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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

Review First Posted: 07/23/2001



Click to Buy Now at EPC-Online!

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MSRP $1099 US

 

*
4.1 -megapixel sensor, delivering 2,816 x 2,112-pixel images
*
Fast (f/1.8-f/2.6) 3x optical zoom lens
*
Improved user interface
*
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-4040 Zoom, Olympus has improved upon the recent Camedia C-3040 model, by increasing CCD resolution to 4 million pixels, introducing advanced noise reduction and interpolation functions, and incorporating Olympus' new "user selectable" menu interface. Changes to the camera's electronics also provide improved color rendition and better low-light performance.

The Olympus C-4040 Zoom is among the first in a new generation of 4-megapixel "prosumer" digital cameras intended for the advanced amateur and professional market. Priced at less than $1,000, the Camedia 4040 delivers images measuring 2,272 x 1,704 pixels, which when combined with Olympus' new noise reduction technology and "optimum image enlargement" function, can produce quality prints as large as 16 x 20 inches.


High Points



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.


Design
The Olympus C-4040 Zoom looks very much like its 3.3-megapixel counterpart, the C-3040 Zoom, with the same compact SLR shape and style, identical size (4.3 x 3.0 x 2.7 inches) and weight (11.28 ounces / 320 grams), plus the same all-black exterior (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-4040 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-4040 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 0.8-inch (23mm) lens barrel disappears into a 0.8-inch rubber lens grip that projects just slightly beyond the edge of the right 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.

 



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 / Menu, Monitor, and AEL Lock / Custom buttons, the last of which also serves as the Protect / Rotation button. 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 large black hand grip, which houses both the battery and SmartMedia compartments, makes up the right side of the camera. It is sculpted to fit comfortably in your hand, with a recessed finger hold on the front and a stubbed plastic thumb grip on the back. 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-4040 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 or that there is a potential of camera shake, while a solid orange LED shows that the flash is fully charged and ready to fire.

The C-4040 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 85 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 86 percent at telephoto. We also noticed that the optical viewfinder framing resulted in an image shift to the left of the frame in telephoto mode. The LCD monitor fared much better, however, showing almost exactly 100% of the final frame area. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-4040 Zoom did an excellent job in this respect.

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 Shooting mode by pressing the Display button twice in quick succession. The image will remain displayed on the LCD monitor until you revert back to Shooting mode by pressing the Display button again.


Optics
The Olympus C-4040 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 camera. 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-4040.

Focusing distances range from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in Normal mode, and 7.8 inches to 2.6 feet (0.2 to 0.8 meters) in Macro mode. The macro focusing produces a minimum capture area of approximately 3.5 x 2.5 inches, 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). Though the C-4040 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.

The C-4040 Zoom's Manual Focus mode is activated by holding down the Menu button for approximately one second, until the focus distance scale appears on the LCD monitor. By pressing the Right Arrow button, and highlighting the MF (manual focus) icon at the bottom of the scale, Manual focus is engaged, and you can then use the Up and Down Arrow buttons to focus. As you focus, the image is automatically enlarged in the LCD monitor to better see small details. You can save the focus setting by pressing and holding down the Menu button for one second, and likewise, cancel the saved setting in the same manner.

You can opt to keep the camera in continuous autofocus by activating the Full-Time AF mode in the Shooting 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. (We also didn't find that continuous autofocus made for a dramatic improvement in shutter delay.) You can also designate whether the camera determines focus from the center of the image (Spot) or the entire image area (iESP), by choosing the appropriate AF Mode option in the Shooting menu.

The C-4040 Zoom's exterior 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.

The C-4040 Zoom also provides up to 2.5x Digital Zoom, which must be turned on in the Shooting menu. Once activated, a Zoom scale appears on the left side of the monitor. The bottom half of the scale (colored white) indicates the optical zoom, while the top half (colored red) specifies the digital zoom. The Digital Zoom is only accessible when the LCD monitor is engaged; when the LCD is turned off, the zoom returns to the 1x setting. It also cannot be used with the uncompressed TIFF mode.

Though we are very impressed with the low-light capabilities of the C-4040 Zoom, one consequence of the unusually "fast" lens design is that optical distortion 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 almost no 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's range. Center resolution is very high, easily extending to 900 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, and with strong detail visible all the way out to 1,200 lines on our resolution target.


Exposure
The C-4040 Zoom offers a good deal of exposure control, including Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes. Additional exposure options include four ISO settings (Auto, 100, 200 and 400); exposure compensation, auto bracketing, internal and external flash adjustment, and three metering modes: Spot, Multi Spot, and ESP multi-pattern.

