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Olympus C-7000 Wide Zoom

Seven megapixels, 5x zoom, great pictures, a ton of features, and great build quality - A real winner!

Review First Posted: 11/26/04




MSRP $599 US

 

*
7.1-megapixel CCD, delivering 3,072 x 2,304-pixel images
*
5x optical zoom lens
* Extensive exposure controls as well as contrast, saturation, and sharpness adjustments
*
RAW data and TIFF file formats, as well as compressed JPEG
*
New "Redeye Fix" Playback option for removing redeye in-camera

 

Manufacturer Overview: Olympus C-7000

Olympus has long been a dominant player in the digicam marketplace. They boast one of the broadest lineups of digicams in the industry, with numerous models ranging from pure entry-level point-and-shoot digicams to the exceptional E-1 SLR and the newer E-300 EVOLT. The 7.1-megapixel, 5x zoom Olympus C-7000 Zoom combines the flexibility of near-professional level exposure control to a compact, point-and-shoot body style. The Olympus C-7000 Zoom offers just about every "enthusiast" feature you could ask for, excellent image quality, and a small body size that's perfect for travel. At the same time though, its full-auto and scene modes make it easy for a novice to use. Camera body fit and finish is superb, possibly due to Olympus' bringing the lion's share of manufacturing for their high-end digicams back in-house. New to the Olympus C-7000 Zoom is a Red-eye Fix option in Playback mode, so that you can go back and remove any red-eye that manages to slip past the Red-Eye Reduction preflash. The camera also boasts five preset scene modes, a time-lapse photography mode, and movie with sound recording capabilities, in addition to the well-known features we've come to love on Olympus digicams. After working with it over a period of a couple of weeks, the Olympus C-7000 Zoom impressed us as one of the better choices on the market for a full-featured yet compact digicam.

Read on for the full details.

 

Olympus C-7000 High Points

 

Executive Overview

Following in the footsteps of previous Camedia C-Series digicams, Olympus presents the C-7000 Zoom, a slightly more compact, but still feature-laden digicam. With a 7.1-megapixel CCD for higher resolution images, and a full range of manual and automatic exposure controls, the Olympus C-7000 Zoom is well-suited to just about any user level. The C-7000 measures only 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.7 inches (102 x 59 x 43 millimeters), and should easily fit into most average shirt pockets. It's also relatively light weight, at 8.99 ounces (255 grams) with the card and battery. With its fairly sleek body (there are only a few slight protrusions), the C-7000 Zoom is easy to stash in a pocket, but I recommend a soft case for added protection.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom offers a wide range of user controls, including a one-touch white balance function (with a very useful white balance adjustment feature for minor color tweaks), spot autofocus, wide-ranging contrast and sharpness adjustments, and QuickTime movies with sound. It also incorporates an advanced Noise Reduction System, which uses dark-frame subtraction to minimize background noise in long exposures shot under low light conditions. Happily, the C-7000 Zoom includes a couple of features that I missed on the previously released C-5000 model, namely the histogram feature, Multi-Spot metering mode, and adjustable AF mode. While those options are definitely a plus, the C-7000 Zoom goes even further with a Timelapse photography mode and in-camera Redeye Fix option, making it a very capable camera with plenty of exposure features to experiment with.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom features both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 2.0-inch, color TFT LCD monitor, with approximately 206,000 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 overlaid on top of the viewfinder display (a nice feature not found on every digicam) and the number of images available in the current resolution setting, at the bottom of the monitor. The C-7000 Zoom also provides a very helpful numeric/bargraph 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 5x optical zoom in operation, and the progress of the digital zoom whenever you zoom past the range of the optical telephoto. In addition to the histogram display, the C-7000 Zoom offers a "Direct" histogram option, which displays the white and black areas of the frame in red and blue respectively, showing you directly which parts of the image may be under or overexposed. I actually found this much more useful than the histogram feature, as I could instantly tell which parts of the image were in danger. The blue and red only appear while you are framing the shot, and disappear when you press the shutter halfway.

The 7.9-39.5mm 5x zoom lens is equivalent to a 38-190mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a f/2.8 maximum aperture. In addition to the C-7000 Zoom's 5x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to 6x with the digital zoom function, which Olympus calls "seamless." The zoom does pause before entering digital zoom, however, so you won't cross over into the digital zoom realm without being aware of doing so. (Users should be aware that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom though, since the digital zoom merely and enlarges the center portion of the CCD. As a result, digitally enlarged images are invariably "softer" than ones enlarged via a zoom lens.)

The C-7000 Zoom's image file sizes include: 3,072 x 2,304; 2,592 x 1,944; 2,288 x 1,712; 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1280 x 960; 1024 x 768; and 640 x 480 pixels. Image quality options include three JPEG compression ratios, plus uncompressed TIFF and RAW formats that produce full-resolution images free of compression artifacts.

The C-7000 Zoom offers all the exposure control you could ask for, 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/2.8 to f/8.0 and shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to four seconds. The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but offers shutter times as long as 15 seconds. Setting the camera to 1/2,000 second in Manual mode requires that the aperture be set to f/4 or above; at f/2.8, f/3.2, and f/3.5 the maximum shutter speed is 1/1,600. (The same restriction on shutter speed applies in Aperture Priority mode as well.) There's also a selection of preset Scene modes, to make it easy to snap good-looking photos in what might otherwise be challenging conditions. Scene Program modes include Portrait, Sports, Landscape Portrait, Landscape Scene, and Night Scene modes. Although the Scene Mode option itself is accessed by a dial, changing between the various Scene modes is done in the menu, requiring at least eight button presses to change. (A little awkward, in my opinion.) Finally, the My Mode feature provides a custom setup for the camera, letting you select complex combinations of settings with a single menu choice.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom provides five ISO options (light sensitivity settings) of Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400; automatic exposure bracketing; Digital ESP, Spot, and Multi metering modes; and exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance can be set to Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Daylight Fluorescent, Neutral Fluorescent, Cool Fluorescent, or Quick Reference (aka custom or manual white balance adjustment) to accommodate a variety of lighting conditions, while a white balance color adjustment function lets you fine-tune the color balance across a wide range from red to blue.

Image contrast, sharpness, and saturation adjustments are available through the Shooting menu, and a Function menu option allows you to capture images in black and white or sepia tone. There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and a Remote Control mode for use with the optional IR remote.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with sound, for maximum times dictated by its internal buffer memory, at either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, and either 30 or 15 frames per second. A Sequence mode is available for capturing multiple images at up to 1.1 frames per second, with a Hi Sequence option that captures a maximum of two frames at 2.2 frames per second. A Panorama mode allows you to take up to 10 shots with the same exposure and white balance, for subsequent merging with the included Panorama Stitch software in the computer. (Note that the panorama option is only available when you're using Olympus-branded xD-Picture Cards.) There's also a Time-lapse mode for capturing a series of images over time, at preset intervals (perfect for capturing an opening flower, moving clouds, etc.).

The camera's pop-up flash offers five operating modes (Flash Off, Auto-Flash, Forced Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, and Slow Sync), with flash range extending to approximately 12.8 feet (3.9 meters). The Slow Sync flash mode uses a slower shutter speed with the flash, to allow more of the ambient lighting into the photo, and includes the option to fire the flash at either the beginning or end of the exposure, as well as add a Red-Eye Reduction pre-flash. You also can increase or decrease the flash power from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments through the Shooting menu.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom ships with a 32MB xD-Picture Card for image storage (larger capacity cards up to 512MB are available separately). You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and Olympus' "Auto Connect USB" interface means the camera will automatically appear on your computer's desktop, if you're using Windows Me, XP, or 2000, or Mac OS 8.6 or later. A video output jack and cable let you play your images back on an external video monitor, which can also be used as a super-sized viewfinder in capture mode. Software shipped with the unit includes the Olympus Master 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.

 

Design

The latest introduction in Olympus' Camedia C-Series, the C-7000 Zoom's outward appearance is thinner and more compact than previous "C" models. Small and rectangular, with only a few small protrusions, the C-7000 Zoom is a little more pocket-friendly than its predecessors. Measuring 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.7 inches (102 x 59 x 43 millimeters), the C-7000 Zoom should fit into larger shirt pockets, and will definitely find room in most purses and larger coat pockets. The C-7000 Zoom weighs in at nine ounces (255 grams) with the card and battery installed, features a body design that combines structural plastic and metal decorative panels. A thin wrist strap comes with the camera, providing a little extra security in case the camera should slip out of your hands while shooting.

From the front of the camera, the edge of the zoom lever (upper left corner) is visible, as well as the lip of the flash compartment, microphone, AF illuminator, viewfinder window, self-timer alert light, and IR receiver (for the optional wireless remote control). The telescoping lens extends just over seven-eighths of an inch beyond the front of the camera body when powered on in any capture mode. The lens is protected by a shutter-like lens cover that automatically slides open when the lens extends, and likewise closes as the lens retracts. A small, rubbery hand grip provides reasonable real estate for your fingers to grab onto when holding the camera, and the rubbery textured covering helps give a more secure grip and a more friendly "feel" to the hand.

The right side of the camera features the USB / AV out shared jack, which is protected by a flexible, rubbery flap that remains tethered to the camera. Also on this side of the camera is the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap.

On the opposite side of the camera are the playback speaker and DC In jack. A rubbery flap protects the connector terminal from dust, and remains attached to the camera when opened.

The top of the camera holds the Zoom Lever, Shutter button (surrounded by the Zoom Lever), Power button, and pop-up flash compartment.

The majority of the camera's control buttons are on the rear panel, along with the 2.0-inch LCD monitor and optical viewfinder eyepiece. The Five-way navigation pad serves multiple functions, and is located next to the lower right corner of the display. An OK/Menu button is at its center. Adjacent to the top right corner of the LCD monitor are the AE Lock / Custom / Rotate and Quick View buttons. Angled down from the top panel on the right side are the AE / AF / Erase, Self-Timer / Remote / DPOF, and Flash / Protect buttons. A large Mode dial in the top right corner controls the camera's operating mode. Olympus seems to have rethought the mode dial with its latest models; this one is recessed and easy to use, yet isn't easily turned accidentally in a pocket or bag. Over on the top left side of the panel, also angled down from the top of the camera, is the Flash Release button. The optical viewfinder eyepiece sits almost dead center, and its view zooms in and out with the lens. A pair of LED lamps next to the eyepiece report the camera's status. An LED lamp in the lower right corner lights whenever the camera accesses the memory card. This serves as a warning not to open the battery/xD card access door until all activity has stopped.

