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Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom

Olympus packs a 10x zoom lens into an amazingly small body, for an amazingly low price.

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 5/31/2001

Design
The C-700 Ultra Zoom has virtually the same compact look and feel that we've enjoyed with other Olympus Camedia digicams, including the current 3x zoom models, the C-2040 and C-3040. At first glance, one might be unimpressed with the lack of obvious differences (other than color and control placement). However, if you examine the expanded feature set and navigate through the completely redesigned interface, you can't help but be impressed with the versatility this camera has to offer in such a small, attractive package. Foremost is the addition of a 10x optical zoom lens -- more than triple the other cameras' zoom capabilities in virtually the same space and weight! Add an electronic optical viewfinder (EVF), increased light sensitivity (up to 800 ISO), faster shutter speeds, and easy-to-use scene presets for special shooting situations, and you've got an "Ultra Slick" Camedia at the same price point as the 2.1-megapixel C2040 ($700 list / $600 street). The only real tradeoffs are the one-stop loss of aperture, from f/1.8 on the 2040 to f/2.8 on the C-700, and the somewhat greater optical distortion that accompanies the extended zoom range.

Though the body style is virtually identical to previous Olympus models, the C-700 features some significant design differences. For example, the typically all-black body is now a brushed silver, with champagne color accents and black points along the top, bottom and edges of the camera. The pop-up flash sits a little higher off the lens, and the electronic optical viewfinder displays a miniature version of the LCD monitor -- providing greater framing accuracy than standard optical viewfinders. Most of the control buttons are similar to previous models (though slightly rearranged), except for the bright red Power button, which is much easier to access than an On / Off function on the Mode dial. Finally, the C-700's LCD user interface has been redesigned to reflect a more user-friendly format. (We were a little thrown off at first, but after we became accustomed to the changes, we found the new menu system to be much more efficient.)

The C-700 body measures 4.2 x 3.0 x 3.1 inches (107.5 x 76.0 x 77.5 mm) with the lens retracted, and weighs 11.2 ounces (310.5 grams) without the batteries or SmartMedia card installed. Fully extended, the 10x zoom lens adds less than an inch to the overall camera depth. While the C-700 won't fit into a shirt pocket, it should slip into a large purse or even a coat pocket, but we highly recommend investing in a small protective case to avoid surface scratches on the camera body or LCD screen. The camera is amazingly compact, especially with a 10x zoom lens, and it maintains the comfortable 35mm styling indicative of the Camedia line. The C-700 does come with a long nylon neck strap, which attaches to only one end of the body, and an optional carrying case is available as an accessory.

 



Extending approximately 1.25 inches from the camera surface when not in use, the 10x lens barrel dominates the front of the C-700, adding just under an inch in length when the camera is powered on in a Record mode. A ridged ring around the inside tip of the lens barrel hides a set of filter threads on its inner surface, which accommodates Olympus' accessory lens converter kits and filters. The lens is protected by a large plastic lens cap, with a spring-loaded pushbutton that clamps it securely around the outside of the lens. A small retainer cord attaches the lens cap to the camera body, to prevent tit from being misplaced. Above the lens, on the left side, is the Self-Timer lamp, which blinks as the timer counts down. Also visible from the front is the Zoom lever, which sits at the top of the right hand grip, and the front of the pop-up flash compartment, which is released by a small button on top of the camera. A sculpted, soft rubber pad extends along the inside edge of the hand grip, providing a firm support for your fingers.





The right side of the camera houses the SmartMedia card slot, which is covered by a hinged, plastic door. (The center of this door hinge is where the carrying strap attaches.)





On the opposite side of the camera are the connector terminals and the external flash socket. The five-pin flash socket is covered by a very small (and easily lost) threaded plastic cap that unscrews to reveal the connector pins. A hinged, plastic door covers the remaining connector terminals, which include DC In, AV Out, and USB jacks.





Only a few controls are located on the camera's top panel, including the Flash Release button, Shutter button, Zoom lever, and Mode dial. Also on top of the camera are the pop-up flash compartment and microphone for recording audio clips.





The remaining camera controls are on the C-700's back panel, along with the LCD monitor and electronic viewfinder. Across the top are three buttons, which control Drive/ Erase, Macro / Metering / Print, and Flash / Protect. The optical viewfinder display is actually a smaller version of the LCD monitor, and features a diopter adjustment dial on the right to adjust focus. The red Power button is above the LCD display, next to the AE Lock / Custom / Rotate button. The Four-Way Arrow pad, located near the bottom of the back panel, consists of four buttons surrounding a Menu / OK button in the middle. A Monitor On / Off button sits at the very bottom. Directly beneath the Mode dial is a small, red LED lamp, which lights whenever the camera is accessing the memory card (meaning you should never open the SmartMedia compartment when the light is on).





The C-700 features a fairly flat bottom panel, with a plastic, threaded tripod mount and battery compartment door that take up the right side. The battery compartment and tripod mount are unfortunately too close to one another to allow for quick battery changes while shooting with a tripod, though we are glad to see side access to the DC In jack, so you can plug in the AC adapter when shooting in the studio.


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