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Olympus C-4040 Zoom

Olympus introduces a top-of-the-line 4-megapixel model with noise reduction technology, optimum image enlargement, and newly designed interface

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Review First Posted: 07/23/2001

Executive Overview
The Camedia C-4040 Zoom is the first 4-megapixel model in Olympus' very popular line of Camedia digital cameras -- expanding its already broad market range from consumer- and advanced-amateur digicams to a new, high-end prosumer level. The C-4040 is identical in many ways to Olympus' recent 3-megapixel model (the C-3040), incorporating the same super-bright 3x zoom lens for better low-light capabilities, and a classic all-black advanced rangefinder-style body with textured, non-slip holding surfaces, including a new rubberized-grip lens barrel. Measuring only 4.3 x 2.9 x 2.7 inches (110 x 76 x 70mm) and weighing less than 12 ounces (320 grams), the C-4040 is fairly easy to stash in a large pocket or purse, though we highly recommend purchasing a soft cover or small camera bag for added protection.

Like its 3-megapixel predecessor, the C-4040 offers many advanced user controls, including a Multi-Spot metering mode that averages up to eight selectable spot readings, a one-touch white balance function (with white balance correction for minor color adjustments), spot autofocus, contrast and sharpness adjustment, and extended (up to five minutes) QuickTime movies with simultaneous sound recording capabilities. It also incorporates several new features, including an advanced Noise Reduction System, which uses dark-frame subtraction to minimize background noise (particularly in low-light conditions and long exposures); an Optimum Image Enlargement Mode that boosts resolution to 3,200 x 2,400 pixels -- creating a file size large enough for 16 x 20-inch prints; and a redesigned Menu Navigational System, introduced this year in the Camedia D-510 and C700 models (2001).

The C-4040 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-4040 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-4040's 3x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to 2.5x 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-4040's image file sizes include: 2,272 x 1,704; 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1280 x 960; 1024 x 768; and 640 x 480 pixels in normal mode, and 3,200 x 2,400 and 2,816 x 2,112 pixels when using Optimum Image Enlargement. Image quality options include two JPEG compression ratios (stated in the manual as being 2.8:1 and 8:1, but based on the camera's projected image capacities, the compression ratios used seem to be about 4:1 and 12:1), plus an uncompressed TIFF format that produces full-resolution images.

The C-4040 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 times as long as 16 seconds.

The C-4040 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 from +3 to -3 steps.

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 independently of the autofocus system, 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. (We're happy to again see the excellent little IR remote control unit included in the box with the 4040 - It had been dropped as a standard item in several of Olympus' recent camera models.)

The C-4040 Zoom's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with or without sound, for maximum times dictated by its 32MB internal buffer memory, 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 flash 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 Shooting menu.

The Olympus C-4040 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.

The new Camedia C-4040 offers exceptional creative control, great low-light capabilities, and large file sizes for maximum print output. Combine this with first-rate image quality, and you have what we think will be another extremely popular digicam in the Camedia line.


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