The bottom of the camera holds the shared battery and memory card compartment and a plastic screw-mount tripod socket, which is too close to the battery compartment for quick battery changes when mounted on a tripod. (This is something I always pay attention to, given the extensive amount of studio shooting I do with each camera.) The tripod socket is also off-center from the lens, making panorama shots with foreground objects more difficult.

 

Viewfinder

The C-7000 Zoom offers both a real-image optical viewfinder and a rear panel, 2.0-inch, 206,000-pixel, TFT color LCD screen. The optical viewfinder does not feature a diopter correction adjustment, but does have a fairly 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 used when the LCD monitor is on. A black set of brackets in the center of the field of view marks the autofocus area, and helps you center your subjects. 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 blinks, the camera is either having trouble focusing, or there's a problem with the memory card. 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 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-7000 Zoom's LCD monitor provides detailed information about exposure settings, including the currently selected f/stop, shutter speed, and exposure compensation adjustments across the top of the screen. Information on ISO speed, flash mode, drive mode, and the state of several other camera settings may optionally appear on the LCD screen, if the Shooting Menu (Camera sub-menu) "INFO" setting is turned on. There is no option to completely disable the information overlay, without turning the LCD screen off altogether. (I'd really like to be able to turn off the info overlay sometimes, to avoid obscuring critical subject details.)

In Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, the chosen aperture or shutter speed appears as a manually-set constant, while the second, automatically determined exposure value updates continuously in response to scene lighting and the exposure compensation setting. In Manual mode, the camera 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 readout serves as an exposure display, showing the amount the camera thinks your settings will over- or underexpose the subject. (The exposure display turns red if your chosen exposure is more than three EV units away from what the camera calculates to be correct.

Through the Camera menu, you can enable a histogram display, which displays a small histogram over the lower portion of the frame, mapping out the tonal distribution. A "Direct" option eliminates the histogram, but emphasizes any portion of the frame that will be under or over exposed. Red dots indicate white areas, while blue dots indicate any black areas. Thus, you get a larger (and more easily-read) indication of which parts of the image will be under or overexposed. The Camera menu also offers a Framing Guideline option, which divides the image area into thirds, horizontally and vertically, to help you line up more difficult shots.

When using the LCD monitor to review captured images, you can zoom in on displayed images as much as 5x, and then scroll around the enlarged image using the arrow buttons. This is very handy for checking focus, small details, or precise framing. There's also an Index display option, which shows nine thumbnail images at a time, as determined by a setup menu option. Pressing the Zoom lever toward the wide-angle position while in Index Display mode, pulls up the Calendar Display, which displays the images on the card by date. A graphical calendar display shows a tiny thumbnail of the first image captured on each date. A very handy "Quick View" function lets you switch quickly from Shooting to Playback mode by pressing the Quick View button on the rear panel. In Quick View mode, the camera will display the most recently captured image on the LCD screen, but you have essentially all of the Playback-mode options available to you, and can scroll back and forth to other images, zoom in and out on them, and call up the information display. You can revert to shooting mode either by pressing the Quick View button again, or simply by half-pressing the Shutter button.

A Record View function, enabled through the Shooting menu (Setup sub-menu), briefly 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 AE / AF / Erase button while the review image is still onscreen. It's a great way to check your images without spending time switching back and forth between Playback and Shooting modes.

In my tests, the C-7000's optical viewfinder was quite tight, showing only 77-81% of the final frame area. Fortunately, its LCD viewfinder was almost 100% accurate. (The overly tight optical viewfinder was one of the few weak points I found on an otherwise excellent digicam.)

 

Optics

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The Olympus C-7000 Zoom is equipped with 5x, 7.9-39.5mm lens, providing a range of angular coverage equivalent to that of a 38-190mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 -f/4.8 (depending on the lens' current zoom setting).

Focus ranges from 2.0 feet (60 centimeters) to infinity in Normal mode, with a Macro mode ranging from 0.3 feet (8 centimeters). A Super Macro mode lets you get as close as 0.8 inches (2.0 centimeters).

The camera's TTL (through the lens) autofocus system uses a contrast-detect method to gauge focus. The green LED next to the optical viewfinder glows solid as soon as the subject is in focus. (A flashing green LED generally means there's a problem focusing, so you may need to switch to Macro mode, back away from the subject, or get more light on it for the AF system to "see" by.) An AF-assist light on the front of the camera helps it focus in low lighting, and can be disabled through the camera's settings menu. Although the C-7000 Zoom doesn't feature an automatic focus lock, you can manually lock both exposure and focus by centering the desired portion of the subject in the frame, half-pressing the Shutter button, and then recomposing the image while continuing to half-press the Shutter button. The AE / AF / Erase button on the rear panel accesses the camera's AF area options (Spot, iESP, and Area). In Spot mode, the camera bases focus on the very center of the subject. iESP mode instead puts the camera in charge of the AF area. The Area option lets you manually select the AF area by moving the central AF target mark to virtually any position on the LCD display using the arrow keys. (Note that you cannot manually set the AF area if digital zoom is enabled, and the option will not show up on the menu either.) Additionally, the C-7000 Zoom's Fulltime AF option (enabled through the settings menu) continuously adjusts focus, regardless of whether the Shutter button is half-way pressed or not.

