMedia slot. The slot is
not spring-loaded but the card is easy to remove. The 510Z supports
cards as large as 128MB.
the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the battery compartment
as well as a plastic tripod mount.
the Olympus D-510 Zoom
camera takes five seconds to extend the lens and "boot up"
before you can start taking pictures. When you depress the shutter
release halfway, focusing takes less than a second. Fully depressing
the button results in a picture with minimal delay. Shot-to-shot
speed is very good: you'll wait about 2-3 seconds between shots,
depending on the quality setting. The zoom controls are a bit slow,
are a few resolution and quality choices on the D-510Z:
photos on 8MB card (included)
photos on 32MB card (for reference)
the TIFF and SQ modes can be set to different resolutions, including
1600 x 1200 (TIFF only), 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, and 640 x 480.
most cameras, thankfully, the D-510Z only locks up the camera for
about 12-13 seconds after you take a TIFF. Some other cameras take
up to a minute!
take a look at the menu choices available on the D-510Z now:
Metering (ESP, Spot)
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/2EV increments)
(Auto, 100, 200, 400)
helper - only works with Olympus-branded SmartMedia cards
Balance (Auto, sunlight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent)
mode (TIFF, SHQ, HQ, SQ)
(Hard, normal, soft)
(High, normal, low)
Setup (erase all, format)
View (on/off) - shows image after it's taken on LCD
Naming (reset, auto file)
settings (on/off) - retain settings after camera is powered
addition to these, there are a few other options only accessible
via the buttons on the back of the camera:
(Auto, redeye reduction, fill-in flash, no flash, night scenes,
night scenes + redeye reduction)
(continuous) shooting - speed not published, but I'd imagine it's
around 2 frames/second, maybe a bit less. You can record up to
45 SQ shots in a row. TIFF mode not supported.
I've blabbed enough about menus, now let's talk about photos!
D-510Z did quite well in our usual macro test. It handled the strange
lighting in the "lab" just fine, which seems to be a rarity
these days. You can get as close as 20 cm (8") in macro mode.
camera did OK on the night shot test, but not wondrous. It didn't
let let in as much light as I would've liked, and there's a fair
amount of noise. Since you can't manually set the shutter speed
or aperture, there's not much you can do about it. You might want
to compare this shot to that from the similar Sony
DSC-P50, which I took on the same night from the same location.
like with its predecessors, the D-510's photo quality has been excellent
for a low-cost camera. Don't just take my word for it -- take a
glance at our photo gallery and decide
was disappointed that when Olympus upgraded the D-490Z, they didn't
add sound recording to their movie mode. Oh well, can't have everything
movies are recorded at 15 frames/second. There are two quality modes,
seconds on 8MB card
seconds on 32MB card
actuality, you can record up to 16 seconds per clip in HQ mode,
and 70 seconds in SQ mode.
nice thing which seems uncommon these days is the ability to use
the optical zoom during filming. Thank you, Olympus!
with tradition of late, here's a boring sample movie:
to play movie - 1.5MB - QuickTime format
D-510Z has a pretty complete playback mode that's easy to use. Basic
functions such as slideshows, DPOF print marking, protection, and
thumbnail view is available. So is "zoom & scroll"
zoom and scroll feature uses the main zoom controls to 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
camera provides very limited information on your photo, such as
quality, filename, and date. While I'm not asking for a histogram,
it would be nice to see the shutter speed and aperture used.
D-510Z moves through images very quickly -- about a second delay
between SHQ photos.
Does it Compare?
a low-cost, point-and-shoot camera, the Olympus D-510Z should be
near the top of your list. As features and photo quality go, it's
excellent. What I don't understand is some of the nice features
that were removed or changed between this model and its predecessor,
the D-490Z. That includes the loss of the LCD info display, and
the annoying new "always popup" flash. I'd also like to
see sound recording added to movie mode. If those concerns don't
bother you, then it's a great choice. If they do, you might want
to consider some other cameras, or maybe even the old D-490Z!
good photo quality
of features for under $400
point-and-shoot body easy to learn
AutoConnect means no drivers
zoom works in movie mode
I didn't care for:
of LCD info display; addition of "always popup" flash
sound in movie mode
other low cost, 2 Megapixel zoom cameras you'll want to consider
include the Canon PowerShot
FinePix 2400 Zoom, Nikon
Coolpix 775, Olympus C-2040Z
DSC-P50, and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the D-510 Zoom 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-510 Zoom. If that's not enough, Imaging
Resource has one too!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please do not ask me for a personal recommendation, or missing