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Olympus C-7070 WideZoom Review
|Review Date: May
to Advanced Amateur
HANDLING & FEEL
5.7mm (27.2mm), Program Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/80
sec., F4 and ISO 400
The Olympus Camedia C-7070 Zoom looks
very professional in its all-black magnesium body.
It also looks distinctive with a tall shape and
lots of angles and curves -- all with a very practical
and ergonomic reason. At 116W x 87H x 65.5D mm
(4.6W x 3.4H x 2.6D in.), it's not quite compact,
but just about slips into my spring jacket pocket.
Weighing in at 420g (13.5 oz.), it's also not
exactly light, but has a good heft and solid feel.
Funny thing is, at first, the Olympus C-7070
feels big and heavy, and it is if you are used
to the compacts and ultra compacts only. Then
I unpack the Olympus EVOLT E-300 digital SLR (review
coming soon) and suddenly the C-7070's dimensions
and weight feel very reasonable. I can
see how those of you currently using a dSLR might
want to look closely at the Olympus C-7070 as
a take-anywhere digital camera with full control
and exposure flexibility.
The Olympus C-7070 has a rubberized handgrip
that allows your fingers to wrap around it naturally.
It's a two-handed camera, requiring both hands
to stabilize it and to operate the controls. At
first, the buttons seemed to have been grouped
a bit haphazardly; however, after using it for
two weeks, their placement and use have become
If you are a long time Olympus digital camera
user, the controls and menu structure will probably
seem very familiar to you. Otherwise, be prepared
for a period of adjustment -- even a little bit
of frustration -- as you adapt to a new way of
doing things. The Olympus C-7070 has lots of power
under its handsome exterior, and it does pay to
delve into the Advanced Manual (on CD) and explore
all the features available. One point that may
seem frustrating at first is that there is a well
organized menu -- and then there are shortcuts.
So you may feel confused at first while you wonder
where to go to access a particular feature. My
suggestion is to first take an hour or so and
quickly familiarize yourself with the menu structure.
As I mentioned, it is well organized, with 4 tabs:
Camera settings, Picture settings, Card format,
and Setup. All the settings can be accessed thru
the menu. After you become familiar with the menu
structure, then explore the shortcuts (accessed
thru the direct buttons), which will cut down
considerably the amount of button presses to access
some features. Then, you may even want to customize
your favourite settings and save them for quicker
The Power Switch is neither a button that you
press down nor a collar around the shutter release
button. Instead, it is a dial sandwiched between
the Mode Dial and the Control Dial. You turn on
the camera with a flick of the dial using your
thumb. Turning it off is a bit more tricky, requiring
your index finger to find the small lever and
flick it back.
Regrettably, the remote controller is now optional
after having been supplied as standard for many
models; I find the remote controller invaluable
for macro shots or whenever camera shake is a
potential source of blurred images.
A couple of small but thoughtful touches:
- There are no sensors near the handgrip where
your fingers could block them.
- A small latch in the battery compartment prevents
the battery from falling when the door is opened.
For those who like it, there's a LCD Control
Panel on top of the camera giving the exposure
settings. It's not backlighted, though. Olympus
allows the LCD monitor to function as a Control
Panel at a press of the Info button. This screen
looks complicated at first, but study it for a
couple of minutes and you'll quickly recognize
the most common settings like on the screen above,
the type of focus used is AF, ISO is set to 80
and WB to Manual WB, flash is OFF, the Drive mode
is Single AF, I'm writing to the CF memory card,
the image quality/size I've selected is SHQ, and
the number of images left is 72. To use the LCD
as a Control Panel, you select this option in
the menu (Menu - Setup - Dual Control Panel -
The viewfinder is optical and, good news for
those wearing glasses, there is diopter adjustment.
However, the dial is on the right ("wrong")
side of the viewfinder; with my eye against the
viewfinder, I find just enough space to put my
thumb in there to rotate the knob with difficulty.