A manual focus option is available by pressing and holding the OK / Menu button on the back panel, which displays the manual focus distance scale on the LCD monitor. The up and down arrow keys adjust the focus distance, and the right and left keys select between MF and AF focus modes. When you adjust the focus manually, the LCD viewfinder display changes to show a 2x magnified view of the central portion of the image while you're actually adjusting the focus, to make it easier to see whether or not your subject is in focus. The display returns to normal size once you release the up or down arrow button. I really like the C-7000's use of a bar graph focusing distance display, combined with numbers indicating specific distances. Some cameras offer only a bar graph display, with no numeric information, a much less useful arrangement, in my opinion. Having specific numbers to refer to can be invaluable in low-light situations, where there's not enough light to see whether the subject is in focus on the LCD screen, and your only option is to estimate the distance to the subject.

As much as 6x of digital zoom is available in addition to the 5x optical zoom, increasing the C-7000 Zoom's total zoom range to 30x. Digital zoom is only accessible when the LCD monitor is engaged; when the LCD is turned off, the digital zoom returns to the 1x setting. It also cannot be used with the uncompressed TIFF and RAW modes. As always though, remember that digital zoom just "stretches" the image from the central portion of the CCD, which directly trades off resolution for magnification. Digital zoom images will always be softer and less sharp than those with equivalent magnification delivered entirely by an optical zoom lens.

 

Exposure

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Like other Olympus C-Series digicams, the C-7000 Zoom offers a lot of exposure control, including Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes. Additional exposure options include four ISO settings (Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400); exposure compensation up to +/- 2 EV, auto bracketing, internal flash adjustment, and spot or multizone metering, in addition to a handful of other creative image settings.

In Program mode, the camera selects both the aperture and shutter speed (to a maximum of one second), while you control the remaining exposure options such as ISO, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and metering mode. Aperture Priority lets you set the aperture from f/2.8 to f/8.0, while the camera chooses the best corresponding shutter speed. In Shutter Priority, you can select shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to four seconds, and the camera selects the best corresponding aperture setting. (Although the maximum aperture is limited to f/4.0 at the 1/2,000 second shutter speed.) In Manual mode, you control both aperture and shutter speed simultaneously. Shutter speed in Manual mode can range from 15 seconds to 1/2,000 second, but the 1/2,000 second speed is only available when the aperture is set to f/4 or higher; at f/2.8, f/3.2, and f/3.5 the maximum shutter speed is 1/1,600. (The same restriction on shutter speed applies in Aperture Priority mode as well.) In Manual mode, the exposure compensation display at the top of the LCD screen changes into an exposure meter, a helpful feature. As you scroll through various shutter speed/aperture combinations, the camera indicates whether or not it thinks the current setting will give you a correct exposure. It does this by showing the f/stop and shutter speed in green, and the difference between your settings and the "correct" exposure in white numerals, across a range of +/- 3 EV. If the differential exceeds three EV, the numbers turn red and stay fixed at a +/- 3 EV reading.

In addition to the four basic exposure modes, a "My Mode" option lets you save a set of exposure settings that can be accessed via the Mode dial. Thus, if you shoot under the same conditions frequently, you can save the settings and instantly recall them when needed. This can be very handy when you shoot frequently under the same conditions, such as in an office environment or any place where the lighting is controlled and constant.

A Scene setting on the Mode dial offers five preset modes for specific shooting situations. Included are Portrait, Sports, Landscape Portrait, Landscape Scene, and Night Scene modes. (The actual Scene setting is selected through the Scene option of the Camera menu.) In Portrait mode, the camera captures individual portraits with wider aperture settings, leaving the subject crisply focused in front of a slightly blurred background, while Sports mode biases the exposure system toward faster shutter speeds to freeze the action. The two Landscape modes are set up for capturing broad vistas of scenery with or without people in the foreground. Night Scene mode optimizes the camera for darker shooting situations, keeping the exposure under automatic control but adjusting the ISO and shutter speed for the best exposure.

Two metering systems are available on the C-7000 Zoom: Spot and ESP multi-segment metering. Spot and ESP are accessed by pressing the AE / AF / Erase button on the camera's back panel. Under the default ESP multi-segment setting, the camera takes readings from a number of areas across the field of view, and evaluates both brightness and contrast between the areas to determine the best exposure. Spot metering reads the exposure from the very center of the image, so you can pinpoint the specific area of the subject you want properly exposed and lock in on that exposure (as well as the lens focus setting) by depressing the Shutter button halfway and holding it down while you recompose the scene. The AE Lock button also lets you lock exposure independently of focus, simply by pressing the button a single time. The exposure is then locked until the button is pressed again or the Shutter button is pressed. A Multi-Metering function is also available, and lets you take up to eight individual spot-meter readings from the center of the LCD monitor (inside the exposure brackets) by repeatedly pressing the AE Lock (AEL) button. Each reading is marked on a relative exposure scale across the bottom of the LCD panel, and then averaged to produce the overall reading. You lock the Multi-Spot reading by holding the AE Lock button down for one second (the word "Memo" appears in the LCD display), and can cancel it by pressing and holding the AEL button one last time. This is a very useful exposure option for advanced photographers.