In Program mode, the camera selects both the aperture and shutter speed, while you control the remaining exposure options such as ISO, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and metering modes. 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.

In Manual mode, you control both aperture and shutter speed 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 exposure combinations, the camera indicates whether or not the current 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 values (EV), 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.)

Three metering systems are available on the C-4040 Zoom: Spot, Multi, and ESP multi-patterned metering. Spot and ESP are accessed by pressing the Spot / Macro / Print button on the camera's back panel. Under the default ESP multi-patterned setting, the camera takes readings from a variety of areas in the viewfinder for proper overall exposure. 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.

The Multi Meter function is activated through the Shooting menu in Aperture or Shutter Priority modes only. Once the menu option is activated, the Spot / Macro button must be set to Spot mode, and the AEL Lock / Protect button depressed to take individual meter readings from the center of the LCD monitor (inside the exposure brackets). You can take up to eight readings, each of which will be marked on an exposure differential bar across the bottom of the LCD panel, and then averaged into the overall reading. You can cancel the Multi-Spot reading by holding the AE Lock button down for one second (the word "Memo" appears in the LCD display). This strikes us as being a potentially very useful exposure option for advanced photographers.

A Record View function, which is enabled through the Shooting menu (Setup sub-menu), displays the most recently captured image on the LCD screen while the image is being recorded to the memory card. This feature gives you the option of deleting an image instantly by pressing the Flash / Delete button while the review image is still on-screen. It's a great way to check your images without wasting time switching back and forth between Playback and Shooting modes. The camera's Quick View function also allows you to check previously captured images in Shooting mode, by pressing the Monitor button twice, very quickly. You can review the most recent image or scroll back through other stored files until you return to the Shooting mode (by pressing the Monitor button a second time).

In situations where exposure compensation is necessary, simply press either the right or left Arrow buttons (in all exposure modes except Manual) to increase or decrease the exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments, up to +/- 2 EV. Values are displayed in the upper right corner of the LCD. (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 also appears in the top status display panel, to let you know there's an adjustment in force.

The C-4040's Auto Bracketing (BKT) function is selected through the Shooting Mode Menu (Drive submenu), setting the camera to automatically bracket each exposure by as much as +/- 2 EV in either three- or five-step increments (0.3, 0.6, or 1.0 EV units each). The bracketing function centers its efforts around whatever exposure you've chosen as the starting point, including any exposure compensation adjustments you've made.

White Balance is also set in the Mode Menu, with Auto, One Touch (Manual), or one of four Preset options: Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, or Fluorescent, to accommodate a variety of lighting situations. In One Touch 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 Picture submenu. 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 color shift.)

The C-4040 Zoom has 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-4040 Zoom also features sharpness and contrast adjustments.


Flash
The C-4040 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 feet (5.6 meters) in wide-angle mode and to about 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) at the telephoto setting, numbers which agree well with our own test results. Any of the flash modes can be combined with the Slow Synchro mode (set through the Shooting menu) to increase exposure. The Slow Synchro setting uses a slow shutter speed with flash to let more ambient light into the background, producing more natural lighting behind a flash-illuminated subject. When photographing moving subjects, Slow Synchro will record some motion blur because of the longer exposure time, with the initial or final image frozen by the flash exposure. We say "initial or final," because Slow 1 fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure (producing a blur in front of the subject), and Slow 2 fires the flash at the end of the exposure (producing a blur behind the subject).

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. 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 earlier models). 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.

Another nice feature of the C-4040 Zoom's internal flash system is its Flash Brightness adjustment, which allows you to change the flash brightness from +2 to -2 EV in one-third-step increments. When using the built-in flash with an external unit, you can use this feature to adjust the balance of light between the two.


Special Exposure Modes

Movie Mode
The C-4040 Movie mode is accessed via the Mode dial on top of the camera (marked with a small movie camera symbol). Movies can 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 in the Movie menu, as well as the infrared remote control. Thanks to the C-4040 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-4040 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
33
75
SQ
160x120
(15 frames/sec)
22
45
92
148
300

 


The available seconds of recording time appear in the status display panel (and on 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's still image 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 Function (B&W and Sepia) are also available while in Movie mode.

First seen in the Camedia C-3030 (February 2000), the C-4040 Zoom again offers in-camera "editing" of movies in Playback mode. This capability is accessed via the Playback menu, Movie Play submenu, and 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.

