Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus Digital Cameras > Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom

Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom

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

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

C-700 Ultra Zoom Sample Images

Review First Posted: 5/31/2001

We'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, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)


Outdoor portrait: (995 k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom is up to the challenge. We shot samples of this image with the automatic (996 k), daylight (1008 k), and manual (1004 k) white balance settings, choosing the daylight setting for our main series. The automatic setting produced a slightly cool image, with pale, bluish skin tones. Manual white balance resulted in a much warmer image, with a yellow cast. Though the daylight setting is just a hint warm, we felt the overall color balance looked the best and the skin tones appeared more natural. Color looks great throughout the image, with vibrant hues in the flower bouquet. The blue flowers look nearly accurate, with only slight purple tints at the edges of the petals. (These blues are hard for many digicams to reproduce correctly.) The red flowers are a little bright, but still show good detail. Overall resolution looks good, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the image. The C-700's in-camera sharpening does a nice job as well, as most of the details in the image are very crisp. The shadow areas show excellent detail, with moderate noise. Traces of noise are also present in the sunny portions of the house siding. Our main image was taken with a +0.6 EV exposure adjustment to get a good exposure in the shadow areas without overexposing the bright highlight areas. Though the image is a little dim, bumping the exposure compensation up to +1.0 EV (1003 k) lost detail in the highlight areas and washed out the model's face. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.6 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 800
F/ 6.3
(975 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 1000
F/ 5.6
(986 k)
0.6 EV
1/ 800
F/ 5.6
(995 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 800
F/ 5
(1003 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 1000
F/ 4
(1012 k)
1.6 EV
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(1002 k)



 
Closer portrait: (934 k)
The C-700 also performs well with this closer, portrait shot, thanks to its 10x zoom lens. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in close-up shots like this and the availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting close-up people shots.) We stayed with the daylight white balance setting, because of the more accurate skin tones and color balance. Resolution is much higher in this close-up shot, with very tiny details visible in the model's face and hair. The strands of hair and the face details are very sharp as well. In addition to the wood grain pattern on the house siding, the more subtle surface texture is also clear and distinct. Noise is moderate in the shadow areas, with small traces of it in the siding. Our main shot was taken with no exposure adjustment, as the smallest adjustment made the image much too bright. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.0 EV.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 800
F/ 4
(934 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 1000
F/ 3.5
(940 k)
0.6 EV
1/ 800
F/ 3.5
(1085 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 650
F/ 3.5
(1061 k)



 
Indoor Portrait, Flash: (998 k)
The C-700's built-in, pop-up flash produces fairly bright exposures with good color, but the intensity requires some adjustment to get the best results. We first shot with the C-700's flash at the normal (974 k) intensity level, which resulted in a dim image with a blue cast on the model. An orange / magenta cast in the background is a reaction to the household incandescent lighting, and is a common occurrence with this test. Increasing the flash intensity to +1.0 EV (958 k) brightened the exposure a fair amount, greatly reducing the blue cast on the model. The white shirt has a stronger white value, though hints of blue are still present in the shadows of the shirt and on the model's face. Color looks pretty good in both shots, with reasonably good accuracy and saturation. Next, we shot with the flash in Slow Synchro (1009 k) mode, without an intensity adjustment. Because the Slow Synchro mode works with a slower shutter speed, more of the ambient light is allowed into the image, creating a brighter exposure. Though the lighting appears more even on the model and background, the magenta cast from the incandescent lighting is much stronger, affecting both the foreground and background. Increasing the flash intensity to +1.0 EV (998 k) produces a more accurate white value on the model's shirt, though a bluish cast appears from the flash., and the model's skin tones appear overly reddish. We chose the +1.0EV normal flash shot for our main choice for this category.


 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (1058 k)
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, and the C-700's white balance system performs well. We shot samples of this image with the automatic (1058 k), incandescent (1069 k), and manual (1057 k) white balance settings, choosing the incandescent setting for our main series. The automatic setting produced a very strong magenta cast in response to the lighting. The manual setting produced a cooler color cast, though the overall color doesn't look too bad. We felt that the incandescent setting was just about right, preserving some of the warmth of the room lighting, without succumbing to an overly strong color cast. Despite the warm cast, color looks fairly accurate, with good saturation. The blue flowers have strong purple tints at the edges of the petals, but the remaining flowers look good. Skin tones are slightly orange, but not too bad overall. Details are sharp, and the image shows moderately high resolution. We chose an exposure adjustment of +1.0 EV for our main image. We also shot with the 100 (1052 k), 200 (993 k), 400 (944 k), and 800 (896 k) ISO settings, though this time with the manual white balance setting. Noise is moderate at the 100 ISO setting, increasing to a very high level at the 400 and 800 ISO settings. The higher image noise at the 400 and 800 ISO settings also gives the model's skin tones a paler, bluish tint. The table below shows a range of exposures from zero to +1.3 EV, in the incandescent white balance setting.

Exposure Compensation Settings:
0 EV
1/ 13
F/ 2.8
(1012 k)
0.3 EV
1/ 10
F/ 2.8
(1025 k)
0.6 EV
1/ 8
F/ 2.8
(1041 k)
1.0 EV
1/ 6
F/ 2.8
(1058 k)
1.3 EV
1/ 5
F/ 2.8
(1059 k)



 
House shot: (926 k)
We shot this image with the automatic (926 k), daylight (924 k), and manual (926 k) white balance settings, none of which produced a dead-on, accurate image. The automatic and daylight settings produced similar, slightly warm images, with the daylight setting resulting in the warmest of the two. The manual setting was close to being accurate, as far as white value is concerned, but the overall image is very cool, with bluish tints. In the end, we decided that the automatic setting produced the best results. Color looks good, with vibrant greens and warm reds. Resolution also looks good, with a lot of fine detail visible in the bricks and shrubbery, and in the tree limbs above the roof. Details are very sharp, but we did notice a fair bit of softness in the corners. (Shot in the studio, this photo is taken with the lens nearly wide-open, always the worst case for problems like corner softness.) In-camera sharpening is barely detectable, as less than a pixel of the halo effect is noticeable around the light and dark edges of the white trim along the roof line. The roof shingles and shadows show moderate noise.

Sharpness Series
We also shot a series with the camera's sharpness settings, noticing only a slight adjustment in contrast with the Hard and Soft settings. Overall brightness appeared to stay the same at all three settings. (The desired outcome.) The in-camera sharpening halo disappears entirely with the Soft setting, which most likely simply disables the camera's sharpening processing. Likewise, the Hard setting produces a very crisp image, without overdoing it.

Hard
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(961 k)
Normal
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(998 k)
Soft
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(935 k)


Contrast Series
We also shot with the C-700's adjustable contrast settings, noticing that as the contrast increased or decreased, saturation was affected as well. The Low contrast setting results in very subdued color, while the High contrast setting produces very bright colors.

High
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(575 k)
Normal
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(576 k)
Low
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(549 k)



 
 
Far-Field Test (1057 k)
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.

We shot this image with the automatic white balance setting, which produced good color, though the white trim has a bluish cast. This shot is a strong test of detail, given the practically infinite range of fine detail in a natural scene like this, viewed from a distance. Resolution looks good, with a lot of fine detail in the front shrubbery and house details, as well as in the tree branches above the house. Details are slightly soft throughout the image, but once more with softness in the corners of the frame. (This was a little odd: The camera's programmed exposure mode seems to strongly prefer higher shutter speeds (perhaps because of the long telephoto capability), and so selected a very short shutter speed here, with the lens wide open. Switching to aperture priority would undoubtedly have improved the sharpness in the corners.)We also judge a camera's dynamic range in this shot, comparing how well the camera holds detail in both the shadow and highlight areas. The C-700 handles the bright, white paint of the bay window fairly well, capturing the stronger details and a few of the less apparent ones in the recessed trim. The shadow area under the porch also fares well, as the brick pattern and porch light are reasonably clear and distinct. We shot with the 100 (1046 k), 200 (977 k), 400 (1099 k), and 800 (1029 k) ISO settings, noticing that as the ISO setting increased, color saturation decreased. Noise is moderately low at the 100 ISO setting, increasing to a very high and distracting level at 800 ISO. The 400 ISO shot shows high noise as well, with the 200 ISO setting showing only moderately high noise. The table below shows our standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution/Quality series
Uncompressed/Fine
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5640 k)
Large/Fine
1/ 800
F/ 3.5
(1057 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 800
F/ 3.5
(450 k)

