Review: Olympus D-520 Zoom
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Friday, June 21, 2002
review of this camera is now complete. Photos have been re-shot
where needed, and all sample photos were taken with a production-level
D-520 Zoom comes from a long line of Olympus point-and-shoot
cameras, dating back to 1999. That camera was the D-400Z,
which led to the D-450,
and most recently, the D-510Z.
Each model is a refined version of the one before. (In case you're
wondering why there wasn't a D-500Z, check
this out. For old timers, it's a trip down memory lane.)
new on the D-520Z?
30% smaller, lighter design.
Updated menu system
Uses only 2 batteries instead of 4.
2 in 1 image merge perfect for business cards, real estate shots
and before and after shots.
Sequential shooting at 1.8 frames per second (max. 5 frames in
D-520Z is attractively priced at $299. The D-520Z is also known
as the C-220 Zoom and C-2 Zoom in some countries.
out more about this camera in our review!
in the Box?
Olympus D-520 Zoom has a decent bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
2.0 effective Mpixel Olympus D-520 Zoom camera
AA alkaline batteries
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
(not included with my pre-production camera)
change from the D-510Z not mentioned at the beginning of this review
was that Olympus now includes a 16MB SmartMedia card instead of
an 8MB one. That's good news and is adequate (at least for a 2MP
camera) for getting started with digital photography.
same cannot be said about the batteries though. You get two alkaline
batteries, which quickly die. My advice: buy some NiMH batteries
instead. Oh, and recycle those alkalines instead of just tossing
them in the trash. Almost did not provide any data about battery
life, but seemed average in my usage of the camera.
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.
D-520Z includes Olympus' new Camedia Master 4.0 software. This is
a dramatically improved version of their photo viewing/editing software
that they've been including for the last few years.
editing tools included with Camedia Master are impressive. You can
change all kinds of things like brightness, contrast, and color
balance. There are also red-eye reduction and "instant fix" options.
software is much more responsive than the previous versions. My
only complaint is that the interface is non-standard on both Macs
$20 more, Olympus will upgrade you to the "Pro" version
of the software. This adds contact sheet printing, image e-mailing,
HTML albums, panorama stitching, and slide shows.
with recent Olympus tradition, the only printed manual you get is
a "basic" manual. If you want more depth, you've got to
load up the one include on CD. THe manuals themselves have been
improved over previous Olympus manuals. I'd now rank them as above
D-520Z is essentially a smaller version of the D-510Z, bringing
with it one of the 510's
annoyances that I'll comment on below.
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, but there isn't a lot of room for your left
hand, due to the popup flash.
official dimensions of the camera are 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches (WxHxD),
and it weighs about 180 grams empty. It easily slides into your
the front of the camera, with the lens cover pulled back.
F2.8 lens is the same one that was found on the D-510Z -- a 3X Olympus
lens. The focal range is 5 - 15 mm, which is equivalent to 38 -
114 mm. It is not threaded.
above the lens you'll find the self-timer lamp and optical viewfinder.
Nope, still no AF illuminator!!
the top-right of the photo, you can see the D-520Z's popup flash.
My big pet peeve with this on the 510 was that you couldn't put
it down after it pops up. It's the same thing here (argh!). The
working range of the flash is 0.2 - 3.5 m at wide-angle and 0.2
- 2.6 m at telephoto. Flash strength is not adjustable.
the back of the 520Z. The LCD has shrunk from 1.8 to 1.5 inches
compared with the D-510Z. The LCD is bright and generally fluid,
though images can be slightly choppy sometimes as you point the
camera at different subjects. LCD brightness is adjustable via the
above the LCD is a good-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:
[Auto, forced w/redeye reduction, forced, off, slow syncro, slow
syncro w/redeye reduction] (right)
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.
the top of the D-520Z. Back in the D-510Z review, I complained that
they removed the LCD info display that was on the D-490Z. As you
can see, it's not coming back. I like these displays because you
don't need to use the power hungry main LCD to see shots remaining
and basic settings.
you will find on the top of the camera is the shutter release button
and zoom controls. The zoom mechanism is smooth though a bit noisy.
this side of the camera are the I/O ports, found under that rubber
cover. There you'll find USB, Video Out, and DC in ports.
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 16MB
the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the battery compartment
as well as a plastic tripod mount. Again, the D-520Z uses only two
AA-sized batteries. 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-520 Zoom
camera takes about four seconds to extend the lens and "boot
up" before you can start taking pictures. When you depress
the shutter release halfway, focusing takes around one second. When
you press the button all the way, there's noticeable (but brief)
shutter lag before the photo is taken. Shot-to-shot speed is just
average -- you'll wait nearly four seconds before you can take another
photo (at the HQ setting).
resolution and quality options have been simplified on the D-520Z.
Here they are:
photos on 16MB 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.
The second thing, which is starting to be a trend (not just on Olympus
cameras) is that the TIFF mode is going the way of the dodo bird.
D-520Z 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 1.2 frames/second.
function menu has two new features that weren't seen on the D-510Z.
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.
mode lets you turn the camera on yourself and take a picture. The
lens is locked at the wide-angle position.
take a look at the Mode Menu now. Another big change from the D-510Z
-- fewer menu options!
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
you go back and look at our D-510Z
review, you can see how items like ISO, contrast, and sharpness
have disappeared on this "improved" model!
it's not as sharp as I would've liked, the D-520Z did a fair job
with our standard macro test. The colors on the figure are spot-on.
The focal range in macro mode is 20 - 50 cm.
was pleased to see that the D-520Z, despite its lack of manual controls,
could still take a good low light shot. There is a lot of "salt
and pepper" noise, though, but overall, not bad for a point-and-shoot.
the whole, the D-520Z's photo quality was right up there with the
best 2 Megapixel cameras. The color is nice and saturated, and chromatic
aberrations (purple fringing) is at a minimum. But don't take my
word for it, check out the photo gallery
and judge for yourself.
D-520Z 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.
cannot use the zoom lens -- at all -- in movie mode. Not even before
you start filming.
are limited to 15 seconds in HQ (320 x 240) mode and 60 seconds
in SQ (160 x 120) mode.
a sample movie:
Click to play movie (2.2MB, QuickTime format)
Can't play it? Download
D-520Z has a pretty standard playback mode that's easy to use. Basic
functions such as slide shows, DPOF print marking, protection, and
thumbnail view are available.
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.
A new feature
on the D-520Z is the ability to resize your images. You can choose
either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 resolutions, both of which are great
for e-mailing. The original photo is saved, don't worry.
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-520Z provides much more information about photos than its predecessor,
as you can see above. The camera moves through images in about 1.5
Does it Compare?
a few annoyances, the Olympus D-520Z remains a good choice for those
looking for a small and inexpensive 2 Megapixel camera. Those annoyances
include the popup flash, reduction of features from the previous
model, no sound in movie mode, and the lack of an AF illuminator.
The D-520Z takes good photos in most situations, and is very easy
to use. The Camedia Master software has also been greatly improved
over the previous version. If you like the D-520Z but want more
pixels, check out the new 3 Megapixel D-550Z.
familiar body style
AutoConnect means no drivers
Camedia Master software
only two batteries
I didn't care for:
features than predecessor
LCD info display
always popped up; gets in the way
sound or zoom in movie mode
other low cost, 2 Megapixel zoom cameras you'll want to consider
include the Canon PowerShot A40
Fuji FinePix 2600
(which has a 6X zoom), Minolta
DiMAGE X, Nikon Coolpix 2000
and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the D-520 Zoom and its competitors before you buy!
smaller than normal, but our photo gallery
should help you rate the photo quality of the D-520Z.
a second opinion? How about a third?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the D-520 Zoom. If that's not enough, Imaging
Resource has one too!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to email@example.com.
Please do not ask me for a personal recommendation, or missing