The Olympus D-590 Zoom ($299) is a
compact point-and-shoot 4 Megapixel camera. The D-590Z
is designed for people who want to pick up a camera
and use it without worrying about complex settings.
That means it has no manual controls of any kind, but
Olympus figures that their target audience won't miss
How does the D-590Z perform? Find
out in our review!
The camera is known as the C-470Z
and X-500 in some countries.
What's in the Box?
The Olympus D-590Z has an average
bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 4.0 effective Megapixel D-590
- 16MB xD Picture Card
- LI-12B lithium-ion rechargeable
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Olympus Master
software and drivers
- Basic manual (printed) + full manual
Olympus throws a 16MB xD card in the
box with the camera. That doesn't hold too many 4 Megapixel
photos, so consider the purchase of a larger card to
be mandatory. I'd recommend 128MB at the bare minimum
(xD currently tops out at 1GB). xD cards do tend to
be more expensive than SD and CompactFlash cards, so
you've been warned.
The D-590 uses the familiar
LI-12B lithium ion battery (the older and lower power
LI-10B also works, in case you have one laying around).
The LI-12B packs a modest 4.6 Wh of energy, though
that only translates to 150 photos per charge (using
the CIPA battery life standard), which isn't great.
For the sake of comparison, the Canon PowerShot A85
can take 400 photos (using NiMH batteries), the Fuji
FinePix A340 takes 290, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P73
takes 420 pictures.
There are some disadvantages to the
style of battery used by the D-590Z. For one, they're
expensive -- $37 a pop (and I recommend buying a spare).
Secondly, if you run out of juice in the field, you
can't just drop in some alkaline AAs to get you through
When it's time to recharge the battery
just snap it into the included external charger. It
takes about 2 hours to fully charge the battery. This
isn't one of those convenient (in my opinion) chargers
that plugs right into the wall -- you must use a power
A lens cover is built into the D-590Z
so there are no lens caps to worry about. To start
up the camera you move the power switch on the front
of the camera to the on position, and then lens cover
retracts. When you shut off the camera, you move it
toward the off position, wait for the lens to retract,
and then push the switch to the full off position.
There aren't too many accessories
to mention. The only ones I could find are an AC adapter
($37) and various camera cases.
Olympus includes their brand new Master
software with the D-590Z, and I have to say that they
did 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 print the full camera manual. As usual, you'll get
a 27 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 getting to the
information that's difficult.
Look and Feel
The D-590Z is a fairly compact camera
made of a mixture of high grade plastic and metal.
The camera feels very solid, especially consider its
price. The camera's important controls are well-placed,
and its easy to operate with one hand. While the D-590Z
isn't as small as, say, the Stylus Verve, it'll fit
into most of your pockets with ease.
The dimensions of the camera are 3.9 × 2.3× 1.4
inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs
160 grams empty.
With that out of the way, let's begin
our tour of the D-590Z now!
The D-590Z has an F3.1-5.2, 3X optical
zoom lens. That maximum aperture range is a bit "slower" than
other lenses in this class, which means that the lens
doesn't take in as much light as a "faster" lens.
The focal range of the lens is 5.8 - 17.4 mm, which
is equivalent to 35 - 105 mm. You cannot attach a conversion
lens to this camera.
At the top of the photo is the camera's
built-in flash. The flash range is average for this
class, with numbers of 0.5 to 3.6 m at wide-angle and
0.5 to 2.0 m at telephoto. You cannot attach an external
flash to the D-590Z.
To the upper-right of the lens is
the camera's microphone. In between the lens and the
Olympus logo is the self-timer lamp. And finally, at
the bottom-left of the photo is the on/off switch that
I discussed in the previous section.
There is no AF-assist lamp on the
On the back of the camera you'll find
a 1.8" LCD display, which is average-sized for
a camera in this class. The screen has 134,000 pixels,
so everything is nice and sharp. Outdoor visibility
is good for the most part. In low light, the screen
is difficult to see, since it barely "gains up" in
As you've probably noticed, there's
no optical viewfinder on the D-590. 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.
At the upper-right of the photo is
the zoom controller. The controller moves the lens
from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.9 seconds.
With quick presses of the buttons you can make very
precise adjustments to the focal length -- a nice change
from some other low cost cameras.
