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Olympus C-4000 Zoom

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C-4000 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 8/27/2002

Digital Cameras - Olympus C-4000 Test Images

(Original test posting: 08/27/02)

 

I'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, I'm posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:
Contrast was very high with the camera's default contrast setting, under the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. The contrast adjustment worked very well. This was shot with a contrast adjustment of -5. Highlights and shadows on Marti's face are largely held in check, and you can still see detail in the highlights of her shirt.

High contrast at the default setting, but good color and detail.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the C-4000 responded with very high contrast. The shot at near right was taken with the C4000's default contrast setting, and a positive exposure compensation of 0.7EV. The shot at far right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, and a -5 contrast adjustment, showing significantly better tonality throughout the image.

I chose the Auto white balance setting as the most accurate overall, although it produced results quite similar to those obtained with the Daylight setting. Manual white balance produced a very warm image.

Although just slightly warm, the color here is really excellent. Marti's skin tones look very good, and the hue of the blue flowers in the bouquet is almost dead-on. (Great results, as this is often a difficult blue for digicams to get right.) The red flowers in the bouquet are a little bright, but the high saturation there doesn't seem to wash out any detail. Fine detail is impressive throughout the frame, especially in the flowers and Marti's skin, as well as in the shadow areas. An excellent job!

To view the entire exposure series from +0.3 to +1.0 EV (with a -5 Contrast adjustment), see files C40OUTAP1CONM5.HTM, C40OUTAP2CONM5.HTM, and C40OUTAP3CONM5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

 

 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent detail. Default contrast is again high, but the contrast adjustment brings it down to a reasonable level.

Results here are similar to the wider shot above, and the C-4000's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. With its default settings, the camera again produced very high contrast in response to the harsh sunlight, but the contrast adjustment once again worked very well. The shot at right was snapped at the default exposure, with a contrast adjustment of -3 units. (Here's a sample image at the default contrast setting.) Resolution is even higher in this shot, with incredible detail in Marti's face and hair. Shadow detail looks great as well, with very low noise.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash, 0.0 EV
Slow-Sync Flash, +1.0 EV

Good flash intensity, and accurate color.

The C-4000's flash is quite strong, even at the default exposure setting (shown at right). Although the flash brightness almost overpowers the subject, color looks very good on Marti and the background wall is free from any color casts due to the incandescent room lighting. I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, which combines the flash with a longer shutter time. Because more ambient light is allowed into the image, the background wall picks up an orange cast from the household incandescent lighting. Color looks nearly accurate on Marti, though with orange tints from the background light and blue tints from the flash.

As a side note, the trick for dealing with this sort of color balance conflict between room and strobe lighting is to use an orange gel to shift the color temperature of the strobe down to near the level of the room lighting, then use the Incandescent white balance setting on the camera. The flash and room lighting will be close to the same color, and the camera's white balance system will bring the overall color into line.

The slow-sync shot at right has a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment, as the default setting was much too dim.

To view the entire exposure series, from -0.3 to +0.7 EV in the normal flash mode, see files C40INFM1.HTM through C40INFP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page. For the exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files C40INFSP0.HTM through C40INFSP3.HTM.

 

 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slight color casts with each white balance setting, but good exposure.

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-4000's white balance system had a little trouble with it, but overall much less so than most cameras I test. None of the white balance options were completely off the mark, but by the same token, none of them really nailed the color either. I chose the Auto setting for the main example for this test, despite a slight pink cast. The Manual setting produced a slight greenish cast, while the Incandescent setting resulted in a warm, yellowish coloration. The main shot has a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment, which brightens the midtones without losing detail in the highlight areas. Although a little pink due to the overall color cast, Marti's skin tones are nearly right, and color in the flower bouquet isn't too far off either. With just a little color correction in a post-capture software application, results would be just about right. (Note too though, that you could always use my trick of using a slightly off-white reference for the Manual white balance option, to compensate for the slight color cast it shows here. - A very pale green "white" card would lead the camera to correct the color back toward neutral very nicely. See my picture-analysis page for the Fuji S602 for an example of this.)

