Olympus C-770 UZ Review
Date: July 12, 2004
Beginner to Serious Amateur
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
We find the overall image quality of the Olympus
Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom to be very good.
(38mm, 35mm equivalent)
(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
| Macro vs. Super
| 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.
|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
||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.
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
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.
|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
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