The Quick View button to the right
of the LCD quickly enters playback mode while you're
taking pictures, and if you hold it down while the
camera is off, it puts the camera into playback mode
without using the power switch. Below that is the menu
To the right of those two buttons
is the four-way controller, which has the speaker inside
it. The four-way controller is used for menu navigation,
as well as:
- Up - Scene mode
- Program auto - for everyday
- Indoor - resolution limited
to 1280 x 960 or lower!
- Beach & snow
- Landscape + portrait
- Night scene - this is how
you take long exposures
- Movie mode - more on this
- Right - Flash (Auto, auto w/redeye
reduction, fill flash, flash off)
- Down - Self-timer (on/off)
- Left - Macro mode (Off, normal,
super) - more on this later
The only thing to see on top of the
camera is the shutter release button.
Nothing to see here.
On this side of the D-590Z you'll
find the camera's I/O ports. These include DC-in (for
the optional AC adapter), A/V out, and USB. They are
protected by a plastic cover.
We end our tour with the bottom of
the camera. Here you'll find the battery and xD memory
card slots, as well as a plastic tripod mount. The
door that covers the two slots is fairly sturdy, though
do not that you cannot swap memory cards while the
camera is on a tripod.
The included battery and xD card are
shown at right.
Using the Olympus D-590 Zoom
It takes about 2.3 seconds for the
D-590 to extend its lens and "warm up" before
you can start taking pictures -- not bad.
Autofocus speeds were about average,
with the camera taking about 0.6 - 0.8 seconds to lock
focus in most cases (it'll take longer if the AF has
to "hunt" a bit). Low light focusing was
not great (due to the lack of an AF-assist lamp), but
the camera did surprise me a few times.
Shutter lag was quite low, even at
slower shutter speeds where it sometimes crops up.
Shot-to-shot speed is very good, with
a delay of about 1.5 seconds, assuming you've turned
off the post-shot review feature.
There's no easy way to delete a photo
immediately after it is taken. You must first enter
Now, here's a look at the various
image quality choices available on the camera:
||# images on 16MB card
(from here down,
There's no RAW or TIFF mode on the
D-590, 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 a year).
File numbering is maintained as you erase and switch
The D-590Z uses the recent Olympus
menu system, minus the customizing feature found on
their more expensive cameras. When you first hit the
menu button, you'll be presented with the following
- Exposure compensation (-2EV to
+2EV, 1/3EV increments)
- Mode Menu - see below
- White balance (Auto, sunlight,
cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent) - a custom option
would've been nice
- Image quality (see above chart)
The Mode Menu is where most of the
options on the camera are located. Here's what you'll
find in this menu:
- Camera Settings
- Metering (ESP, spot)
- Drive (Single-frame, sequential)
- see below
- Digital zoom (on/off) - it's
best to keep this off
- Sound recording (on/off) - add
a 4 sec voice clip to each photo
- Panorama (on/off) - helps you
frame panoramic shots; Olympus-brand xD card required
- 2-in-1 (on/off) - combines two
successive pictures into one
- Card Setup (Format)
- All reset (on/off) - retain settings
after camera is powered off
- Language (English, French, Spanish,
- Power on setup - for startup
- Screen (Off, 1-2) - pick
up a startup screen
- Volume (Off, low, high)
- Menu color (Normal, blue, green,
- Beep (Off, low, high)
- Shutter sound (Off, 1-3) - you
can set the volume for whichever shutter sound
- Rec view (on/off) - post-shot
- File name (Reset, auto)
- Pixel mapping (on/off) - removes
dead pixels that can appear in images
- Monitor brightness (-7 to +7,
- Date/time (set)
- Video out (NTSC, PAL)
In the sequential shooting mode,
you can take up to 4 photos (at SHQ quality) at 1.1
frames/second -- not spectacular. The LCD stays on
between shots so you can follow a moving subject --
even some $1000 cameras don't do this!
Aside from that, there really aren't
any other features in record mode worth mentioning.
This is a 100% point-and-shoot camera, and is not aimed
Well enough about menus, let's do
photo tests now.
I was disappointed with how the macro
test shot turned out. The subject is plenty sharp,
but the white balance is just all wrong. I tried the
two most obvious settings (Auto and tungsten) and the
camera just couldn't get figure out my 600W quartz
studio lamps. Here's where a custom white balance function
comes in handy, but alas, the D-590Z does not have
one. Now, this issue only really matters if you plan
on shooting under unusual lighting -- most folks don't
need to worry about it.
There are two macro modes on the camera.
