The always-on slr: olympus e-400

The always-on slr: olympus e-400

Due to the rubber coating, it nevertheless lies securely in the hand, only the metal hooks for the camera strap at the top are in the way. Controls are favorably arranged, with a very easy-to-grip power lever, a prominent central function dial, four function buttons to the left of the display, and a 4-way keypad with a central "OK" button. The right thumb grips the dial for quick value changes.

Mixed felt

There are hardly any shortcut keys available for important parameterizations like ISO or female balance settings or the metering field selection – only the continuous shooting mode, the flash functions and the exposure compensation are directly accessible. However, the 2.5 inch coarse and fine resolution camera display shows a rough part of the parameters in two possible levels of detail in a permanent overview, and via OK button and thumbwheel you can set values there directly. In many cases, this saves having to jump to the main menu, which consists of five tabs and a maximum of four setting levels, is relatively clear, but does not always impress with particularly intuitive placement of the menu entries.

The camera offers 31 shooting programs, 19 of which are subject programs and one shiftable normal program, whereby the variant automatic is limited to exposure bracketing and neither focus nor female balance bracketing are provided. For this, the female balance can be fine-tuned manually in all presets and in automatic mode, and the "focus-by-wire" manual focus can be used in combination with the autofocus without any special switching.

Tighter buckled

Unfortunately, as with the Nikon D40x, there is no autofocus – more than three AF points in a horizontal row are not possible. For that, the focus speed is reasonably high, and the new 14-42 mm zoom pleases with very compact dimensions and internal focusing with filter-friendly rotation-free front lens. The flash system could also use a modernization, because wireless TTL flash is still a foreign word for the E-400.

On the sensor side, the camera offers the usual 10 megapixels on a CCD sensor with upstream piezoelectric dust protection in the small FourThirds format. The very small sensor elements here are not very sensitive to light, which increases the image noise compared to the APS-C formatted sensors of the competition. This becomes strikingly visible in the c’t box shots from ISO 400 at the latest; the Olympus ranks rather behind in terms of measurement, even at lower ISO levels.

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