Why you can trust ZDNet
ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Olympus' elegant, pocket-sized Camedia AZ-1 is sophisticated, slim, and full of features, combining style and substance in one.
Chic and ultra-compact, the Camedia AZ-1 looks like many other tiny, fashionable pieces of digital imaging technology, but on closer examination it reveals a multitude of options and some funky new features. The face has a smooth, clean, silver chrome finish, with the buttons lined up neatly along the edge and a rotating control dial next to the shutter for easy navigation and maximum functionality.
Measuring only 94x67x22mm and tipping the scales at a lightweight 160g, the AZ-1 has a slim figure that is just slightly larger than Minolta's Dimage Xg. The built-in lens has its own lens-cap which adds almost nothing to its size.
The most striking feature is the 2.5 inch wide viewing angle LCD screen which takes up most of the back of the camera. Using Mobile Advanced Super View Display, The AZ-1 is the first digital camera to use this display technology, with high contrast which boasts up to 3 times that of conventional displays.
Add the option of creating Photo Albums and Slideshows for on-camera viewing, the AZ-1 removes the need to transfer images to the computer for arranging. You're able to make up to 12 albums, each with 100 items, and choose selected images to appear in a presentation using Normal, Wipe, Fade, and Zoom slide transitions.
The Camedia AZ-1 also integrates a microphone and speaker, in order to capture video with audio. Using the 16MB xD-Picture Card included (expandable up to 512MB), you can shoot up to 41 seconds of footage. The results are satisfactory - not what you'd get from a digital video camera - but what you'd expect as a secondary function of a digital still unit.
With 3.2-megapixel resolution and a 3x optical zoom, the AZ-1 is a mid-range camera and offers all the essential camera features expected of today's models.
It is extremely easy to use, whether you want to point-and-shoot on Auto Program, or experiment with the 23 Scene Program modes on offer, including panorama, portrait, and fireworks.
The images we shot were pretty impressive, clear and bright in a dim-lit room even without the flash. The camera has a good light sensor which isn't usually expected from such a compact lens.
Charging the camera and transferring images to your computer is quick and easy using the multi-function cradle with USB connection. Plug it in and you can download or print images (using a Pict-bridge printer) at the touch of a button. The cradle is also convenient for storing the camera safely when it's not in use.
Battery life is limited -- due to the large size of the LCD screen -- and lasted only a few hours. However, you'll probably fill the small memory card with photos before you'll need to recharge the batteries.