In normal macro mode, you can get as close as 20 cm
to your subject, at both the wide and telephoto ends
of the lens. That's not great. To get closer, you can
use super macro mode, which lowers that distance to
9 cm (which still isn't that great). Do note that in
super macro mode the lens is locked at the telephoto
The night shot turned out a bit better,
though it's very noisy. This is because the D-590Z
has automatic ISO sensitivity, so the camera boosts
it when it needs to. Higher ISOs mean more noise, which
is what happened here. I much prefer cameras with manual
control over ISO. Aside from the noise issue, the camera
took in plenty of light, and purple fringing was not
a major problem. To take long exposures like this,
you must use the night scene mode (which is still automatic).
There's mild barrel distortion at
the wide end of the lens. I see no evidence of vignetting
Not surprisingly, there is plenty
of redeye on this compact camera. While your results
may vary, you can expect to deal with redeye to one
extent or another.
Overall the D-590Z's image quality
was average. Colors were accurate, as was exposure.
Purple fringing was not a major issue. Images did seem
overprocessed to me, probably due to the very high
levels of in-camera sharpening applied by the camera.
You'll notice some jagged edges and soft loss of detail
on things like trees and grass. Also, I saw a bit of
softness around the edges of the frame. For most people
who are taking pictures and making prints 8 x 10 inches
or smaller, the image quality will suffice. For those
doing larger prints or viewing the images at 100%,
you may want to try another camera.
With that in mind, I invite you to
check out our photo gallery.
Print the photos as if you took them and then decide
if the D-590's photo quality meets your needs.
The D-590 Zoom has an unexciting movie
mode. You can record 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 video at
15 frames/second until the memory card is full. Sound
is recorded as well. The included 16MB card can hold
about 41 seconds worth of video, so you'll want a larger
card for longer movies.
You cannot use the zoom lens during
Movies are saved in QuickTime format.
Here's a sample movie for you:
to play movie (2.5 MB, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
The D-590 has a pretty nice playback
mode. Basic features include slide shows, voice annotations,
thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, image protection,
and "zoom and scroll". The camera supports
direct printing using the PictBridge system, as well.
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. This feature
is fairly snappy on the D-590.
You can rotate images, or resize them
to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240. You can also change your
color photos to sepia or black & white.
Normally, you don't get much information
about your photos in playback mode. By going to the
menu, you can activate an info screen which displays
a few more things, but there's still no exposure info
to be found.
The camera moves through photos at
an average clip, with a one second delay between each
high res picture.
How Does it Compare?
The Olympus D-590 Zoom is a fairly
unremarkable point-and-shoot digital camera best suited
for outdoor vacation pictures. I say this because low
light focusing and LCD visibility weren't great, redeye
levels were above average, and the lens is on the slow
side (in terms of aperture, or how much light is let
in). Photo quality is good for the most part, though
there are some issues with "fuzzy" details
and soft edges at times. Performance is comparable
to other cameras in this class. The D-590Z is easy-to-use,
with absolutely zero manual controls. There are some
useful scene modes, though an action mode would've
bee nice. The bundled Olympus Master software is quite
good, especially compared to what the some of the competition
throws in the box.
Some other negatives worth mentioning
include noisy low light images (due to an auto ISO
function), so-so battery life, and the lack of an optical
viewfinder. I also had trouble with the white balance
for my macro test shot, but this really shouldn't be
an issue for most people. The D-590Z's movie mode also
leaves something to be desired, but it's comparable
with what most of the other cameras in this class offer.
And finally, I always have to get in a complaint about
the full manual only being on CD.
All-in-all, the D-590Z is decent,
but there are better options out there (see below for
What I liked:
- Good photo quality
- Fairly compact body; well built
for its price
- Good all-around performance
- Easy-to-use interface
- Much improved bundled software
What I didn't care for:
- Images appear overprocessed; some
- Redeye is a problem
- Mediocre movie and macro modes
- No optical viewfinder
- No AF-assist lamp; mediocre low
- Some manual controls would've been
- Below average battery life
- Full manual only on CD
Other cameras in this class that I'd
recommend looking at include the Canon
PowerShot A85 (my top pick for this class), Fuji
FinePix A340 and E500, HP
Photosmart R607, Kodak
EasyShare DX7440, Nikon Coolpix 4100 and 4200, Panasonic
Lumix DMC-LC70, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P73 and DSC-W1.
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the D-590Z and its
competitors before you buy!
See how the photo quality turned out
in our gallery!
Want a second opinion?
Read another review at Steve's
Feedback & Discussion
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review, please send them to Jeff.
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asking for a personal recommendation.
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