D-535 Zoom ($149) is an entry-level point-and-shoot
camera. Despite its low price, the camera still packs
a 3.2 Megapixel CCD and 3X optical zoom lens. Previously
a camera in this price range would have a fixed focal
length lens -- but not anymore.
I spend a lot of time reviewing fancy
cameras, so how about something for beginners instead?
Our review of the D-535Z starts now.
Please note that the D-535Z is
called the C-370 Zoom and X-450 in some countries.
What's in the Box?
The D-535Z has an average bundle.
Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 3.2 effective Megapixel Olympus
D-535Z digital camera
- Two AA alkaline batteries
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Olympus Master
software and drivers
- Basic manual (printed) + full manual
With the D-535, Olympus took the internal
memory route. That is to say that there's no memory
card included, instead relying on 12MB of onboard memory.
That won't hold too many photos, so you will want to
buy an xD Picture Card at some point to hold more.
I'd recommend a 128MB xD card as a good place to start.
Do note that xD cards tend to be more expensive than
other memory card formats out there, except for maybe
The D-535Z uses two AA batteries,
and Olympus includes alkalines in the box. Unfortunately
those won't last long and will end up in the trash.
So I recommend buying a four pack of NiMH rechargeables
(plus a charger), which gives you a set for the camera
plus a spare. Unfortunately Olympus doesn't publish
any battery life statistics for the D-535, so I can't
give you any exact numbers. It didn't seem any worse
than average during my time with it, though.
The D-535 has a built-in lens cover,
so there are no lens caps to worry about. As you can
see, it's a pretty small camera as well.
There really aren't any accessories
for the D-535Z to speak of, aside from an AC adapter
($40). Olympus does sell some NiMH battery kits, though
you can probably find similar items for less elsewhere.
Olympus includes their new Master
software with the camera, and I have to say that they've
done a great job with it. The first thing you'll probably
do with the software is transfer photos from your camera.
Once you've done that, you've got a nice thumbnail
view that you can organize by date or keywords. A calendar
view is also available.
It's easy to change the size of the
thumbnails, and everything was snappy on my PowerMac
If you want to edit a photo, that's
just a click away. You can rotate, crop, reduce redeye,
or do an "instant fix". If you want to adjust
the color balance, you can do that as well, as you
can see above.
The software can also be used to "stitch" together
several photos into one panoramic photo.
Sharing photos is easy: you can print
them or e-mail them right in the Master software. Naturally,
there's a slideshow feature available as well. And,
if you want to archive them to a CD or DVD, that's
Just like with their old Camedia Master
software, Olympus has a "Plus" version available
for $20 more. The Master Plus software adds movie editing
capabilities, more printing options, and the ability
to make Video CDs.
While the software has greatly improved,
one thing that hasn't changed is Olympus' unwillingness
to put a printed and complete camera manual in the
box. As usual, you'll get a 39 page "basic manual" in
the box, with the full manual on the included CD-ROM.
The quality of the manual itself is good -- it's having
to load up a PDF file that's the problem.
Look and Feel
The D-535Z is a compact plastic camera.
It's pretty small, though its thickness may keep it
out of some of your pockets. Despite being made of
plastic, it's pretty solid, especially given its price.
It doesn't have much of a right hand grip, but I found
it easy to hold with just one hand.
The dimensions of the camera are:
87.5 x 62.5 x 38.5 mm / 3.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches (W x
H x D, excluding protrusions) and it weighs just 140
grams / 4.8 ounces empty.
With that out of the way, let's begin
our tour of the D-535 now.
The D-535 has an F2.9-5.0, 3X optical
zoom lens. The focal range of the lens is 5.8 - 17.4
mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm. The lens is
not threaded, so you cannot attach a conversion lenses
or filters to the camera.
Above the lens is the camera's built-in
flash. The flash has a working range of 0.2 - 3.8 m
at wide-angle and 0.5 - 2.2 m at telephoto, which is
about average. You cannot attach an external flash
to this camera, not surprisingly.
The little circle just to the right
of the flash is the self-timer lamp. There is no AF-assist
lamp on the camera, unfortunately.
On the back of the D-535Z you'll find
a small 1.5" LCD display. Even though it isn't
very large, the resolution is high, with 130,000 pixels.
The screen is bright, motion is fairly fluid, and everything
is nice and sharp. In low light, the screen doesn't "gain
up" very much, making it very hard to see.
