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Olympus C-2040 Zoom

Olympus updates an old favorite, producing a "third generation" two megapixel digicam.

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

C-2040 Zoom Sample Images

Review First Posted: 2/20/2001

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: (742k)
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-2040 Zoom performs well. We shot samples of this image with the automatic (731k), daylight (728k), and manual (837k) white balance settings. The automatic setting resulted in a slightly cool image, while the daylight setting produced warmer results. The manual setting also produced warm results (slightly warmer, even, than the daylight setting), but we felt the white shirt and overall color balance looked better. Skin tones appear slightly ruddy, but the blue flowers and pants look pretty good with only a hint of the purplish hue that many digicams add to this color. (These blues are rather difficult for many digicams to reproduce correctly, but the C-2040 Zoom does a pretty good job.) The red flowers appear in-check and not too bright, as we can actually distinguish some of their minute details. Many digicams also have problems with these red flowers, reproducing them a little too bright and with a loss of detail. Resolution looks great, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the image. Details are nice and crisp as well. The shadow areas show a nice level of detail, with only a small amount of fine-grained noise visible. Some noise is also present in the house siding, but not too bad. Our main image was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure adjustment, which did the best job of correctly exposing the shadow and highlight areas. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.3 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 320
F/ 8
(822 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 400
F/ 6.3
(737 k)
0.6 EV
1/ 320
F/ 6.3
(742 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 400
F/ 5
(750 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 400
F/ 4.5
(751 k)



 
Closer portrait: (786k)
The C-2040 Zoom also performs well with this closer, portrait shot, with only a small amount of distortion, thanks to its 3x lens. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in closeup shots like this and the availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting closeup people shots.) We again shot with the manual white balance option, which continued to produce a nice overall color balance. The skin tones still appear a little pink, but aren't too bad. As is typical with this closer shot, we observe increased resolution throughout, with crisper details as well. The minute details of the model's face and hair are completely visible, as is the more subtle texture of the house siding. Noise level remains low in the shadow areas, with a faint hint of it present in the house siding. Our main shot was taken with an +0.3 EV exposure adjustment. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.3 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 400
F/ 5.6
(790 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 400
F/ 5.6
(786 k)
0.6 EV
1/ 400
F/ 4.5
(784 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 400
F/ 4
(777 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 400
F/ 4
(839 k)



 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (825k)
The C-2040 Zoom's built-in flash does a great job of illuminating the subject without washing out colors too much. We did pick up a slight orange cast from the household incandescent lighting in our shots, but it isn't too distracting. We first shot with the C-2040 Zoom's internal flash, with no exposure adjustment at all, which produced this (825k) bright, evenly lit image. Color balance looks good, with a nice white value on the model's shirt. We next shot with a +0.6 EV (731k) flash exposure adjustment, which brightened the image a good bit, though it washed out the color balance a little. Next, we tried decreasing the flash exposure by -0.3 EV (854k), which darkened the image and produced more bluish tints on the model's face and shirt. Still the exposure looks pretty good. Finally, we shot with the C-2040 Zoom's slow sync (846k) flash mode, with a flash exposure adjustment of +0.6 EV, which produced a similar image to the last shot, but with less blue tints. The slower shutter speed allowed more ambient light into the image, which warmed up the color balance. In the end, we stayed with the default flash exposure, but really liked the exposure flexibility the C-2040's flash system gave us. We also snapped an image with the camera's red-eye reduction (829k) flash mode, which produced a darker exposure, and a tiny, white reflection in both eyes.


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (740k)
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-2040 Zoom's white balance system produced some interesting results. We shot samples of this image with the automatic (749k), manual (748k), and incandescent (758k) white balance settings, with the manual setting producing the best results. Both the automatic and incandescent settings produced very strong magenta color casts, with the automatic setting showing the strongest of the two. Color balance in the manual white balance setting appears natural and pretty accurate, with vibrant hues throughout. The blue flowers appear slightly dark with purplish tints, and the skin tones seem a little red, but overall color looks very good. Resolution is also good, with a lot of fine detail visible in the flowers and around the model's face. We also picked up the more subtle details of the white shirt. The shadow area of the leafy stems also shows a lot of fine detail. Details are very crisp and defined throughout, doubtless due to the shallow depth of field resulting from the wide-open lens aperture. Noise is present but minimal, and is mainly visible in the shadow areas. Our main image was shot with a +1.0 EV adjustment. We also shot at the 100 (828k), 200 (933k), and 400 (913k) ISO settings, noticing a faint magenta cast at the 100 ISO setting, which disappeared with the 200 and 400 settings. Exposure appeared to stay the same, though noise levels steadily increased with the higher settings. (As you'd expect.) Still, despite the increased noise at the 400 ISO setting, the grain pattern remains fine and the overall noise level moderate. Overall, an excellent performance on this difficult subject. The following table shows a range of exposure adjustments from zero to +1.6 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 25
F/ 1.8
(845 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 25
F/ 1.8
(815 k)
0.6 EV
1/ 15
F/ 1.8
(742 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 15
F/ 1.8
(740 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 10
F/ 1.8
(725 k)
1.6 EV
1/ 10
F/ 1.8
(695 k)



 
House shot: (801k)
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-2040 Zoom with previously tested cameras, here's a shot of the original house poster in the automatic (877k) white balance setting.

We shot samples of this image with the daylight (155k), automatic (155k), and manual (155k) white balance settings, choosing the automatic setting for our main series. The manual setting resulted in a slightly cool, bluish image, and the daylight setting appeared a little too warm. The automatic setting also produced a slightly warm cast, but overall color balance looks pretty good. Color saturation is very good, with a slight oversaturation in the red bricks. Resolution looks very good too, with plenty of detail visible in the bricks, shrubbery, and tree limbs. Details also appear reasonably crisp, seemingly at or near the top of the two megapixel field. Noise is moderately low in the roof shingles and shadows, maintaining a fine grain pattern. Just a trace of a halo effect around the light and dark edges of the white trim along the roof line gives away the in-camera sharpening. Following is our standard range of resolution and quality settings.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(5,639 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(800 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(455 k)


Medium/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(155 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(185 k)



Sharpness Series
We also shot a series with the camera's adjustable sharpness settings, which did a good job of adjusting the sharpness without altering the image brightness. Contrast is slightly affected, but not too badly.

Hard
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(902 k)
Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(801 k)
Soft
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(917 k)


Contrast Series
The C-2040 Zoom also features a contrast adjustment, which really did just what we'd expect it to: "High" pushes the highlights brighter, and pulls the shadows darker. (The contrast adjustment options on many digicams affects the brightness as well, with the result that one end or the other of the tonal range is unaffected. The C-2040 gets it right.) We did notice a slight magenta cast in the lower contrast setting though.

High
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(871 k)
Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(801 k)
Low
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(846 k)



 
 
Far-Field Test (821k)
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 samples of this image with the automatic (185k), daylight (186k), and manual (185k) white balance settings, choosing the manual setting for our main series. The automatic setting resulted in a slightly greenish image, while the daylight and manual settings appeared similar and warmer. Though the manual setting produces slight magenta tints in some of the highlight areas, we felt that the overall color balance was the best. This shot is a strong test of detail, given the practically infinite range of fine detail viewable from a distance. Resolution looks very good, especially in the pine needles and tree branches against the sky, as well as in the bricks and house details. Though the front shrubbery is in a dormant state, you can still see a lot of detail in the branches and dead leaves. Overall image sharpness looks good, with crisp details throughout. 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-2040 Zoom has a little trouble with the bright, white paint of the bay window, picking up only the strongest outlines of the detail there. (The "Low" contrast setting should help with this, but in this case really didn't, as discussed below.) The dark shadow area under the porch also gives the camera some trouble, as we can just barely detect the porch light and brick pattern. Noise in the roof shingles and shadow areas of the house is low and fine-grained, and doesn't detract from the image. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(5,639 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(821 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(448 k)

Medium/Fine
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(184 k)
Medium/Normal
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(180 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(809 k)
Small/Normal
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(886 k)


Contrast Series
We also shot a series of images at different contrast settings, but found here that the "low" contrast option didn't have the effect we'd hoped for. While the shadows are lightened somewhat, exposure in the strong highlights is left more or less alone, with the result that little or no additional detail appears there. So... Modifying our earlier comments somewhat, it appears that Olympus got the contrast-adjust option mostly right on the 2040.

High
1/ 400
F/ 5.6
(889 k)
Normal
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(821 k)
Low
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(821 k)



 
 
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 at full telephoto with 2.5x digital telephoto enabled. The C-2040 Zoom's wide angle setting captures a nice, wide field of view, with good detail and a hint of barrel distortion. The level of detail increases with the 3x telephoto setting, and we don't notice any obvious distortion. (Exposure is darker due to the prominence of the white bay window in the telephoto shot.) The camera's 2.5x digital telephoto does a fairly good job of holding onto detail, though the image becomes visibly much softer. (Common with "digital telephoto" settings, which just crop-out the center portion of the CCD's image and enlarge it.)

