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Olympus C-3020 Zoom

A bargain-priced, full featured 3 megapixel model from Olympus!

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C-3020 Zoom Test Images

Review First Posted: 2/16/2002

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:

(Coming Soon)

  Closer Portrait:

(Coming Soon)

 

 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (1428 k)
Normal Flash
Slow Sync Flash

Good color and brightness, best results with the Slow Sync flash mode.

The C-3020's flash illuminated the subject well, though overall brightness is slightly low in the normal mode (1298 k), without any exposure compensation. Adjusting the exposure to +1.3 EV (1408 k) brightened the image significantly, but left the color looking a bit washed out. The strong incandescent background lighting resulted in a slight orange/magenta cast, but overall color is pretty good. I also shot with the Slow Sync flash mode, snapping images with no exposure compensation (1406 k) and with a +1.3 EV (1428 k) adjustment. Slow Sync mode uses a slower shutter speed to allow more ambient light into the image, which in this case brightened the image overall and balanced the lighting. Despite a slight bluish cast on the model's face from the flash, I preferred this image overall. - Several readers have commented in the past though, that the slow-sync flash shots don't show enough of the operation of the flash by itself, so starting with this review, I'll only be selecting the "normal" flash exposures a the main choice for this category.

 

 
Indoor Portrait, No Flash: (1527 k)
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color with the Incandescent and Manual white balances.

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. The C-3020's Auto (1503 k) and Incandescent (1541 k) white balance settings both produced warm images, with the Auto setting resulting in the strongest color cast. Although the Manual (1523 k) settings produced a more accurate color balance, I noticed a slight greenish tint that increased as I increased the exposure compensation. I chose an exposure adjustment of +1.0 EV for the main selection, in the Manual white balance mode. Skin tones are slightly magenta, and the blue flowers are dark and purplish, but the C3020 overall does a better than average job with this tough light source.

For the complete exposure range from zero to +1.7 EV, see files C32INMP0.HTM through C32INMP5.HTM on our thumbnail index page.

ISO Series

I also shot a series showing the three ISO options the 3020 provides. As usual, image noise increases rapidly as the ISO is boosted, with noise at each level being fairly typical of what I'm accustomed to seeing from other cameras in this general price and capability class. I did note though, that color balance shifted noticeably from ISO 100 to ISO 400, going from a slightly blue-green to a warmer yellow-green cast. (Even though I was careful to reset the manual white balance setting after each ISO change.)

ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

1/ 8
F/ 2.8
(1543 k)

1/ 15
F/ 2.8
(XXX k)

1/ 30
F/ 2.8
(XXX k)

 

 

 
House Shot: (1748 k)
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance,
1 unit "plus red" tweak

Good resolution, though color balance required some "tweaking."

The Auto (1767 k) white balance setting produced nearly accurate results here, though with a slight reddish tint to the white values. Daylight (1762 k) resulted in a warm yellowish shot, while the Manual (1749 k) setting resulted in a slightly cooler, bluish shot. I increased the amount of red in the Manual white balance with the adjustment option on the shooting menu, which produced more accurate results. (While I'd prefer color that exactly matched my personal preferences right out of the camera, having manual "tweak" adjustments like this is very useful. I've found that there's almost always some slight adjustment needed to a camera's white balance, and having the ability to do so in the camera before the shot can save endless time later.) I chose this "tweaked" manual white balance version for the main shot (1748 k). Resolution is very high, with a lot of fine detail in the tree limbs above the roof and in the house trim. The fine foliage details in front of the house also show a lot of detail, but are slightly soft. The corners of the frame are softer than the rest of the image, but overall sharpness and detail look pretty good.

 

 
  Far-Field Test (1698 k)

Great detail and color, but slightly limited dynamic range.

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.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The C-3020 captured excellent detail throughout the frame, with good overall sharpness. The fine foliage details in front of the house show good definition, with just a hint of softness. The bright sunlight tricks the camera into losing practically all detail in the white bay window trim though, revealing a slightly limited dynamic range. The shadow areas fare only a little better, as the brick pattern above the front door is just faintly visible. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, and sharpness series.

Resolution Series:
Giant / Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(9,231 k)
Giant / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5
(1698 k)
Giant / Normal
1/ 650
F/ 5
(672 k)

Large / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(1086 k)


Medium / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(632 k)


Small / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(457 k)


Tiny / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(181 k)

ISO Series
ISO 100
1/ 650
F/ 5
(1729 k)
ISO 200
1/ 800
F/ 6.3
(1486 k)
ISO 400
1/ 800
F/ 9
(1600 k)

Contrast Series
The 3020 provides a "contrast" adjustment with a large number (11) of settings, allowing very fine-grained tweaking. The shots below show the effect of the extreme settings, on either side of a "normal" exposure. I'd have hoped that the contrast adjustment would have affected the ends of the tonal scale, pulling the shadows up and highlights down, but it appears it actually is primarily a midtone adjustment.

