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Olympus C-211 Zoom

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C-211 Zoom Test Images

Review First Posted: 9/25/2000

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)


Outdoor portrait: (1112k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Olympus C-211 Zoom does a pretty good job in this respect. We shot samples of this image in both the automatic (1100k) and daylight (1112k) white balance modes, choosing the daylight setting for our main series (the automatic setting produced slightly cooler results). Color balance looks very nice in the daylight white balance setting, as the blue flowers and pants look pretty accurate, with only the slightest hint of purple in their hue (these blues are somewhat difficult for many digicams to reproduce correctly, as many tend to render them as shades of purple). Resolution looks good, though slightly soft, but there's a fair amount of detail throughout the image. The shadow areas show reasonably good detail, with just a little noise. Our main image was taken with a +0.5 EV exposure adjustment, and though the highlight areas appear well exposed, the shadow areas are a bit dim. Alternatively, boosting the exposure compensation to +1.0 EV brightens the shadow areas but blows out the highlights. (This is why we usually prefer to have exposure adjustments in increments of 1/3 EV or less, to be able to tweak the exposure a little more accurately.) The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.5 EV in the daylight white balance mode.

Overall, we have to say we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the digital images from the C-211: We initially suspected that it would be a poor performer in this area, given the primary appeal of the Polaroid output. To the contrary though, it works quite well as a digicam. It does use one of the new, smaller 1/3 inch CCDs though, so it's images are somewhat less sharp when compared with full-spec 2 megapixel cameras like Olympus' own C-2020 Zoom. It very much holds its own in the 2 megapixel field though.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/400
Aperture: F8.5
(1095k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/320
Aperture: F8.5
(1112k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F8.5
(990k)
1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/400
Aperture: F4.3
(1029k)



 
Closer portrait: (1150k)
The C-211 Zoom performed very well on this closer, portrait shot, thanks in part to its 3x lens. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in close-up shots like this and the availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting close-up people shots.) We again shot with the daylight white balance setting, with our main image requiring no exposure compensation adjustment. (This close-up shot generally requires less exposure compensation than the wider shot.) Resolution and detail look much sharper, especially in the strands of the model's hair. Noise level remains moderate in the shadow areas and appears to be relatively fine grained. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings on the C-211, from zero to +1.0 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/650
Aperture: F4.4
(1150k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/500
Aperture: F4.4
(1172k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/320
Aperture: F4.4
(951k)



 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (1045k)
The C-211's built-in flash does a very good job of illuminating the subject while maintaining a nice color balance, as seen here.(1295k) A warm cast does persist in the image, doubtless due to the strong incandescent room lighting, but the color balance in the flowers looks pretty good and the shirt is a fairly clean white. We also shot an example of the camera's Red-Eye Reduction (703k) mode, which does a nice job of eliminating the Redeye Effect. The C-211 doesn't have an external flash sync but does feature an external flash mode, for working with a more powerful external flash attached to a slave unit. We also tried the slow-sync flash mode, which combines a flash exposure with a much longer shutter time, allowing more of the ambient light into the picture. This produced this (1045k) much brighter image, which we chose as our main shot for this category. A warm cast is still present, and now more visible in the white shirt, but the lighting is much softer. Also notable is the extent to which the flash illumination matches the color of the room lighting, with only slightly bluish highlights on the model's shirt.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
External Flash
0 EV
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F3.2
(707k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F3.2
(725k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F3.2
(704k)
1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/40
Aperture: F3.2
(1295k)
Normal Flash
0 EV
Shutter: 1/25
Aperture: F3.2
(1045k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/25
Aperture: F3.2
(973k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/13
Aperture: F3.2
(1378k)
 



 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (1175k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the C-211's white balance system does a pretty good job. (We found we actually liked the C-211's performance on this shot better than that of the C-2020.) We tested the automatic (1165k) and incandescent (1157k) white balance settings, choosing the automatic setting for our main series. The incandescent setting produced very warm results. Color balance looks better with the automatic white balance setting, though the image has a slightly magenta cast. Still, the reds, blues and yellows of the flowers appear reasonably bright. For our main shot, we chose a +0.5 EV adjustment, as anything beyond that produced odd looking highlight areas. A moderate noise level is present throughout the image, but isn't too bad overall. The table below shows a range of exposure adjustments from zero to +1.5 EV using the C-211's automatic white balance setting.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
Shutter: 1/25
Aperture: F3.2
(1069k)
0.5 EV
Shutter: 1/15
Aperture: F3.2
(1175k)
1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/15
Aperture: F3.2
(1004k)
1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F3.2
(1367k)



 
House shot: (966k)
NOTE that this is the "new" house shot, a much higher-resolution poster than we first used in our tests. To compare the image of the C-211 with previously tested cameras, here's a shot of the original house poster in the daylight (967k) white balance setting.

