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Olympus E-410 - Digital SLR Review

A scant seven months after the release of the E-400, Olympus have replaced it with the E-410. Duncan Evans tried to substitute four words in his original review and post that but was caught out. For his penance, here's the all-new review.

|  Olympus E-410 in Digital SLRs
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front leftDespite signing up to the FourThirds digital design standard with other companies, Olympus have been the main proponent of the new standard, though Panasonic are about to add to their single offering in this field. The E-410 is an update of the E-400, which itself was the smallest DLSR that money could buy.

Olympus E-410 Specifications

  • Sensor: Live MOS - 10.0 Million pixels
  • Dust protection: SuperSonic Wave Filter
  • Image Size: 3648 x 2736
  • Lens: Olympus Zuiko Digital FourThirds
  • Shutter speed: 60-1/4000sec plus bulb
  • ISO range: 100-1600
  • Built in flash: Guide Number 12
  • Image processing: TruePic Turbo
  • White balance adjustment: seven steps, 3000-7500K
  • Focus: TTL Auto/Manual
  • Exposure: Programme/AP/SP/M/S
  • Metering: Digital ESP, 49 Zone Multi-pattern, CW / S / High-light / Shadow
  • Monitor: 2.5in. Hyper Crystal LCD
  • Other Features: Live View
  • Movie Mode: No
  • Storage: CompactFlash/Microdrive/xD Cards
  • Batteries: Li-ion Pack
  • AC Adaptor: Optional
  • Video Output: Yes
  • Size/Weight: 129.5x91x53mm - 375g
  • Transfer: USB 2.0

The E-410 is a small and lightweight 10Mp camera, bundled in a kit package it retails at £499 with a Zuiko ED 14-42mm lens, or £599 for two lenses. For the same kind of money, you can get a Canon EOS 400D with an 18-55mm lens, a Nikon D40x with an AF-S DX 18-55mm lens for £50 less, or a Sony alpha with an 18-70mm lens with £50 change as well.

side viewOlympus E-410 Modes and features
If you were expecting the kind of leap that the Nikon D40 took to become the D40x, then you're in for a disappointment. There's not much physical difference between the E-400 and the E-410, with the dimensions and weight being exactly the same - the changes are internal. The controls are virtually identical, with the layout being the same. This means that the SuperSonic Wave Filter LED lights up when the camera is switched on with the heavy on/off switch that's located underneath the mode dial. The SSWF gives the CCD a shake to dislodge dust elements, which does make startup slower than other DSLRS as is discussed further on.

The command dial has the same PASM and Auto program modes, then ropes in Portrait, Landscapes, Macro, Sports and Night Portrait as scene modes, alongside the Scene mode option itself. This brings up the scene modes already listed plus others to take the tally to 20 in total. These are selected from the rear LCD and come with both example pictures and text explanation as to what they do. You might wonder how Macro can be listed as a scene mode when the magnification ratio is determined by the lens, but what this does is put other elements into place. It means that you get Auto-ISO to keep the shutter speed up, a fixed f/8 aperture to ensure reasonable depth of field, though, to be honest, if you do have a lens with good close up ability, then you're likely to want a higher f/stop number than that.

The front of the E-410 is surprising clear of buttons or options like a depth-of-field preview, with all the action taking place on the top or in the LCD menus. The downside of having a small camera footprint is that there isn't much space to pack things in, with the result that the top is quite cluttered and there's no secondary LCD display - but then other cameras in this category don't either. There is a button to force the flash to pop up, and one that sets the timer and multi-shot facility though, which strikes me as space and buttons that could have been better employed with more useful functions.

There was a function button on the back of the E-400 that could be employed for a few purposes, but this is the one notable change - it's now the Live preview switch button that flips the prism so that instead of looking at the image in the eye viewfinder, it now appears on the LCD screen. However, the left arrow key on the joypad can now be configured to take a test picture without saving, alter the white balance, produce a depth-of-field preview on either the viewfinder or the LCD.

There are two changes to the E-410 from the E-400, and one is the Live colour preview on the LCD screen. This is trumpeted as a major feature. Press the display key and the live view is switched from the viewfinder, to the LCD, with an audible thunk of the prism flopping over.

top viewMost of the photographic features then, once past the modes, are, apart from exposure compensation which has its own button, hidden in the menus, of which there are two. One is accessed by pressing the Menu button as you might expect, the other by pressing the OK button which brings up the more photographic-feature related ones first. There is an overlap, but the OK button menu has the ones you're likely to want access to more often.