Medium/Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 3.2
(588 k)
Medium/Normal
1/ 800
F/ 3.5
(286 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 1000
F/ 3.2
(435 k)
Small/Normal
1/ 800
F/ 3.5
(183 k)

Tiny/Fine
1/ 800
F/ 3.5
(187 k)
Tiny/Normal
1/ 1000
F/ 3.2
(69 k)


Sharpness Series
We again shot with the C-700's adjustable sharpness setting, which again seemed to make only minor adjustments to the overall image sharpness.

Hard
1/ 400
F/ 5
(1033 k)
Normal
1/ 400
F/ 5
(1002 k)
Soft
1/ 400
F/ 5
(1074 k)


Contrast Series
The C-700's contrast adjustments produced similar results as with the House poster, altering the saturation in addition to the overall image contrast. Still, the C-700 produces good results.

High
1/ 400
F/ 5
(569 k)
Normal
1/ 400
F/ 5
(574 k)
Low
1/ 400
F/ 5
(552 k)



 
 
Lens Zoom Range
(Wow, 10x is a lot of zoom!) We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 10x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with 2.7x digital telephoto enabled. The C-700 produces excellent results with this zoom range. The wide angle setting captures a nice, wide field of view, with significant space on either side of the house in the frame. Detail looks reasonably sharp, with good resolution. A hint of barrel distortion is visible along the curb of the street, but the overall image looks nice. The 10x telephoto setting gets incredibly close, producing sharper details and higher resolution while preserving color and brightness. Even the bright details of the bay window are more clearly visible. The C-700's 2.7x digital telephoto does an excellent job of digitally enlarging the image while preserving resolution and detail. The image is slightly soft, but resolution remains fairly high. Noise increases slightly (mainly noticeable in the bricks), but the image looks great. (Note that these images were shot at the 1280 x 960 resolution setting, so the blurring from the digital zoom is less than would be the case at the full 1600 x 1200 image size.)

Wide Angle
Shutter: 1/ 800
Aperture: F4.2
(600 k)
10x Telephoto
Shutter: 1/ 650
Aperture: F3.2
(577 k)
2.7x Digital Telephoto
Shutter: 1/ 400
Aperture: F3.5
(523 k)



 
 
Musicians Poster (1058 k)
For this test, we shot with the automatic (1057 k), daylight (1058 k), and manual (1080 k) white balance settings, this time choosing the daylight setting as the most accurate. The large amount of blue in the image often tricks digicams into overcompensating, and was slightly affected in this respect. The automatic and daylight settings both produced slightly warm images, with the automatic setting producing the warmest of the two (compensating for the blue cast of the background). The manual setting resulted in a much cooler image, with a more accurate background color, but the skin tones of the models are bluish and pale. Though the daylight setting is a little warm, the skin tones look the most natural of the three white balance settings. The Oriental model's blue robe is slightly greenish from the warm cast, but still looks nearly correct (this is a difficult blue for digicams to reproduce, so the C-700 performs well here). Resolution looks very good, with nearly all of the fine detail in the bird wings and silver threads of the model's robe visible. Even the more subtle details of the smaller bird's wings are distinguishable. The violin strings are nice and sharp, though with a strong moire pattern. We also noticed sharp details in the beaded necklaces and flower garland. Noise is moderate throughout the image, mainly noticeable in the blue background and in the red vest.