The 1.8 in. semi-transmissive TFT LCD monitor
is clear at 130,000 pixels resolution, and has
a good refresh rate. Unfortunately it does not
gain up in low-light (except in Manual Mode --
read further down). When you are taking pictures
indoors in low-light or outside when it's dark,
I would recommend that you adjust the brightness
of the LCD monitor up to make it easier to see
the image (Menu - Setup - <monitor>) or
use the optical viewfinder.
An interesting feature of the LCD monitor is
that in Manual mode, you can set it to automatically
adjust the brightness of the LCD to display the
subject with optimum clarity (Menu - Camera -
M Mode - OFF). This effectively allows the LCD
to gain up in low-light, and it works very well
indeed. Because the camera also displays the exposure
differential, it becomes child play to obtain
perfect exposure using Manual Mode. A +ve exposure
differential suggests overexposure and a negative
one, underexposure. Just use the Control Dial
to adjust the shutter speed and aperture (press
the exposure compensation [+/-] button while rotating
the Control Dial to adjust aperture) until the
exposure differential number disappears from screen.
Note that you cannot have the Histogram ON while
you are using the M Mode feature.
Speaking of the LCD monitor, it swivels up 180°
and clockwise 270°, so that the LCD monitor
can face your subject (as in when you want to
take your own picture) and for easy overhead and
ground-level shots. If you are into macro photography,
it is simply invaluable. There is an orientation
sensor that flips the image right side up as you
lift the LCD monitor past the horizon. Note that
the image only flips when the monitor is raised
and lowered, not when it is rotated sideways.
In the latter case, the image is 90° rotated.
When the camera is not in use, you can store the
LCD monitor facing inward to protect it.
A half-press of the shutter release button will
trigger the AF Illuminator that will throw some
light (red/orange) on your subject (I cannot repeat
often enough that you should be careful not to
shine the light into your subject's eyes, especially
into the eyes of babies and children). You can
enable/disable the AF Illuminator in the Menu
(Setup - AF Illuminator - ON/OFF).
The lens cap is the push on type and is not too
tight; if you turn on the camera without first
removing the lens cap, the latter just pops out
as the lens extends outward, ensuring no damage
to the lens mechanism. This unfortunately also
means that the lens cap does tend to fall off
a bit too easily with just a slight bump.
The Arrow Keys are reserved mostly for menu choice
selections and the Control Dial to select an option
when a Direct Button is pressed. The UP and DOWN
arrow keys are defaulted to Program Shift; I would
have preferred the use of the Control Dial in
The behavior of a button press can be customized
in the Menu (Setup - Dial - Normal/Custom1/Custom2):
In Normal mode, you press a button to display
the relevant menu options (essentially a subset
of what's available from the main menu), rotate
the Control Dial to make your selection, and press
the button again to dismiss the menu options.
Long rectangle clutters the screen
|Revised Custom1: press or
rotate the available options in position
Custom1 mode is my favourite, with each press
of the button selecting the next available option.
The menu display disappears after about 3 seconds
of inactivity. However, I would have preferred
the selection to be more discreete than splashing
a long rectangle across the screen. Though its
large text is easy on the eyes, it does tend to
clutter the screen needlessly, interfering with
image composition; instead, just show it to us
exactly where the setting is displayed on screen
(see Revised Custom1, how I think Custom1 should
Custom3 is similar to Normal, except you have
to press and hold the button while you rotate
the Control Dial to make your selection. You let
go of the button to dismiss the menu options.
The Olympus C-7070 has dual memory card slots,
accepting the proprietary xD-Picture Card as well
as the de-facto industry standard CompactFlash
(CF) card. To use the Panorama scene mode, you
must use an Olympus-brand xD-Picture
Card (one from another brand will not do). Being
able to use 2 memory cards effectively doubles
your storage capacity. A 512MB CF card can hold
about 97 SHQ images or 47 RAW images.
There is a hot shoe for attaching an external
flash and there are lots of optional accessories.
All said, the Olympus Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom
is an excellent digital camera in a rugged body.
It would be overkill for someone just looking
for a Point-and-Shoot, but for a professional
photographer desiring a relatively compact take-anywhere
digital camera -- or, conversely, for a serious
amateur photographer ready to graduate to a camera
offering full control and exposure flexibility
-- the Olympus C-7070 needs to be on your shortlist