We shot our main series in the daylight white balance mode, though we afterwards decided that it produced rather warm results, and wished we had had the time to reshoot it with the auto setting. Resolution looks good (though again just slightly soft relative to our "reference camera" in this case, the C-2020), and there's a nice amount of detail in the tree limbs, shrubbery and bricks. The roof shingles betray only a moderate level of noise, and the in-camera sharpening seems scarcely visible (we picked only about a half a pixel of the halo effect around the light and dark edges of the white trim along the roof line). The table below shows the full range of resolution and quality settings for the C-211, in the daylight white balance mode.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5633k)
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.8
(966k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.8
(419k)

Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.8
(219k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.8
(72k)



 
 
Far-Field Test (1230k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

We shot this image in automatic white balance mode, as it produced a very accurate white value, with great color balance throughout the image. This shot is a strong test of detail, given the practically infinite range of fine detail viewed from a distance like this. Resolution again looks slightly soft relative to Olympus' higher-end all-digital C-2020, evidenced by the pine needles and tree branches against the sky. Fine details in the bricks and shrubbery also look a little soft. We also judge a camera's dynamic range in this shot, comparing how well the camera holds detail in both the shadow and highlight areas. The C-211 does a fairly good job here, though it loses some of the detail in the bright bay window area, as well as in the darker wooded areas. The roof shingles show a moderate amount of noise, but overall, the image looks good. The bottom line is a very nice-looking image. The table below shows the full resolution and quality series in the automatic white balance setting.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5633k)
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/400
Aperture: F7.2
(1280k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/400
Aperture: F7.2
(409k)

Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/400
Aperture: F7.2
(218k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/400
Aperture: F7.2
(73k)



 
 
Lens Zoom Range
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 3x telephoto and the lens at full telephoto with 2x digital telephoto enabled. The wide angle shot looks reasonably crisp, with a slight barrel distortion visible. At full 3x telephoto, resolution sharpens a good bit, as fine details become slightly more visible. The 2x digital telephoto setting does a good job of enlarging the image, but of course at the expense of overall resolution: The net effect is basically identical to that of simply cropping out the central portion of the larger telephoto image.

Wide
Shutter: 1/400
Aperture: F5.6
(216k)
Tele
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: F8.6
(204k)
3x Digital Telephoto
Shutter: 1/800
Aperture: F4.4
(214k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (1348k)
We shot samples of this test using the automatic (70k), daylight (70k) and fluorescent (70k) white balance settings, choosing daylight as the most accurate overall. The automatic setting produced slightly greenish results, while the fluorescent setting appeared just a little magenta. (The large amount of blue in the image often tricks digicams, so the C-211 did a pretty good job.) We picked up just a slight magenta tinge in the daylight setting, but it still produced the best results overall. Color balance looks nearly accurate throughout, judging by the skin tones. The blue of the Oriental model's robe is almost exactly right, but has a slightly darker tone than in the original (another common problem with this image). As with our other test shots so far, resolution looks good but just a little soft. There is, however, a fair amount of detail visible in the bird wings and silver threads on the blue robe, as well as in the beaded necklaces of the African-American model. The flower garland in the blonde model's hair seems a little blurry, possibly due to a bit of corner softness (?). Noise is only moderate throughout the image, and remains mostly visible in the blue background. Below is our standard resolution and quality series in the C-211's daylight white balance setting.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5633k)
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.6
(1348k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.6
(401k)

Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.6
(205k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/80
Aperture: F3.6
(70k)



 
Macro Shot (1198k)
The C-211 performs nicely in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.03 x 2.27 inches (77.03 x 57.77 mm). Though the minimum area may seem to be among the average in the range, color balance, detail and resolution are all excellent (although they're not overly crisp, we can see the darker fibers of the dollar bill). The C-211's built-in flash (1215k) does a great job of throttling down for the macro area, managing not to be tricked too much by the shiny coin.