Minus 5
Contrast
Normal
Contrast
Plus 5
Contrast

1/ 650
F/ 5
(639 k)

1/ 650
F/ 5
(670 k)

1/ 650
F/ 5
(647 k)

Sharpness Series
There's a similarly fine-grained sharpness adjustment, but I felt it covered a more useful range of adjustment than the contrast control.

Minus 5
Sharpness
Normal
Shaprness
Plus 5
Sharpness

1/ 650
F/ 5
(1520 k)

1/ 650
F/ 5
(1725 k)

1/ 650
F/ 5
(1578 k)

 
  Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

A lot of our readers wanted to see examples of each camera's zoom range, so I now routinely shoot this series of photos, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, at full 3x telephoto, and at full telephoto with the 2.5x digital zoom enabled. The C-3020's lens covers a range equivalent to a 32-96mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

 

Wide Angle
1/ 500
F/ 5.6
(518 k)
3x Telephoto
1/ 800
F/ 5
(463 k)
2.5x Digital Telephoto
1/ 650
F/ 5
(389 k)

 

 
  Musicians Poster (1487 k)
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance,
1 unit "plus red" tweak

Good color and resolution.

For this test, I shot with the Auto (1501 k), Daylight (1523 k), and Manual (1485 k) white balance settings. The Auto setting resulted in a rather warm color cast (probably in response to the large amount of blue in the composition), while the Manual and Daylight settings produced nearly accurate results–though Daylight is slightly warm and Manual slightly cool. I usually pick the Daylight setting in this situation, given the more accurate skin tones. However, adjusting the Manual setting by increasing the red values produced very good results, which I chose for the main shot (1487 k). The Oriental model's blue robe looks nearly accurate, without any strong purple tints. (This is a tough blue for many digicams to get right.) Resolution is high, with good detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.

 
Macro Shot (1491 k)
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Larger than average macro area, but the flash throttles down really well.

The C-3020 captured a slightly larger-than-average macro area, at 4.39 x 3.29 inches (111.47 x 83.6 millimeters). Resolution is high, however, with sharp details visible on the coins and dollar bill. Color looks good as well. The 3020 does show the more pronounced corner and edge sharpness that's very common on macro shots with many digicams I've tested. The C-3020's flash (1721 k) had no trouble throttling down for the macro area, illuminating the subject very well.

 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance
Manual White Balance,
1 unit "plus red" tweak
(1178 k)

Great color and saturation.

I shot samples of this target with the Auto (1191 k), Daylight (1189 k), and Manual (1170 k) white balance settings, again noticing the most accurate color balance with the Manual setting. Both Daylight and Auto resulted in slightly warm images, while the Manual setting produced a slightly cool color balance. I again tried increasing the red (1178 k) in the Manual setting, which produced better results. Exposure looks about right, as the C-3020 picks up the subtle tonal distribution on the Q60 chart. However, I felt that the default contrast was a little high, which deepened the shadows and brightened the white areas. The large color blocks look pretty accurate with good saturation. Despite the slightly high contrast, detail is good in the shadow area of the briquettes, with low noise. Following are contrast and ISO series.

(This time, I included a thumbnail of the unadjusted Manual white balance setting, so you could see the difference the "tweak" adjustment made.)

Contrast Series
Contrast 0
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1156 k)
Contrast 5
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1204 k)
Contrast 10
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1264 k)

 ISO Series
ISO 100
1/ 400
F/ XXX
(1169 k)
ISO 200
1/ 650
F/ XXX
(1458 k)
ISO 400
1/ 800
F/ XXX
(1489 k)

 
Low-Light Tests

Good performance with low noise and good color.

The C-3020's maximum shutter time of 16 seconds results in good low-light shooting capabilities, though I again noticed high contrast and a slight color cast at the lower light levels. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) when shooting at ISO 200 and 400, and as low as 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) when shooting at ISO 100. (Average city street lighting at night is about one foot-candle, or 11 lux.) The camera's white balance system had some trouble with the low lighting, and produced a magenta cast at the lower light levels. The C-3020's Noise Reduction mode did a great job of reducing image noise, though I still noticed a few "hot pixels" in the very longest exposures. (The amount of noise reduction achieved is pretty remarkable though: I also shot sample images without Noise Reduction at the 1/16 foot-candle light level, at the ISO 100 (1437 k), 200 (1671 k), and 400 (1781 k) settings so you could see the difference. - The animated GIF at right shows the effect with and without the noise reduction at ISO 400, and the darkest level I shot at. Pretty slick.) The table below shows the best exposure I was 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.

1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
(No NR)
ISO 100 Click to see C32LL103.JPG
1,147.7 KB
1.6
F2.8
Click to see C32LL104.JPG
1,161.7 KB
5
F2.8
Click to see C32LL105.JPG
1,086.5 KB
10
F2.8
Click to see C32LL106.JPG
1,108.3 KB
16
F2.8
Click to see C32LL107.JPG
1,473.2 KB
16
F2.8
Click to see C32LL107MNR.JPG
1,437.4 KB
16
F2.8
ISO 200 Click to see C32LL203.JPG
1,465.3 KB
1/ 1
F2.8
Click to see C32LL204.JPG
1,488.8 KB
2.5
F2.8
Click to see C32LL205.JPG
1,373.8 KB
5
F2.8
Click to see C32LL206.JPG
1,509.1 KB
10
F2.8
Click to see C32LL207.JPG
1,545.3 KB
16
F2.8
Click to see C32LL207MNR.JPG
1,671.0 KB
16
F2.8
ISO 400 Click to see C32LL403.JPG
1,578.2 KB
1/ 2
F2.8
Click to see C32LL404.JPG
1,489.4 KB
1.3
F2.8
Click to see C32LL405.JPG
1,780.7 KB
2.5
F2.8
Click to see C32LL406.JPG
1,503.1 KB
5
F2.8
Click to see C32LL407.JPG
1,503.8 KB
8
F2.8
Click to see C32LL407MNR.JPG
1,780.9 KB
8
F2.8

 
Flash Range Test

Good flash intensity even as far as 14 feet.

In my testing, I found the C-3020's flash effective all the way out to 14 feet from the test target. Although the images dimmed slightly from about10 feet on, intensity was still quite good at 14 feet. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see C32FL08.JPG
1,167.6 KB
1/ 100
F2.8
Click to see C32FL09.JPG
1,045.6 KB
1/ 100
F2.8
Click to see C32FL10.JPG
1,539.7 KB
1/ 100
F2.8
Click to see C32FL11.JPG
1,548.9 KB
1/ 100
F2.8
Click to see C32FL12.JPG
1,470.3 KB
1/ 100
F2.8
Click to see C32FL13.JPG
1,433.0 KB
1/ 100
F2.8
Click to see C32FL14.JPG
1,350.2 KB
1/ 100
F2.8

 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1368 k)

Good performance, with strong detail to 1,100 lines/picture height.

The C-3020 performed well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing (slight) artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as high as 600 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally, but I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,250 lines.

Optical distortion on the C-3020 is low at the wide-angle end, where I measured only about 0.6 percent barrel distortion. (Most digicams I test with 3x zooms come out in at around 0.8% barrel.) The telephoto end showed about 0.3 percent pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is fairly low, showing about one or two pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Giant / Uncompressed
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(9,231 k)
Giant / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5
(1698 k)
Giant / Normal
1/ 650
F/ 5
(672 k)

Large / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(1086 k)
Large / Normal
1/ 650
F/ 5
(672 k)

Medium / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(632 k)
Medium / Normal
1/ 650
F/ 5
(672 k)

Small / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(457 k)
Small / Normal
1/ 650
F/ 5
(672 k)

Tiny / Fine
1/ 650
F/ 5.6
(181 k)
Tiny / Normal
1/ 650
F/ 5
(672 k)

Resolution Series, Telephoto
Large / Fine
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1351 k)

Sharpness Series, Wide Angle
Sharpness 0
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1369 k)
Sharpness 5
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1322 k)
Sharpness 10
1/ 400
F/ 2.8
(1563 k)

 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

An overly tight optical viewfinder, but very accurate LCD monitor.

The C-3020's optical viewfinder proved to be quite tight, showing only 78 percent frame accuracy at wide-angle, and about 79 percent accuracy at telephoto. The LCD monitor produced much better results, showing approximately 98 percent of the frame at both wide angle and telephoto. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-3020 does an excellent job in this respect. Flash distribution shows fairly strong falloff in the corners at wide angle, but is quite even at telephoto focal lengths.

 


Wide Angle - Optical
1/ 200
F/ 2.8
(1573 k)

Telephoto - Optical
1/ 200
F/ 2.8
(1449 k)

Wide Angle - LCD
1/ 200
F/ 2.8
(1543 k)

Telephoto - LCD
1/ 200
F/ 2.8
(1405 k)

 

Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Olympus C-3020 Zoom!



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

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