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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

USER'S EXPERIENCE

Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom
  • Lens cap and retaining string
  • Neck Strap
  • Wireless Remote Controller RM-2
  • Li-Ion Battery LI-10B & Battery Charger LI-10C
  • 16MB xD-Picture Card
  • Interface Cables: A/V; USB
  • Instruction Manuals: Basic Manual; Quick Start Guide
  • Software CDs: Camedia Master 4.2 (incl. C-770 Reference Manual); Video Studion 7 SE Basic

The Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom comes with a 16MB xD-Picture card; rechargeable Li-Ion battery and battery recharger; and, as is standard with many of the Olympus digital cameras, a wireless remote controller.

The C-770 takes about 2 hrs to fully charge a depleted Li-Ion battery. There is no indication how much of the battery is recharged: steady red light means the battery is charging; steady green light indicates it is fully charged. [Blinking red light means the battery is probably not inserted properly into the charger and not charging at all -- as I found out to my chagrin two hours later.] The battery roughly lasts between 1 to 1 1/2 hrs, depending on whether you use the LCD monitor all the time, single or continuous focus, flash, and how often you zoom in and out. A second spare battery is highly recommended.

Sartup on the C-770 takes about 4 sec. Shot to shot time is negligible when there's enough light, but can take between 3-4 sec. in low-light. That's because indoors, in low-light (whether using the flash or not), the C-770 will hunt to lock focus, in effect making it challenging to capture candid shots in low-light. Similarly, at wide-angle focal length, the C-770 focuses rapidly, but at its full 10x zoom focal length, the AF can sometimes take a full second to lock focus. The C-770 has a continuous shooting mode where, once you have locked focus, you can take 5 shots in quick succession to facilitate capturing the right moment.

I do not experience any red eyes problem at shorter focal lengths, but at longer focal lengths, red eyes crop up quite easily and the Camedia Master software does not do too good a job at reducing red eyes.

The C-770 uses the xD-Picture card. The supplied 16MB xD-Picture card will hold about 5 SHQ (2288x1712 pixels) images or 1 TIFF image. I recommend you purchase at least a 256MB xD-Picture card, or as large a memory card as you can afford. For example, a 128MB xD-Picture card will allow you to record about 46 SHQ images (or 11 TIFF images), which is not a lot.

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, slide the power switch to Playback, and press OK to select PC. The camera is recognized as a drive, and you just use the supplied Camedia Master software to transfer images to your PC. Be sure to connect the camera to your PC first before asking the Camedia Master software to transfer your pictures, or it takes a long time finding the camera. Transfer is quite fast, taking about 2 sec. per image on my Sony 1.6GHz VAIO PC running Windows XP (512MB RAM). 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 C-770, you would need the electronic version of the Reference Manual, which is on the CD, 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.

World Population: 1/80 sec., F3.2, and ISO 64 with Flash
World Population:
Since we took this picture last (about 11 months ago) ,
the population of the world has increased by 57,935,137!
12.1mm (73mm), Program, Pattern, 1/80 sec., F3.2, and ISO 64 with Flash

The C-770 does not have an AF-Assist Illuminator and I found focusing in low-light takes a couple of tries. You will notice appreciable shutter lag at long focal lengths, and this is where using the pre-focusing technique pays off. Using the 5fps continuous shooting mode also helps in capturing the right expression on a child's face.

Unlike other digital cameras, Olympus has tied the panorama assist feature to its xD cards: you must use Olympus xD-Picture cards! Imagine my surprise when I could not use the Panorama feature because I had a third-party xD-Picture card [Fujifilm] in the camera. Of course, if you take panorama pictures without the panorama assist feature (as I usually do), then it really does not matter which brand xD-Picture card you use; you just won't be able to use the Stitch feature in Camedia Master.

I used the Olympus supplied 16MB xD-Picture card to test out the Panorama feature. The Panorama Assist feature is selected via the Menu. It gives you a horizontal line and two vertical rectangles at left and right to use to overlap images. In Camedia Master, you select the images to stitch together, click Create - Auto Panorama, then click on Stitch. It is very important to keep your images aligned to the horizontal line when you take them, or the images just won't match properly when you stitch them. Most of the time, the auto feature of a stitching program will not be perfect and you need to "help" it a bit. Unfortunately, you cannot "help" the Camedia Master Panorama software by selecting stitching points -- for that level of "free panorama" you need to upgrade to the "Pro" version of Camedia Master.

The EVF is very clear in normal conditions; both the EVF and LCD can be somewhat difficult to view in very bright sunlight. Of course, the quality of the image taken is not affected in any way.

I find the included wireless remote controller very handy when taking macro shots to prevent camera shake. The remote sensor is at the front of the camera, so you have to be somewhat careful not to inadvertently include yourself (or part of your hand) in the picture.

The C-770 also has adjustable AF area. It is however restricted to 4 horizontal and 4 vertical positions (around the central area), i.e. you cannot place it anywhere on the screen. Still, it's better than nothing, and I find this an invaluable feature for macro and other off-center subject shots.

I like the fact that you have to manually pop up the flash for it to fire. I hate being surprised by a flash popping up when I don't want to use flash. Pop it up during the day and you have instant fill-in flash. The flash also has dual tubes, one for the wide-angle to normal focal lengths, and a second one for the rest of the telephoto focal lengths. It's all transparent so you don't have to worry about which tube is firing. It's an original solution which works very well in practice.

Another feature I really liked (which I understand is common to all Olympus C-series digital cameras) is the ability to customize the shortcuts on the menu. I have mine set up with the ISO, AF Area, and Exposure Compensation. You can also customize the AEL button, and I changed it to Macro/Super Macro.

The size of the C-770 with its 10x optical zoom is surprisingly compact enough to slip into a soft pouch (the type you wear around your hips) with the lens pointing up. I find it convenient to carry it around this way, ensuring I have the camera close by at any time, and still have free use of both hands when I need to.

The Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom is a wonderful package in a relatively compact body. It has its limitations, but the combination of 10x optical zoom, the dual tube flash head, flexible exposure control, and a relatively compact size (for a 10x optical zoom) make the C-770 a very attractive proposition for beginner and serious amateur photographers alike. It's easy to use on Program AE, and there is enough flexibility to allow the beginner to later progress to more serious photography, if desired. If you're looking for an ultra zoom digital camera, be sure to include the Olympus Camedia C-770 Ultra Zoom in your short list.

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