In the main exposure modes (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes), the C-7000 Zoom provides a range of ISO (light sensitivity) settings, including Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400 ISO equivalents. Higher ISO settings naturally bring along with them higher levels of image noise, but I found the pattern of the C-7000 Zoom's noise to be unusually tight and fine-grained, making it less objectionable than that of many competing models.

Camera light meters assume that the world averages out to a mediumgray, and make their exposure decisions accordingly. This works wellmost of the time, but subjects that are very bright or dark overall cantrick the metering system. Light subjects will tend to be underexposed,while dark ones can be overexposed. In these situations, you need to beable to adjust the camera's default exposure to compensate for thesubject's overall tone. This is the function of the "exposurecompensation" adjustment. To adjust the exposure compensation on theC-7000 Zoom, simply press either the right or left Arrow buttons (inany exposure mode except Manual) to increase or decrease the exposurevalues (EV) in one-third-step increments, up to +/- 2 EV. The currentcompensation setting is displayed in the upper right corner of the LCD.(The LCD viewfinder must be enabled to adjust this setting, but once itis set, you can turn the LCD off to conserve power, and the settingwill remain in effect.)

Sometimes you aren't sure how best to adjust the exposure for agiven subject, and don't want to take the time to adjust the exposurecompensation manually. (The subject might move or go away while you'refiddling with the camera's controls.) The answer to this dilemma isfound in the C-7000's Auto Bracketing (BKT) function. Selected throughthe Shooting Mode Menu, this feature makes the camera automatically"bracket" the exposure for each shot by as much as +/- 2 EV in eitherthree- or five-step increments (0.3, 0.6, or 1.0 EV units each). Forexample, with a setting of five 0.3 EV steps, the camera willautomatically snap five shots, at exposure adjustments of -0.7, -0.3,0, +0.3, and +0.7 EV, insuring that at least one shot would be exposedjust right. The bracketing function centers its efforts around whateverexposure you've previously selected as the starting point, includingany exposure compensation adjustments you've made.

White Balance is also set in the Mode Menu, with Auto, One Touch (Manual), or one of six Preset options: Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Daylight Fluorescent, Neutral Fluorescent, or Cool 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. (I 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 can be very helpful to have this sort of "tweaking" adjustment available to modify the color shift.)

The C-7000 Zoom has a 12-second Self-Timer for self-portraits or those occasions when you don't want to risk camera shake by pressing the Shutter button to make the exposure. A Remote Control mode works with the optional IR remote unit, letting you trip the shutter from a greater distance away. When the remote control is used to trip the shutter, there's always a two-second delay between pressing the remote's button and when the shutter actually fires. The Function menu option lets you capture images in Black & White or Sepia modes. The camera also offers contrast, sharpness, and saturation adjustments, all in +/- five-step increments.

 

Flash

The C-7000 Zoom has a fairly standard built-in, pop-up flash, with five basic operating modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill Flash, Flash Off, and Slow Synchro modes. Flash range extends to approximately 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) in wide angle mode. (In my own tests, with the lens at its telephoto setting, range was closer to 8 feet.) The Slow Synchro mode combines a slow shutter speed with the flash to let more ambient light into the image. This results in more natural lighting behind flash-illuminated subjects. 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. The Slow 1 menu option fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure (producing a blur in front of the subject), while Slow 2 fires the flash at the end of the exposure (producing a blur behind the subject, where you'd generally expect to see it). There's also a Slow Red-Eye Reduction mode, for portraits. Another nice feature of the C-7000 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. The flash is in Off mode until it is popped up manually; it cannot be popped up automatically regardless of mode even if the camera thinks it is necessary.

Special Exposure Modes

Movie Mode

The C-7000's Movie mode is accessed via the Mode dial on the camera's rear panel. Movies can be recorded with sound at either 640 x 480- or 320 x 240-pixel resolutions, at either 30 or 15 frames per second. At the SHQ quality setting (640 x 480 pixels, 30 frames per second), recording is limited to 20 seconds per clip. At the other resolutions and frame rates, however, recording is only limited by the space available on the memory card. Optical zoom is unavailable while recording movies, due to the noise of the lens moving in and out. However, you can use digital zoom, if enabled through the settings menu.

A very nice feature of the C-7000's movie mode is its "Index" capability, a great way of quickly seeing what's "inside" a movie file. In Movie Playback mode, selecting Index calls up a display of nine individual frames, equally spaced throughout the movie. You can scroll through all nine images at once using the left and right arrow keys, with each sampled frame remaining equidistant from the others. Pressing the OK button three times then saves the image as an individual still file.

Panorama Mode

The C-7000 Zoom offers a Panorama exposure mode when using an Olympus brand panorama-enabled xD-Picture Card. In this mode, the exposure and white balance for a series of shots are determined by the first exposure in the series, making them easier to stitch together in the computer later. The Panorama function is accessed in the Shooting menu through the Camera submenu. 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 xD-Picture 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. (Note: If you don't want to use Olympus-branded xD-Picture Cards, you can accomplish the same end by shooting in Manual exposure mode to fix the exposure parameters, and daylight or Manual white balance mode, to fix the white balance.)

Sequence Modes

The C-7000 Zoom offers two Sequence modes that mimic the motor drive on a film camera. Normal Sequence mode continually records images as long as the Shutter button is held down, or until the buffer memory is full (this varies with the image quality and subject, as well as available memory card space). At the HQ quality setting, Olympus estimates that Sequence mode will capture 10 frames at 1.1 frames per second. (I clocked it at about 1.2 frames/second in this mode.) A Hi Sequence setting records a maximum of two frames at a rate of approximately 2.2 frames per second. (My sample of the camera actually shot at 3.3 frames/second in Hi Sequence mode.) See my test results below for more timing information.

Time-lapse Mode

Also accessed through the camera's shooting menu, Time-lapse mode captures a series of images at preset intervals, letting you record slow-moving events such as a flower opening. You can set the camera to capture as many as 99 consecutive images, with time intervals ranging from one to 59 minutes in one-minute increments. The camera will automatically shut itself off after the last image is captured.

Noise Reduction/Low Light

This isn't really a separate shooting mode, but deserves separate mention because of the impact it has on low light performance. All digital cameras are plagued by image noise on long exposures, particularly the "hot pixel" kind caused by leakage currents on the CCD array. This noise appears as isolated bright pixels of varying colors. Like many current higher-end cameras, the C-7000 Zoom employs a "dark frame subtraction" technique to remove the hot pixels. This means that when the noise reduction option is turned on, it takes the camera twice as long to complete an exposure, since it's actually taking two shots, one of the subject, and the other with the shutter closed. The second of these will contain only the CCD noise, which the camera then subtracts from the image of the subject. Having just said how significant noise reduction is though, in the case of the C-7000 Zoom, the basic images have so few hot pixels in them that the effect of the noise reduction processing is sometimes hard to see. I still recommend it for long time exposures, but the C-7000's images are remarkably "clean" to start with.

RAW-mode Image Editing

This is another feature that isn't at all an exposure mode, but there isn't really any better place to discuss it. The C-7000 can shoot and store files in a "RAW" file mode, which preserves the image data exactly as it came from the camera's sensor. This allows later processing on the computer to adjust tone, color, etc, with no incremental loss of image information. The C-7000 is fairly unique though, in that it allows you to reprocess previously-captured RAW-mode images into JPEGs right in the camera, making a wide range of adjustments to them in the process. Adjustment options include image size/quality, white balance setting, exposure compensation, Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation. When editing a RAW-mode image in the camera, the original image is left undisturbed, the modified image being saved in a new file.

 

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, I now routinely measure it with a custom test system I constructed for the purpose. (With crystal-controlled timing, accurate to 0.01% and with a timing resolution of 1 millisecond.) Here's the full set of timing numbers I measured for the Olympus C-7000 Zoom:

Olympus Camedia C-7000 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
1.2
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Fairly fast.
Shutdown
1.2 - 23
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. First number is fast, second slow, but note that it corresponds to clearing the buffer after 100+ small/basic shots in continuous mode.
Play to Record, first shot
1.0
Time until first shot is captured. Quite fast.
Record to play
7.8 / 3.2
First time is that required to display a large/fine file immediately after capture, second time is that needed to display a large/fine file that has already been processed and stored on the memory card. Both times are a little on the slow side by current standards.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.54 / 0.53
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Very fast, and interestingly little variation between wide and telephoto lens settings.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.157
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Quite fast.
Cycle Time, TIFF 11.05 Times is an average, no buffering. Slow, but not for a 7-megapixel TIFF image.
Cycle Time, RAW
11.05
Times is an average, no buffering. Slow, but not for a 7-megapixel RAW image.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

2.01 /
1.94

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 4 images this fast, then slows to an irregular pace of about one every 5 seconds, and takes 10 seconds to clear the buffer. In TV mode, continues at this rate indefinitely, clearing the buffer after each shot. Not blazing speed, but not at all bad for a 7-megapixel camera.
Cycle Time, continuous High mode, max/min resolution 0.34
(3.33 fps)
Whether in large/fine mode or "TV" mode, shoots two shots at this rate. Times are averages. Buffer clears in 8 seconds for large/fine images, 3.5 seconds for TV size images. Very fast, but more buffer capacity would be very nice.
Cycle Time, continuous Low mode, max/min resolution 0.97 / 0.85
(1.03 / 1.18 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Times are averages. Shoots 4 images this fast in large/fine mode, or more than 100 images with smallest file size. Buffer clears in 13 seconds for large/fine shots, in 22 seconds for "TV" sized images. Decent speed. Buffer capacity for large/fine images is better than for high-speed continuous mode, but still not dramatic. (Note though, that buffer capacity is much greater, if you just drop down to "HQ" mode from "SHQ".)

The Olympus C-7000 is a surprisingly fast camera for such a compact, high-megapixel model. It's very responsive to the shutter, with full-autofocus lag times of 0.53-0.54 second. (The delay is essentially the same regardless of lens zoom setting.) While not the fastest I've seen, the 0.157 second shutter lag when the camera is "prefocused" by pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself is also very good. Cycle times in single-shot mode are quite good, if not startlingly so, at roughly 2 seconds/shot. High-speed continuous mode lets you shoot at just over 3 frames/second, but for only two shots in a row, before you have to wait for the memory card to catch up. This is an excellent frame rate, but the tiny buffer memory is rather limiting. Low-speed continuous mode allows for longer sequences of shots, but at the much slower rate of just over one frame/second. Overall though, the Olympus C-7000 is very responsive little camera.