Wide Angle
Shutter: 1/ 400
Aperture: F5.6
(807k)
3x Telephoto
Shutter: 1/ 650
Aperture: F5.6
(808k)
2.5x Digital Telephoto
Shutter: 1/ 500
Aperture: F5.6
(601k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (889k)
For this test, we shot with the automatic (182k), manual (181k), and daylight (181k) white balance settings, choosing the automatic setting for our main series. The large amount of blue in the image often tricks digicams into overcompensating, and we noticed that the C-2040 Zoom fell victim to this trap. None of the white balance settings produced a dead-on accurate color balance. Both the daylight and automatic settings resulted in warm images. On the other hand, the manual setting produced a very cool image. Color balance looks best in the skin tones with the automatic setting, though the warmer color balance produces a greenish background and also affects the blue of the Oriental model's robe. Resolution looks pretty good, judging by the level of detail in the bird wings and silver threads on the blue robe, as well as in other fine details such as the beaded necklaces and flower garland. The violin strings show a slight moiré pattern. Overall, the image is relatively sharp, and noise is minimal with a fine grain. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(889 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 13
F/ 5.6
(787 k)

Medium/Normal
1/ 13
F/ 5.6
(176 k)
Small/Fine
1/ 13
F/ 5.6
(182 k)




 
Macro Shot (782k)
The C-2040 Zoom turned in about an average performance in the macro (782k) category, capturing a minimum area of 3.97 x 2.98 inches (100.88 x 75.66mm). Detail and resolution both look great, with most of the fine details of each object completely visible. Color balance shades slightly toward the magenta, and we noticed quite a bit of barrel distortion from the lens' wide angle setting. The C-2040 Zoom's built-in flash (834k) does a reasonably good job of throttling down for the close-in shooting, though the lens barrel produces a small shadow in the lower left corner and overexposure washes out the color somewhat.


"Davebox" Test Target (835k)
We shot samples of this target using the automatic (144k), daylight (143k), and manual (143k) white balance settings, choosing the manual setting for our main series. Both the daylight and automatic white balance settings produced slightly warm images, with the daylight setting resulting in the warmest cast overall. The manual setting produced a much better white value on the mini resolution target, though we picked up slight magenta tints in the white gauze and in the white area at the top right of the box. The large color blocks look very nice, with pretty accurate saturation, although the yellow block is just a little weak. (This intense yellow seems to be a problem for many digicams to capture properly.) The C-2040 Zoom does a great job distinguishing between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart (which is a common problem area for many digicams), accurately reproducing the black separator line as well. Exposure level also looks good, as the C-2040 Zoom picks up the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart all the way up to the "B" range (another common problem area for digicams). The tonal gradations of the smaller, vertical gray scales also look good, with only the two darkest blocks blending together slightly. The shadow area of the briquettes shows a fair amount of detail, with only minimal noise. Detail also looks good in the highlights of the white gauze area, which are just on the verge of disappearing. Resolution looks great overall, with a lot of fine detail visible in the hinges and silver disk (though the mini resolution target appears slightly fuzzy). We also shot with the C-2040 Zoom's 100 (835k), 200 (938k), and 400 (925k) ISO settings. We noticed that the color balance became slightly greenish with the 200 and 400 ISO settings, losing the magenta tint of the 100 ISO setting. Noise level visibly increased with the 400 ISO setting, but maintained a relatively fine grain pattern that wasn't too distracting. The table below shows our resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Large/Fine
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(835 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(409 k)

Medium/Normal
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(142 k)
Small/Fine
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(157 k)



Sharpness Series
We again shot with the C-2040 Zoom's sharpness adjustments, which this time did a nice job of altering the sharpness without changing the brightness or contrast too much.

Hard
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(849 k)
Normal
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(835 k)
Soft
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(787 k)


Contrast Series
We also shot with the contrast adjustments, which adjusted the image contrast nicely. Brightness and saturation were also affected, which is a normal side effect with digicam contrast adjustments.

High
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(817 k)
Normal
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(835 k)
Low
1/ 20
F/ 5.6
(857 k)


 
Low-Light Tests
The C-2040 Zoom did an outstanding job in the low-light category, as we were able to obtain very bright, clear, usable images at light levels as low as 1/16 of a foot candle (0.67 lux), at all three ISO settings. (That's *really* dark!) We were also pleased to note that noise levels remained minimal and fine grained, even at the 400 ISO setting. Color balance and brightness look great at all three ISO levels, even at the darkest light levels. To put the C-2040 Zoom's low light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot candle, making the C-2040 Zoom well suited for dark shooting situations. (This was one of the best low-light performances turned in by any camera we've tested to date (January 2001), regardless of price range.) The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels, at each of the available ISO settings. 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
1/2fc
6EV
5.5lux
1/4fc
5EV
2.7lux
1/8fc
4EV
1.3lux
1/16fc
3EV
0.67lx
ISO 100 Click to see C24L1000.JPG