As you've probably noticed, there's
no optical viewfinder on the D-535Z. Whether that's
a problem is your decision. Olympus is going LCD-only
on their lower-end cameras, and personally I'm not
a big fan of that idea. This is especially a problem
in low light when the LCD screen is so dark that you
can't see your subject.
At the upper-right of the photo is
the zoom controller. The controller moves the lens
from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.2 seconds. I
counted 8 steps throughout the zoom range.
To the lower-right of the zoom controller
is the mode dial, which has the following options:
- Program / Auto record
- Night Scene
- Movie mode
I'll have more on all those later.
To the left of the mode dial are the
buttons for switching between record and playback mode.
Next to that is the four-way controller, used for menu
navigation as well as:
- Up - Exposure compensation (-2EV
to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
- Down - Reset - back to camera defaults
- Left - Self-timer (on/off)
- Right - Macro (Off, normal, super)
- more on this later
The last things to see here are located
below the LCD. These include buttons for deleting a
photo, entering the menu, or adjusting the flash setting
(auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash off).
The only things to see up here are
the power and shutter release buttons.
On this side of the D-535Z you'll
find the I/O ports, which are kept under a rubber cover.
They include video out, USB, and DC-in (for optional
There's nothing to see on the other
side of the camera.
On the bottom of the camera you'll
find the battery compartment, xD memory card slot,
and plastic tripod mount. The battery and memory card
slots are protected by a plastic door of questionable
quality. You cannot swap memory cards while the camera
is on a tripod, as you can see.
Using the Olympus D-535 Zoom
It takes about 2.7 seconds for the
D-535 to extends its lens and "warm up" before
you can start taking pictures -- pretty average.
Autofocus speeds were also average,
with the camera taking about 0.6 - 0.8 seconds to lock
focus in most cases. If the camera has to "hunt" to
lock the focus, the times can be over a second. Low
light focusing was poor.
When you fully press the shutter release
you will notice a bit of lag before the photo is actually
taken. The D-535Z is a little slower in this regard
than other recent Olympus cameras I've tested.
Shot-to-shot speed was not impressive.
You'll have to wait for over four seconds before you
can take another picture. It seems that the camera
won't let you do anything until the last photo is saved
to the memory card or internal memory.
There's no easy way to delete a photo
immediately after it is taken.
Now, here's a look at the various
image quality choices available on the camera (there
||# images on 12MB built-in
||# images on 128MB xD card
(low compression, higher quality)
(more compression, lower quality)
There's no RAW or TIFF mode on the
D-535, nor would I expect one.
Olympus uses one of the more sensible
file numbering systems that I've seen. Files are named
Pmdd####.jpg, where m is the month (1-9, A-C), d is
the day, and #### is 0001-9999. This way your file
numbers are always unique (well, at least for a year).
File numbering is maintained as you erase and switch
The D-535 uses a different menu system
than Olympus cameras. This one is very simple and straightforward,
with very few options. Those options include:
- Image quality (see chart)
- Backup - copies images from the
internal memory to an optional xD card
- Date/time (set)
- Language (English, French, German,
Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese)
- Sleep (30 sec, 1, 3, 10 mins)
- Video out (NTSC, PAL)
- Memory / card format
- Pixel mapping - removes "hot
pixels" from the CCD
And that's it! The D-535 is the definition
of a point-and-shoot camera. There isn't even a setup
Let's move onto our photo tests now.
What do you get when you cross a camera
without any white balance options with 600W quartz
studio lamps? Yellow pictures! It's one thing to not
offer manual controls, but leaving out white balance
controls gets a big thumbs down from me. You can try
to save this image in Photoshop, but it's not easy.
If you do a lot of shooting under artificial light
(even standard tungsten bulbs), this is NOT a camera
you want -- the auto white balance does not do the
job in my opinion. It's too bad, as the picture could've
been pretty nice otherwise.
There are two macro modes on the camera.
In normal macro mode, you can get as close to your
subject as 20 cm at wide-angle and 50 cm at telephoto
-- pretty lousy. To get closer, you can use super macro
mode, which lowers that distance to just 2 cm. Do note
that in super macro mode the lens is locked at the
The night shot turned out better,
though it's on the noisy side. The buildings are sharp,
the camera took in enough light, and there's very little
purple fringing to see. For long exposures like this
you'll need to use the night scene mode. There's no
way to set the ISO sensitivity to minimize noise on
the D-535Z, nor is there a way to manually select a
Our distortion test shows moderate
barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens. Like
with the macro shot, the white balance issue turned
this photo yellow instead of white.