The only quibble we have with Olympus' implementation of the Movie mode on the C-4040 Zoom (and it's a significant one that we also had on previous models) 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-4040 Zoom's Audio Record mode records up to four seconds of sound to accompany an image. Activated through the Shooting Mode Menu (Camera sub-menu), the audio recording takes place immediately after you make an exposure. A status bar appears on the LCD monitor with the word "Busy" displayed. Green dots light up along the status bar to indicate how much time you have left until the recording is finished. You can also add audio clips after the image is recorded by selecting the Audio option in the Playback menu (Play sub-menu).

Panorama Mode
The C-4040 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 Shooting menu through the Camera submenu, in Program AE mode only. 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 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 assembled on a computer after they've been downloaded.

Sequence Mode
Taking advantage of its large 32MB memory buffer, the C-4040 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). Available with all compression settings except uncompressed TIFF, the slowest available shutter speed in Sequence mode is 1/30 second, to prevent blurring from camera movement. 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 2 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' offical specs for the C-4040's speed compare well with the results of our own testing, as we found that it could capture images at a rate of about 2 frames per second. The large buffer memory provides a three-frame burst length at maximum resolution before the camera must pause for the next shot, but the burst length increases rapidly as the size or image quality is reduced. - In "HQ" mode, we found we could typically capture a 10 frame burst of full-resolution images before we ran out of buffer space, and in small/normal compression mode, we could run for over a hundred frames. Very impressive!


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. The results are listed in the following chart.

 


Olympus C-4040 Zoom Timings
Operation
Time (secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
3.5
A bit better than average for cameras with telescoping lenses.
Shutdown
4.9
Time until lens retracted and ready to put away. About average.
Play to Record, first shot
1.3
Time until first shot is captured, from playback mode. Quite a bit faster than average.
Record to play (max/min res)
3.7/2.9/2.1/0.6
Longest time shown is for immediate switch to record after shutter release in highest res mode. Next time is for switch to play after image saved to card. Next is for "Quick Review" playback. Shortest is for immediate review while in record mode.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.83-0.89
Average to faster than average. 0.83 in tele mode, 0.89 in wide angle.
Shutter lag, continuous autofocus
0.79
Not much faster than normal autofocus.
Shutter lag, manual focus
0.73
Slower than average
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.27
A little faster than average.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.1-14.0
2.1-15.1
Faster than average. Full speed for first 3 shots, then wait 14-15 seconds for buffer to clear, then 3 shots fast again.
Cycle time, continuous mode
0.51sec
(1.97 fps)
Pretty fast for a 4 megapixel camera. Bursts range from 3 frames at max res/quality to more than 60 frames in lowest res/quality mode.

 


Overall, the C-4040 Zoom is a pretty fast camera. Its autofocus speed is only average for wide angle lens settings, but is faster than average in telephoto. (The absolute times are about the same for wide and telephoto, it's just that most cameras focus quite a bit more slowly at telephoto focal lengths.) Manual focus lag time is slower than average, but prefocus lag time (when the camera is prefocused by half-pressing the shutter button prior to the exposure itself) is a bit faster than average. Surprisingly, we found little advantage in lag time in the continuous autofocus mode. Cycle times are faster than average, about the same as we found in the earlier C-3040 Zoom. Sequential Shooting mode is quite fast for a four megapixel camera, and the camera can grab up to three frames at a time before having to pause to write the images to the memory card. The 4040 is a little unusual in that, once filled, it makes you wait for the buffer to completely empty before letting you snap more shots. It then gives you a full three shots of rapid-fire exposure again though. (Other cameras we've tested allow you to snap additional shots as soon as a frame's worth of space opens up in the buffer.)


Operation and User Interface
One of the most noticeable changes implemented with the C-4040 is the newly designed user interface. Previous Olympus digicams had a somewhat tedious LCD menu system, requiring you to scroll through pages of options and additional menus just to change one setting. The C-4040's menu system has been greatly simplified. Though there are still several pages of options, the main menu (known as the "Top Menu") is divided into smaller sub-menus, displayed on the screen as three or four buttons, each selected using the Arrow button that corresponds to its position on the screen. The right button is the Mode menu, which includes all of the sub-menus available for that particular Shooting or Playback mode. The Mode menu is divided into four subject tabs -- Camera, Picture, Card, and Setup -- with sub-menus appropriate to that subject tab. The other two or three buttons (top, left, and bottom) are "Short-Cut" menus that provide shortcuts to the most frequently used sub-menus, such as ISO, White Balance, and Quality settings, through the Setup submenu. (In the P and A / S / M modes, all of the Short-Cut buttons are user programmable.) Though it takes some getting used to, this setup is much more efficient than previous models, as you can make fast adjustments to three of the most often used settings.