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.7 EV, see files C40INAP0.HTM through C40INAP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series
The C4000 offers manual ISO settings ranging from 100 to 400. As usual, the image noise increases in direct proportion to the ISO boost. Noise at ISO 100 is quite good, at 400 it's more noticeable. Overall though, the noise at ISO 400 seemed much less objectionable to me than what I'm accustomed to seeing from consumer-level digicams at that ISO rating. As always, most of the noise is in the blue channel, although oddly, green-channel noise is higher than that in the red channel. Looking at the individual color channels, I think the reason I found the noise less bothersome in the full-color image is because the blue-channel noise is much more fine-grained than is usually the case. This tighter noise pattern seems to be less apparent when viewing the full-color image. A good job overall, particularly for such a bargain-priced camera.

ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

 

House Shot:  
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Slightly warm color balance, but good detail and resolution.

As with the previous test, none of the white balance settings got it exactly right here, but none of them were too far off either. The Auto white balance resulted in a pinkish cast, visible in the roof shingles and white trim, and intensifying the color of the red bricks. Both the Daylight and Manual white balance settings produced slightly yellowish images. I chose the Daylight setting as the best overall.

The tree limbs above the roof show very good detail, as does the shrubbery in front of the house. Even fine details in the brick pattern are quite distinct. The corners are rather soft, particular the upper left, but details are reasonably sharp throughout the rest of the frame. Overall resolution is just a notch below the very best four megapixel cameras I've tested, but it's entirely acceptable and in fact sharper than many. A very good performance.

 
 

 

Far-Field Test

Excellent detail and resolution, with good color and exposure.

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, and the C-4000's 4.0-megapixel CCD and very good lens picks up outstanding detail. Fine foliage details in the tree limbs and front shrubbery are very well defined, with clear and distinct leaf patterns. There's once again some softness in the upper left corner of the frame, and more coma and chromatic aberration than I'd like to see, but I think some of that is caused by the foreground foliage being so close to the camera lens. (There's a branch that hangs out there, quite close to the camera position. As a result, it's out of focus, which aggravates the chromatic aberration around the edges of its leaves.) Contrast is just a little high here, with the strong highlight of the white-painted trim on the bay window just edging over into being blown out. Shadow detail is quite good though, and as you can see in the contrast series below, dialing down the contrast slightly brings the highlights into check. Color looks just about perfect, with accurate hues and appropriate saturation. A great job overall. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by examples of ISO, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast, Effects, and White Balance variations.

Resolution Series:

Uncompressed
Giant / Normal
Giant / Fine
   
Large / Fine
   
Medium / Fine
Small / Fine
Tiny / Fine
Tiniest / Fine

 

ISO Series:
As with the indoor portrait shot, I found the C4000's noise pattern at high ISO settings to be less objectionable than those of most cameras I've tested. To be sure, the noise is quite evident at ISO 400, and the noise-suppression processing reduces the level of detail in the image quite a bit, but the pattern of the noise is quite a bit tighter than that from many competing cameras.

ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

 

Sharpness Series:
Like many higher-end digicams these days, the C4000 Zoom offers a range of sharpness settings, to vary the effect of the in-camera image sharpening. I really liked Olympus' implementation of the sharpness variations on the C4000. They not only covered a useful range, but the high-sharpness options performed much better than similar settings on other camera I've tested. On most cameras, the high-sharpness settings result in very coarse, heavy detail, due to a too-large radius in the sharpening algorithm. On the C-4000 though, even the highest sharpness setting preserved fine details, doing almost as good a job as I could achieve in Photoshop, working from the unsharpened (-5) setting. An excellent job.

Very Soft
(-5)
Soft
(-3)
Default
(0)
Hard
(+3)
Very Hard
(+5)
Very Soft + Photoshop
(USM 0.4/250%)

 

Saturation Series:
As with the sharpening adjustment, the C4000's saturation adjustment option gives very fine-grained control, over a very useful range of variation. The series below shows the range of control, skipping over several settings between each example. (That is, the steps are a good bit smaller than those shown below.)

Very Low
Saturation
(-5)
Low Saturation
(-3)
Default
(0)
High Saturation
(+3)
Very High
Saturation
(+5)

 

Contrast Series:
I felt that the default contrast of the C4000 Zoom was rather high, but the presence of a fine-grained contrast adjustment option turned this from a severe liability into virtually a non-issue. (I'd still like to see the default contrast a bit lower, with the contrast-adjust range centered around what's currently the "-3" setting.) This sort of fine adjustment lets you really customize the camera to exactly match your preferences. Here again, the option covers a useful range (although as noted I'd like to see the range shifted slightly), and the small differences between adjacent settings gives very fine control.

Very Low
Contrast
(-5)
Low Contrast
(-3)
Default
(0)
High Contrast
(+3)
Very High
Contrast
(+5)

 

"Function" Series:
The C4000 offers several interesting "function" options as well. I personally don't see a lot of value in the black & white or sepia options, preferring to do such manipulations in an imaging program. The Blackboard/Whiteboard options should be very handy for students, or anyone else who needs to record masses of detailed notes quickly. (The exposure setting is pretty critical for the white/black board feature though, and the result is pure black/white. - No pretty colors from the whiteboard. (Read my review of Whiteboard Photo, for an application that *really* does the trick for note-taking!)

Blackboard
White Board
Black / White
Sepia

 

White Balance Series:
Completing the suite of "customization" settings, the C4000 Zoom has a "tweak" option for its color balance. You can shift the color in any white balance mode along an axis from red to blue. (It'd be much more complex, but what I'd *really* like is a full set of controls, one to shift from yellow to blue, another from magenta to green, and a third from cyan to red. Red to blue is a pretty decent compromise though, and adding a little blue can really clean up shots snapped under incandescent lighting.) Here again, both the range and the step size are well-chosen. - (This means there are a *lot* of steps, fifteen settings in all. I've skipped a lot in the table below, for the sake of space.) More kudos to Olympus for a nice implementation of this feature.

WAY Red
(-7)
(-3)
(-1)
Default
(+1)
(+3)
WAY Blue
(+7)

 
 

 

Lens Zoom Range

Typical 3x zoom range, good detail with the digital zoom.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The C-4000's lens is equivalent to a 32-96mm zoom on a 35mm camera, slightly wider-angle than the usual 35-105mm range. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
3.3x Digital Telephoto

 

 
  Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Very good color with Manual white balance, nice detail.

This shot is often difficult color-wise, as the abundance of blue in the composition often tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The C-4000's Auto setting did just that, producing a warm, yellow image. Alternatively, the Daylight and Manual settings produced more natural-looking color, though with very slight magenta tints. Skin tones are the most accurate with the Manual setting, and the blue robe looks about right as well. Though the blue background has faint reddish tints, and the deep shadows of the blue robe are a little purplish, overall color looks good. The camera picks up a lot of fine detail in the embroidery of the blue robe, as well as in the flower garland and beaded necklaces of the other models. Corner softness is only slightly visible in the left corners, and doesn't extend far into the image area.

 

 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot

Excellent macro performance, though too close for flash.

Thanks to an "ultra macro" option, the C-4000 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 1.68 x 1.25 inches (42.6 x 31.9 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with excellent detail on the dollar bill. (Dust is even visible on top of the smaller coin.) The close shooting range and limited depth of field blur the larger coin and brooch, but printing details are sharp on the bill. That said, the upper and lower left corners are rather soft. Exposure and color both look good. I didn't shoot with the flash, as the close proximity of the camera to the subject would render it ineffective.

 

"Davebox" Test Target

Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good exposure, excellent color.

The Auto white balance setting produced the best color here, with almost perfectly neutral grays on the MacBeth chart portion of this target. The Daylight and Manual settings both resulted in warm casts, with yellow and greenish tints.

The C-4000's automatic exposure system performed well, preserving both highlight and shadow details while keeping midtones where they belong. The camera captured the subtle tonal variations of the pastel swatches Q60 target very nicely. The camera's slightly high native contrast results in darker shadow values, most evident in the charcoal briquettes at bottom center. Despite the very dark shadows though, the C4000 managed to capture a lot of shadow detail there. Image noise is very low across the full tonal range.

Colors are very accurate, about the only criticism I can find to make is that the yellow block is just slightly undersaturated. (This seems to be a tough color for digicams though: Most get the hue right, but saturation low, as did the C4000.)

This is really an excellent performance overall, on a target that's very revealing of a variety of potential digicam failings.

 

 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low light performance, all the way down to the limits of my testing (1/16 foot-candle).

With manual-mode exposure times stretching to 16 seconds, and an effective noise-reduction system, the C-4000 Zoom does an excellent job at low light photography. (And the numeric distance scale really helps in getting the focus right, when it's too dark (less than ~1/4 foot-candle) for the autofocus system to work reliably.) The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) at ISO 200 and 400, and at levels as low as 1/8 foot-candle at ISO 100. The dark-frame subtraction noise reduction system works well, although in common with most such systems, pixels that are entirely saturated (white) in the raw image are rendered as black in the processed image. (See Mike Chaney's Qimage Pro software program for a more sophisticated dark-frame subtraction system that avoids this problem.) Still, the C-4000 Zoom is an impressive low-light shooter, producing surprisingly good color balance and low noise overall. 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.

  1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.31lux
1/16fc
0.67lux
1/16fc
0.67lux
(no noise
reduction)
ISO
100
Click to see C40LL103.JPG

2 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL104.JPG

5 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL105.JPG

10 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL106.JPG

16 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL107.JPG

16 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL107MNR.JPG

16 secs
F2.8

ISO
200
Click to see C40LL203.JPG

1 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL204.JPG

2.5 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL205.JPG

5 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL206.JPG

10 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL207.JPG

16 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL207MNR.JPG

16 secs
F2.8

ISO
400
Click to see C40LL403.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL404.JPG

1.3 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL405.JPG

3.2 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL406.JPG

5 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL407.JPG

8 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40LL407MNR.JPG

8 secs
F2.8

 

 

Flash Range Test

Good intensity to about 12 feet from the target, usable further though.

The C-4000's flash remained fairly bright at the maximum 14 foot distance I test to, with the first noticeable falloff occurring around 12 feet. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8ft. 9ft. 10ft. 11ft. 12ft. 13ft. 14ft.
Click to see C40FL08.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40FL09.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40FL10.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40FL11.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40FL12.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40FL13.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F2.8

Click to see C40FL14.JPG

1/ 100 secs
F2.8

 

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

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

The C-4000 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart, though it started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height horizontally and around 800 lines vertically. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,150 lines horizontally and 1050 lines vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at approximately 1,450 lines.

Geometric distortion on the C-4000 is lower than average at the wide-angle end, as I measured a 0.35 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared very slightly better, with a 0.27 percent pincushion distortion. (This is a pretty good performance: Most digicams I test average around 0.8 percent barrel at wide angle, although pincushion at telephoto is generally almost nonexistent. Olympus seems to have opted to trade off more pincushion at tele for less barrel at wide, but the net result is less distortion overall.) Chromatic aberration is a bit higher than average, showing 4-5 pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) That amount of chromatic aberration is a but high, but not unusual. More bothersome was the fact that it persists fairly far into the central portion of the frame, as there were a couple of pixels of color around the numbers marking the high-frequency resolution wedges, fairly close to the target's center. The strongest optical distortion I noticed was increased softness and "coma" (a smearing of high-contrast edges) on the left side of the frame.

Overall, the C4000's lens is a mix of good and bad. It delivers high resolution and good sharpness with better than average geometric distortion, but shows more chromatic aberration and coma than I'd like to see. The lens is the only thing that keeps me from being wildly enthusiastic about this camera. (I'm still like it a lot, but a better lens would have really put me over the top...)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle

Uncompressed
Giant / Normal
Giant / Fine
 
Large / Normal
Large / Fine
 
Medium / Normal
Medium / Fine
 
Small / Normal
Small / Fine
 
Tiny / Normal
Tiny / Fine

 

Telephoto

Large / Fine

 

Sharpness

 

 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

An accurate LCD monitor, but tight optical viewfinder.

The C-4000's optical viewfinder was quite tight, showing approximately 80 percent of the frame at wide angle and telephoto. Images framed with the optical viewfinder were also slanted slightly toward the lower left corner, indicating a slightly shifted CCD in our evaluation unit. (The rotation was about 0.8 degrees.)The camera's LCD monitor fares much better, showing approximately 99 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-4000 performs well here. The flash shows a fair amount of falloff in the corners of the frame at wide angle, but is very even and fairly bright at telephoto.


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD

 

 

 

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