There's a fair amount of redeye on
the D-535, which isn't surprising, considering the
proximity of the flash to the lens.
Overall, the photo quality on the
D-535 was a mixed bag. Outdoor results were generally
good, though photos were a little on the soft side,
with some muddy details. Noise and purple fringing
levels were low, which is a good thing, and colors
were accurate. Indoors is another story -- the white
balance problem really rears its ugly head, unless
you're using the flash. Thus, the D-535Z is best suited
for taking outdoor pictures.
Don't just take my word for it, though.
Look at the photo gallery and
then decide if the photo quality meets your expectations.
The D-535Z isn't going to win any
awards for its movie mode. You can record silent movies
at 320 x 240 (15 fps) until the memory card or internal
memory is full. A lower resolution 160 x 120 mode is
also available. Filling up the internal memory takes
just 36 seconds at the higher quality setting.
You cannot use the zoom lens during
filming, despite the fact that the camera does not
Movies are saved in QuickTime format.
A sample movie is not available in
this review. I apologize for the inconvenience.
The D-535Z's playback mode is quite
basic. Features include DPOF print marking, image protection,
thumbnail mode, and slideshows. The camera is PictBridge-enabled
for direct printing to compatible photo printers.
The zoom and scroll feature (my term)
allows you to zoom in as much as 4X into your photo
(in 0.5X steps), and then move around in it.
Other features include image rotation
and the ability to copy files from internal memory
to an xD card.
The D-535Z doesn't tell you anything
terribly useful about your photos, like what shutter
speed or aperture was used. Then again, the typical
buyer of this camera may not care.
Playback speeds are exceedingly slow.
It takes 2.5 seconds to move from one photo to the
next, regardless of whether you're using the xD card
or internal memory.
How Does it Compare?
I had high hopes for the Olympus D-535
Zoom. I was hoping that Olympus wouldn't skimp on features
to keep the price down. The results are mixed. Olympus
did manage to put a 3X optical zoom lens and high resolution
(but small) LCD display on the camera. At the same
time, they took out useful features like white balance
and an optical viewfinder, making the camera more frustrating
to use than fun.
The D-535 is a point-and-shoot camera
-- perhaps too much so. The menus are stripped down
with nearly no options. The biggest omission is white
balance controls; indoor photos will not turn out well
since the auto white balance doesn't do a great job.
Outdoors, the photo quality is decent but not spectacular.
Photos are a little soft, with some muddy details.
Redeye was also a bit of a problem.
The camera features a 3X optical zoom
lens, a nice treat considering the camera's $150 price
tag. Something else that's nice is the build quality
of the D-535 -- it doesn't feel cheap. The camera has
a 1.5" LCD display with good resolution; a larger
screen would've been nice, but I don't think there
is room on this compact camera's body. In addition,
there's no optical viewfinder, which bothers some people
(like me) and not others. Low light shooting isn't
easy, as the screen doesn't "gain up" much
in those situations, and the camera does not focus
well. Camera performance is below par, with noticeable
shutter lag, long shot-to-shot times, and sluggish
image playback. And finally, the camera's silent movie
mode isn't terribly exciting.
The bottom line is that I wasn't thrilled
with the D-535 Zoom. If the camera had white balance
controls I would've been a lot more positive, but alas
it does not. My advice is to spend a little more money
to get a more capable camera. I've listed some of them
What I liked:
- Compact body doesn't feel cheap
for the price
- 3.2MP, 3X zoom for $150 is a good
- Decent outdoor photo quality
- Get as close as 2 cm in super macro
- Much improved bundled software
What I didn't care for:
- Sluggish performance
- Soft photos with fuzzy details
- LCD hard to see in low light
- Poor low light focusing; no AF-assist
- No control over white balance
- No optical viewfinder
- Unexciting movie mode
- Full manual only on CD
Other entry level cameras to consider
include the Canon PowerShot A400 and A510, Fuji
FinePix A330, Kodak
EasyShare CX7330, Nikon
Coolpix 3200, Panasonic
Lumix DMC-LC50, Pentax
Optio 30, and the Sony
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the C-535Z and its
competitors before you buy!
See how the photo quality turned out
in our gallery!
Want a second opinion?
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this
review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me
asking for a personal recommendation.
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