The C-4040's external control layout is not much different from previous Olympus Camedia digicam setups. We were glad to see the addition of the AE Lock / Custom Function button. You can assign a specific adjustment to this button through the Mode menu (Setup sub-menu), creating a short cut to circumvent the menu system completely. For example, if you use the Quality adjustment a fair amount, you could assign it to the AE Lock / Custom Function button as a short cut.


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 Shooting 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 Shooting 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 Shooting 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 / Menu Button: Located below the four-way Arrow pad, this button activates the menu system on the rear panel LCD monitor and confirms selected menu settings in the LCD menu screens. 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. Holding this button down for approximately one second brings up the Manual Focus distance range, along with the AF and MF icons. Highlighting the MF icon with the right Arrow button engages the Manual Focus mode.


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.


AEL / Custom / Protect Button: Located on the camera's back panel, below the Display button, this serves as an autoexposure lock in its default setting, or you can change it to a custom function through the Setup submenu. If pressed when Multi Metering mode is activated through the Shooting menu, this button takes up to eight spot meter readings and averages them for a final exposure. In Playback mode, it write-protects individual images against accidental erasure (except from card formatting).


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

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 buttons can be used to move the enlarged view around the full image area, allowing you to inspect all parts of it.


Camera Mode 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. When the camera is in this mode, pressing the Menu / OK button brings up the Movie Top Menu, which consists of three Short Cuts to specific menu options (Quality, Sound, and WB) and the Mode Menu.




Still Shooting Mode Menus
The C-4040 has two still image Shooting mode positions on the Mode Dial: (P) Program and (A / S /M), which provides access to Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes. When the camera is in one of these modes, pressing the Menu / OK button brings up the Still Shooting Top Menu. Three of the top-level menu items are Short Cuts to menu options controlling (clockwise from bottom) White Balance, Image Size/Quality, and Drive control. The fourth option takes you to the main Mode Menu itself. Since the destinations of the short cut options are simply sub-levels inside the main mode menu, we'll only show the main Mode Menu screens here.



Playback Mode
Playback Mode is available by turning to the green Playback symbol on the camera's Mode dial, or by depressing the display button twice in any Shooting mode. The Playback Top Menu has three options, which differ slightly between Shooting (Record) playback and Movie playback:

Still Playback:




Movie Playback:



Image Storage and Interface
The C-4040 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-4040 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 (SQ1 & SQ2). The myriad size options can be assigned to the camera's TIFF, SHQ, HQ, SQ1, and SQ2 quality levels via the record setup menu, as shown in the table below. (Green table cells indicate image size options that can be assigned to each named quality setting. Whatever image size/quality options are assigned to the five named quality settings can be quickly selected either by the "shortcut button" (see the description of the user interface later) or via the record setup menu.

 

Image
Size
Options
3200x2400
(Interpolated)
2816x2112
(Interpolated)
2272x1704
2048x1536
1600x1200
1280x960
1024x768
640x480
TIFF
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
SHQ
 
 
 
         
HQ
 
 
 
         
SQ1
     
 
 
 
   
SQ2
         
 
 
 

 


We appreciated the C-4040 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.

As just mentioned, the C-4040Zoom offers a huge range of resolution and image compression settings, including two interpolated sizes. The table below shows all the available size/quality options, the number of each that can be stored on the included 16 MB memory card, and the amount of image compression employed for each.


Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16MB Card
Uncompressed
High Quality
Normal Quality
Images
Approx.
Compression
Images
Approx.
Compression
Images
Approx.
Compression
3200 x 2400 (Interpolated)
-
-
2
4:1
8
12:1
2816 x 2112 (Interpolated)
-
-
3
4:1
10
12:1
2272 x 1704
1
1:1
5
4:1
16
12:1
2048 x 1536
1.5
1:1
7
4:1
20
12:1
1600 x 1200
2.5
1:1
11
4:1
32
11:1
1280 x 960
4
1:1
18
4:1
49
11:1
1024 x 768
-
-
27
4:1
76
11:1
640 x 480
-
-
66
4:1
165
10:1
 


The following table shows the maximum seconds of movie recording time (with sound) for various size 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-4040 Zoom comes with interface software and cables for both Macintosh and Windows computers. It employs a USB Auto-Connect interface for high-speed computer connection. Like all of Olympus' most recent digicams, the C-4040 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 or Auto-Connect connections are generally faster than device-class ones. We clocked the C-4040 at a transfer rate of 639 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-4040, 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?)