764.1 KB
1/ 8
F1.8

Click to see C24L1001.JPG

732.2 KB
1/ 5
F1.8

Click to see C24L1002.JPG

744.8 KB
1/ 3
F1.8

Click to see C24L1003.JPG

681.5 KB
1/ 1
F1.8

Click to see C24L1004.JPG

645.3 KB
2.5
F1.8

Click to see C24L1005.JPG

601.4 KB
3.2
F1.8

Click to see C24L1006.JPG

644.6 KB
6
F1.8

Click to see C24L1007.JPG

780.9 KB
13
F1.8

ISO 200 Click to see C24L2000.JPG

859.2 KB
1/ 15
F1.8

Click to see C24L2001.JPG

858.4 KB
1/ 10
F1.8

Click to see C24L2002.JPG

851.2 KB
1/ 5
F1.8

Click to see C24L2003.JPG

867.3 KB
1/ 3
F1.8

Click to see C24L2004.JPG

739.1 KB
1.3
F1.8

Click to see C24L2005.JPG

679.8 KB
1.6
F1.8

Click to see C24L2006.JPG

745.2 KB
3.2
F1.8

Click to see C24L2007.JPG

795.8 KB
6
F1.8

ISO 400 Click to see C24L4000.JPG

856.8 KB
1/ 30
F1.8

Click to see C24L4001.JPG

857.7 KB
1/ 20
F1.8

Click to see C24L4002.JPG

996.2 KB
1/ 10
F1.8

Click to see C24L4003.JPG

1,005.7 KB
1/ 5
F1.8

Click to see C24L4004.JPG

867.8 KB
1/ 2
F1.8

Click to see C24L4005.JPG

786.4 KB
1/ 1
F1.8

Click to see C24L4006.JPG

866.0 KB
1.6
F1.8

Click to see C24L4007.JPG

933.4 KB
3.2
F1.8




 
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-2040 Zoom's flash as effective to approximately 18.4 feet (5.6m) in wide angle mode, 11.4 feet (3.5m) in telephoto. This agreed well with our own tests, and in fact may be somewhat conservative: We obtained bright photos all the way out to 15 feet even in telephoto mode. (Very good flash performance.) Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft
1/ 80
F/ 2.3
(140 k)
9 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.6
(139 k)
10 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.6
(143 k)
11 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.6
(144 k)
12 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.6
(138 k)
Bad Image
14 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.6
(135 k)
15 ft
1/ 100
F/ 2.6
(143 k)



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (681k)
The C-2040 also performed well in our "laboratory" resolution test. Detail is visible out as far as 750 lines per picture height, in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Aliasing starts at around 650 lines in both directions, so that's where we "called" the resolution for the camera. A good performance, although somewhat marred by chromatic aberration (green/red fringes around the target elements, particularly in the corners), which is more prominent than average.

Resolution/Quality series, Wide Angle
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(5,639 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(681 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(372 k)

Medium/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(408 k)
Medium/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(150 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(151 k)
Small/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(68 k)


Sharpness Series
Hard
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(667 k)
Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(681 k)
Soft
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(641 k)


Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large/Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software
(5,639 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(633 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(358 k)

Medium/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(377 k)
Medium/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(141 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(148 k)
Small/Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(65 k)


Sharpness Series
Hard
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(679 k)
Normal
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(633 k)
Soft
1/ 15
F/ 5.6
(645 k)



 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
We found the C-2040 Zoom's optical viewfinder to be a little tight, showing about 86.7 percent of the final image area at wide angle (424k), and about 87.0 percent at telephoto (375k), for both the 1600 x 1200 and 640 x 480 resolution sizes. The 1024 x 768 resolution size varied by a few percentage points, showing about 86.5 percent at wide angle and about 86.9 percent at telephoto. We also noticed that the optical viewfinder framing resulted in an image shifted towards the lower right corner. The C-2040 Zoom's LCD monitor produced much more accurate results, showing approximately 98.7 percent accuracy at wide angle (386k), and about 99.2 percent at telephoto.(398k) This time, frame accuracy was the same at all three resolution sizes. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-2040 Zoom does an excellent job. Flash distribution looks even, at the telephoto setting, with a small hot spot in the center of the target. At the wide angle setting, flash distribution looks pretty good, showing some falloff around the corners and edges.

Optical distortion on the C-2040 is a little high at the wide angle end, as we measured an approximate 0.9 percent barrel distortion there. The telephoto end fared much better, showing virtually no pincushion distortion at all. (We could barely make out about two pixels of pincushion distortion, which would correspond to a distortion level of about 0.1%.) Chromatic aberration is low in terms of the extent of the colored fringes visible at the edges of the resolution target elements in the corners of the frame, but the coloration is quite evident. Virtually no distortion is visible when the lens is in its telephoto setting.

 

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