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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus C-770 UZ


   


Olympus C-770 UZ Review

Review Date: July 12, 2004

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom

HANDLING & FEEL

Mighty Mini: 1/320 sec., F4.0 and ISO 64 with Fill-in Flash
Mighty Mini
6.3 (38) mm, Program, Pattern, 1/320 sec., F4.0 and ISO 64 with Fill-in Flash

The Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom is a compact ultra zoom digital camera with dimensions of 104.5W x 60H x 68.5D mm (4.11W x 2.36H x 2.7D in.) and weighing 300g (10.6 oz). It has a brushed silver finish, and the construction feels solid and of good quality.

The Olympus C-770 fits well in the hands and the lens barrel helps in holding the camera steady. The lens jiggle a bit (for those who are always worried if this is a defect -- it is not in this case) and the lens cap goes over the lens. My review model says "Made in China" and I have absolutely no complaint with the solid feel and construction [showing how far that country has come to improving its manufacturing capability and quality].

Olympus has opted for tiny control buttons on the back of the C-770; fortunately they are spaced out enough so you don't press the wrong one inadvertently. The buttons also have a nice positive click to them so you know they have engaged.

On the left side of the C-770 (viewing from the back), there is a small hard plastic door that opens wide to give unimpeded access to the USB, A/V and DC connectors. This is easily the best design I've seen so far, not requiring you to fight a rubber flap that does not seem to want to open or stay open. I wish more digital camera manufacturer would follow that route.

The shutter release button is pleasantly soft for the half-press, with a positive click for the full press. The zoom lever is around the shutter release button and, as is usual with this kind of arrangement, it works quite well but just don't expect precise control over where you want to stop the zoom.

The Mode Dial can be easily rotated with your right thumb and clicks nicely into place. It is, however, still quite easy to inadvertently rotate it and select a different mode without noticing it.

The power switch is a sliding switch just above the LCD monitor, and you have to slide it two clicks to the right (once past the Playback mode) to turn the camera on. Go one too far and you are in Movie mode. I always prefer the power switch to have only two positions: On and Off.

There is also a Quick Review button that allows you to review your pictures without sliding into Playback mode. This is very convenient and a slight press of the shutter release button reverts immediately to Shooting mode.

The pop-up flash can be manually lifted by pressing a dedicated button, and it does so with a forceful thump. Likewise, closing the flash is also kind of noisy. Look carefully, and you will notice that there are in fact two (2) flash tubes in that pop-up unit! The camera determines which one to fire depending on the focal length in use.

The Mode Dial allows you to select a shooting mode, but all other functions must be accessed via the menu. The menu system is logically divided, but maybe too much so, since it will sometimes require you to navigate deep down the menu tree structure to access often-used functions. For example, to delete all images from the memory card (something which I do everytime I finish transferring the images to my PC), I counted no less than 9 button/arrow presses!

The EVF has 240,000 pixels resolution and is very clear. There is an diopter adjustment dial, but since it is on the right side of the EVF (the "wrong" side), it is almost impossible to peer through the EVF and turn the dial with your right thumb. The dial is also hard to turn (the only disappointment with the controls). Fortunately, all I have to do is set this once, and don't have to worry about it again.

The 1.8-in. LCD monitor has 118,000 pixels resolution. It is almost flush against the left side of the camera (looking from the back) and it is easy to put your thumb on the LCD as you pick up the camera. It's a good idea to get used to picking the C-770 from the sides.

One irritating feature is that if you are using the EVF and you press the OK/Menu button, the display switches back to the LCD monitor. Which means that when you want to dial in an exposure compensation or change any of the other settings, you have to remove your eye from the EVF (and the image you have so carefully composed) to look at the LCD monitor.

There is no AF Illuminator to aid in low-light focusing and the EVF/LCD monitor has no B&W high-gain option in extreme low-light situation. As a result, it may be quite difficult to view an image in low-light and the camera will be challenged to obtain focus lock in low-light situations.

Manual Focus is possible on the C-770 (press and hold the OK button for more than 1 sec.) and it is controlled by the Up and Down Arrows. The central portion of the screen magnifies and a useful distance indicator displays on screen. It works relatively well and you might find the need to use it especially in low-light situations (though in extreme low-light, you won't be able to see anything). Just don't forget to switch back to AF mode -- or you'll wonder why your pictures are out of focus from then on!

The C-770 comes standard with a wireless Remote Control that is very useful in group portraits, macro shots, and slow shutter speeds using a tripod. I find the Remote Control much more enjoyable to use than having to set the self-timer for macro shots (to eliminate camera shake). For the Remote Control to work, you need to first set it in the Menu (depress the Self-timer/Remote Control/Erase button repeatedly until Remote Control is selected). The Remote Control Receiver is on the front just above the handgrip. I find that if you preset to use the Remote Control, you can still take pictures using the shutter release button, so I am not sure why Olympus did not just implement the C-770 to accept the use of the Remote Control by default (i.e. not have to purposefully set it on).

An interesting information that is displayed on screen, and which I have not seen before in other digital cameras, is the exposure differential. The exposure differential gives the difference between the exposure (shutter speed/aperture combination) metered by the camera and set by the photographer. This is especially useful in P/A/S mode. In these modes, the camera will meter and set the shutter speed and aperture it thinks will give optimum exposure. By using the arrow keys, you can change the shutter speed and aperture independently of each other. [Note that this is not the same as Program Shift which changes the shutter speed and aperture in tandem to preserve optimum exposure.] The exposure differential value expresses how much your settings then differ from the camera's metered settings.

[The manual does not explain this, but the exposure differential is in fact an exposure compensation. So, you don't need to really access the menu to set exposure compensation; just use the left and right arrow key to deviate from the optimum metered exposure. I believe I'm right in this. If not, one of you will write me and set me right -- as I've found out ;o).]

One wish here that we are seeing in more and more digital cameras is Program Shift, and I would have really liked Program Shift to have beeen implemented in the C-770.

The Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom is surprisingly compact for a 10x optical zoom digital camera. It is light, easy to handle, and the construction feels very solid and of top quality.

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