The image quality delivered by the 10-megapixel sensor is impressive in comparison to equivalent compact sensors with a similar pixel count. Noise at the higher sensitivity settings is controlled well and even the ISO 1,600 setting produces usable images, although by that speed noise is evident.
At lower, more usual ISO settings, the colour reproduction is pleasingly accurate with the default settings, making the available adjustments much more meaningful. Purple fringing is not visible at normal magnifications and there's only slight evidence of distortion at the wide end of the short lens.
The default modes tended to underexpose images by as much as a stop. Turning off noise reduction improves this issue, which is generally recommended because the noise filtering seems to indiscriminately blur the image.
Once you have set the date and time, the E-410 will start up in less than 1.5 seconds. On standard quality setting the E-410 will capture a blistering 2 frames per second. In our lab test, without flash, the E-410 maintained 2fps for just over 5 minutes, stopping only because it filled a 1GB CF card with 733 pictures.
At higher quality settings the E-410 captured 3fps for the first 5 seconds and then dropped to 1.5fps until the card was full. There was a similar quick start followed by a significant drop-off when shooting raw or raw plus super-high-quality JPEGs, with the camera hitting 3fps out of the blocks then dropping to less than 1fps after 5 seconds.
The camera slowed to buffer these images but didn't stop, and happily continued snapping with no hesitation for as long as there was space on the card.
In these tests the lithium-ion battery exceeded 1,000 frames shot under a variety of conditions without flash or live view. Flash and live view significantly decrease the number of images captured to around 200.
There are plenty of automatic settings and presets, but noise reduction and exposure concerns mean it's best to dive straight into the menus and begin learning how an SLR works. The supplied lens is a little on the cheap side, but the Four Thirds System gives access to a wide range of lenses, opening up the SLR experience to beginners.Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide