Color reproduction is a new addition to our in-depth reviews and provides a quick overview of the general look of images from the camera as well as an ability to compare this to other cameras. Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.
As you can see the E-410's color reproduction delivers almost the same hues as the competition, in the last two years or so there has been a clear 'normalization' of color among various manufacturers. The only difference comes from slightly different tone curves and saturation selection.
|Olympus E-410||Compare to:|
Artificial light White Balance
The E-410's automatic white balance peformed better than some but still not as well as we would like in artificial light, as you can see there's a clear red/orange color cast in incandescent light, the incandescent white balance goes too far and leaves a blue cast. Fluorescent light results were better, the E-410 offers three different fluorescent presets so you're always likely to find one which works.
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.0%, Blue: -7.6%, Average
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: -2.5%, Blue: 5.8%, Average
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 0.1%, Blue: -3.3%, Good
|Fluorescent - Fluorescent 1
Red: -0.6%, Blue: -0.5%, Excellent
Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots
Not to be confused with the 'Noise Filter' (which is used to reduce ISO related noise) the 'Noise Reduction' option on the E-410 allows you to switch on or off a dark-frame subtraction system which requires a second exposure after the main exposure used to 'map out' any hot pixels. As you can see from the examples below the E-410 did demonstrate some hot pixels at 30 seconds and more clearly at 60 seconds, however the dark frame 'Noise Reduction' system worked well and delivered clean images. (Note that the 100% crops below the thumbnails have had their brightness boosted to make the hot pixels more visible).
30 second exposure
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 30 sec, F9||ISO 100, 30 sec, F9|
60 second exposure
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 60 sec, F14||ISO 100, 60 sec, F14|
The first set of flash shots taken with our first camera were quite under-exposed, however these from the second camera demonstrate good metering and good flash power output, they're pretty much as good as you could expect from a built-in flash.
|Built-in flash||Built-in flash|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
My overall feelings on the E-410's image quality are mixed. In its 'from the factory' default configuration you will get good images throughout the ISO range without very much noise although this is at the expense of detail (due to noise reduction). Color response was good and the tone curve, although contrasty delivers punchy looking images.
Turn the Noise Filter setting down (or better still, Off) and you immediately get to see just how much detail the E-410 is capturing and how crisp the output can be. We were disappointed to see that Olympus hadn't linked the baseline sharpening to the Noise Filter setting, this means that you get oversharpened images if you don't also turn down the sharpness setting. As detailed on previous pages the best results (albeit with some visible noise) were achieved with Noise Filter off and Sharpness at -2.
Obviously the compromise there is that these settings only work well at ISO 100 and 200, once you get up to 400 and above you will have to re-enable the Noise Fillter, although if like me you prefer detail over a little visible noise you can use the 'Low' setting. It's a pity that the pressure to deliver a 'silky smooth' noise free image now overrides detail and a little visible noise.
As already discussed turning off the camera's Noise Filter option can deliver more detail, although obviously at the expense of more visible noise, especially from ISO 400 up. We also noted that the default sharpening level appears to be designed to recover some of the sharpness lost by the Noise Filter but that baseline of sharpness doesn't decrease in line with the Noise Filter setting, hence you need to reduce sharpness if you turn down the Noise Filter.
Our initial testing of the E-410 showed up a potential under-exposure metering issue, this turned out to affect a batch of cameras which were considered 'initial production' and were mostly shipped to journalists for review (some other publications also commented on this under-exposure). Shortly before we were due to post this review Olympus contacted us with a request to look at a replacement camera before publication.
As you can see from the test shots below the replacement camera exposes just under a third of a stop (0.3 EV) lighter, hence a slower shutter speeds here. This almost matched the Canon EOS 400D (for comparison). Luckily the problems with the initial camera were isolated to this moderate under-exposure and as the majority of our test are carried out in manual mode they are unaffected. (Checks of noise levels / dynamic range were the same between the two cameras).
It's also worth bearing in mind that the E-410's base "ISO 100" we previously measured to be equivalent to ISO 125, which explains the third of a stop shutter speed difference between the replacement E-410 and the Canon EOS 400D.
All the shots below were taken in controlled 'daylight simulation' lighting in aperture priority at F5.6. The images below are crops of the center of our 'scene' image (as above). The luminance measurement was taken as an average of the center of this crop.