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Olympus D-535 Zoom

Olympus D-535 Zoom

If, like the fawn that cautiously approaches the river to drink, you find yourself timidly willing to give digital photography a first try, the Olympus D-535 Zoom may be your photographic equivalent of a predator-free trail through the forest. With 3.2 megapixels and a 3X zoom lens, the silver D-535 is a nonthreatening entry-level camera that won't overwhelm you with features; for that very reason, it doesn't have much to offer to the experienced digital snapshooter.

Upside: The main advantage of the Olympus D-535 is cost. This camera doesn't have any stand-out capabilities, but as the heir apparent to Olympus's optical zoom-less D-395, it represents a significant upgrade at the $149 price point. The simplified LCD menu system offers first-time digital snapshooters on-camera explanations of what the settings do. The D-535 is also PictBridge compatible, so you'll be able to send your photos to a printer without uploading them to a computer.

Downside: Anyone looking for more than a handful of basic features will be disappointed. What's more, the 38mm (35mm-camera equivalent) lens will also make this camera a poor wide-angle performer, so avoid the D-535 if you fancy landscape photography or take a lot of photos in cramped spaces.

Outlook: The road to a $150 digital camera is littered with flimsy knockoffs and zoom-free wannabes, so we'll be pleased if the D-535 can provide decent photo quality. Snapshot photographers looking to go digital on a budget deserve a reasonable performer, and if the Olympus D-535 Zoom fits the bill, it may merit some attention when it hits stores in early October.

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