 
Macro Shot (1009 k)
The C-700 performs about average in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 4.31 x 3.23 inches (109.42 x 82.06 millimeters). Resolution is fairly high, with good detail visible throughout the image. Details are also pretty sharp, though the brooch is a little soft (probably due to the shallow depth of field when you're focusing this close). We also noticed corner softness in this shot. Color balance appears slightly warm, with a yellow cast. The C-700's built-in flash (997 k) has some trouble with the macro area, overexposing the subject and washing out color. There's also a dark shadow in the lower left portion of the frame, where part of the flash is blocked by the lens barrel.


"Davebox" Test Target (1013 k)
We shot samples of this target using the automatic (1016 k), daylight (1020 k), and manual (1013 k) white balance settings, choosing the manual setting as the most accurate. Both daylight and automatic white balance settings produced slightly warm images, with the daylight setting resulting in a stronger yellow cast. The large blocks of the target look pretty accurate, though the yellow block is a little weak. The C-700 captures the subtle difference between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle, horizontal color chart (which is a common problem area for many digicams), though the black separator line has a reddish tint. The C-700 also does a good job with accuracy in these two blocks, as many digicams give them an orange cast. Exposure is about right, as the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 chart are visible as far as the "B" range. The tonal gradations of the smaller, vertical gray scales look good as well. (The two darkest blocks are just barely separable.) The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows great detail, with moderate noise, and we also noticed good detail in the white gauze area. As we noticed throughout our testing, resolution is high, with good detail in the box hinges and silver disk. The black lines of the mini resolution target are likewise pretty sharp. The strong highlight reflections of the lights in the shiny pot lid show rather pronounced chromatic aberration. We also shot with the 100 (954 k), 200 (930 k), 400 (930 k), and 800 (1063 k) ISO settings, noticing a slightly brighter exposure at the 800 ISO setting. Noise increased from moderate at the 100 ISO setting to moderately high at the 400 ISO setting, and very high at the 800 ISO setting.


 
Low-Light Tests
The C-700's maximum shutter speed of 16 seconds gives the camera excellent low-light shooting capabilities. At all four ISO settings, we captured bright, usable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux). The higher ISO settings produced brighter images at these low light levels, but the 100 ISO setting does a good job as well. Color is good in all of the images, though the slightly darker exposure of the 100 ISO setting produced a faint yellow cast. Noise is moderate at 100 ISO, increasing steadily with each higher ISO setting to a very high level at 800 ISO. (We direct readers to Mike Chaney's excellent Qimage Pro program (XXX k), for a tool with an amazing ability to remove image noise without significantly affecting detail.) To put the C-700's low-light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, so the camera should easily handle much darker situations. The table below shows the ISO series for the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) light level. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

8fc
10EV
88lux
4fc
9EV
44lux
2fc
8EV
22lux
1fc
7EV
11lux
1/2fc
6EV
5.5lux
1/4fc
5EV
2.7lux
1/8fc
4EV
1.3lux
1/16fc
3EV
0.67lx
ISO 100
Click to see C70L1004.JPG
935.2 KB
1/ 4
F2.8
Click to see C70L1011S.JPG
1,004.5 KB
1
F2.8
Click to see C70L1021S.JPG
916.7 KB
1
F2.8
Click to see C70L1033S.JPG
1,056.9 KB
3.2
F2.8
Click to see C70L1044S.JPG
1,000.0 KB
4
F2.8
Click to see C70L1058S.JPG
853.5 KB
8
F2.8
Click to see C70L10616S.JPG
978.5 KB
16
F2.8
Click to see C70L10716S.JPG
985.4 KB
16
F2.8
ISO 200
Click to see C70L2008.JPG
914.2 KB
1/ 8
F2.8
Click to see C70L2014.JPG
925.9 KB
1/ 4
F2.8
Click to see C70L2022.JPG
1,100.6 KB
1/ 2
F2.8
Click to see C70L2031S.JPG
865.8 KB
1.6
F2.8
Click to see C70L2042S.JPG
814.0 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see C70L2042S.JPG
921.0 KB
4
F2.8
Click to see C70L2068S.JPG
1,076.4 KB
8
F2.8
Click to see C70L20716S.JPG
953.6 KB
16
F2.8
ISO 400
Click to see C70L40015.JPG
923.2 KB
1/ 15
F2.8
Click to see C70L4018.JPG
930.8 KB
1/ 8
F2.8
Click to see C70L4024.JPG
911.2 KB
1/ 4
F2.8
Click to see C70L4031S.JPG
972.8 KB
1
F2.8
Click to see C70L4041S.JPG
919.6 KB
1
F2.8
Click to see C70L4052S.JPG
990.8 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see C70L4064S.JPG
847.5 KB
4
F2.8
Click to see C70L4078S.JPG
948.9 KB
8
F2.8
ISO 800
Click to see C70L80030.JPG
939.7 KB
1/ 30
F2.8
Click to see C70L80115.JPG
950.0 KB
1/ 15
F2.8
Click to see C70L8028.JPG
933.2 KB
1/ 8
F2.8
Click to see C70L8033.JPG
970.2 KB
1/ 3
F2.8
Click to see C70L8042.JPG
931.3 KB
1/ 2
F2.8
Click to see C70L8051S.JPG
959.2 KB
1
F2.8
Click to see C70L8062S.JPG
1,024.7 KB
2
F2.8
Click to see C70L8078S.JPG
994.3 KB
4
F2.8



