Review: Olympus D-600L Digital Camera
Published by: OLYMPUS America Inc.
Two Corporate Center Drive
Melville, NY 11747-3157
Phone: (516) 844-5000
Fax: (516) 844-5930
Street Price: $860
Seen as Low As: $755
68040 or PowerPC
16-32 MB free RAM
45 MB free hard disk space
256 or higher color display
Free serial port
Imagine how amazed people must have been when photography was first invented. Suddenly it was possible to preserve memories of special occasions or loved ones on paper! Certainly, paintings existed, but those took a lot of time and effort and usually reflected the point of view of the painter. Photographs were simple, fast, and objective.
However they were far from perfect in the beginning. They were only black and white, they took a long time to develop, and you had to keep buying film. Nowadays it’s almost impossible to find black and white film anymore as color photography dominates, but the other two problems still remain. Enter the world of digital photography.
Digital photography promises to eliminate those hassles. Just plug the camera into your computer and you can bypass the local photo shop completely. You save time and money. You also save money on films. Digital cameras come with erasable memory, a kind of “reusable film”. Just erase the memory when you have downloaded the pictures into the computer and you can start shooting pictures all over again.
Although the first digital cameras eliminated the problems of traditional photography, they created new problems:
Because storage is limited, only a certain number of pictures in a certain resolution can fit in the memory chips. Those resolutions were around 640x480 pixels in the beginning. That is great if you just want to view the pictures on your screen but it is horrible for printing. The Olympus D-600L is one of many cameras in a new generation of so-called “mega-pixel” cameras. This awesome sounding name just refers to the fact that they have more than a million pixels. The D-600L has 1.4 Megapixels according to Olympus. That corresponds to a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 pixels (which is actually 1,310,720 pixels). However the camera uses more pixels than that internally and discards the rest to give the final resolution.
Having used an older Olympus D-320L before, I can tell you that the difference is astonishing. The D-600L is simply amazing. The picture quality and resolution are superb. It features a 3x zoom, which is very handy if you use the camera a lot.
A viewfinder, a flash, 3x zoom, auto-focus, self-timer, macro mode, and two different exposure
modes. It also offers a built-in color LCD screen which lets you preview the pictures after you have taken them, erase them individually or all at once, and view slide-show of all pictures taken so far. This is an amazing feature for people who have never seen a digital camera before. The screen also features a menu that lets you control many settings like a date/time stamp and picture quality.
The pictures are saved on 4 or 8 MB SmartMedia cards, which look like little flat chips, about three square inches in size. The camera comes with one 4 MB card.
A Landscape Picture of Prague
Standard, which is 640x512; high quality, which is 1280x1024 with some JPEG compression; and super high quality, which is 1280x1024 with virtually no compression. You may wonder why you need different formats. Why don’t you just use the super high quality all the time? Well, the higher quality uses up more storage so you can only fit 4 pictures on a 4 MB storage card as compared to 12 with high quality and 49 with standard quality. Those numbers are just minimums. The actual capacity depends on the pictures and how well they compress. I usually get about 15 images on high quality. These numbers double with the 8 MB storage card. There are also 2 MB cards available, but they don’t have much capacity.
Digital cameras eat batteries and the D-600L is no exception. Always keep some spare batteries on hand. The use of the LCD and the electronic zoom use up most of the battery. It might be advisable to use rechargeable batteries to cut down the cost of having to buy new batteries all the time.
Storage cards, rechargeable batteries and an appropriate recharger, a power supply (for when you download the pictures into the computer or print them), a leather carrying case, different lenses and filters, and a little photo printer that connects directly to the camera and produces photo-quality printouts on special paper. Olympus also bundles some of these in an accessory pack.
I used the camera a lot during my trip through Europe, and I love it. However there are some things I don’t like. The camera needs about 3-5 seconds after every picture to get ready for the next one. Forget about several quick shots one after another, that’s impossible. The download speed into the computer is quite slow. This is understandable given the size of the files and the slow serial bus. I wish Olympus had a USB version of the camera, though. The software is a catastrophe. It does what it is supposed to do, but the interface is simply horrible. The last thing I don’t like is the price.
Would I recommend this camera? Yes. It is really good. People who have a use for digital cameras (e.g. for Web pages or product catalogs) and who can afford to spend this much will get a terrific camera. For the home users out there, there are two possibilities:
Wait until the prices will drop or get a less expensive one.
For more information on the camera and it features go to:
To see sample pictures from this and other cameras go to:
Last-Minute Update: According to information on the Digital Camera Resource page http://www.dcresource.com/, Olympus will introduce two new cameras on November 4th. The $1000 D-600XL will be similar to the D-600L but will include several new features: a rapid-fire mode that allows shooting 10 frames in 5 seconds, 16 MB SmartMedia capability, and support for an external flash. A cheaper D-400Z with 1.3 Megapixels, 3x Optical Zoom, and rapid-fire will also be introduced.