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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

USER'S EXPERIENCE

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom
  • Lens Cap & Retainer String
  • Neck Strap
  • Li-Ion Battery, Charger & Power Cord
  • 32MB xD-Picture Card
  • Interface Cables: A/V; USB
  • Instruction Manuals: Basic Manual; Quick Start Guide
  • Software CDs: Olympus Master, Advanced Manual

The Olympus Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom is a beauty in its all-black magnesium body, with a distinctive tall shape. It has a rubberized handgrip that molds well in your right hand. It looks rugged, feels quite hefty (especially if you are only used to the compacts and ultra compacts), and does require two hands to operate. There are lots of angles, curves and indentations, but it's all well designed and ergonomic. The major attraction is the 27mm wide-angle lens which allows you to include more in your landscape and group shots. The Olympus C-7070 has without doubt been designed with the advanced amateur/professional photographer in mind, with more features than you'd probably ever use.

Image quality is very good with good detail and very low noise at ISO 80 and ISO 100. ISO 200 is quite usable, with ISO 400 requiring some noise reduction post processing. There is CA (purple fringing) in some of my everyday high-contrast shots, but not in all of them.

As always, if you are a long-time Olympus digital camera user, the controls and menu structure will be familiar to you. If you are new to digital cameras, you'd just "learn and use." Everyone else will probably feel a little bit (or a lot, depending on your "patience quotient") disoriented at first and require a "break-in" period. I've already mentioned that the best way is to spend an hour familiarizing yourself with the menu structure, then learn the shortcuts using the direct buttons, and lastly do your own customization.

In every way, the Olympus C-7070 is geared toward the advanced photographer, so I was very surprised that the camera ships with image quality/size set to HQ. So, I shot the first 100 or so images (first shooting session) at that quality before I realized my "mistake." At HQ, the JPEG compression is very aggressive with an average size of 1.5MB; at SHQ, JPEG compression writes an image of roughly 3.5MB - 4.5MB. Take a look at the image samples and compare image quality between HQ and SHQ.

Here is how I set the Olympus C-7070:

Camera settings Tab:

- Drive = Single

- ISO = 80

- Flash Mode = Off

- AF/Macro/MF = Focus Mode - AF; AF Mode - iESP; Fulltime AF - Off

- ESP = ESP

- Self-Timer = Off

- Digital Zoom = Off

- Noise Reduction = Off (Otherwise you cannot set Drive to sequence shots; set it On for night photography)

- Function = Off

- Accessory = Off

- Voice Memo = Off

- Frame Assist = 1 (displays horizontal and vertical lines)

- Histogram = [+/-] ON (press [+/-] button to display live histogram)

- M Mode = Off (can only be set if Histogram = Off)

Picture settings Tab:

- Image Quality/Size = SHQ

- WB = Auto

Scene Modes = Normal

- Sharpness = +/- 0 (adjustable +/- 5)

- Contrast = +/- 0 (adjustable +/- 5)

- Hue = +/- 0 (adjustable +/- 5)

- Saturation = +/- 0 (adjustable +/- 5)

Card Tab:

Format = Yes first time use of memory card (always format an empty memory card before using it in the camera)

Setup Tab:

- All Reset = Off (you want camera to save your settings upon power down, otherwise you have to set them all over again)

- EV Step = 1/3EV (or choose 1/2EV, though I find this too big a jump)

- Language = English (Francais, Espanol, Portugues)

- Sound = Beep - Off; Shutter Sound - Off (I find the "Low" setting too loud); Beep Volume - Off; Playback Volume = 3

- Power On/Off Setup = (you can select picture/sound to display on power on and off, like on your PC)

- LCD monitor brightness = (be careful setting this too bright because you may mistakenly think that if "you can see it you can shoot it.")

- Rec View = Auto (tap the shutter release button to instantly return to Record mode; other options: Off, 3, 5, 10 sec.)

- File Name = Auto (Reset will start back from 1 whenever you change memory card, and will result in duplicate file names if you change cards on the same day)

- Pixel Mapping = (do it once, then anytime you believe you see a hot pixel)

- AF Illuminator = On

- Dual Control Panel = On (press Info to convert LCD monitor to a Control Panel like on a dSLR)

- Custom Button (customize the Custom Button which is defaulted to Drive)

- Dial = Normal (press button, rotate Control Dial, press button again to remove menu; other options: Custom1 - press repeatedly to cycle thru values, menu displays for 3 sec.; Custom2 - press and hold button down while rotating Control Dial, release button to remove menu)

The Olympus C-7070 uses both a Compact Flash (CF) card as well as the proprietary xD-Picture card. It comes with a 32MB xD-Picture card, but I recommend you purchase as large a memory card as you can afford: at least a 512MB xD-Picture card (128MB holds approx. 24 SHQ images), and a 1GB CF card (1GB holds approx. 194 SHQ images).

With Windows XP, you don't need to install any software to transfer images from camera to PC. Just plug the USB cable into your camera and PC USB socket. Rotate the Mode Dial to Playback and switch on the camera. The camera is recognized as a drive, and you just use the supplied Camedia Master software to transfer images to your PC (if you want to use it to index your images by date). If you don't care with indexing your images, you can simply use Windows Explorer to drag and drop the images from the camera to anywhere on your hard drive. Before unplugging the USB cable, you need to click the "Unplug or Eject Hardware" icon on the taskbar first.

The Basic Manual is, as its name implies, quite basic, and in very tiny type. To read up on the many features of the Olympus C-7070 (highly recommended that you do so), you need the electronic version of the Advanced Manual, which is on the CD (in pdf format), and I would encourage you to save a copy on your PC for easy access. The electronic version is nice since it makes searching for a feature quick and easy. I can also enlarge the display to a comfortable viewing size. However, the lack of a printed reference manual means that you are totally clueless in the field.


Photographing the Photographer
7.6mm (36.3mm), Program, Multi-Pattern, 1/200 sec., F4, and ISO 80

The Olympus C-7070 has a swivel LCD monitor with good resolution (130K pixels) and fast refresh rate for a clear and smooth display. I usually just pull it out about 30-45 degrees for low-angle macro shots. You can lift it up and turn it to face forward and use it as a "mirror" for self-portraits. You can also use it as a "spy" camera to take shots at 90 degrees; however, the image is not oriented right side up but rotated 90 degrees. You can turn the LCD monitor to face inward and protect it when it is closed.

The LCD monitor does not gain up in low-light situations; use the optical viewfinder in those instances. Well, that's not quite correct, because in Manual Mode you can set it to gain up in low-light (Menu - Camera - M Mode - OFF; note that histogram must be set to OFF to use this feature).

The Olympus Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom packs a lot of professional features in a digital camera that obviously targets the serious and advanced amateur photographers willing to put in the effort required to master all its available features. Olympus has its many loyal fans for many reasons -- and the Olympus C-7070 is one very good reason.

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