 

Operation and User Interface

The C-7000 Zoom has a sensible user interface, with a lot of external control available to reduce time spent navigating the LCD menu system, although all controls are dependent on the LCD screen to report the current settings. A large Mode dial on the rear panel controls the camera's operating mode, and multi-functional buttons access a variety of frequently-used camera settings. Like previous Olympus digicams, the C-7000 Zoom's menu system has an initial menu screen with four shortcut buttons on it that lead to sub-menus for quick access of frequently-used menu items. These shortcuts are displayed on the screen as three or four buttons, each selected using the arrow key that corresponds to its position on the screen. Although it can take a little getting used to, this dual-level menu system does let you make adjustments to three of the most often used camera settings quite quickly, and imposes only a slight penalty for less-frequently accessed functions. The C-7000 Zoom's external control layout is similar to previous Olympus Camedia digicam setups, although some buttons have been moved around and functions combined. The AE Lock / Custom Function / Rotate button can have any one of eighteen different functions assigned to it through the Setup sub-menus. This lets you create a short cut to circumvent the menu system for a frequently-used adjustment. With its range of control buttons and menu options, it'll probably take a typical user an hour or so to get familiar with the camera's setup.

Control Enumeration


Power Button
: Located on top of the camera, this button turns the camera on and off. If the Mode dial is set to a capture position, the lens extends or retracts as the camera is turned on or off.


Shutter Button
: To the right of the Power button and nestled in the center of the Zoom Lever, the Shutter button sets focus and exposure settings when depressed halfway and triggers the shutter when fully pressed.

Zoom Lever: Surrounding the Shutter button on the top panel, 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, Calendar view (an unique mode that displays the first image taken on each day of the current month), normal image display, and playback zoom.


Flash Release Button
: Tucked on the far left side of the camera's rear panel, this button releases the flash from its compartment.


AE / AF / Erase Button
: The first button in a series to the right of the optical viewfinder, this button pulls up the following AE and AF shortcut menus, which are navigable via the arrow keys.

In Playback mode, pressing this button lets you delete the currently displayed image.


Self-Timer / Remote / DPOF Button
: To the right of the AE / AF / Erase button, this button accesses the Self-Timer and Remote Control modes in any capture mode. In Playback mode, this button pulls up the DPOF print settings for captured images. You can designate whether to print the single image or all images, as well as determine the number of prints, a date and time overlay, or any cropping.


Flash / Protect Button
: Following to the right of the Self-Timer / Remote / DPOF button, this button controls the flash mode, cycling through Auto-Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Flash Off, and Slow Sync modes. It is important to note that if the flash is not popped up, this button does not respond. In Playback mode, this button write-protects the displayed image. It can also remove protection.


Mode Dial
: The most obvious control on the rear panel of the C-7000 Zoom is the Mode Dial, which selects the various camera operating modes: Playback, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, My Mode, Scene, and Movie modes.


AE Lock / Custom / Rotate Button
: Adjacent to the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button locks the exposure when pressed in Record mode. It can also be programmed through the settings menu to handle one of a number of other functions as well. In Playback mode, this button rotates the displayed image 90 degrees clockwise each time it is pressed.


Quick View Button
: Below the AE Lock, / Custom / Rotate button, this button pulls up the Quick View display of the most recently captured image. Pressing the button a second time returns to record mode.


Five-way navigation pad
: The largest control on the back panel, the Five-way pad controls many of the C-7000 Zoom's operations. In all Shooting modes except Manual, the left and right arrow keys 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 keys 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 image in Zoom Playback mode.

In the LCD menu system, the arrow keys navigate through menu screens and select settings.

OK / Menu Button: Located in the center of the Five way navigation 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 OK / Menu button, it will call up the menu options and display them over the image. If the LCD monitor is off, it brings up the camera's menu system with no viewfinder image. Holding this button down for approximately two seconds brings up the Manual Focus distance display, along with the AF and MF icons. Highlighting the MF icon with the right arrow button engages the Manual Focus mode, after which the up and down arrow buttons adjust the focus.

 

Camera Modes & Menus

Playback Mode: This mode allows you 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 and Calendar Display modes 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 5x 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.

Programmed Exposure (P): 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.

Aperture Priority (A): Lets you select the desired lens aperture (in 1/3-stop (EV) increments, from f/2.8 to f/8), 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 (S): Lets you select the desired shutter speed (in 1/3 EV increments, from 1/2,000 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 (M): Lets you select both the desired aperture (f/2.8 to f/8) and shutter speed (1/2,000 to 15 seconds) settings. The onscreen display that normally shows exposure compensation adjustments becomes an exposure meter, showing the amount of under- or overexposure the settings you've selected will result in. If the amount of over or underexposure exceeds +/- 3 EV units, the settings displayed on the LCD screen turn red instead of green, and the display remains at -3 or +3 EV.

My Mode: Sets up the camera according to a set of user-defined camera settings, specific to shooting conditions. A huge range of exposure variables such as aperture, shutter speed, white balance, etc. can all be saved. You can even save the lens zoom position. My Mode settings are made through the Setup menu.

