by Allyn Fratkin, October, 1997
There are a lot of things to like about the new Olympus D-320L. (And a few things to dislike, too). The D-320L is known as the C-820L outside of
North America. See the Olympus America D-320L page or the
Olympus Europe site.
There are three resolution/compression modes: SQ (640x480,
limited to 66k/image),
HQ1 (1024x768, limited to 200k/image), and HQ2 (1024x768, limited to
The included 2MB SmartMedia card can store a minimum of 30 images in SQ mode,
10 images in HQ1 mode, and four images in HQ2 mode. Remarkably,
the camera can
only switch between SQ and a single pre-chosen HQ mode in the field. Only
interface (and presumably the Mac interface) can switch between HQ1 and HQ2
mode. The SQ and pre-chosen HQ mode can be switched at any time. Depending
on individual image compression, it is possible to store more images than
the minimum. For example, we were able to squeeze in 36 SQ images.
Olympus' literature indicates that the D-320L includes a panorama feature
that can stitch multiple images together. This functionality is not
included with the camera yet but a business reply card is included
so that Olympus can send out the finished software.
The included 2MB SmartMedia card is not nearly enough storage. I'm looking
forward to getting a couple more cards. A couple of 4MB cards should
work out nicely.
- Overall size and feel of the camera.
- Large, clear LCD display.
- Reasonably good exposures.
- Gets the focus right (i think).
- SSFDC ``Smart'' media: a bit more expensive now but lighter and
easier to carry in the long run. Much cooler looking, too. :-)
- Flash exposes much better than our Olympus Stylus Zoom.
On the Stylus, close-range photos always cause washed-out faces.
The D-320L exposes very well with flash.
- Fast upload speed: about 5-10 Kbytes/second. This means an SQ image
(<66K) can be uploaded in about 10 seconds, and an HQ1 image (<200K)
in about 18 seconds.
- Immediate upload of images (typical of digital cameras), no waiting
for the 1-hour photo lab to screw up your photos.
- Ability to delete unwanted images (typical of digital cameras
with LCD displays): see the lousy images right away and junk them
(and maybe retake them).
- Image sharpness is a bit less than I was expecting. Could be
slow shutter speed but we've been trying to hold the camera steady.
I am used to scanning prints on a flatbed scanner and the scanner
software automatically sharpens the image. This gives very sharp results.
- Eats batteries at an alarming rate. We went through two
sets of four alkalines
on the first day. I was hoping for a smaller battery solution, if not
a more efficient one. We definitely will investigate a rechargeable solution.
- Not being able to choose between all three resolution/compression
modes from the camera.
- This seems petty but the self-timer indicator seems poorly designed. It
consists of a lens-like thing that sticks way out on the front of the otherwise
nicely curved camera. Ours seems a little loose and it probably could
- The flash mode isn't ``persistent'': the ``no flash'' and ``fill-flash''
settings change back to Auto-Flash whenever the camera is turned off.
No problem, you say, just keep the camera on (with the ``lens cap'' open)
as long as you want the flash setting to remain.
Surprise, the camera shuts off by itself after 180 seconds of non-use.
- The plastic flap door that covers the video out, RS-232 and AC jacks
- Light gold-colored camera body shows scratches. :-(
- Lens is close to the edge of the camera and easy to cover with fingers. :-)
- The D-320L seems to be a better match for right-eyed people (people
that look through cameras with their right eye). Left-eyed
people will find that their greasy nose gets pressed right onto the
LCD display. It turns out my wife is left-eyed. :-(
- NTSC Video out: we tried it but I don't know if we'll ever use it.
The european C-820L has PAL output instead of NTSC.