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14th September 2006
Olympus E-400 hands-on first-looks preview
by Ian Burley

We've been examining a pre-production sample of the inescapably cute little Olympus E-400 DSLR, officially launched today.

Where's the obligatory big hand grip? The new Olympus E-400 resembles a traditional pre-autofocus era film SLR in both size and appearance.

DPNow forum user tests a production E-400 and shows noise comparisons.
View our gallery of over thirty pictures examining the Olympus E-400 from all angles.
Discuss the new Olympus E-400 at the new discussion forum.
See the official Olympus news release, product photos and specifications.

There have been rumours that Olympus would launch a super-compact camera based on its Four Thirds interchangeable lens camera platform and those rumours turned out to be well founded. Today the wraps came off the new ten megapixel Olympus E-400, easily the smallest and lightest DSLR to date. It comes with two new matching compact kit lenses spanning the (equivalent) lens range of 28 through to 300mm.
The new Olympus E-400 flanked by the new matching 'blue band' kit lenses, the Zuiko Digital 40-150 (80-300 equiv) f4-5.6 kit tele zoom on the left and the Zuiko Digital 14-42mm (28-84 equiv) f/3.5-5.6 on the right.

While all this is interesting information, the bad news is that if you are not in Europe or Japan, we understand you won't be able to buy this camera locally to start with. We have been told to expect sales here in Europe to commence in November, though no prices have been revealed.

We have a thumbnail gallery of over thirty captioned pictures of the E-400 below, but first a few quick facts on the E-400:

First ten megapixel Four Thirds CCD sensor though Olympus remains tight-lipped concerning who makes it. It's a CCD, not LiveMOS by Panasonic, so that could be a clue.
Maximum native (JPEG) image pixel dimensions: 3648x2736 (9,980,928) pixels.
A new sensor signal amplifier is used, which Olympus says improves image noise suppression.
Fast start up and JPEG mode sustained shooting at 3 frames per second, or 5 frames with RAW enabled.
Improvements have been made to Olympus 'original' high frequency vibration sensor anti-dust system not that many E-System users report that the old one is ineffective.
New reduced size versions of the two standard kit lenses but now both have plastic lens mounts.
New new slimmed-down Zuiko Digital 14-42mm (28-84 equiv) f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom lens has improved close focus ability.
No pioneering E-330 style live-view mode the E-400 is, essentially, a ten megapixel E-500 in a smaller body and with a simplified control layout.
New slimline lithium ion rechargeable battery
No battery grip option
Both Compact Flash and xD cards remain supported
Dimensions: 129.5mm (W) x 91mm (H) x 53mm (D), Weight: 380g (body only)

e400 and OM-4
Harking back to the good old days when SLRs were compact, like this OM-4 on the right.

Click on any of the thumbnail pictures below to see the full-size version, plus its caption.

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