Olympus Camedia D-550 3MP Digital Camera w/ 2.8x Optical Zoom
Sporting a similar design to previous Olympus D-series digicams, the D-550 Zoom features a 3-megapixel CCD, 2.8x optical zoom, and a 3.6x digital zoom. With its familiar film-camera style and high-resolution imagery, the D-550 is a great choice for vacation photos as well as family snapshots.
Optics and Resolution
The DS-550's 3-megapixel sensor captures ample detail for sharp prints at sizes up to 8 by 10 inches. For a serious amateur photographer, 3 megapixels is a great resolution, providing enough detail to perform some cropping and still have crisp prints.
The all-glass autofocus Olympus lens has a 2.8x zoom range that's equivalent to a 36-100mm zoom lens on a 35mm camera. For technophiles, its aperture ranges from f2.9 to f4.4 depending on the zoom setting, with a normal focal range from 2.6 feet to infinity. There's also a 3.6x digital zoom, but remember that digital zoom tends to reduce the sharpness and detail of your image, so it's best used sparingly.
To compose your images, either use the traditional camera viewfinder or the 1.8-inch LCD display (also used to review the shots you've taken). Having both types of viewfinders offers the best of both worlds: if you're used to a film camera or want to conserve battery life, use the viewfinder. If you want to see exactly the picture you'll be capturing, use the LCD display.
A sliding clamshell lens cover simultaneously protects the D-550's lens and provides a simple way to turn the camera on and off, and the all-plastic body feels both lightweight and durable. While the D-550 offers automatic settings for point-and-shooters and beginning photographers, there are several manual features for more adventurous photographers, including macro mode, adjustable white-balance settings, exposure compensation, and the ability to shoot black-and-white and sepia images.
Power is provided by four AA batteries (alkalines are included). We recommend getting a set or two of rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and a charger. A digital camera will kill a set of alkaline batteries extremely quickly, especially if you're using the camera's LCD display, so they aren't recommended except in a pinch. To ensure you'll always be ready for action, we recommend having two sets of rechargeables so you can always have one set in the camera and the other set in the charger.
In movie mode, the camera captures silent video clips at resolutions of either 320 x 240 pixels (up to 33 seconds per movie) or 160 x 120 pixels (up to 148 seconds per movie). The limited duration and resolution of your movies guarantees that this feature won't replace your camcorder, but it's perfect for when you just want to capture a quick movie and e-mail it to a friend or relative.
Storage and Transfer
Images are stored on SmartMedia memory cards. The included 16 MB card holds approximately 21 images at the camera's default settings. SmartMedia cards are reusable, but if you tend to take more than 21 images per outing (or plan to use the video feature much), then you'll want a bigger card. A 64 MB card will store well over 100 pictures. With most cameras, the brand of memory card you use is irrelevant, but genuine Olympus cards have a panorama feature not found on cards from other manufacturers. This feature makes it easier to stitch together a series of pictures you've taken into a single panoramic photo, and may justify the slightly higher price of the card if it's a feature you plan to use frequently.
To transfer images to your computer, simply attach the included USB cable between your PC and your camera. Your computer should automatically recognize your camera and let you move the pictures to your hard drive.
At 4.6 by 2.6 by 2 inches and 8.5 ounces, the D-550 is fairly thin and small, making it easy to bring along on outings--but it won't easily fit in your shirt pocket.
Contents and Recommended Accessories
The package includes the camera, 16 MB SmartMedia card, four AA alkaline batteries, USB cable, video cable, carrying strap, and software on CD.
Everything you need to get started is included in the box, but we recommend these accessories to make the most of your camera: a carrying case, a set of NiMH rechargeable size AA batteries, and a higher-capacity SmartMedia memory card. Compatible accessories for this camera are listed near the top of this page.