Olympus D-550Olympus D-550 Zoom

Why we purchased A digital camera

We wanted to take pictures at Kendall’s volleyball games and the publish those pictures in the Colorado Acadaemy Volleyball Newsletter.

Our secondary reason was to get some experience with digital cameras. Tracie has a Canon EOS with an extensive set of lenses and yet we didn’t really understand the pros and cons of digital.

Why we purchaed THIS camera

The most important criterion for Dave was: AA batteries. Proprietary batteries are expensive ($27-45) and are usually only good for that brand of camera—or worse, only that model. AA rechargeables are cheap ($14 for a a set of 4) and you can always use alkaline AAs in a pinch. We bought our rechargeable batteries from Green Batteries and highly recommend them.

The Olympus D-550 was recommended by PC World magazine in an article in September 2002. They also recommended another 9 cameras. We felt comfortable about the Olympus brand name.

Price. we wanted to spend about $300 for this "first" digital camera. Our expectation is that this is a learning experience. We bought this Olympus D-550 from www.buydig.com for $316 (camera + shippinng) in September 2002.

What we like about the Olympus D-550
  1. Easy to use
  2. AA batteries
  3. Compact size & weight
  4. Photo quality is excellent.
  5. USB interface is fast enough, software is OK and easy to get images into computer (We use Photoshop for any serious editing of images.)
  6. SmartMedia cards are inexpensive (128MB at $41 in late 2002)
What we dislike about the Olympus D-550
  1. Shutter lag. Shutter lag is the delay that occurs between pushing the "take picture button" and the actual recording of the image in the camera. The shutter lag on this camera appears to be slightly less than 1 second. This lag prevents us from capturing volleyball action. Very annoying. What is worse is that information about shutter lag is difficult to come by. None of the manufacturers’ websites talk about it. It is one of the dirty little secrets about digital cameras.
  2. Only 3x optical zoom. For sporting events, a 6x optical zoom would be much better.
  3. Digital zoom is useless. All you get with digital zoom is closeup, grainy (i.e., pixelated) images.
Camera Features (from Olympus website)
  • 3.0 megapixel CCD (effective) allows for high-quality prints of 8" x 10" and beyond.
  • Compact and elegant design makes the D-550 Zoom easy to handle and carry.
  • A 2.8x optical and 3.6x digital zoom combine for a seamless 10x zoom for outstanding range.
  • Auto-Connect USB feature means the digital camera can be easily connected to almost any USB-equipped computer for quick downloading of images, without any additional driver software to be installed.
  • 5 Scene Program Modes: Self-Portrait; Portrait; Night Scene; Landscape; and Landscape + Portrait.
  • Variety of resolution selections including the new 3:2 aspect mode for perfect size for framing prints.
  • Olympus's TruePicTM technology optimizes the image quality for picture sharpness, contrast, true colors and gradation in all picture resolutions
  • Automatic Noise Reduction technology ensures rich color and sharp detail when shooting long exposures in low light in Night Scene mode- Automatic Pixel Mapping checks the CCD and re-maps it for maximum CCD performance
  • Get the perspective you want using clear optical viewfinder or the 1.8" LCD
  • Virtual Mode Dial provides easy access to the D-550 Zoom's seven shooting modes
  • New menu design makes it easier to select and adjust the features you want when shooting pictures
  • QuickTime® movie mode provides an exciting alternative to still image capture for those "don't miss" moments.
  • Built-in flash automatically pops up so it's ready when you are.
Camera Technical Specs (from Olympus website)
CCD Imager 3.0 Megapixel Effective
3.3 Megapixel Gross
Size 1 /2.5” (0.4”) CCD
Lens Olympus multivariator 2 aspherical glass 2.8x zoom lens 5.8-16.2 mm(36-100mm equivalent in 35mm photography)
Seamless Digital Zoom 10x (2.8x optical and 3.6x digital combined)
Aperture Range F2.9-5.6 (W) / F4.4-8.6 (T)
Shutter Speeds Program Auto: 1/1,000 sec. – 1/2 sec. / Night Scene Mode: 2 sec.
ISO Auto: 100-400 / Manual: 100, 200, 400 (equivalent)
Recording Mode(s) Still image: EXIF TIFF (non-compressed), EXIF JPEG, DCF (design rule for Camera File system), QuickTime® Motion JPEG (Movie Mode)
Adjustable Resolutions 1,984 x 1,312 (3:2) TIFF, JPEG-High/Normal
1,984 x 1,488 TIFF, SHQ/HQ JPEG
1,600 x 1,200 TIFF, SQ JPEG-High/Normal
1,280 x 960 TIFF, SQ JPEG-High/Normal
1,024 x 768 TIFF, SQ JPEG-High/Normal
640 x 480 TIFF, SQ JPEG-High/Normal
320 x 240 @15fps QuickTime® Motion JPEG
160 x 120 @15fps QuickTime® Motion JPEG
DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) Print Reservation (Single, Multiple, All, Number of copy), Date/Time, Cropping
Optical Image Enlargement N/A
Image Adjustment Modes Sharpness: Hard/Normal/Soft; Contrast: High/Standard/Low
Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/2 EV steps
Image Effects Noise Reduction: available at Shutter speeds of 1 second or longer in Night Scene Mode
Panorama Up to 10 frames stitchable automatically with CAMEDIA Master software when using Olympus brand SmartMedia
Sequence 1.2 frames per second burst up to 11 frames in HQ mode
Viewfinder Optical real-image viewfinder with Diopter Adjustment and Autofocus /backlight LED
LCD 1.8” (4.5cm) Color TFT LCD (61,000 pixels)
Focusing System iESP Multi-Pattern AF (autofocus) TTL system (contrast detection), Spot AF, Full Time AF (Movie Mode)
Focusing Ranges Macro Mode 8” – 31”(0.2m-0.8m)
Standard AF 31” – Infinity (0.8m – Infinity)
One Touch Focus (Infinity)
Exposure Control Program Auto (f 2.9/4.4 – 8.6, 1/1,000 sec. – 1/2 sec.)
5 Auto Creative Scene Mode: Self Portrait/Portrait/Night Scene/Landscape/Landscape+Portrait
Metering System Digital ESP Multi-Pattern Meter, Spot
White Balance System iESP Multi-pattern auto TTL
4 Pre-set manual (Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten and Fluorescent)
Flash Built-in Automatic Pop Up Flash
Flash Modes Auto Flash for low and backlight
“Red-eye” Reduction Flash
Fill-in Flash
Flash Off
Flash Working Range Wide: 7.9” – 11.2’ (0.2m – 3.4m) @ ISO 100
Tele: 31” – 7.6’ (0.8m – 2.3m) @ISO 100
Flash Charging Time Less than 8 seconds (at normal temperature with new batteries)
Removable Media Card 3V (3.3V) SmartMedia card (4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and 128 MB)
Selftimer/Remote 12-second delay Self-timer
Setting Memorization On, Default
Outer Connectors USB connector (USB Auto-Connect), NTSC Video Out, DC input
Auto-connect USB Compatible with Windows 98 rev2/ME/2000 Pro/XP-MacOS 8.6-9.01/OSX (10.1)
Image Playback Still: Index display (4/9/16), 1.5x – 4x enlargement by 0.5x steps, Slide-show, Scene rotation
Movie: Normal Playback, Reverse Playback, Frame by Frame
Operating Environment Operation: 32° F –104°F (0°C – 40°C) 30-90% Humidity
Storage: -4°F – 140°F (-20°C – 60°C) 10-90% Humidity
Power Supply Main Power Source: 2 x LB-01 (CR-3V) Lithium batteries
4 x AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries
4 x AA Lithium batteries
4 x AA NiCd rechargeable batteries
4 x AA Alkaline batteries
(Manganese batteries cannot be used)
AC Power: C-7AU AC adapter (optional)
Date/Time Calendar Simultaneous recording into image date
Calendar Automatic up to the year 2031
Size 4.6” W x 2.6” H x 1.9” D (117.5m W x 66mm H x 49.5mm D)
Weight 8.5 Oz./ 240 g without batteries and SmartMedia
Number of Storable Photos TIFF: 1984 x 1488 :1 frame
TIFF: 1600 x 1200 :2 frames
TIFF: 1280 x 960 :4 frames
TIFF: 1024 x 768 :6 frames
TIFF: 640 x 480 :16 frames
3:2 TIFF: 1984 x 1312 :2 frames
3:2 SHQ: 1984 x 1312 :8 frames
3:2 HQ: 1984 x 1312 :24 frames
SHQ: 1984 x 1488 :7 frames
HQ: 1984 x 1488 :21 frames
SQ High: 1600 x 1200 :11 frames
SQ Normal: 1600 x 1200 :32 frames
SQ High: 1280 x 960 :18 frames
SQ Normal: 1280 x 960 :49 frames
SQ High: 1024 x 768 :27 frames
SQ Normal: 1024 x 768 :76 frames
SQ High: 640 x 480 :66 frames
SQ Normal: 640 x 480 :165 frames
HQ: 320 x 240 15 fps movie :48 seconds (33 sec. max. per movie)
SQ: 160 x 120 15 fps movie :211 seconds (148 sec. max. per movie)