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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

 

IMAGE QUALITY

The Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom is a digital camera targeted to serious amateur photographers, though beginners will also find it easy to use in Auto mode. It has 4 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.5 in. CCD image sensor.

The main attraction of the Olympus C-770 lens is its 38-380 mm (35mm format equivalent) 10x optical zoom lens, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8.

We find the overall image quality of the Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom to be very good.

10x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 6.3mm Telephoto 63mm
Wide-angle 6.3mm
(38mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 63mm
(380mm, 35mm equivalent)

In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 38mm, and then delienate the area covered by 380mm. Once you experience the impressive 10x optical zoom of an ultra zoom digital camera, you may never be able to go back to anything less.

You cannot save images in the RAW file format but you can save them in the TIFF file format. It takes about 10 sec. to save in TIFF file format. Unfortunately, the C-770 does not have an internal buffer and you have to wait for each TIFF image to finish writing before taking the next picture. Saving in SHQ mode (2288x1712 pixels) takes approximately 1-2 sec.

Macro vs. Super Macro
Macro (20 cm / 7.9 in.) Super Macro (5 cm / 2 in.)
Macro (7 cm / 2.8 in.) Super Macro (3 cm / 1.2 in.)

There are two macro modes on the Camedia C-770: standard macro at 7 cm (2.8 in.) and Super Macro at 3 cm (1.2 in.). You can zoom in standard macro mode, but not in Super Macro mode.

Super Macro
Click for original image
10.9mm (66mm), Program, Pattern, 1/80 sec., F3.2, ISO 64
Super Macro, Remote Control, Tripod Used

Getting good macros is usually difficult with any camera because the DOF is very shallow in macro mode, and so precise focus is required. Some digital cameras are better than others in getting focus lock, and the Olympus C-770 is one of the better ones. In Super Macro mode, you can get as close as 3cm (1.2 in.) to your subject (measured from the front of the extended lens).

In the above picture, I use a large aperture and a long focal length (with Super Macro) to throw the background nicely out of focus. Unlike some digital cameras I've used, the C-770's autofocus is able to lock onto the pistils of the flower. We've had our best macro shots so far with the C-8080 and now the C-770. The only wish we have here is a LCD monitor that swivels; without it, it is literally a pain in the neck to squat low to the ground to focus and frame the picture properly.

With macros, don't expect to be able to handhold the shot: using a tripod is mandatory. Also ensure the subject is not moving at all (e.g. in the breeze); though a fast shutter speed can freeze the movement, the subject may have slightly moved into an out-of-focus zone. Out-of-focus macro shots are usually caused by trying to handhold the shot of a moving subject.

Auto White Balance Indoors
AWB WB = Fluorescent 3
AWB WB = Fluorescent 3

As the above two pictures show, the auto white balance works quite well under fluorescent light -- even better than setting WB=Fluorescent 3. Under mixed light conditions (fluorescent + natural light), it does very well. As expected, AWB works very well in natural light.

The C-770 allows you to set a One-Touch White Balance, but unlike what its name implies, it takes a minimum of three button presses to set it: First, you need to press the WB button, which brings up a menu (because there are other options you can select). Next, you need to press the right arrow key to display a special WB screen. Frame your white object within that screen, and lastly press OK to register the WB. The One-Touch WB works extremely well and produces the best results.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 64
ISO 64
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400

The C-770 has 4 ISO settings going from ISO 64 to ISO 400. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds of 64, 100, 200, and 400. Note that in Auto mode, the maximum ISO is 320. At ISO 64, noise is under control. At ISO 100 and upward, noise becomes increasingly visible.

Chromatic Aberrations
Click for original image

The image quality of the Olympus C-770 lens is very good, probably thanks to the use of "ED" (extra low dispersion) lenses and the TruePic TURBO image processor. For a 10x optical zoom digital camera, we did not find many everyday shots with any amount of objectionable CA, and we are very pleased with the performance of the lens. The corner delimited by the red square at top left is reproduced at 100% crop at top right.

Long Shutter Speed
Click for original size
10.9mm (66mm), Manual, Pattern, 8 sec., F8, ISO 64
One-Touch WB, Super Macro, Remote Control & Tripod Used

The C-770 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. The C-770 has special noise reduction algorithms 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 take a low-light indoors Super Macro shot of our favourite Flintstone character, Bamm-Bamm.

At about 3cm (0.5 in.) away from the subject, the camera lens focuses on Bamm-Bamm's eyes. Even though we use a small aperture of F8.0 to maximize depth of field, his nose still comes out blurred. For a cheap DIY backdrop, we use a black fuzzy sweater. Normal flourescent light bulbs from the ceiling are the only source of illumination. We experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 8 sec. at F8. Even at this long shutter speed, the C-770's noise reduction seems to be work quite well, producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.

Neither AWB nor any of the preset WB settings worked adequately in this instance, but One-Touch WB worked superbly. So, if your indoors pictures do not seem to be coming out with true colours, try the One-Touch WB, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

The last feature we will mention is the C-770 histogram which can be displayed live during Record Mode. 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 pictures in the Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements).

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. Other suffixes are self-explanatory.

I have received a number of questions concerning the usefulness of digital zoom and so there is at least one sample image using digital zoom. Viewed at original size, the image quality degradation is immediately obvious and that is why we do not recommend using in-camera digital zoom.

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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