There are a range of metering modes, starting with ESP, which is the Olympus zone system. There are two flavours to this - regular and one where it also factors in the focus frame. It's like centre weighted, except the centre is the area you are focussing in. On top of this there's the genuine centre-weighted metering and spot metering. There are also two further variations on spot metering, one which is for metering from highlights, the other from shadow areas.

On a similar theme, there is also the option in the menu to set the gradation to normal, high key and low key, the aim being to limit the tonal range itself and to put more steps within it for a finer, graduated image. Colour can also be tweaked, and the profile set to sRGB or AdobeRGB.

The focussing system is pretty basic, using either one of three centrally located focus points, or set to automatic whereby it will choose from the three. For those interested in getting the right shot in challenging circumstances, the exposure can be bracketed with three images total, in either 0.3EV, 0.7EV or 1EV. And finally, the ISO settings are down, down into the menu, offering ISO100-1600 or Auto.

Olympus E-410 Build and handling
Same as the E-400 to be honest. It's small and light, but it isn't that much smaller than the Canon 400D - in fact the E-410 is actually longer than the Canon and the Pentax *ist D, is much the same height, it just doesn't protrude out at the front as much and lacks a handgrip. This, I feel, is a nose-face-spite exercise. I'd rather have had a slightly more bulky camera that had a hand grip and thus better handling. However, Olympus aren't selling this camera to me, it's aimed at people who want the most compact DLSR they can get so out it goes. There is room for a thumb position on the back, and the forefinger does wrap over the loop for the strap so it isn't a case of trying to hold a slab of butter.

However, what's very good about the E-410 is that it has a far better build quality than either the Canon 400D or the Nikon D40x, which both feel cheap in comparison. The E-410 has a solid, quality feel, right from the moulded plastic body to the heavy command and control dials.

The LCDOlympus E-410 Flash options
Needless to say there's no PC-sync socket at this price point, but it does come with a hotshoe and pop-up flash. The pop-up flash has a Guide Number of 12, which is par for the course, other cameras in this category will offer 10 or 11, and the E-400 itself offered only 10. With a built-in flash it also has flash functions such auto, manual, red-eye reduction, slow synch with red-eye, slow synch, 2nd curtain and slow synch and fill-flash. The intensity can also be changed in one third EV steps to +/-2EV.

Olympus E-410 Performance
As the camera waves the SSWF at the CMOS every time the camera is turned on or initialised after lying dormant, there's a delay at startup. It makes the E-410 one of the slowest cameras to get going. When it has woken up, it managed nine frames in three seconds, giving that claimed 3fps rate, but then it filled the buffer, so that in the full 10 seconds of the burst shooting test it only managed another three pictures, giving 12 in total. That was shooting in JPEG mode, in RAW it managed seven in three seconds and a total of nine in the full 10 seconds. This isn't quite the 3fps for eight shots that Olympus claims, but it's very close. It's also better than the E-400 which offered 3fps but for just five frames. So, for short bursts, this is pretty good, but it's only a short burst, it can't sustain it.

Standard ESP metering seems to definitely favour the ground over the sky, so centre-weighted or one of the spot modes is preferable, and while the choice of focussing points, at only three, is fairly limited, it is at least fairly accurate, if not super-quick, where there is a reasonable amount of contrast in the scene. For featureless surfaces, it will hunt up and down once then give up.

Shooting information is presented clearly on the LCD screen and in simpler terms than the Nikon D40x which tries to hold your hand through the process. The basic meter reading is also presented through the viewfinder, but rather than along the bottom of the picture, this is off to the right and is often hard to see. Of course, one of the main features is using the LCD screen for a live view of the scene, but in practice, this is less useful than you might think.

When the screen button is pressed, the prism clunks up and the image appears on the LCD screen in colour. Fair enough, but when trying to focus, there is no indication at all as to whether it has focussed or not. The red dots from the eye finder don't appear here and there's no audio confirmation of focus lock either. Once fire is fully pressed there's a clunk, the screen dims as it sets the aperture, then a focus lock red dot appears in the focus areas - though it could have been any of them that it used - and then there's another clunk as it actually takes the picture. If you've taken your finger off the button by now there's a final clunk of the prism as it returns to Live view mode. If you haven't because there's been a cavalcade of clunking noises and you're wondering what on earth is going on, then the camera will take the next shot.

