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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus C-7000 Zoom


   


Olympus C-7000 Zoom Review

Review Date: Jan 24, 2005

Category: Serious Amateur

 

IMAGE QUALITY

The Olympus Camedia C-7000 Zoom is a digital camera targeted to serious amateur photographers. It has 7.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/1.8 in. CCD image sensor, and a 7.8-39.5mm (38-190mm, 35 mm equivalent) 5x optical zoom lens, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8(W)-4.8(T).

We find the overall image quality of the Olympus C-7000 Zoom to be very good.

5x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 7.8mm
(38mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 39.5mm
(190mm, 35mm equivalent)

The Olympus C-7000 provides quite a number of professional features in that compact and light body. Features like RAW file format (though no internal buffer, takes about 9 sec. to write to memory); AF Area (11 down * 13 across = 143 positions, i.e. anywhere on the screen); large high resolution (206K pixels) 2 in. LCD monitor with excellent refresh rate for incredible detail and smooth display; traditional histogram or "Direct Histogram" that displays black and white areas directly on the picture; full exposure flexibility (P, A, S, M, Scene Modes); grid superimposed on screen (can't have both histogram and grid displayed at the same time); Manual WB.

Macro
7.9mm (38mm), Program, Multi-Pattern, 1/6 sec., F2.8, ISO 80
Macro, Tripod Used

There are two macro modes on the Olympus C-7000: standard macro at 8 cm (3.2 in.) and Super Macro at 2 cm (0.8 in.). You can zoom in standard macro mode, but not in Super Macro mode. With Super Macro at 2 cm, the front of the lens is really close to the subject and it is challenging to ensure enough light gets to the subject without throwing the shadow of the lens onto the subject. I find that it's better to use Macro, back off a bit and use the zoom to frame the subject.

With macros, don't expect to be able to handhold the shot: using a tripod is mandatory (although I handheld the above shot using my elbows as a makeshift tripod). Also ensure the subject is not moving at all (e.g. in the breeze); though a fast shutter speed can freeze the movement, the subject may have slightly moved into an out-of-focus zone. Out-of-focus macro shots are usually caused by trying to handhold the shot of a moving subject.

White Balance Indoors
AWB WB = Fluorescent 3 Manual WB

As the above three pictures show, the auto white balance (AWB) indoors under fluorescent artificial light (since most sites demonstrate tungsten lighting, we decided it would be more helpful to demonstrate fluorescent lighting) need to be manually set for best results. As expected, AWB works well in natural light.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 80
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400

The C-7000 has 4 ISO settings going from ISO 80 to ISO 400. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds of 80, 100, 200 and 400. At ISO 80 and 100, noise is under control. At ISO 200 upward, noise becomes visible, but the images are still very usable. Noise reduction is automatically applied when the shutter speed is slower than 1/2 sec.; set it on in the Menu (MODE MENU > CAMERA > NOISE REDUCTION > ON).

It is worthwhile to note that at long focal lengths, the Olympus C-7000 will hunt to lock focus. In low-light situations, the AF Illuminator helps, but it's still challenging.

It is perhaps appropriate to mention something about the focusing range of the lens on the Olympus C-7000:

  • The lens will focus from 120 cm (47 in.) to infinity; in other words, anything closer than 4 feet will be out-of-focus (OOF).
  • When zoomed max, the focusing range is 60 - 120 cm (24 - 47 in.) in regular Macro Mode; if your subject is less than 2 feet away or more than 4 feet away, they'll be OOF.

I'm not sure about this, but it seems that the camera will automatically switch to regular Macro Mode if you move close and zoom to the max. Perhaps a user can verify or debunk that. I mention this because at first I had a hard time getting the C-7000 to achieve sharp focus when I was taking the ISO images above (camera on tripod, no Macro Mode set). I thought I had stumbled upon a focus problem at long focal lengths. When I finally got out my ruler and measured the distance of the subject to the lens, I found that it was 51 cm (20 in.) away at full telephoto. Move the camera a few cm back, past the 60 cm mark, and presto, the images came out tack sharp! Again, no Macro Mode was set.

So, if you find that your pictures are inexplicably blurred when you zoom out max, do a sanity check to see if your subject is within the appropriate distance range.

Chromatic Aberrations

CA is minimal to non-existent in everyday shots. Usually, the corner delimited by the red square at top middle, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, would show some purple fringing, but we can find none here. However, other reviewers have found some CA (from minimal to quite a bit), so be aware that this will vary on the type of shots you take.

On the positive side, the amount of detail present is simply excellent.

Long Shutter Speed
7.9mm (38mm), Manual, Multi-Pattern, 8 sec., F8, ISO 80
Manual WB, Macro, Self-timer, Tripod Used

The Olympus C-7000 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 15 sec. in Manual mode, therefore allowing night photography. Generally, with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds. The C-7000 has special noise reduction algorithms that automatically kicks in at shutter speeds longer than 1/2 sec. and you'll notice a slightly longer processing time (approx. twice as long) before the next picture can be taken.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, we decided to take a low-light indoors shot. Let's make it also a Macro shot so we can more clearly see any noise present. Light is from two fluorescent energy-saving bulbs on the ceiling. To obtain a dark background, I place Bamm-Bamm under my desk.

We experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 8 sec. at F8. Even at this long shutter speed, the C-7000's noise reduction seems to be working great, producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.

We had to use Manual WB to obtain correct colour reproduction in this picture. Neither AWB nor any of the preset WB settings worked.

There are a couple of niggles:

- Some functions cannot be saved: for example, AF Area needs to be set every single time by pressing the AE/AF button.

- Noise Reduction (NR) is only applied at shutter speeds slower than 1/2 sec. and shooting time is approx. doubled, making continuous shooting impossible. That's fine and as it should be. But when NR is set to ON, the camera automatically disables continuous shooting at ALL shutter speeds. [This strange "NR-Continuous Shooting" association took me a long time to figure out.]

The last feature we will mention is the Olympus C-7000's histograms (yes, there are two live histograms available). A histogram can be displayed live during Recording Mode. You can display the standard histogram or display the unique "Direct Histogram" (indicating the black and white areas) directly on the image.

The latter feature will be more intuitive to most people than the regular histogram -- it not only indicates there is over- and under-exposed areas in your image, but also where they are! By changing light metering mode, you can see which one gives the best overall exposure for that particular picture you're trying to take. Or, you can then decide to meter directly at the problem areas.

The histogram is invaluable to give an indication of under- and over-exposure (don't rely on the LCD/EVF since the brightness is adjustable and may be misleading).

The Olympus C-7000 is capable of producing very good image quality with very low noise and great detail. It is certainly a perfect outdoors landscape camera where you take your time to compose, focus and fiddle with the controls to get a really superb image.

The pictures in the Olympus Camedia C-7000 Zoom Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3072x2304 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name.

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

 

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