Lost Images? - Download this image-recovery program so you'll have it when you need it...
Since we're talking about memory and image storage, this would be a good time to mention the following: I get a ton of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. It's tragic when it happens, there are few things more precious than photo memories. Corrupted memory cards can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. "Stuff happens," as they say. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

 

Video Out

The C-4040 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-4040 Zoom's video capabilities make the camera a unique presentation device.


Power

The C-4040 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
(mA @6.5v)
Est. Minutes
Capture Mode, w/LCD
520 mA
128
Capture Mode, no LCD
10 mA
(days)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
510 mA
130
Half-pressed w/o LCD
310 mA
214
Continuous Autofocus w/LCD
690 mA
96
Memory Write (transient)
630 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1060 mA
n/a
Image Playback
330 mA
128

 


Like other Olympus cameras we've tested, the C-4040 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 with the LCD enabled. Even the absolute worst case with both LCD and continuous autofocus operation, you should get a good hour and a half 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.


Included Software

The software they didn't include...
(But that you should)
Few people realize just how *much* you can improve your digicam images through clever processing in Photoshop. Greatly (!) increased sharpness, reduced noise, and even ultra-wide dynamic range (light-to-dark range) by combining multiple exposures. Fred Miranda and uber-Photoshop expert Fred Miranda has packaged some of his Photoshop magic in a collection of powerful and affordably priced "actions." Check out his site, the results are pretty amazing!
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-4040 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-4040 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-4040 images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

The C-4040Zoom produced very good color and image quality in the majority of our tests. The camera's White Balance system handled most of our test lighting reasonably well, though we often encountered slight color casts in the settings tested. (Such color casts could very well be the result of minor preproduction glitches.) That said, the camera's Manual White Balance did a great job with the very tough incandescent lighting of our no-flash Indoor Portrait test. Color balance looked pretty good on our Davebox target, with the C-4040 distinguishing tough tonal variations and reproducing the large color blocks with good saturation. The C-4040 produced only faint purple tints in the blue flowers in our Outdoor and Indoor test shots, a common problem among digicams, as these blues are hard to accurately reproduce. Overall, very good image quality.

The C-4040 does a good job on our "laboratory" resolution test chart, only beginning to show artifacts in the test patterns at 900 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,200 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,500 lines.

Optical distortion on the C-4040 is a little high at the wide angle end, as we measured an approximate 1.0 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only one pixel of pincushion distortion. (An unusually low amount of pincushion.) Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about three to four pixels of coloration on both sides of the target lines. - If we had one criticism of the 4040, it would be that there's more chromatic aberration than we're accustomed to, perhaps a tradeoff resulting from its very fast f/1.8 lens.

With its full manual exposure control and newly-added noise reduction technology, the C-4040 does an excellent (!) job in the low-light category, producing bright usable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (at all three ISO settings). The "raw" CCD noise was quite high at the 1/16 foot-candle setting, but the camera's Noise Reduction feature does an exceptional job of eliminating it, producing surprisingly clean images even with nearly 30 second exposure times.

The C-4040's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing approximately 85 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 86 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fares much better, showing essentially 100% of the final image area. (At least, as close to 100% as we could practically measure). Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-4040 does an excellent job in this respect.

The C-4040 also handles the macro category quite well, capturing a minimum area of just 3.22 x 2.41 inches (82 x 61 millimeters). Resolution looked great, with nice detail in the coins and brooch, and color is reasonably accurate (though with a slight greenish cast). The flash has just a little trouble throttling down for the macro area, overexposing the image a fair amount and producing a blue color cast.

Despite a few color casts, we were very pleased with the C-4040's performance. Low-light shooting is exceptional, and the camera's flexible features handle just about every challenge.

Olympus has built upon the strengths of the C-4040 Zoom's predecessors, the C-3030 and C-3040 Zoom, combining great creative and exposure control with the new, faster lens first seen in the 3040. We were very pleased with the C-4040 Zoom's performance throughout our testing.


Conclusion
With the C-4040 Zoom, Olympus continues to advance the Camedia digital camera line with increased image quality and expanded creative controls. We found the C-4040 a real pleasure to use, as we have with all of the Camedia models we've tested, but we were particularly impressed with the exceptional quality of low-light and nighttime shots (capturing some spectacular fireworks displays on July 4th!). At an introductory price of just over $1,000, this is not a casual consumer camera, but to the prosumer or serious amateur photographer, it will be worth every penny. At 4.1 megapixels, you don't have to compromise a thing by switching from film to CCD. It's time to stop waiting for digital to catch up, because with the C-4040, it's here!

<<C4040 Test Images | Additional Resources and Other Links>>

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