So, it's fine in theory, fine for previewing the scene, but it really doesn't work well enough for actually photographing anything other than static macro shots.

This also brings up the idea of using the left joypad button for the depth-of-field preview, as revealed earlier. This can be useful when using the optical viewfinder - though it tends to induce eyestrain - but on the LCD screen it's hard to tell the difference between the background with an aperture of f/5.6 and one of f/22, and strangely, at f/22, the LCD display can turn black and white rather than colour.

The only real complaint about the performance comes into the handling department as the camera is generally quick and responsive. With a limited body space it's ineviatable that most photographic functions would end up in menu systems, but wasting space of a burst/timer mode and putting the ISO control on the internal menu system is a pity.

The biggest difference between the E-410 and its predecessor, is that the CCD has been replaced by the Live MOS chip, and the effects of this can be seen immediately in the noise tests below. There is much less noise at ISO1600, and the image quality is better all round.

Colour chart
There are good red and green primaries, though blue is quite bright. The mixes are all good, with yellows and oranges being accurately rendered.

portrait test
The skin tone is slightly patchy in shadow areas, but there is no discernable noise and all the flaws have been picked up by the camera.

landscape test
The landscape test, on a contrasty day, shows a preference for metering for the ground, losing detail in the sky.

This landscape shot shows fine detail throughout and has pleasing colours and tones.



While there is a macro mode, it's down to the lens as to how close you can get. This is a nicely rendered flower shot.

ISO1600 shot
An ISO1600 shot in practice shows noise in the shadowy areas, but this is very usable and plenty of detail is present.

CW metering
Centre-weighted metering comes up with a great exposure for this church where the sky is very bright.

A shot in the studio shows excellent fine detail and nice skin rendering under the harsh lighting.

This shot is overexposed to test for fringing, and the E-410 has controlled it extremely well, with very little aberration.

cat shot
Using ISO800 there is still plenty of fine detail and noise isn't intrusive in this low light shot.


Olympus E-410 Noise tests
At ISO100 there's some variation of tone in the grey and a little patch of colour in the shadow area, but nothing to worry about. Moving up to 200 the tonal variation is increased in the grey and black cards. The key test is at ISO400 and this is pretty good. There are distinct patterns now emerging, but the plain areas are okay and it's only the shadows that show defined noise structures. At ISO800 the noise patterns are more distinct everywhere, but this is still very usable. Finally, at ISO1600 the colours are a little darker and the solid colour areas are well sprinkled with noise, with a harsh blue aspect in the shadows. There is still plenty of detail and sharpness in the petals though - this is far better than the Nikon D40x and Sony Alpha for example.

ISO100 test.

ISO200 test.

ISO400 test.

ISO800 test.



DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Olympus E-410.

Olympus E-410 Verdict

Well, it's been an almost indecently short time between updates to the E-410 and the main difference is the Olympus CCD has been replaced by the Live MOS chip, giving better image quality and noticeably less noise. Live preview is now in colour - showing exactly what the sensor will see, but the system is very clumsy with the prism clunking back and forth. Handling is exactly the same, with just one button changing function. Being small it is harder to hold more comfortably and securely than a Nikon D40x or a Canon EOS 400D, but the build quality is a lot better than either of those two. The E-410 feels much more solid and the controls have a good amount of feedback to them. The E-410 is good for shooting in small bursts and has that RAW option for better quality. The image quality in general is fine, with admirable control of colour fringing and plenty of detail at higher ISOs. There's a point to note about the focal length shift on the E-410 and that is because the CCD is small, the focal length for each lens is shifted by a factor of two. So, the 14-42mm kit lens is actually 28-84mm.

It's slightly harder to get to grips with than either the Nikon or Canon cameras, so for outright beginners, one of those two would be better. Otherwise, if you can live with the handle-less grip, the E-410 beats the Canon EOS 400D and the Nikon D40x in the 10Mp, entry level DSLR stakes fairly easily.

front right

Olympus E-410 Plus points:
New sensor - very good image quality
Excellent build quality for price
Live preview in colour
Ultrasonic dust removal from CMOS
Small and lightweight
Some ability to custom configure
Fast, in small bursts
Takes x-D and CF cards

Olympus E-410 Minus points:
Autofocus isn't fast or tenacious
Live preview is a mixed blessing
Lack of handgrip makes handling trickier
Useful items in menus rather than on dials
Focal length extension is a tricky 2x





The Olympus E-410 kit with 14-42mm lens costs £499 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.


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Photographs taken using the Olympus E-410


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Sit up & take notice of this the E410 (& more especially the E510).

I was lucky enough to have a chance in the past few weeks to spend some time using both cameras - they are FAR better than the E500/E400 that they replace.

Remember that ALL Olympus E-System lens are designed for digital use from conception to operation. The tele-converters (for instance) work with ALL the lens. Their 36GN (FL36) flashgun, is sold for 150 with full pan & tilt.... Lots of system goodies & more lenses on the way later this year from Oly & Sigma....

For this moment Olympus have (with Panasonics help producing some of the electronics - including the sensor) two cameras that are Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony enthusiast market's time to start saving for the replacement for the E1..the E3 will be a cracker!
User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway

Quote:cameras that are Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony enthusiast market beaters

Hardly... These from Duncan's Review above -

Autofocus isn't fast or tenacious
Lack of handgrip makes handling trickier
Some useful items buried in menu
Focal length extension is a tricky 2x.


Quote:This is the stuffing of the ISO range down into the menu, on the second list and then on the second screen. Considering that the ability to change digital ISO where and when you like is one of the key advantages of shooting digitally, it's a real pain to find it buried so far into a menu system.

When you press OK button, the first thing that lights up in the control panel on the LCD, is the ISO setting, which you can change by turning the dial to do it quicly (one buttonpress+turn dial to change ISO is real pain to use?), or press OK again to view all the options...if you went looking for it in menus you have sadly not gotten the whole idea of Olympus' control panel...

Quote:Focal length extension is a tricky 2x

if multiplying by 2 is hard, i bet you HATE cameras with 1,6x effective focal lenght, now there's a mindbender, having to take the calculator to photoshoots and all, oh the humanity, if only they had tought math in school....oh wait, right, they did...

And about the liveview, i guess Oly has marketed it a bit badly, i don't really think it's meant for P&S style shooting, rather it's most useful for macro-work, product-photography and also when shooting from a's also sometimes useful for funny angles (low/high)....and it can zoom in 7x/10x anywhere in the frame, so you CAN confirm the focus with precision not possible in optical viewfinder, manual-focus (or even AF with very shallow depth of field) heaven...
User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway
Welcome Eiko! Bit wound up are we..?? Wink

Ne'er mind eh! Post a piccy or two - you'll feel better then Smile
Hello to you too, glad to be here...
Well, the post may have sounded bit more harshly than I intended and I wasn't foaming at the mouth while writing it or anything, but when there's factual errors (like having to delve through menus for ISO) or hypocracy (atleast for me, whining about 2x EFL multiplier would seem to imply that dealing with APS-c sensors of it's direct competitors has no similar math involved, none of the other dSLR reviews here even mention crop factor, let alone single it out as a negative attribute, it just felt funny to me, that multiplying something by 2 is trickier than multiplying by 1,6)...I felt it needed some correction, I have nothing against legitemate complaints, but especially the last one felt like the author was thinking "well, there has to be atleast 5 negative points, i have 4 so far, what the hell will be the final one?" and after many sleepless nights he finally gave up, sighed and added the bit about the multiplying... Smile

The live-view is one thing where i can agree that it's very personal if someone uses that or sticks with optical viewfinder, though a bit more openmindedness, where that feature is useful and where it's not, wouldn't have hurt....and i agree, it's useless for any kind of action photography...
Though saying that it's a mixed blessing seems to suggest there's somesort of a drawback to the technology (like a bit smaller and dimmer VF on the E330), which is not the if it's a free bonus (though with some quirks), why is it a negative point in the review?

But again no, I don't feel bad about the review, it's not like someone reviewed me Smile ...but i'm just one of those guys who likes a level playingfield and all the facts to be streigth... Wink

As about the pictures, I guess we'll see... Wink
User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway

Quote:As about the pictures, I guess we'll see...

The piccy's will be fine. Smile
Duncan_E 15 201 3 United Kingdom
Thanks for that, I missed the OK button doubling as a secondary menu button. When something is labelled as MENU you tend to think that that is the menu, not the OK button, that is there is a confirmation. I'll amend the review accordingly.

As far as the focal length multiplier goes, I didn't say it was difficult from a maths point of view, so your ranting is pointless. It referred to focal length multiplication at wide angles, which is problematic at 1.5x or 1.6x on most DSLRs, so here, with it being 2x, it's slightly more problematic.

Quote:As far as the focal length multiplier goes, I didn't say it was difficult from a maths point of view, so your ranting is pointless and ill-informed. It referred to focal length multiplication at wide angles, which is problematic at 1.5x or 1.6x on most DSLRs, so here, with it being 2x, it's slightly more problematic.

All kit lenses have effective focal length of 28mm at the wide angle....and Olympus has one of the best ultrawides in the business with 7-14mm F4 (widest corrected ultrawide available for non-FF digital SLR's) the focal length multiplication being problematic is a bit more theoretical only problem is it not?
And the math part, well, sorry, for me that seemed kind of nonsense to single out as a negative, so i could not resist a little sarcasm...
Duncan_E 15 201 3 United Kingdom

Quote:so the focal length multiplication being problematic is a bit more theoretical only problem is it not?

Yes and no. No, because, as you say, Olympus have got that ultra-wide lens so the availability is there. Yes, because the wider the lens, the more distortion it has. A 14mm (x2 to get 28mm)lens will have more distortion than say a 18mm (x1.5x or 1.6x to get around 28mm) lens. But then we get into the quality of the lens ranges and then that leads into cost discussions, so it's not just theoretical.
Paul Morgan 21 19.6k 6 England

Quote:because the wider the lens, the more distortion it has

In theory yes, but these lenses are corrected, check out the 11-22 ZD a very nice lens.

The lack of a grip poses less of a problem than you will first imagine. With a camera of these dimensions a grip will simply get in the way leaving very little room for handling the lens and even in some cases pinching fingers.

The camera uses a live moss sensor, and not a ccd and is a different sensor than that used on the E400.

Live View is now in colour, its always been in colour!

Quote:This is trumpeted as a major feature

I would not go that far, its a useful feature to have even just for occasional use. I picked up an E330, live view its not something I use very often.

Its allowed me to get shots over wise impossible with any other camera, unless you happen to be carrying a step ladder Smile

Quote:For the same kind of money, you can get a Canon EOS 400D with an 18-55mm lens

Easily the biggest complaint of Canon users is the kit lens. Something I use and really my only complaint with it is the build quality, manual focus control etc.

I can`t speak of the new Olympus kit lenses, but the older ones are just so much better than the canon offering`s Smile

Quote:Yes and no. No, because, as you say, Olympus have got that ultra-wide lens so the availability is there. Yes, because the wider the lens, the more distortion it has. A 14mm (x2 to get 28mm)lens will have more distortion than say a 18mm (x1.5x or 1.6x to get around 28mm) lens. But then we get into the quality of the lens ranges and then that leads into cost discussions, so it's not just theoretical.

Well, about the distortion, that 7-14mm has actually less distortion than any of it's competitors from other brands, from what i have seen (as does the 11-22mm, also the 14-54mm and kitlens are on par or better with all the other similarly priced offerings)...that's why i think all of that is more of a theoretical problem...
But yea, it all ends up about the specific lenses, but excatly that's why i find it really peculiar, to list the multiplication factor as a negative without any real comments about why it is negative in the review (especially since that is a topic that could warrant several articles all on its own), if it's a real minuspoint of the system, then there should be an explanation with supporting evidence in the review, not just a blank statement that "Focal length extension is a tricky 2x"....
Duncan_E 15 201 3 United Kingdom
Fair point, but we've covered it in these postings now. It was there because anyone new to the system might be expect it to be 1.5x.
I've been using one of these for a year now and I'm very pleased with it.

The key things are that they are cheap, small, lightweight and yet you get a proper interchangeable lens SLR with a mirror. The quality is very good at A3. A great camera for traveling around with and taking on holiday.

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