The autofocus system is basic but accurate, with three focus points in a line across the centre of the screen. Through the menus you have a choice of single focus, continuous focus or manual. It's quiet and fairly quick, as opposed to instant, and as the light gets dimmer it can take a moment to make its mind up. Once the light requires flash, the pop-up unit supplies a series of pulses to assist the AF.
The two lenses supplied cover a vast range, from the equivalent of 28mm wide angle through to the 300mm telephoto mark. This should cover all but the most specialised tasks with relative ease, although a slightly wider bottom end would be nice. In line with the camera, the lenses are light in weight and the use of engineering plastics has been stretched to include the mounts as well. These do tend to wear slightly faster than their metal counterparts. Surprisingly, the longer of the two lenses has a slightly better aperture at the long end, and this will help keep shutter speeds up for the long telephoto shots. The manual focus option is a fly-by-wire system that needs power to operate it.
There is a software CD supplied with the camera to tweak and sort your images, but it's a little restricted compared to some third-party offerings.
The speed at which the E-400 writes the data it collects to the memory card is adequate rather than fast. In JPEG mode, the camera can shoot only 5 images at 3 frame per second before the buffer fills and the camera slows down to around 1fps. Shooting in raw, the camera stops and it takes around 25 seconds to clear the buffer before you can recommence shooting. As is normal with modern cameras, there is no TIFF recording option, as this file type can be produced from the raw files.
The battery, a slim 7.2V Li-ion unit, exceeded 250 frames shot under a variety of conditions including some shots using the pop-up flash for fill and at full power. This is quite impressive, considering the amount of use the rear screen gets in checking the set parameters and the dust-reduction cycle each time the camera is switched on. Due to this, the start-up time is slow for a dSLR, but fortunately the camera does not go through the same process when re-awakening from the sleep mode into which it enters after a minute of inactivity.
The image quality delivered by the 10-megapixel sensor is impressive in comparison to equivalent compact sensors with a similar pixel count. Noise at the higher sensitivity settings is controlled well and even the ISO 1600 setting produces usable images, although by that speed noise is evident. The noise-reduction algorithm, accessed through the menu, doesn't help and if anything it makes matters slightly worse, especially in the blue channel. At more normal ISO settings, the colour reproduction is surprisingly accurate with the default settings, making the available adjustments much more meaningful.
Sharpness straight out of the camera is reasonable and can be tweaked in-camera for shooting in JPEG mode when printing directly, although excellent results can be obtained with more control in post-processing software. The supplied lenses are good quality for kit lenses and not too much evidence of the more major problems showed themselves. Chromatic aberration, or purple fringing as it is commonly known, is not visible at normal magnifications and there is only slight evidence of distortion at the wide end of the short lens. Fortunately this is easily curable in post-production software if it shows up on images of buildings and the like.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide