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Olympus C-3040 Zoom

Olympus updates its top-of-the-line 3-megapixel model with a "faster" lens and increased movie capabilities.

Review First Posted: 4/14/2001



Click to Buy Now at EPC-Online!

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MSRP $799 US

 

*
3.3-megapixel sensor, delivering 2,048 x 1,536-pixel images
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Fast (f/1.8-f/2.6) 3x optical zoom lens
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Improved user interface
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Excellent image quality and low-light capability


Manufacturer Overview
Over the past several years, Olympus has been a dominant player in the digicam marketplace. It boasts one of the broadest digital camera lineups in the industry, with numerous models ranging from pure entry-level, point-and-shoot digicams to the incredible "near-professional" E-10 SLR. With the Camedia C-3040 Zoom, Olympus updated its former top-of-the-line 3-megapixel design, the Camedia C-3030, incorporating some user interface enhancements and a new, very "fast" lens (f/1.8 at wide angle). Changes to the camera's electronics also provide improved color rendition and better low-light performance.

The C-3040 represents the second generation of the C-3000 design -- continuing a line that began two years ago with the original C-2000. (Really, it's a third generation design, if you trace it's roots to the original C-2000.) The Olympus design experience is evident in this advanced Camedia model, which has many strengths and very few weaknesses. The C-3040 is designed to compete strongly at the top of the current "prosumer" digicam world, with excellent design, great exposure capability, good image quality, and excellent low-light performance. Overall, the C-3040 is a very strong entrant in the 3-megapixel digicam market.


High Points



Executive Overview
The Olympus C-3040 Zoom is an excellent update of the Camedia C-3030 Zoom, originally introduced in February 2000. One year later, the C-3040 offers a newly designed super-bright 7.1-21.3mm f/1.8 3x zoom lens for better low-light capabilities, a multi-spot metering mode that averages eight user-selectable spot readings, and a one-touch white balance function, with a plus or minus three-step white balance correction function. The C-3040 looks essentially the same as its predecessor, with the same compact SLR-style design, and a classic all-black body, with textured, non-slip surfaces on the back panel and right hand grip. The C-3040 Zoom also features a spot autofocus function, contrast and sharpness adjustment settings, and extended (up to five minutes) QuickTime movies with simultaneous sound recording capabilities. Best of all, the C-3040 Zoom retains its very compact body size, measuring 4.3 x 3.0 x 2.7 inches (109.5 x 76.4 x 69.6mm), and weighing only 10.8 ounces (307 grams) without batteries.

The C-3040 Zoom features both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.8-inch, wide view color TFT LCD monitor, with 114,000-pixels. When the LCD monitor is engaged, it automatically displays detailed exposure information, with the current exposure mode, f/stop setting, shutter speed, and exposure compensation listed across the top of the monitor (a nice feature not found on all digicams) and the number of images available in the current resolution setting (displayed briefly when the monitor is turned on), at the bottom of the monitor. The C-3040 also provides a very helpful distance display when using the Manual Focus option, as well as a Digital Zoom bar (activated when Digital Zoom is on) that shows the camera's 3x optical zoom in operation, and the Digital Zoom progress, when you zoom past the optical telephoto limit.

The 7.1-21.3mm 3x zoom aspherical glass lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a very fast f/1.8-f/2.6 (wide angle to telephoto) maximum aperture. In addition to the C-3040's 3x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to an additional 5x with the Digital Zoom, depending on the image resolution size. (Users should be aware that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom, since the digital zoom is merely cropping and enlarging the center portion of the CCD. As a result, digitally enlarged images often result in higher image noise and/or softer resolution.)

The C-3040's default image resolution is 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, but lower resolutions of 1,600 x 1,200, 1,280 x 960, 1,024 x 768, and 640 x 480 pixels are also available. Image quality options include two JPEG compression ratios, plus an uncompressed TIFF mode that produces full-resolution images.

The C-3040 Zoom offers a great deal of exposure control, including Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Speed Priority (S), and Manual (M) exposure modes. Program mode controls both aperture and shutter speed, with exposure times as long as one second. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you control over aperture or shutter speed, while the camera chooses the best corresponding settings. When used in A or S modes, apertures range from f/1.8 to f/10.0 and shutter speeds from 1/800 to four seconds. The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but with shutter speeds as long as 16 seconds.

The C-3040 provides four ISO options (Auto, 100, 200, and 400 in all modes), automatic exposure bracketing, Digital ESP and Spot metering modes, Single and Multi-Spot Metering AE Lock modes, plus exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance can be set to Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent, or Quick Reference (manual adjustment) to accommodate a variety of lighting conditions, and a white balance color adjustment function enables you to adjust red and blue color shifts in the image.

Image contrast and sharpness adjustments are available through the Mode Setup menu, and a Function menu option allows you to capture images in black and white or sepia tone (with additional White Board and Black Board settings for capturing text). An adjustable Automatic Exposure Lock (AEL) function locks an exposure reading, without having to hold down the shutter button halfway while you reframe the image. AEL must be activated through the Capture menu, and can be based on a single exposure reading or up to eight averaged spot readings for more accurate exposures. There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and an infrared (IR) remote controller with a three-second shutter delay.

The C-3040 Zoom's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with or without sound, for as long as the SmartMedia card has available memory space, in either SQ (160 x 120 pixels) or HQ (320 x 240 pixels) modes. Four-second sound clips can be recorded to accompany still images, either with image capture, or later during image playback. A Sequence mode is available for capturing multiple images at up to 3.3 frames per second, and a Panorama mode allows you to take up to 10 formatted shots for merging with Camedia's Panorama Stitch software in the computer.

The camera's internal flash offers four operating modes (Flash Off, Auto-Flash, Forced Flash, and Red-Eye Reduction), with flash power extending to approximately 18.4 feet (5.6 meters) in wide-angle mode and to about 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) in telephoto mode. Any of these modes can be combined with the Slow Sync option to increase ambient light exposure. A proprietary sync socket allows you to connect an external flash unit when additional flash power is needed. You also can increase or decrease the internal flash power from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments through the Record menu.

The Olympus C-3040 Zoom ships with a 16MB SmartMedia memory card for image storage (larger capacity cards are available separately). You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and if you want a larger viewfinder (or image playback) display, Olympus has provided a video output cable for connection to a television set (which works nicely with the remote control). Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master 2.5 utility package, which provides minor organization and editing tools, in addition to a panorama "stitching" application. Apple QuickTime and USB drivers for Macintosh and Windows are also supplied.

We were already pleased with the original Camedia C-2000 and C-3000 digicams, as well as the C-2020 and C-3030 updates (we use the C-2020 Zoom for our own product shots on the website), now we've fallen in love the new and improved C-2040 and C-3040 versions. The C-3040 prosumer model, with its 3.34-megapixel CCD chip, provides exceptional creative control and a straightforward user interface. Combine this with first-rate image quality, and you have what we think will be another extremely popular digicam in the Camedia line.


Design
The Olympus C-3040 Zoom looks very much like its 2.11-megapixel counterpart, the C-2040 Zoom, with the same compact SLR shape and style, identical size (4.3 x 3.0 x 2.7 inches), and slightly lighter weight (10.8 ounces / 307 grams). The only apparent difference in body design is the all-black color of the C-3040 Zoom, instead of the two-toned black and champaign color scheme that distinguishes the C-2040 Zoom. The external control layout is the same, as are the lens and other external features.

The C-3040 Zoom looks and feels very much like a small film-based SLR camera, substantial enough for a good hold (due to a large right hand grip), but small enough to slide into a large purse or coat pocket when you're done shooting. A comfortably wide neck strap is provided for those times when you want the C-3040 to be out and ready to shoot on a moment's notice.

The telescoping lens extends approximately 1.75 inches beyond the front of the camera body when powered on in either Still Shooting (Record) or Movie capture modes. When fully retracted, the 0.75-inch (20mm) lens barrel projects only about 0.25 inch (10mm) beyond the depth of the hand grip. The lens is protected by a spring-lock, removable plastic lens cap that can be attached to the camera with the supplied tether strap.

The large black hand grip, which houses both the battery and SmartMedia compartments, is sculpted to fit comfortably in your hand, with a recessed finger hold on the front and a stubbled plastic thumb grip on the back.



From the front of the camera, the edge of the zoom lever (upper left corner) is visible, as well as the flash, self-timer alert light, viewfinder window, and IR sensor window (used for the IR remote control). The inside lip of the exterior lens barrel has a set of 41mm filter threads that accepts a lens adapter tube for attaching auxiliary lenses to the camera.



The camera's back panel layout is logically designed, with all of the control buttons positioned above or to the right of the 1.8-inch LCD color monitor. The four-way Arrow Pad, which serves multiple functions, is above the upper right corner of the display. Next to it on the left are the Flash / Erase and Spot / Macro buttons, with the latter having an additional DPOF print feature. Under the Arrow pad are the OK / Protect button, which also serves as an automatic exposure lock (AEL), plus the Monitor and Menu buttons, which control information on the camera's LCD. The optical viewfinder, in the upper left corner of the camera, zooms in and out with the lens, and has a set of LED lamps to report the camera's status.



The SmartMedia compartment, covered by a hinged plastic door, opens on the right side, with a third LED lamp to indicate card status. Right above the SmartMedia compartment door is one of two neck strap eyelets, with the second one counterbalancing it on the left side of the camera.



Adjacent to the left side eyelet is the cable connector cover, a second hinged plastic door that covers the DC-In, Video Out, and USB connector ports. A five-pin external flash sync connector is set in the lower left corner of the side panel, concealed by a small (and easily lost!) black plastic cover. Diagonally from that is a diopter adjustment control for the optical viewfinder.



The top of the camera is virtually clutter-free, with only the Shutter button (surrounded by the Zoom Lever), a Mode dial, and a small LED display panel, which indicates the status of nearly all of the camera functions.



The bottom of the camera holds the battery compartment cover and a plastic screw-mount tripod socket, which is just a little too close to the battery compartment to make battery changes easy when mounted on a tripod. One way around this is to use the optional AC adapter, which we always recommend for time-consuming projects, such as working in the studio or downloading images to the computer.

The infrared remote control included with the camera allows you to trip the shutter, control optical zoom, and scroll through captured images remotely. We've always enjoyed this feature, as it comes in quite handy in the studio.


Viewfinder
The C-3040 Zoom offers both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.8-inch, wide view, 114,000 pixel, TFT color LCD screen. The optical viewfinder accommodates eyeglass wearers with a diopter correction adjustment and a comfortably high eyepoint, leaving a reasonable amount of room between your eye and the finder for an eyeglass lens to fit. Although the optical viewfinder zooms along with the lens, it does not show the operation of the digital zoom, which can only be enabled when the LCD monitor is on. A central autofocus target helps to center your subjects, and two LED indicators (one orange and one green) are adjacent to the viewfinder window, indicating camera status with either glowing or blinking lights. If the green LED is blinking, the camera is reporting trouble with either the SmartMedia card or the autofocus. A solid green LED indicates that focus is set and the camera is ready to snap the picture. A flashing orange LED means that the flash is still charging, while a solid orange LED shows that the flash is fully charged and ready to fire.

The C-3040 Zoom's LCD monitor provides detailed information on a number of exposure settings, including the currently selected f/stop, shutter speed, and exposure compensation adjustments across the top of the screen. In Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, the chosen aperture or shutter speed appears as a constant, while the second, automatically determined exposure value changes whenever the shutter button is half pressed (based on exposure compensation and changing light levels). The Manual mode displays both the selected f/stop and shutter speed values (adjustable with the left/right and up/down Arrow buttons, respectively), while the exposure compensation value is reported in the upper right corner, and glows red when the setting is over- or underexposed. In Manual Focus mode, a distance display scale appears on the LCD monitor, which helps to adjust focus in low-light situations.

In our testing, we found the optical viewfinder to be a little tight, showing only about 84.1 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 84.5 percent at telephoto (for the 2,048 x 1,536-, 1,280 x 960-, and 640 x 480-pixel image sizes). We also noticed that the optical viewfinder framing resulted in an image shift to the top of the frame. The LCD monitor fared much better, however, showing approximately 96.7 percent accuracy at wide angle, and about 97.3 percent at telephoto (also for the 2,048 x 1,536-, 1,280 x 960-, and 640 x 480-pixel image sizes). Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-3040 Zoom does an excellent job in this category.

When using the LCD monitor to review captured images, you can zoom in on displayed images up to 3x, and then scroll around the enlarged image using the Arrow buttons. This is extremely handy for checking focus, small details, or precise framing. There's also an Index display option, which shows either four, nine, or 16 thumbnail images at a time. A very handy "Quick View" function lets you check the last picture taken in Record mode by pressing the Display button twice in quick succession. The image will remain displayed on the LCD monitor until you revert back to Record mode by pressing the Display button again.


Optics
The Olympus C-3040 Zoom provides an all-glass, aspheric lens design, with 10 elements in seven groups. The 3x, 7.1-21.3mm lens provides a focal range equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm film SLR. We were very pleased by the speed of the lens (measured by its maximum apertures), which was an impressive f/1.8 at the wide angle setting, and f/2.6 at telephoto. This doubtless contributed to the excellent low-light performance we experienced with the C-3040.

Focusing distances range from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in Normal mode, and 7.9 to 31.5 inches (0.2 to 0.8 meters) in Macro mode. The macro focusing produces a minimum capture area of 3.21 x 2.41 inches (81.5 x 61.1 mm), about average among top-end digital cameras we've tested. Autofocus is determined through the lens, using a contrast detection method. This means that the autofocus will work properly with auxiliary lenses. The green LED next to the optical viewfinder glows solid as soon as the subject is in focus (flashing means there's a problem focusing and you may need to switch to Manual Focus or Macro mode).

The C-3040 Zoom's Manual Focus mode is activated through the Still Shooting and Movie (Record) menus. Once selected, a distance scale readout pops up on the LCD monitor to help you gauge focus in difficult focusing situations. The distance readout is especially helpful when shooting in Macro mode, which can often be a little tricky to focus. Though the C-3040 doesn't feature an automatic focus lock, you can manually lock it by centering the target portion of the subject in the frame, pressing the shutter button halfway, and then recomposing the image while continuing to hold the shutter button halfway.

You can opt to keep the camera in continuous focus by activating the Full-Time AF mode in the Record menu. Full-Time AF means that the autofocus is constantly engaged as you move the camera from subject to subject, instead of waiting for the shutter button to be depressed halfway. This is useful for action photography like fast-paced sports or children playing, but it is an additional drain on the battery because the focusing mechanism is constantly at work. You can also designate whether the camera determines focus from the center of the image or the entire image area, by choosing the appropriate AF Mode option in the Record menu.

The C-3040 Zoom's outer lens barrel incorporates 41mm filter accessory threads that couple to Olympus' lens adapter tube, the CLA-1. This optional adapter extends the threads outward (and increases their diameter to 43mm), so they are flush with the front of the lens when it's fully extended. It's important to note though, that this adapter is made to work with Olympus' own accessory lenses, all of which use an additional adapter ring to step up the threads to the diameter needed by the auxiliary lenses. The consequence of this is that the CLA-1 design requires another threaded adapter ring, because it doesn't extend far enough for 43mm filters to clear the lens barrel. The 43mm filters will interfere with proper lens operation, and could damage the lens mechanism itself! Therefore, if you buy a CLA-1 adapter unit, be sure to also buy a step-up ring to whatever filter size you use, just to give you the extra millimeter or two necessary for the lenses to clear the front of the lens barrel.

While the C-3040 Zoom's lens provides up to 3x optical zoom, the camera's Digital Zoom can increase that magnification to a maximum 15x (albeit with noticeable quality degradations in the resulting image). Digital zoom is activated through the Record menu and controlled by the Zoom Lever on top of the camera. The image resolution determines the amount of digital zoom available. For example, 2,048 x 1,536-pixel images can be enlarged digitally to 2.5x. The 1,600 x 1,200-pixel size can be enlarged up to 3.2x, while 1,280 x 960-pixel images can be enlarged to 4.0x. Finally, the 1,024 x 768 and 640 x 480-pixel resolutions offer a maximum 5x digital zoom. Note that the Digital Zoom must be turned on in the Record menu; it cannot be used with the uncompressed TIFF mode; and it is only accessible when the LCD monitor is engaged. When the LCD is turned off, the digital zoom returns to the 1x setting.

Unfortunately, one consequence of the unusually "fast" lens design is that optical distortion on the C-3040 is rather high at the wide-angle end, where we measured approximately 1.0 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, where we found approximately 0.2 percent pincushion distortion. Corner sharpness also suffers a bit at wide angle, and chromatic aberration is a little higher than average. All forms of distortion improve markedly toward the telephoto end of the lens' range. Center resolution is very high, easily extending to 800 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, and with strong detail visible all the way out to 1,000 lines on our resolution target.


Exposure
The C-3040 Zoom offers a good deal of exposure control, including, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes; four ISO settings (Auto, 100, 200 and 400); exposure compensation, and two metering modes: Spot and Digital ESP.

In Program mode, the camera selects both the aperture and shutter speed, while you control the remaining exposure options such as ISO, metering, exposure compensation, and white balance. Aperture Priority lets you set the aperture from f/1.8 to f/10.0 and the camera chooses the best corresponding shutter speed. In Shutter Priority, you can select shutter speeds from 1/800 to four seconds, and the camera selects the best corresponding aperture setting.

You control both aperture and shutter speed in Manual control, with the addition of much longer shutter speed times (as long as 16 seconds). A helpful feature of the Manual mode is that, as you scroll through the various selections, the camera indicates whether or not the setting will give you a correct exposure. It does this by showing the f/stop and shutter speed in green, and the exposure differential (the difference between your settings and what the camera meters as correct) in white when everything is OK. If it disagrees with your choice, the exposure differential shows the amount of under- or overexposure in red. The exposure differential is given in exposure equivalent (EV) values, within a range of +3 to -3 EV.

The more sensitive ISO settings (those with the higher numbers) are often useful for working in limited light conditions, but they can result in noisier images. In extremely low light, you can mix faster shutter speeds or larger lens openings with the higher ISOs to let in more light, or you can create slow shutter effects (like a motion blur) by using a lower ISO setting. (Note: When ISO is set to Auto in Program exposure mode, it automatically resets to 100 when you switch to Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual exposure modes.)

Two metering systems are available on the C-3040 Zoom: Spot and Digital ESP. Both are accessed through the Spot / Macro / Print button on the camera's back panel. Under the default Digital ESP setting, the camera takes an exposure reading from the center of the image as well as the surrounding area, and chooses the best averaged reading for the entire scene. Spot metering reads the exposure from the very center of the image, so you can pinpoint the specific area of the photograph you want properly exposed and lock in on that exposure by depressing the shutter button halfway and holding it down until you recompose the scene and fully depress the shutter button.

The Auto Exposure Lock (AEL) is activated through the Record menu. You can set it to lock a "Single" Digital ESP reading or "Multi" Spot meter readings. With the Multi setting, you select eight spot readings by centering the areas you want metered inside the viewfinder's center marks and pressing the AEL button for each reading. An exposure differential bar appears on the LCD panel, continually updating the average with each new reading. After the final reading, the camera determines the overall exposure value by averaging the readings, and locks it into place until you record the image. You can also set the camera to retain the Multi-Spot reading after the shot is taken, by pressing the left arrow button before taking the exposure (the word "Memo" appears in the LCD display). Note: Unless one of these two options is selected in Record menu, under the AE Lock submenu, the AEL button will not lock any exposure.

A Record View function can be enabled through the Record menu, under the Mode Setup submenu. Record View displays the most recently captured image on the LCD screen while the image is being recorded to the memory card. You can set the Record View to display the image only (On), or to display the image with a confirmation screen (Check), allowing you to delete the image instantly. This is a nice way to check your image and not waste time switching back and forth between Playback and Record modes. A separate Quick View function allows you to check the previously captured image by pressing the Monitor button twice. The image is displayed, with an option to delete it.

In situations where exposure compensation is necessary, simply press either the right or left Arrow buttons (in all exposure modes except Manual) and the EV value displayed on the LCD will increase or decrease in one-third-step increments, up to a total of +/- 2 EV. (The LCD viewfinder must be enabled to adjust this setting, but once it is set, you can turn the LCD off to conserve power, and the setting will remain in effect.) We applaud the accessibility of this important exposure adjustment in Olympus' user interface design. Some manufacturers bury this control in a menu interface, making it much less convenient. If exposure compensation is currently activated, a small +/- icon appears in the top status display panel, to let you know there's an adjustment in force.

You can use the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) function in the Record menu (Drive submenu) to automatically bracket an exposure as much as +/- 2 EV in either three- or five-step increments of 0.3, 0.6, or 1.0 EV units each. The auto bracketing will center its efforts around whatever exposure you've chosen as the starting point, including any exposure compensation adjustments you've made.

Through the Record menu, you can set White Balance to Auto, Quick Reference (Manual), or one of four Preset options: Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, or Fluorescent, to accommodate a variety of lighting situations. In Quick Reference mode, white balance is calculated by placing a white card in front of the lens and pressing the OK button. You can also fine tune the white balance setting with the "WB+/-" setting under the Mode Setup menu. An adjustment bar appears on the LCD screen, with options to increase or decrease the red or blue tones. (We really like this idea of fine-tuning the white balance. Most digicams tend to have slight biases in their white balance systems under various lighting conditions. Once you get used to how a particular camera shoots, it would be very helpful to have this sort of "tweaking" adjustment available to modify the white balance.)

The C-3040 Zoom also offers a 12-second Self-Timer (which can be used with the infrared remote) for self-portraits or those occasions when you don't want to risk camera shake by pressing the shutter button to make the exposure. You can also use the IR remote control to trigger the shutter without the Self-Timer, which gives you a three-second delay after pressing the remote's Shutter button, before the shutter is fired. The remote control works as far as 16.4 feet directly in front of the camera, or as far as 9.8 feet when at a 15-degree angle from the sensor window.

The Function menu option enables you to capture images in Black & White or Sepia modes, or to use the White and Black Board settings for capturing text on white or black backgrounds respectively. (These modes appear to adjust image contrast and default exposure levels to maximize contrast and force the background toward the appropriate tonal value.) The C-3040 Zoom also features sharpness and contrast adjustments.


Flash
The C-3040 Zoom has a fairly standard built-in flash unit, with four basic operating modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, and Flash Off modes. Flash power extends to approximately 18.4 feet (5.6 meters) in wide angle mode and to about 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) at the telephoto setting. Any of the flash modes may be combined with the Slow Sync mode to increase the ambient light exposure. The Slow Sync setting allows more ambient light into the background, producing more natural lighting behind a flash-illuminated subject. You can also produce shots which combine motion blur in the subject (from prolonged ambient light exposure) with the initial or final image frozen by the flash exposure. We say "initial or final," because the C-3040 supports both front curtain (Slow 1) and rear curtain (Slow 2) triggering in Slow Sync mode, firing the flash at either the beginning of the exposure or at the end. The rear curtain sync produces motion blur on moving objects that trail the sharp, flash-exposed image, rather than precede it.

A nice feature of the C-3040 Zoom's internal flash system is its +/- 2 EV exposure compensation adjustment. This gives great flexibility in using flash to illuminate your pictures, because you can use the built-in flash with an external unit, and adjust the balance of light between the two with the EV adjustment control.

A five-pin flash sync socket allows you to connect an external flash to the camera for more powerful flash needs. Olympus offers the FL-40 external flash as an accessory, which can be controlled through the camera in tandem with the internal flash. Both the internal and external flash units can be used together or separately. We have only one small, ergonomic gripe about the external flash (that we also had with the C-2040 Zoom). That is, the sync socket is protected by a tiny plastic cover that is very easy to lose. There's nothing attaching it permanently to the camera and it is very small and difficult to grasp.

Special Exposure Modes

Movie Mode
The C-3040 Movie mode is accessible via the Mode dial on top of the camera (marked with a small movie camera symbol). Movies may be recorded in either HQ (320 x 240-pixel) or SQ (160 x 120-pixel) resolution modes. Both record at approximately 15 frames per second. Sound recording can be turned On or Off via the Record menu. Thanks to the C-3040 Zoom's huge buffer memory, the maximum recording time is limited only by memory card capacity, apparently up to a 32MB limit. (The user's manual lists the maximum seconds of continuous recording time -- per movie -- as a function of card size, but just lists "Over 32MB" as the highest category, implying that larger cards convey no additional recording time. This makes sense, given that 32MB is the size of the RAM buffer memory the C-3040 Zoom carries onboard.) Here's a copy of the recording time table from the manual:


Recording Mode
Resolution
Memory Card Capacity in Seconds
2MB
4MB
8MB
16MB
Over 32MB
HQ
320x240
(15 frames/sec)
5
11
23
46
75
SQ
160x120
(15 frames/sec)
22
45
92
186
300


The available seconds of recording time appear in the status display panel (and in the LCD monitor if activated), based on the quality mode selected and space remaining on the card. You can use the zoom control while recording movies, but the motion of the zoom is somewhat slower than in still recording, and the zoom is apparently only a digital zoom. (Not an issue though, given the large difference between the CCD resolution and movie recording resolutions. This means that digital zoom in Movie mode has the same effect as optical zoom in normal still photography, in that no image degradation should be visible as a result of using the zoom.) Manual focus, Exposure Compensation, Focus Lock, Self-Timer, ISO setting, White Balance, and Picture Effects are also available while in Movie mode.

First seen in the Camedia C-3030 (February 2000), the C-3040 Zoom again offers in-camera "editing" of movies in Playback mode. This capability is accessed via the Playback menu, Function submenu, and Movie Edit option. In this mode (see screen shot above), you can scroll forward and backward in the movie, and set cut points at the beginning and end of the sequence. Movie content between the two cut points will be preserved, the rest discarded. In a nice touch though, Olympus allows you to choose whether to modify the original movie file, or just save a new copy of it, reflecting the effect of the edit you've made -- a feature that makes the Movie mode much more useful.

As of the writing of this review, we've only just begun performing controlled tests of individual cameras' movie modes, so the C-3040 is one of the first we've tested in this manner. While we don't have an extensive archive of test data to compare, we felt that the C-3040's movie audio was a bit muffled and indistinct compared to other cameras we tested. Image quality, however, appears good.

The only quibble we have with Olympus' implementation of the Movie mode on the C-3040 Zoom (and it's a significant one that we also had with the C-3030) is that you don't get to hear the movies you've recorded when playing them back on the camera. Adding sound recording is a big feature improvement over the C-2040 Zoom, but it would be nice to at least hear what you've recorded during playback. (The camera can output both video and sound to a TV or VCR via the included A/V cable, making that an effective playback mode if you have a TV handy. Still, it would be preferable to review the movie's soundtrack without resorting to external equipment.)

Audio Record Mode
The C-3040 Zoom's Audio Record mode records up to four seconds of sound to accompany an image. Activated through the Record menu, Audio Record mode works in conjunction with image capture. Once the image has been captured, sound recording begins approximately 0.5 seconds later. The green LED and sound icon blink, and a status bar appears on the LCD monitor. You can also record sound clips after an exposure, in Playback mode, by turning on the Audio Record mode.

Panorama Mode
The C-3040 Zoom offers a Panorama exposure mode when using an Olympus brand panorama-enabled SmartMedia memory card. In this mode, the exposure and white balance for a series of shots are determined by the first exposure. The Panorama function is accessed in the Record menu through the "card icon" located below the Sound function (not to be confused with the Card Reset function). When activated, it provides light blue guide lines at the edges of the pictures to help you align successive shots, leaving enough overlap between them for the stitching software to be able to do its job. Up to 10 shots can be taken in a panoramic series. Note that this function is only enabled by SmartMedia cards with built-in panorama-related firmware found on Olympus brand memory cards. Images are saved individually and then compiled on a computer after they've been downloaded.

Sequence Mode
Taking advantage of its large 32MB memory buffer, the C-3040 Zoom offers a Sequence mode that mimics the motor drive on a film camera, continually recording images for as long as the shutter button is held down. or until the memory runs out (this varies with the image quality and subject, as well as available SmartMedia space). The instruction manual states that the slowest available shutter speed is 1/30 second in Sequence mode, to prevent blurring from camera movement. It also notes that the mode is available with all compression settings except uncompressed TIFF. One notable limitation of the Sequence mode is that the camera's internal flash cannot be used. However, if you have an external flash capable of recycling at 3.3 frames per second, and you shoot in Aperture Priority mode, the external flash may work just fine. You can also set the camera to base all exposure and focus settings on the first shot taken, or to adjust the exposure and focus with each image (which decreases capture speed).

Olympus claims a burst speed of 3.3 frames per second for the C-3040's sequence mode, but we actually found it a little faster in our own testing, where we measured frame rates of 3.36 and 3.61 frames/second in highest and lowest resolution modes respectively. The 32MB buffer provides a five-frame burst length before the camera must pause for the next shot.


Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time is to allow the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it using Imaging Resource proprietary testing.

Olympus C-3040 Zoom Timings
Operation
Time (secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
7.2
About average for cameras with telescoping lenses.
Shutdown
4.4
About average
Play to Record, first shot
2.1
Time until first shot is captured, from "Instant Review" mode. A bit better than average.
Record to play (max/min res)
6.1-1.31/0.9
Longest time shown is for immediate switch to play after shutter release in highest res mode. Shorter times are for switch to play mode after image is saved to memory card.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.08
A bit slower than average, oddly, noticeably slower than the C-2040 Zoom.
Shutter lag, continuous autofocus
0.70
A bit faster than average for full autofocus.
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.51
About average
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.11
Quite a bit faster than average.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.285/1.835
Faster than average. Max res gives this speed for 10(!) shots, then about 5-8 seconds per shot. Min res lets you shoot this fast until the card is full.
Cycle time, continuous mode
0.298-0.277 sec
(3.36- 3.61 fps)
Very fast, bursts of 5 frames, high or low resolution.


Overall, the C-3040 Zoom is a pretty fast camera. Its autofocus speed is a bit below average, but this is more than compensated for by the shorter than average shutter lag in the Continuous Autofocus mode. (Autofocus speed overall seems to be considerably improved over that of the earlier C-3030 Zoom model.) Manual focus lag time is about average, but the shutter delay when you prefocus the camera (by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button prior to taking the shot) is much faster than average. Cycle times are faster than average, about the same as we found in the earlier C-3030 Zoom. Sequential Shooting mode is blazingly fast, and the camera can grab up to five frames at a time before having to pause to write the images to the memory card. (Curiously, it has to pause after five frames, even when you're in low-resolution mode. Low-resolution mode does let you grab additional three-frame bursts about every five seconds though, rather than dropping all the way down to one frame every five seconds, as in high-resolution continuous mode.)


Operation and User Interface
We liked the Camedia 3040 Zoom's user interface a great deal, as it hasn't changed much from the previous C-3030 and current C-2040 setups. (We generally prefer mode dial interfaces, as they simplify the menu structure and allow faster operation.) Although the Camedia's user interface relies heavily on the LCD monitor for menu selections and review of current settings, we were pleased to note that the top status readout also displays quite a few camera functions.

One of our favorite interface features is the display of current exposure information (also a feature of the C-2040). For film-based SLR camera users, the most annoying characteristic of digital cameras is their lack of exposure information during image capture. Most digicams (even some of the more sophisticated SLR designs) leave you completely in the dark about which shutter speed and aperture settings are being used. The C-3040 Zoom, however, displays the working aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation settings across the top of the LCD while it's in use. We also liked the Digital Zoom bar, which indicates when you're in optical or digital zoom, and the Manual focus bar that shows the focal distance in meters or feet (making it much easier to focus in low-light and other challenging shooting conditions).

One of the few quibbles we have with the C-3040 Zoom's interface design (which we also had with the C-2040 Zoom) is that some functions require a lot of button-pushing to access. To access all five resolutions, you have to go in and out of the Mode Setup submenu of the Record menu. Having the Flash, Macro, and Spot metering functions accessible from the camera's back panel is a great start, but we'd like to see even more of these button controls, or at least greater control via the top-panel LCD readout, rather than forcing you to use the larger LCD screen all the time.

Control Enumeration


Mode Dial: On top of the camera is the Mode Dial, which turns the camera On or Off, and selects the various camera operating modes: Playback, Off, Program, Aperture / Shutter Speed / Manual (A/S/M), and Movie modes. Program and A/S/M are the Still Shooting or Record modes.


Shutter Button: Located in the center of the Zoom Lever, the Shutter button sets focus and exposure settings when depressed halfway and triggers the shutter when fully depressed.


Zoom Lever: On top of the camera, in front of the Mode Dial, the Zoom Lever controls the optical zoom in all exposure modes, and the Digital Zoom when enabled through the Record menu. In Playback mode, the lever switches between Index view, normal image display, and playback zoom.


Flash / Erase Button: Located on the top, central portion of the camera's back panel, this button controls the Flash mode in all exposure modes. Pressing it cycles through Auto-Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, and Flash Off modes. In Playback mode, this button pulls up the Erase menu, which allows you to erase the currently displayed image.


Spot / Macro / Print Button: Directly beneath the Flash / Erase button on the back panel is the Spot / Macro / Print button. In all Record modes, this button cycles between normal metering (Digital ESP), Spot metering, Macro (Closeup) focus mode, and Macro with Spot Metering modes. In Playback mode, this button pulls up the Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) print settings menu, which allows you to tag the current image, or all of the images on the card, for printing. Once the image is selected, you can set the number of copies, whether or not to print the date and time stamp on the photo, and print a cropped area of the image.


Four-Way Arrow Pad: The largest button on the back panel, the Arrow Pad controls many of the camera's operations. In all capture modes except Manual, the left and right Arrow buttons increase or decrease the exposure compensation setting (provided the LCD monitor is active). In Aperture or Shutter Priority exposure modes, the up and down Arrow buttons adjust the lens aperture or shutter speed settings, depending on which mode you've selected. In Manual mode, the up and down Arrows control shutter speed, while the left and right Arrows control aperture.

In Playback mode, the left and right Arrows move forward or backward through the pictures stored on the card, or scroll around portions of the expanded image in Zoom Playback mode.

In the LCD menu system, the Arrow buttons navigate through menu screens and select settings.



OK / AEL / Protect Button: Located on the camera's back panel, on the right side of the LCD monitor, this button confirms selected menu settings in the LCD menu screens. If pressed when the Single or Multi AEL function is activated through the Record menu, this button locks the exposure until you press the Shutter button. In Playback mode, it write-protects individual images against accidental erasure (except from card formatting).


Display Button: Just to the right of the LCD monitor, encircled by a raised plastic lip, this button turns the LCD monitor on or off. If pressed twice in quick succession, it displays the Quick View function, which calls up the previously captured image on the screen. A third press returns the LCD to its normal display.


Menu Button: Directly beneath the Display button, this button activates the menu system on the rear panel LCD monitor. If the LCD monitor is turned on when you press the Display button, it will call up the menu options and display them over the image. If the LCD monitor is off when you press Display, it brings up the camera's menu system with no viewfinder image.


Diopter Adjustment Dial: Located on the left side of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, this dial adjusts the optical viewfinder to accommodate eyeglass wearers.

Camera Modes and Menus

Movie Mode: Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera symbol, Movie mode allows you to capture movies with or without sound for as long as the SmartMedia card allows. Shutter speed is automatically set from 1/10,000 to 1/30 second, depending on light levels.

Aperture Priority: Allows the user to select the desired lens aperture (in varying increments, from f/1.8 to f/10), while the camera adjusts the shutter speed to achieve the correct exposure. If the required shutter speed is beyond the camera's capabilities, the shutter speed / aperture status numbers in the LCD will flash red.

Shutter Priority: Allows the user to select the desired shutter speed (in varying increments, from 1/800 to four seconds), while the camera adjusts the aperture to achieve the correct exposure. If the required aperture is beyond the camera's capabilities, the shutter speed / aperture status numbers in the LCD will flash red.

Manual Mode: Allows the user to select both the desired aperture (f/1.8 to f/10) and shutter speed (1/800 to 16 seconds) settings. If the settings are beyond the camera's capabilities or would not produce the correct exposure, the settings displayed on the LCD screen turn red instead of green, and the amount of over- or underexposure is reported from -3 to +3 EV.

Programmed Exposure: The camera selects both shutter speed and lens aperture, based on existing light conditions and certain camera functions. For example, it uses a faster shutter speed when the lens is in the telephoto position and a slower shutter speed when the lens is in the wide-angle position.

Playback Mode: This mode allows the user to view previously captured images using the Arrow Pad to scroll through frames stored in memory. The Zoom Lever switches the image display to Index mode when moved in the wide angle direction, and enlarges a single image when moved in the telephoto direction, by zooming in to a maximum of 3x magnification. While zoomed in on an image, the Arrow button can be used to move the enlarged view around the full image area, allowing you to inspect all parts of it.

Still Picture Shooting Menu



Mode Setup: Calls up the following submenus:



Movie Menu



Still Image Playback Menu



Movie Playback Menu
(Not shown)



Image Storage and Interface
The C-3040 Zoom uses 3V (3.3V) SmartMedia memory cards and comes equipped with a 16MB card. Currently, you can upgrade to card sizes as large as 128MB.

The C-3040 Zoom can store images in both uncompressed TIFF and compressed JPEG file formats. The TIFF setting can be assigned to any one of five resolutions through the camera's Mode Setup menu. JPEG compression levels include Super High Quality (SHQ), High Quality (HQ), and Standard Quality (SQ). Both SHQ and HQ settings record files at the 2,048 x 1,536 pixel size, while the SQ compression level has a few options. SQ1 records files at either 1,600 x 1,200 or 1,280 x 960 pixel sizes, and SQ2 records files at either 1,024 x 768 or 640 x 480 pixel sizes. Both SQ1 and SQ2 feature High and Normal quality options as well, and size and quality are both adjustable through the Mode Setup menu.

We appreciated the C-3040 Zoom's file naming protocol, which includes the month and day at the beginning of the file name, and provides the option of numbering images progressively from one card to the next, or of resetting the naming sequence for each card. The Camedia allows you to write-protect individual images from accidental erasure through the Playback menu. Entire SmartMedia cards can be write-protected by placing a write-protection sticker over a specified spot on the card. While individually protected images can still be erased by a card format operation, cards that are write-protected with a sticker are also protected against card formatting. Write-protect stickers can only be used once and must be clean to be effective.

The table below summarizes the compression ratios and number of images which can be stored on the included 16MB memory card with each size/quality combination.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
TIFF
Fine
Normal
Super High Resolution Images 1 6
20
Approx.
Compression
1:1 2.7:1
8:1
High Resolution Images
2
11
31
Approx.
Compression
1:1
2.7:1
8:1
Standard Resolution
Images
4
17
49
Approx.
Compression
1:1
2.7:1
8:1
Low Resolution
Images
6
26
76
Approx.
Compression
1:1
2.7:1
8:1
Very Low Resolution
Images
16
66
165
Approx.
Compression
1:1
2.7:1
8:1


The following table shows the maximum seconds of movie recording time (with sound) for various sized memory cards. These measurements represent the amount of time that can be recorded by depressing the shutter button one time and shooting continuously. The remaining available shooting time on the card will be displayed on the LCD monitor or LED control panel following the recording:

Recording Mode
Resolution
Memory Card Capacity in Seconds
2MB
4MB
8MB
16MB
Over 32MB
HQ
320x240
(15 frames/sec)
5
11
23
46
75
SQ
160x120
(15 frames/sec)
22
46
93
186
300


The C-3040 Zoom comes with interface software and cables for both Macintosh and Windows computers. It employs a USB interface for high-speed computer connection. Like all of Olympus' most recent digicams, the C-3040 is a USB "storage class" device. This means it can connect directly to Mac OS Version 9.1 or later, or Windows Me or 2000 computers, without separate driver software. Storage-class connections are also generally faster than device-class ones. We clocked the C-3040 at a transfer rate of 523.9 KBytes/second on our G4 Mac. This is quite a bit faster than the average USB-connected camera and comfortably at the top of the field for transfer speed. (We loved not having to load special driver software!)

One of the first things any new digicam owner will need is a larger memory card for their camera: The cards shipped with the units by the manufacturers should really be considered only "starter" cards, you'll definitely want a higher capacity card immediately. - Probably at least a 32 megabyte card for a 1.3 or 2 megapixel camera, 64 megabytes or more for a 3, 4, or 5 megapixel one. (The nice thing about memory cards is you'll be able to use whatever you buy now with your next camera too, whenever you upgrade.) To help you shop for a good deal on memory cards that fit the C-3040, we've put together a little memory locater, with links to our price-comparison engine: Just click on the "Memory Wizard" button above to go to the Olympus memory finder, select your camera model , and click the shopping cart icon next to the card size you're interested in. You'll see a list of matching entries from the price-comparison database. Pick a vendor & order away! (Pretty cool, huh?)

Video Out

The C-3040 Zoom has a Video Out port that supports the NTSC timing format. (We assume that PAL systems are available for European customers.) The video output can be used for reviewing previously captured images and movies, or running slide shows from the camera. It also shows all of the LCD menu screens, as well as the preview display from the LCD viewfinder. Combined with the supplied infrared remote control device, the C-3040 Zoom's video capabilities make the camera a unique presentation device.


Power

The C-3040 Zoom is powered by two CR-V3 lithium battery packs, four AA batteries (alkaline, lithium, NiMH, or NiCd), or by an optional AC adapter that can significantly extend battery life if you're doing a lot of downloads on the computer or working in a studio environment.

Operating Mode
Power Drain
Capture Mode, w/LCD
540 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
~0 mA
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
540 mA
Half-pressed w/o LCD
310 mA
Continuous Autofocus, LCD on
~680 mA
Memory Write (transient)
520/310 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
1060 mA
Image Playback
370 mA


Like other Olympus cameras we've tested, the C-3040 Zoom is fairly conservative in its use of battery power. You should be able to get at least two hours of continuous operating time out of a freshly charged set of high-capacity NiMH AA cells, even in the worst-case operating mode with both the LCD and continuous autofocus enabled. The biggest news with Olympus cameras though, is that they consume almost no power when the LCD is turned off and they're waiting for the next picture. This strikes us as a great feature, since it means you can comfortably leave the camera turned on and ready to go all day long, without worrying about draining the batteries. Being able to snap a photo in less than two seconds, rather than 7 or 8 seconds (as required when starting up from a power-off condition) could mean the difference between getting that once-in-a-lifetime vacation shot or not.

About Batteries
We've gotten so many emails about power issues for digicams, that we're now inserting this standard notice in the reviews of all AA-powered cameras on our site: Don't even *think* about using alkaline AA batteries in a digicam! Despite their being packed in the box with many cameras, they simply don't have the juice to handle typical digicam demands. (Even the "high power" ones the battery manufacturers say are designed for devices like digital cameras.) Spend the $35-40 or so it takes to get a set (or two) of high-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good charger! The few dollars up front will save you literally hundreds of dollars in the long run, not to mention the hassle of wimpy batteries running out in the middle of the action. We suggest you buy two sets of batteries, so one can always be in the charger, ready to go, and so have two sets available for longer excursions. Good brands of batteries include Maha (our favorite), GP, Kodak, and Nexcell. Also, buy the highest capacity AAs the manufacturer makes, the few extra dollars for the extra capacity is usually well worth it. Getting a good charger is critical though, almost more so than buying good batteries. We recommend the Maha C-204F (see the photo at right), the charger we use the most in our own studio. - Read our review of it for all the details. Or, just click here to buy one, you won't regret it.


Included Software

Learn what the manual left out -
How to *use* your camera.

Camera manuals are (sometimes) fine for knowing which button does what, but where do you go to learn how and when to use the various features? Dennis Curtin's "Shortcourses" books and CDs are the answer. (Cheap for what you get, too.) Order the Shortcourses manual for the camera reviewed in this article.

The C-3040 Zoom comes with a nice complement of software on the supplied CD. Direct camera control and image downloading are provided by Olympus' Camedia Master software package (Version 2.5) for both Mac and Windows platforms (Macintosh OS 8.6 and higher, Windows 98v2/Me/200 Pro). USB drivers for both platforms and an Apple QuickTime reader are also included.

Camedia Master allows you to download and organize images, as well as perform minor image correction and enhancement functions (such as adjusting contrast, sharpness, and color balance). For panoramic images, Camedia Master supplies a "stitching" utility to piece together shots vertically or horizontally. A complete printing utility works with the DPOF settings and allows you to print images directly to Olympus or other DPOF-compliant photo printers.


In the Box

The following items are included in the box:



Test Results
In keeping with our standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the C-3040 Zoom's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how C-3040 images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

Overall, the C-3040 Zoom performed very well, particularly in the areas of image quality and creative control. Colors were bright, accurate, and reasonably well-saturated, and detail was excellent. The C-3040 Zoom's white balance system handled our testing well, with the manual adjustment typically providing the best results (especially with our difficult Indoor Portrait with incandescent lighting). In many cases, we noticed that none of the white balance settings appeared dead-on accurate, but overall, the manual adjustment seemed to result in better color balance. The difficult red / magenta separation is very good, though the camera has some trouble with the awkward blues of our model's pants and the blue flowers in our outdoor test shot, showing a tendency to darken the tones into violet (a common failing among many cameras we've tested). Skin tones seemed good though, and the vibrant red flower of the model's bouquet appeared to stay in check, preserving image detail.

The C-3040 performed quite well in our resolution test. Center resolution was very high, easily extending to 800 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, and strong detail was visible all the way out to 1,000 lines on our resolution target. Unfortunately, one consequence of the unusually "fast" lens design is that optical distortion on the C-3040 was rather high at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate1.0 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, where we observed approximately 0.2 percent pincushion distortion. Corner sharpness also suffered a bit at the wide angle end, and chromatic aberration was a bit higher than average. All forms of distortion improved markedly toward the telephoto end of the lens' range.

The C-3040 Zoom's optical viewfinder was a little tight, showing approximately 84.1 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 84.5 percent at the telephoto setting (for the 2,048 x 1,536, 1,280 x 960, and 640 x 480 image sizes). We also noticed that the final image shifted toward the top of the frame, with extra space on the remaining three sides. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 96.7 percent accuracy at wide angle, and about 97.3 percent at telephoto (also for the 2,048 x 1,536, 1,280 x 960, and 640 x 480 image sizes). Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-3040 Zoom performed exceptionally well in this area.

The C-3040 Zoom also did very well in the low-light category, as we were able to obtain bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux), at all three ISO settings. We did notice that images captured from 1/8 to 1/2 foot-candle (1.3 to 5.5 lux) appeared slightly dimmer than at the 1/16 foot-candle setting, but images were still bright and clear with good detail visible. Image noise was moderate with the 100 and 200 ISO settings, increasing slightly with the 400 ISO setting. However, the noise pattern was pretty stark at all three ISO settings, with bright pink and green speckles throughout the image. (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-3040 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, so the camera should easily handle much darker situations.

The C-3040 did a pretty good job in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.21 x 2.41 inches (81.5 x 61.1 mm), which is about average among other digicams we've tested. The outer lens barrel has 41mm filter accessory threads that can be used in conjunction with Olympus' CLA-1 filter adapter (which converts these to 43mm threads out in front of the lens itself), permitting the addition of external macro lenses for even tighter focusing. Resolution, detail, and color all looked good, and both the brooch and dollar bill were well-focused. (We did see just the slightest softness on the bill, due to the shallow depth of field when shooting this close.) The C-3040's flash also did a pretty good job of throttling down for macro images, better than most in that respect. Overall, a good macro performance.

Olympus has built upon the strengths of the C-3040 Zoom's predecessor, the C-3030 Zoom, combining great creative and exposure control with a new, faster lens. We were very pleased with the C-3040 Zoom's performance throughout our testing.


Conclusion
With the C-3040 Zoom, Olympus has improved even further on the already excellent C-3030 Zoom model, with minor interface improvements and a noticeably faster lens design. The new lens is a great benefit for sports or low-light shooting, and the wider maximum aperture makes selective focus more practical in many situations. The faster lens did lose some corner sharpness and introduced slightly higher optical distortion at the wide-angle setting, but images overall are crisp and sharp. Its compact size and SLR-style design will endear it to more traditional film-based photographers who are looking for a good crossover digicam that is free of unnecessary gimmicks, and promises a reasonably fast learning curve. The fully automatic mode also gives you a camera that's literally "point & shoot," so the C-3040 Zoom could be a good camera to "grow with" as your photographic skills increase. Combine all these features with excellent low-light performance, image quality, and color, and we think the Camedia C-3040 Zoom should be just as popular, if not more so, than its very successful predecessors.


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