July 2001

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.


Olympus D-490 Zoom Digital Camera

If you're looking for an excellent digital camera with lots of features and options, that has the feel of a point and shoot film camera, then the Olympus D-490Z is a camera you should consider.  It's one of a line of small digital cameras manufactured by Olympus, well know for their fine film camera with excellent optics.

The Olympus D-490 Zoom offers a fairly high resolution with its 2.1 megapixel CCD and a maximum image of 1600 x 1200 pixels, an optical viewfinder, a digital and optical zoom, built in flash and 1.8" color monitor on the back that once you see it you'll realize you're looking at a digital camera.  This resolution is useful for all types of fun photography, and maybe even some serious professional photo work since it will print a very good 8" x 10" photo with perfect color correctness (consider using a photo quality printer like the new Epson 780).

At first glance, you may not notice you're looking at a digital camera because it's easily mistakable for the Olympus Stylus Zoom series. Once you catch a peek at the video display on the back of the camera, you'll realize it's one of those new high tech devices that will someday replace most film cameras.  Not today, though, because a 35mm camera has much better resolution than most of the consumer model digital cameras.  However, you won't really notice the difference using this 2.1 megapixel Olympus camera, especially if you're using it for some serious fun, like photos of your kids at school, kids playing, or even when you're traveling to places like Walt Disney World or Disneyland.

The quality and resolution is certainly acceptable for most general-purpose photographs.  The colors of the photos using the built-in flash or in sunlight are perfect throughout the photo.   It's useful people in the real estate business, or for anyone wanting to take quick pictures to upload to the Internet (for selling on eBay or to add photos to your Web pages).  You definitely won't miss changing the film, since it's as easy as pie to slip in a blank 64 megabyte SmartMedia memory card that holds up to 128 photos at one time, shooting the highest resolution, compressed.  The camera includes an 8 megabyte SmartMedia memory card that holds approximately 16 photos in the high resolution (HQ), compressed mode.  In the lowest resolution, 640 x 480 pixels, it will hold 82 photos.  I'd recommend shooting in high-resolution mode, compressed, for the best photos.  It's easy enough to slip in a memory card if you run out.  The 3x optical zoom is easy to use.  Just push or pull a button near the shutter release to zoom from a wide-angle 35mm lens to the 3x telephoto at 105mm.  A 2.5x digital zoom is available, but it's not necessary if you have an optical zoom.

The camera does not have a built-in USB reader for transferring your photos to your PC.  It uses a serial interface port connection, which is very slow, taking about 15 minutes to download the photos from an 8 megabyte memory card to your PC.  Fortunately, Olympus offered a free USB reader/writer with purchase of the Model D490 Zoom, as a rebate by mail.  The USB card reader/writer accepts the SmartMedia card from your camera, and uploads the photos to your computer as if it was an external disk drive.  It takes about 15 seconds to upload all the photos from an 8 megabyte SmartMedia memory card, which is quite an improvement to the serial interface.

The camera is supplied with cables to connect to your television or VCR (via the video in) for displaying your photos on a big screen.  It also includes the installation and utility software on one CD, a detailed, 143-page, User Guide and two CR-3V lithium batteries, but will also work with 4 rechargeable or regular AA batteries.  The street price of the Olympus D490 Zoom is around $349.

Howard Berenbon

Companies Mentioned

Olympus America Inc
Two Corporate Center Drive
Melville NY 11747-3157
Phone: 631-844-5000
Phone: 1-888-553-4448