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Olympus D600L -- A Fine Digital Camera

I have been one to denigrate digital cameras for some time.  See my infamous pixels shmixels note elsewhere on this web site. My basic argument is that while the size of the pixels is small enough to compete with the grain of fast color films, the chips have simply not been large enough to all for what I consider reasonably large final prints or displays.  I have felt that the 800 by 600 PC screen is minimal resolution and that a 1200 by 1000 pixel screen would be much more satisfactory.  Such screen resolution is now common on PC monitors.

To this time the only attachments for standard cameras have been available for Nikon or Canon cameras for the most part. And at a price of $10,000.  I have recently purchased an  Olympus D600L which meets some of my expectations.   This camera has a chip of 2/3 inch size with 1265 by 1024 pixel resolution.  This gives a file of 1.410 Meg.  The resolution can be selected to be lower to save file space.  Medium resolution is still 1280 by 1024 pixels but is significantly compressed on storage to give a file of about 380 pixels.  There is a lower quality setting which gives a resolution of only 640 by 512 pixels.  The images are stored on a small cards, 4 Meg, which can be quickly interchanged.  In high resolution the card stores 4 images, in medium resolution 12 images and in lower resolution 48 images.  The lower resolution will give very nice 4" by 6" snapshot prints while the highest resolution is satisfactory for full screen display on a good monitor with very good image quality.

The camera has a very fine 3:1 zoom lens, auto focus, built in flash and extensive editing capabilities within the camera itself.  There is through the lens viewing and a 1.8 inch LCD screen on the back which shows the image just taken for a few seconds in full color so it can be reviewed by the photographer and others.  Additionally, the screen cam be used to review any of the stored images and they can be erased to make room for new images if desired.   The entire data set can be quickly downloaded to a PC using a serial port built into the camera with a cable provided.  From there, with provided software, the images can be edited as necessary.  The downloaded format is standard JPEG.  Thus any image editor that will handle JPEG can be used.

I have found the medium and especially the high quality images to be very fine.  They are of much more than sufficient quality to publish on a web site or in a newsletter.  The only flaw I find with this camera is that it is best used in a fully automatic mode.  Thus it is really a point and shoot camera.  This is a mode that almost guarantees an acceptable image but is a limitation for a serious photographer who likes to have more control over the composition and lighting of the subject being photographed.  While the camera will take close ups to 1 ft. in the Macro mode, its performance is somewhat limited.  The lens is relatively slow with the aperture depending on the length of the zoom setting and varying from f 2.8 to f5.6.  The effective ISO speed of the imager chip is 100.

Thus, in summary, this is, in my opinion, a nice little point and shoot camera with a lot of good features and a resolution that is finally adequate.  But it is just that, a point and shoot.  The next step must surely be a professional level camera with this chip or a larger one that will have interchangeable lenses and other features that the professional demands but which will still be in a price range that is accessible to the average photo enthusiast.

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