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Olympus D-580 Zoom review: Olympus D-580 Zoom

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MSRP: $299.00
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The Good Agile burst mode; simple, compact design; solid snapshot quality.

The Bad Few manual settings; shutter lag; noisy low-light shots.

The Bottom Line If you don't like to fiddle with camera controls but want decent quality for printing snapshots, the Olympus D-580 Zoom will meet your needs at an affordable price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.2 Overall

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The Olympus Camedia D-580 Zoom shares its lens, sensor, and many other features with its upscale sibling, the Stylus 410. If you want 4-megapixel quality, prefer AA batteries over a bundled lithium-ion cell, and don't need the Stylus 410's water resistance, this camera offers a budget-priced point-and-shoot alternative.

Serious photographers will be put off by the D-580 Zoom's lack of manual exposure and focus controls, but everyone else will love how Olympus has cut button clutter to the bare minimum. There's no power button; opening and closing the sliding lens cover turns the D-580 Zoom on and off. A shutter release, a rocking zoom switch, a playback button for reviewing shots, and a five-way control pad are the only other controls on the spartan exterior of the Olympus's polycarbonate metal-toned body.

Macro, self-timer, and flash modes can be set with a quick press of the Up, Down, and Right buttons. The Left button invokes a graphical virtual dial on the LCD screen. The dial rotates to show seven shooting modes: Program Auto, Portrait, Portrait-Landscape, Landscape, Night Scene, Self-Portrait, and Movie. The center button serves double duty, functioning as an OK/Enter key and calling up menus for camera defaults, image quality, and other less frequently used functions. These include white-balance settings, a choice of matrix or spot metering, and a panorama mode that marks up to 10 frames for later stitching together in software. Unfortunately, if you want to override the D-580 Zoom's exposure choices, you have to find the exposure-compensation controls (plus or minus 2EV) buried down in the menus, requiring a minimum of six key-presses to set.

The 3X zoom lens provides a useful 35mm-to-105mm range (35mm-camera equivalent), and macro focusing takes you down to 0.7 feet. Although this Olympus's burst mode was good for only three shots at the Super High Quality JPEG setting, dropping down to the default High Quality (2,288x1,712) mode yielded 10 pictures at a 1.5 pictures-per-second clip. We snapped off 150 shots in a little less than 2 minutes at the lowest 640x480 resolution. A time of about 4.5 seconds to the first shot and a time between shots of about 2.5 seconds without flash and 2.9 seconds with flash pulled down the Olympus's performance grades a notch. Shutter lag amounted to 1.9 seconds when the D-580 Zoom's autofocus dragged in low light, and it was only a little better--1.4 seconds--under bright, contrasty conditions.

The D-580 Zoom's picture quality was good, with accurate exposures, pleasing flesh tones, and rich colors. However, noise that was barely noticeable at lower ISO settings became pronounced when lower light levels triggered an automatic ISO boost from 200 to 400. Red eye was sometimes a problem, even with the camera's red-eye-reduction feature enabled.

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