Olympus µ[mju:] 410 Digital
(Also known as the Olympus Stylus 410)
Review Date: 31st May 2004
Ease of Use
The Olympus µ[mju:] 410 Digital is virtually identical to its predecessor the µ[mju:] 400 Digital in terms of design, so most of the comments that I made in my review of the latter camera also apply to the former. The main difference externally is a change to the handgrip on the rear of the newer model, which is now round in shape, dimpled and is postioned just where your right thumb grips the camera. This has replaced the slightly raised area on the µ[mju:] 400 Digital which served as a handgrip. The newer version is slightly more comfortable than the old one.
The other major change on the Olympus µ[mju:] 410 Digital is the new sunshine LCD screen. I didn't actually find the original LCD screen on the µ[mju:] 400 Digital difficult to use, and without looking at the 2 models side by side it's impossible to say if the new screen is markedly better. Let's just say that I had no problems with viewing either LCD screen in bright sunlight.
Internally Olympus have added a new TruePic Turbo image processor to the µ[mju:] 410 Digital, which is supposed to deliver more image clarity, contrast and brilliant colour and also increase the camera's processing speed by up to 30%. More about image quality later - the new µ[mju:] 410 Digital does feel a little faster in general use, although not enough to make you go "Wow!".
Perhaps the most immediate and striking thing about the Olympus µ[mju:] 410 Digital camera is its shiny metal body. People who see this camera for the first time usually say something like "Oooh, look at that"; the µ[mju:] 410 Digital is definitely a head-turner and ideal for impressing your friends, although it has lost the gold finish on the lens cover of the µ[mju:] 400 Digital.
The metal body has a greater purpose, however, than simply being good to look at. According to Olympus, the µ[mju:] 410 Digital has a weather-proof metal body, so shooting can continue even after the rain has started. It didn't rain during my test period, and I didn't want to risk pouring water over the camera to test out how weatherproof it actually is. Even Olympus qualify their own statement by saying "weather-proof equivalent to the IEC standard publication 529 IPX4". I have no idea what that standard is or what it states, but it probably says somewhere that you shouldn't pour water over an Olympus µ[mju:] 410 Digital camera!
The µ[mju:] 410 Digital is the kind of camera that you can pick up and work out how to use within an hour or so, thanks to the uncluttered and logical design of both the camera body and its menu system.
The camera body is very well thought out. You will notice straight away that there is no traditional D-pad on the rear of the µ[mju:] 400 Digital. Instead there are four buttons that perform the same functions as a D-pad, allowing you to scroll through images and the menu system, but which also have their own specific functions as well. For example, the top button of the four allows you to select the exposure mode, whilst the bottom one turns the self-timer on and off. This ensures that a lot of the controls are available by pressing buttons rather than scrolling through menus, which makes using the camera quicker and more immediate.
This clever placement of so many controls on the exterior of the µ[mju:] 400 Digital means in turn that its menu system is uncomplicated and easy to navigate. As mentioned above, the four buttons that form the D-pad have their own particular purpose, whilst pressing the OK button accesses the rest of the menus. These include setting the image quality, white balance, exposure compensation and a sub-menu called the Mode Menu, which contains settings like the metering mode and formatting the memory card. So the less commonly used options are accessed through the menu system, whilst the more commonly used options are available via the press of a button.
The µ[mju:] 410 Digital fixes most of the minor handling quibbles found on its predecessor. The zoom lens is still a little noisy in operation (I wouldn't try any close-range candid street photography with this camera) and the optical viewfinder is still too small to use effectively - I used the LCD screen to compose all the shots that I took. The new LCD screen, TruePic Turbo image processor and handgrip, plus the other handling improvements, all add up to a very well-built, easy to use and pocketable digital camera.