The Olympus E-410 is a Four Thirds System dSLR camera with a 14-42mm lens. Four Thirds cameras tend to be smaller than digital SLRs based on film cameras, and the E-410 is comparatively light, even with the lens attached. The camera takes up little room in a bag or even a large pocket.
Priced at around £470, this is the kind of entry-level camera that will appeal to newcomers to single lens reflex digital photography. We investigate how auto focusing, preset modes and a range of auto options shape up in a dSLR.
The rear of the E-410 is dominated by the 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen. A row of buttons down the left will be familiar to users of compacts, as will the four-way clickpad and central OK button. The controls arranged around the screen are well thought-out and generally intuitive to use.
The mode wheel allows you to choose from aperture priority, shutter priority or fully automatic and manual modes. The priority modes allow you to specify one setting yourself and takes care of the rest of the exposure parameters for you. Unfortunately, If you want to switch from scene selection to manual modes, which are next to each other, you have to twist the wheel all the way round in the other direction.
A button press and part turn is all that's required to remove the lens. The E-410 has a supersonic wave filter technology that vibrates a small filter in front of the CCD sensor. This shakes dust out of the field of view and should keep your images free of specks.
The only downside of the E-410's comparatively smaller frame is that there's very little to grip, especially on the right-hand side, which is typically chunkier on other dSLRs. The shoulder-strap lug is annoyingly placed right on the shoulder of the camera where the right hand grips. One-handed operation, such as changing settings, is also difficult.
The E-410 is one of the first to incorporate live view. The ability to frame pictures and get WYSIWYG exposure on the LCD screen is the definitive feature of digital photography, certainly on compacts. There are some qualifications for live view on dSLRs, however. Even though it's light for a dSLR, the E-410 is no compact camera, and holding it at arms' length to frame pictures on the LCD will almost certainly lead to camera shake as your arms tire.
Visibility is good from a range of angles as you hold the camera away from you, but as always with LCD screens, bright sunlight will defeat it. Live view also slows down focusing, often causing the camera to fuss about flipping the mirror up and down.
The lens supplied should cover general tasks with relative ease, but it's not a particularly long zoom. 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.
Some menus behave oddly, some preventing you from cycling up through them. It's a minor gripe, but an irritating inconsistency.
The E-410 isn't just aimed at beginners. Many features will impress those with more knowledge of photography. It can shoot simultaneous raw footage as well as JPEG. It also offers five metering schemes, including two versions of spot-metering -- HI and SH -- that automatically raise or lower exposure to ensure white or black subjects (such as snow or shadows) don't show up a middling grey. You can set white-balance colour temperature values from 2,000K to 14,000K, as well as fine-tune along the red-blue and green-magenta axes. The maximum sensitivity of ISO 1,600 is a disappointment, though.