Olympus E-400 digital reflex camera
It was surprising to find out that a compact digital SLR camera like the Olympus E-400, which finally shows the compact possibilities offers by the FourThirds system is not available world wide, but at first only on the European market. Olympus has already had a lot of comment about this, not least from American consumers, who find this decision incomprehensible. Olympus is bound to come up with a solution, as you should cherish your digital SLR consumers! If you compare it to its competitors, such as the Nikon D80 and EOS 400D from Canon, you are immediately struck by how compact the Olympus E400 is. Although the EOS 400D comes pretty close, the Olympus E-440 is still the most compact.
Olympus E-400 dSLR camera - Positives
Despite its extremely compact format and light weight, Olympus has not had to make any concessions in regard to operating ease. The camera can be operated easily and the menu's structure is very straightforward. The compact format is no barrier to joining the high resolution segment. The new sensor developed by Kodak gives a resolution of 10 Megapixels which is currently the highest resolution for a FourThirds System digital SLR camera. Another important feature, although no longer unique is the camera's anti-dust system. The SSWF system works effectively and has proved its worth in the fight against dust for several generations. Meanwhile, the competition has learnt enough to integrate their own anti-dust systems. All of this is to combat the most annoying effect of dust particles on the sensor. It is difficult to measure the effect, but it seems very likely that this system is extremely effective.
Olympus E-400 - LCD monitor & Optical viewfinder
The Olympus E-400 DSLR has a great LCD screen which clearly shows all functions, settings and pictures that have been taken. An important part of a digital SLR camera, in contrast to a compact camera, is the viewfinder. In this regard, the E400 scores well in comparison to other FourThirds DSLR cameras, but when you compare it to the Nikon D80, for example, the viewfinder is only reasonable. Although it has been improved, it is still rather small. It doesn't matter that the camera doesn't have the Live View system and its compact format makes up for a lot.
Olympus E-400 DSLR - Good colour reproduction
The test pictures were very good. The colour reproduction is fine and the resolution is excellent. Olympus has gone to a lot of bother to be able to determine the end result according to its own insight as much as possible. As well as the standard photographic settings, it is possible to correct contrast, colour saturation, black/white, sharpness, etc, manually. I liked the High and Low Key function which helps you take great portraits. When making a portrait, the speed of focussing really stood out, but at the same time I felt the limitations like the limited three AF fields. What it comes down to is that the camera has quality but lacks advanced qualities in this regard. Maybe that's not what the masses are looking for, but the competition does distinguish itself with this thorough feature.
Olympus E-400 SLR camera - ISO & Noise
In practise, the Olympus E400 can definitely hold its own. When testing ISO, we saw good results up to 400 ISO, but above this it was clear that noise was making its messy mark on the final results. However, I must note here that although noise at 800 ISO and higher is a fact, a surprising amount of detail is retained. You'll be glad of this when you are reworking the picture afterwards. It looks as if Olympus has chosen less aggressive noise suppression with the emphasis on keeping the detail. You wonder what most photographers would prefer.
Olympus E-400 recommended for first-time SLR users!
The Olympus E-400 made a good impression on me during the test. If you look at the target group and the idea with which the camera was designed, the E400 meets nearly all the requirements necessary to make it the most comfortable take-along digital SLR camera of the present moment. However, I think that SLR owners are people who clearly demand and require more. I'm not sure if the Olympus E400 can live up to these requirements in the long term or whether the quickly reached limitations become visible depends upon the user. In regard to quality, the Olympus E-400 is an excellent digital SLR camera which is extremely easy to use and very user friendly. A camera for the masses? Definitely! Die hard photographers may look for a SLR camera that is more in the direction of a (semi-)professional camera, but this is a great camera for anyone taking their first steps in digital SLR photography!
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"With the introduction of their E400, Olympus truly show just what the FourThirds system is capable of as far as size is concerned. The Olympus E-400 proves to be remarkably compact, and will without question have a positive influence on the FourThirds system camera market share. "
Continue to read our Olympus E-400 preview including product images and a comparison chart.
Olympus E400 SLR camera - 10 Megapixel resolution
Just as we had got used to 8 Megapixels as in the Olympus E-500, the powers to be among the manufacturers decided to rapidly introduce an entirely new SLR camera segment, i.e. the ten Megapixel camera. Raising the resolution means that files will get bigger. A high resolution JPEG picture will gradually take up a lot of space, and if we set it at the low compression factor of 1/2.7, we arrive at approximately 8MB per picture. Fortunately, the memory manufacturers have a lot of room for manoeuvre and there is enough space to raise the storage capacity of a memory card. During Photokina 2006, SanDisk introduced a 12 and 16GB CompactFlash from the Extreme III series. When you work it out, it means that approximately 2000 pictures in the highest JPEG quality fit on a card like this. RAW is good for about 22MB. I would recommend at least 1GB, but 2GB storage capacity, possible divided over two card slots will be better for most photographers.
Considering 2GB storage capacity:
RAW - 3648 x 2736 pixels - 22MB - 93 pictures
JPEG - SHQ - 3648 x 2736 pixels - 1/2.7 - 7.9MB – 160 pictures
JPEG - HQ - 3264 x 2448 pixels - 1/8 - 3MB - 682 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 3200 x 2400 pixels - 1/2.7 - 6.2MB - 330 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 3200 x 2400 pixels - 1/4 - 4.4MB - 465 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 3200 x 2400 pixels - 1/8 - 2.4MB - 853 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 3200 x 2400 pixels - 1/12 - 1.8MB – 1137 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 2560 x 1920 pixels - 1/2.7 - 3.7MB - 553 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 2560 x 1920 pixels - 1/4 - 2.5MB - 819 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 2560 x 1920 pixels - 1/8 - 1.3MB - 1575 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 2560 x 1920 pixels - 1/12 - 800KB - 2560 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1600 x 1200 pixels - 1/2.7 - 1.5MB - 1365 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1600 x 1200 pixels - 1/4 - 1.0MB - 2048 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1600 x 1200 pixels - 1/8 - 500KB - 4096 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1600 x 1200 pixels - 1/12 - 400KB - 5120 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1280 x 960 pixels - 1/2.7 - 900KB - 2275 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1280 x 960 pixels - 1/4 - 600KB - 3413 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1280 x 960 pixels - 1/8 - 300KB - 6826 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1280 x 960 pixels - 1/12 - 200KB - 10240 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1024 x 768 pixels - 1/2.7 - 600KB - 3413 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1024 x 768 pixels - 1/4 - 400KB - 5120 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1024 x 768 pixels - 1/8 - 200KB - 10240 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 1024 x 768 pixels - 1/12 - 200KB - 10240 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 640 x 480 pixels - 1/2.7 - 300KB - 6826 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 640 x 480 pixels - 1/4 - 200KB - 10240 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 640 x 480 pixels - 1/8 - 100KB - 20480 pictures
JPEG - SQ - 640 x 480 pixels - 1/12 - 100KB - 20480 pictures