"Davebox" Test Target (362k)
We shot samples of this test target with the automatic white balance setting, as it produced a reasonably accurate white value. (Just a little warm overall.) The daylight white balance setting produced a much warmer image. The large cyan, magenta and yellow color blocks are accurate, but a bit undersaturated. The C-211 does pick up the difference between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart, but the two colors both seem a little too orange, with similar hues. (This is a problem area for many digicams, as they often try to blend the two colors together into one.) Exposure is about right, as the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart are visible up to the "B" range (another common problem area for digicams). The shadow area of the briquettes shows a fair amount of detail, with very little noise, and most of the details in the white gauze area are fully visible as well. We also examined the grayscale on the right side of the large color blocks, which appears very distinguishable throughout, although the tonal distinctions are less prominent below block 15. Below is our standard resolution and quality series, in the automatic white balance setting. Overall, a good performance, marred mainly by the slight yellowish cast overall, and the slight undersaturation of the subtractive primary colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow).

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5633k)
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F3.9
(683k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F3.9
(339k)

Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F3.9
(202k)




 
Low-Light Tests
The C-211 had a little difficulty with the low-light category, as we were only able to obtain relatively bright, useable images at light levels as low as 1/2 of a foot candle (5.5 lux). We could still see the test target at the 1/4 and 1/8 foot candle levels, but the difference in brightness between 1/4 and 1/2 foot candles was pretty extreme. Though the camera isn't able to produce bright images at lower light levels, the images it did capture show just moderate noise. (We direct readers to Mike Chaney's excellent Qimage Pro program, for a tool with an amazing ability to remove image noise without significantly affecting detail.) To put the C-211's low light performance in perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot candle. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

8fc
10EV
88lux
4fc
9EV
44lux
2fc
8EV
22lux
1fc
7EV
11lux

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/10
Aperture: F2.8
(648k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/5
Aperture: F2.8
(650k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(669k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(780k)


1/2fc
6EV
5.5lux
1/4fc
5EV
2.7lux
1/8fc
4EV
1.3lux
1/16fc
3EV
0.67lux

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(702k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(609k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(549k)

Auto ISO
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F2.8
(400k)

 
Flash Range Test
(This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available). Olympus rates the C-211's flash as effective from eight inches to 13 feet (0.2 to 4.0 m), which coincided with our test results. We noticed that the flash level stays the same from nine to 14 feet, with the eight foot range being just slightly brighter. On the whole, the flash was a bit dim, and produced a slightly warm, almost pinkish color cast. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(335k)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(320k)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(305k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(307k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(334k)
13 ft
Shutter:
1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(356k)
14 ft
Shutter:
1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(378k)



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1320k)
The C-211's resolution is generally quite good, but our "laboratory" resolution target reveals some odd behavior: The in-camera sharpening appears to add an odd blue cast to fine vertical detail through a range of frequencies from 200 to 600 lines per picture height. Resolution is also quite different vertically than horizontally, with aliasing limiting vertical resolution to 550 lines per picture height, and discernible detail stopping at about 750 lines. Horizontally though, other than the odd blue hue shift, there is virtually no aliasing, and resolution extends to 800 lines per picture height. Overall, a good performance, but not the best we've seen for a 2 megapixel camera, and further marred by the odd aliasing and sharpening artifacts.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5633k)
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F2.8
(1320k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F2.8
(356k)

Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F2.8
(209k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/125
Aperture: F2.8
(64k)

Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5633k)
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(1167k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(386k)

Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(224k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(65k)

Resolution Series, Digital Telephoto

Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(1083k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(328k)


Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/100
Aperture: F4.4
(58k)



 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
We found the C-211's LCD viewfinder to be very accurate, showing approximately 98 percent of the final image area at wide angle (332k) and about 99 percent at telephoto (at both 1600 x 1200 and 640 x 480 image sizes). Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-211 does a good job of meeting our expectations. The C-211's digital telephoto (586k) probably produces a similar level of accuracy, however, the blurred display of the digital telephoto setting makes framing very difficult (as you can see from our sample image, which is not centered in the frame).

Optical distortion on the C-211 is a little high at the wide angle end, as we measured a 0.9 percent barrel distortion. (Not that unusual a level among digicams we've tested, but we'd like to see less.) The telephoto end fared slightly better, showing only a moderate 0.3 percent pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is relatively low, showing about three or four pixels of coloration on each side of the black target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Flash distribution looks pretty good as well, with a slightly magenta, darker cast at the telephoto setting, and a much brighter level at wide angle with a little falloff in the corners.

 

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<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

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