capsule review

Epson L-500V

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Epson L-500V Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating

Epson L-500V
Photograph: Rick Rizner

If simplicity were a virtue, Epson's $349, 5-megapixel point-and-shoot would be saintly. Bucking the trend of stuffing more and more features into a small digital camera, the L-500V gives you just the basic exposure controls--perfectly adequate for photographers wanting nothing more than aim-and-click shooting. Serious photographers will, however, be frustrated by the lack of advanced controls.

They may also complain about the camera's photo quality. In our formal lab tests, the L-500V earned mediocre scores in all categories: color, exposure accuracy, sharpness, distortion, and overall quality. It garnered a final image-quality score of Fair. Our outdoor shot taken in bright sunlight was accurately exposed but a little soft in sharpness, and the colors looked flat--the image exhibited a slight gray/greenish cast. Our studio still life and flash portrait also showed those flaws, and the flash shot was slightly overexposed.

With a charcoal-gray metal-clad body, this camera has a solid, well-constructed, durable feel. Its best feature is the large, bright LCD for composing and reviewing shots. It has no optical viewfinder, however. Framing with an LCD can be problematic in bright or low light (such as outdoors on a sunny day, or indoors in a poorly lit room), so Epson added an Outdoor mode that ups the gain on the LCD. Turning it on or off is a simple press of the four-way control button. Outdoor mode is like switching to a higher ISO--the on-screen image gets noticeably grainier--but it does help in bright light.

Simplicity cuts two ways with the L-500V. You can easily set some of the key controls, such as the flash mode and the macro mode, with the camera's four-way thumb stick. But nearly everything else is in the menus. The camera's lack of creative settings actually makes it easier to use than many other models; the main shooting menu is only one screen long and each option is only two layers deep. But those options are merely the fundamental ones you find in nearly any digital camera: scene mode select, resolution quality, exposure compensation, ISO setting, and a white-balance selector with automatic and five presets.

Epson gave the L-500V two other features that are seldom seen on digital cameras of any sort. Most models can take three or four shots in continuous-shooting mode (with one press of the shutter button), but this model can keep recording images until you run out of space on your SD Card. Epson rates the L-500V at up to 3 frames per second, but to take a long sequence of shots at that rate you'll need a high-speed SD Card, which does not come with the camera. In our tests with a standard SD Card, the L-500V took three quick shots and then settled down to about one frame every 2 seconds.

The camera's second unusual function seems a bit funky, but will appeal to some snapshooters. Epson's Print Image Framer is a collection of digital "frames" that you can add to your photos to give them an extra touch of fun. The frame is associated with a photo but not directly added to it, permitting you to print the photo with or without the frame. Why would you add it in the camera rather than in your PC, where you might have more control over how the photo and frame are combined? With the function built into the L-500V, you can connect the camera directly to a printer and make the framed photo without a PC. Software bundled with the L-500V allows you to create your own custom frames on a computer. Unfortunately, that's it for the bundled software--Epson provides no image-correction or image-management applications.

The L-500V is somewhat pricey, given the limited breadth of its controls. It may be attractive to snapshooters wanting little more than point-and-click simplicity--especially when capturing action--but other less-expensive models do more.

Epson L-500V


5.0 megapixels, 2560 by 1920 maximum resolution, 34mm to 102mm focal range (35mm equivalent), f2.8 to f4.9 maximum aperture range, shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/2000 second, LCD viewfinder (no optical viewfinder), USB connection, 16MB SD Card media, one rechargeable lithium ion battery, 6.9 ounces with battery, Epson Print Image Framer software. One-year parts and labor warranty, 12-hour weekday toll-call support.
$349
www.epson.com

Tracey Capen

This story, "Epson L-500V" was originally published by PCWorld.

To comment on this article and other TechHive content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Epson L-500V Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating
Related:
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.