 
Flash Range Test
In our testing, we found the C-700's flash to be very bright and highly effective as far as 14 feet from the test target. Intensity only slightly decreases from the eight to 14 foot distances. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target, with the flash in the normal intensity setting.


8 ft
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(897 k)

9 ft
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(887 k)

10 ft
1/ 40
F/ 3.2
(875 k)

11 ft
1/ 60
F/ 3.5
(929 k)

12 ft
1/ 60
F/ 3.5
(920 k)

13 ft
1/ 60
F/ 3.5
(916 k)

14 ft
1/ 60
F/ 3.5
(876 k)



 
ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1028k)
The C700's resolution test results were about average for a two megapixel camera. In the horizontal direction, artifacts begin at about 550 lines per picture height, while in the vertical direction, they don't begin until 600 lines. Strong detail is visible in both directions out to about 650 lines.

Optical distortion on the C-700 is a bit high at the wide angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.89 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we saw less than a pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate in this target, showing about two or three pixels of coloration around the target elements at the edges of the frame. (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.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Uncompressed/Giant
Note: Download and view in imaging software.
(5640 k)
Giant/Fine
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(1031 k)
Giant/Normal
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(372 k)

Large/Fine
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(568 k)
Large/Normal
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(230 k)

Medium/Fine
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(394 k)
Medium/Normal
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(143 k)

Small/Fine
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(142 k)
Small/Normal
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(66 k)


Resolution Series, Telephoto
Giant/Fine
1/ 40
F/ 3.5
(995 k)


Sharpness Series
Hard
1/ 100
F/ 3.5
(1037 k)
Normal
1/ 100
F/ 3.5
(992 k)
Soft
1/ 100
F/ 3.5
(920 k)



 
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
The C-700's electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor are very accurate, at almost 100 percent frame coverage. At the wide angle (877 k) setting, the bottom target line is cut off, making the viewfinder a little loose, albeit by a very tiny margin. At telephoto (XXX k), the image is slanted, cutting off parts of the top and bottom target lines. (Slight framing error on our part, not the fault of the camera.) We like to see LCDs and electronic viewfinders as close to 100% frame coverage as possible, so the C700 does quite well on that score. (People moving up from film-based point & shoot cameras will want to be careful to not cut off subjects heads, or otherwise crop their photos too closely: Most film cameras have pretty tight viewfinders, so a digicam with an accurate viewfinder will take a little getting used to.) Flash distribution is even at the telephoto setting, with a reflection on the target lines in the center. At the wide angle setting, flash distribution is fairly even in the middle of the target, with a little falloff at the corners and along the edges.


Wide Angle (LCD)
1/ 3
F/ 2.8
(877 k)

Telephoto (LCD)
1/ 3
F/ 3.5
(889 k)


 

Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom!



<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate