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Olympus C-7070 WideZoom Review
|Review Date: May
Serious to Advanced Amateur
The Olympus Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom is
a digital camera targeted to serious and advanced
amateur photographers. It has 7.1 megapixel resolution
on a 1/1.8 in. CCD image sensor, and a 5.7-22.9mm
(27-110mm, 35 mm equivalent) 4x 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-7070 Zoom to be very good.
Wide-Angle Optical Zoom
(27mm, 35mm equivalent)
(110mm, 35mm equivalent)
The Olympus C-7070 provides a decent 4x optical
zoom, allowing you to take pleasant portraits
at a comfortable distance. But if you are reading
this, it's probably the 27mm wide-angle that interests
you in the first place. This wide-angle lens is
what photographers have been clamoring for, and
allows you to include everyone in your group picture
as well as to record more expansive landscapes.
|11.5mm (55mm), Program, Multi-Pattern,
1/1.3 sec., F3.2, ISO 80
Super Macro, Tripod Used
There are two macro modes on the Olympus C-7070:
standard macro at 20 cm (8 in.) and Super Macro
at 3 cm (1 in.). You can zoom in standard macro
mode, but not in Super Macro mode. With Super
Macro at 3 cm, you can get in really close and
cover a small area. Do remember though that the
front of the lens is then 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. Note that the camera
remembers your macro mode, so be sure to switch
back to normal AF before powering down or you'll
be taking all subsequent shots in macro mode.
As the above two pictures show, the auto white
balance (AWB) indoors under tungsten artificial
light tends toward the yellow. Fortunately, there
is One-Touch Manual WB that is easy to set and
provides excellent results. As expected, AWB works
well in natural light. You can preset 2 WB settings
with WB compensation toward the Red or Blue ends
of the spectrum, providing a professional fine-tuning
for optimum colour reproduction. You can also
save 4 Custom Manual WB settings.
Similarly, Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) allows
you to compensate exposure by +/- 2 EV in 0.3,
0.7 or 1.0 EV increments. You can also specify
the number of shots (3 or 5) depending on the
image size selected (only 3 shots in SHQ, 3 or
5 shots in HQ).
The C-7070 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. The images above have
been taken indoors at night under two regular
household incandescent bulbs. At ISO 80 and 100,
noise is under control. At ISO 200, noise becomes
visible, but the images are still very usable.
Noise is visibly present at ISO 400.
CA is sometimes present in everyday high-contrast
shots. The corner delimited by the red square
at top left, and reproduced at 100% crop at top
right, shows purple fringing.
|11.5mm (55mm), Manual, Multi-Pattern,
15 sec., F6.3, ISO 80
Manual WB, Super Macro, Self-timer, Tripod
The Olympus C-7070 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. When you set Noise Reduction
to ON in the menu [Menu - Camera - Noise Reduction
- ON], the C-7070 has special noise reduction
algorithm 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. To obtain a
long exposure, I place Bamm-Bamm under my desk
where it's dark.
We experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure,
eventually settling on 15 sec. at F6.3. Even at
this long shutter speed, the C-7070'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.
We find the AF is very good and fast, though
not as quick and precise as the one found on the
C-8080, and you'll find the C-7070 sometimes hunting
in low-light to lock focus. The Continuous AF
(C-AF) mode is noisy with the usual constant whirring
noise, and even when C-AF has successfully obtained
focus lock, the camera will refocus again when
you press the shutter release button and at times
fails to gain focus.
The Olympus C-7070 allows you to save an image
in the RAW file format. It takes about 6-7 sec.
to write a RAW image to memory card and if you
select to save your image in both RAW and SHQ
JPEG, it takes about 10-12 sec. to save both to
memory card. You can specify the JPEG image quality
you wish to save together with your RAW image.
Note that these times do not include the extra
write times you'll experience if you have Noise
Something to bear in mind is that Olympus ships
the C-7070 with the image quality set to HQ as
default. At HQ (same size of 3072x2304 as SHQ),
the JPEG compression is pretty aggressive, with
a 7.1MP image compressed down to only about 1.5
MB. At SHQ, a 7.1MP image is compressed down to
about 4.5MB. The savings is quite substantial
and the image quality seems to be very good in
both cases, so you might want to experiment and
decide for yourself which compression level satisfies
your needs (especially print size). A RAW image
is about 10MB.
There are a couple of niggles:
- Some functions require more steps than are
practical: for example, to use the immensely useful
AF target, you first need to go into the menu
and set AF mode to Spot (which takes 12 key presses),
then hold down the AF button (which, of course,
brings up the AF submenu, and confuses the hell
out of you, but you've got to ignore the submenu)
and press the arrow keys to move the AF target
mark around. If you spend some time reading the
Advanced Manual on CD (seriously recommended),
you'll discover that you can reduce those 14 steps
down to 8 steps by using the direct 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.
The last feature we will mention is the Olympus
C-7070'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.
You can set it in the Menu that the standard
histogram displays only when you press the Exposure
Compensation button (Menu - Camera - Histogram
- Exposure Compensation).
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-7070 is capable of producing very
good image quality with very low noise at ISO
80 and 100, with accurate colour reproduction
and good detail. I would have preferred greater
detail to be captured. CA is present in some of
our everyday high-contrast shots (though not in
all of them). For those looking for a wide-angle
lens, be sure to check out this camera.
The pictures in the Olympus Camedia C-7070
Zoom Photo Gallery page provide a good sample
of what the camera is capable of. I have provided
unprocessed 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).
The camera ships with image quality/size set
to HQ. So, I shot the first 100 or so images (first
session) at that quality before I realized this
and switched to SHQ. The only difference, I believe,
is the JPEG compression when saving the image.
The image samples contain images from both HQ
and SHQ image quality/size (you can easily tell
by the image size: the HQ will be around 1.5MB,
the SHQ at about 3.5MB - 4.5MB).
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