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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus C-7070 WideZoom


Olympus C-7070 WideZoom Review

Review Date: May 10, 2005

Category: Serious to Advanced Amateur

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005 Award 


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.

4x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 5.7mm
(27mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 22.9mm
(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.

Super Macro
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.

White Balance Indoors
AWB Manual WB

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).

ISO Comparisons
ISO 80
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400

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.

Chromatic Aberrations

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.

Long Shutter Speed
11.5mm (55mm), Manual, Multi-Pattern, 15 sec., F6.3, ISO 80
Manual WB, Super Macro, Self-timer, Tripod Used

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 Reduction ON.

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 bandwidth. Thanks!


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