Scene Mode: This mode lets you select from range of preset shooting modes, including:

Movie Mode: Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera symbol, Movie mode lets you capture movies with or without sound for as long as the memory card allows.

 

Camera Menus

Shooting Menus
When the Menu / OK button is pressed in any shooting mode, the menu screens shown below appear. Menu options vary depending on the actual shooting mode. Depending on the shooting mode you're in and whether you've chosen to reassign their functions or not, three of the top-level menu items are Short Cuts to menu options controlling by default (clockwise from the bottom) Monitor Off, Image Size/Quality, and Macro mode. 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, I'll only show the main Mode Menu screens here:

Playback Menu
Playback Mode is available by turning to the green Playback symbol onthe camera's Mode dial, or by depressing the Quick View button in anyShooting mode. The Playback Top Menu has three options, which differslightly between Shooting (Record) playback and Movie playback:

Still Playback:


 

Image Storage and Interface

The C-7000 Zoom uses xD-Picture Cards and comes with a 32MB card. Extra cards currently can be purchased in sizes as large as 512MB from either Olympus or third parties. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 128 MB card, to give yourself enough space for extended outings.) Only Olympus-branded cards will enable the camera's Panorama function, but third party models should otherwise be identical.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom can store images in RAW, uncompressed TIFF, or compressed JPEG file formats. The TIFF setting is only available for the maximum resolution (3,072 x 2,304 pixels). RAW data is also saved at the maximum resolution, and the C-7000 Zoom has an editing option in the Playback menu for RAW files. 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 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
3,072 x 2,304
3,072 x 2,048
(3:2)
2,592 x 1,944
2,288 x 1,712
2,048 x 1,536
1,600 x 1,200
1,280 x 960
1,024 x 768
640 x 480
RAW
 
 
           
TIFF
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SHQ
 
           
HQ
 
           
SQ1
   

   
SQ2
       

 

 

I appreciated the C-7000 Zoom's file naming protocol, which includesthe month and day at the beginning of the file name, and provides theoption of numbering images progressively from one card to the next, orof resetting the naming sequence for each card. The C-7000 Zoom letsyou write-protect individual images from accidental erasure by pressingthe Protect button on the rear panel.

As just mentioned, the C-7000 Zoom offers a large range of resolution and image compression settings. The table below shows all the available size/quality options, the number of each that can be stored on the included 32MB memory card, and the amount of image compression employed for each.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
32 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
RAW
TIFF
3072 x 2304
Images
(Avg size)
6
5.2 MB
18
1.8 MB
3
10.6 MB
1
21.3 MB
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1 2:1 -
2592 x 1944 Images
(Avg size)
8
3.7 MB
25
1.3 MB
 -
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1  -  -
2288 x 1712 Images
(Avg size)
11
2.9 MB
32
981 KB
 -  -
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1  -  -
2048 x 1536
Images
(Avg size)
13
2.3 MB
40
785 KB
 -  -
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1  -  -
1600 x 1200
Images
(Avg size)
22
1.4 MB
64
497 KB
 -  -
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1  -  -
1280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
35
914 KB
99
320 KB
 -  -
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1  -  -
1024 x 768
Images
(Avg size)
53
594 KB
153
208 KB
 -  -
Approx.
Compression
4:1 11:1  -  -
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
133
240 KB
332
96 KB
 -  -
Approx.
Compression
4:1 10:1  -  -

The C-7000 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-7000 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.

Downloading files to my Sony VAIO desktop computer running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), I clocked the C-7000 at 780 KBytes/second, a good if unspectacular transfer rate. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast v1.1 interfaces run as high as 600 KB/s. Cameras with USB v2.0 interfaces run as fast as several megabytes/second.)

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 lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. 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-7000 Zoom has a Video Out port that supports the NTSC and PAL timing formats. 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.

Power

The C-7000 Zoom is powered by a single lithium-ion battery pack, 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. The table below shows the power drain I measured in various camera operating modes, and the corresponding projected run times with the provided LiIon battery pack.

Operating Mode
Power
(@4.8 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(1230 mA LiIon)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
521 mA
109
Capture Mode, no LCD
396 mA
144
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
531 mA
107
Half-pressed w/o LCD
406 mA
140
Memory Write (transient)
615 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1354 mA
n/a
Image Playback
245 mA
232

With a worst-case run time of 109 minutes in capture mode with the LCD illuminated, the C-7000 has good battery life for a relatively compact digicam, but I still highly recommend purchasing a second battery right along with the camera itself. Battery life is a bit better with the LCD turned off (144 minutes), but the C-7000's optical viewfinder is so inaccurate that you'll probably spend most of the time with the LCD turned on.

 

Included Software

The C-7000 Zoom comes with a nice complement of software on the supplied CD. Direct camera control and image downloading are provided by Olympus' Master (previously known as Camedia Master) software package for both Mac and Windows platforms (Macintosh OS 8.6 and higher, Windows 98v2/Me/2000 Pro). USB drivers for both platforms and an Apple QuickTime reader are also included.

Master lets you download and organize images, as well as perform minor image correction and enhancement functions (such as adjusting contrast, sharpness, and color balance). The new Calendar View option included in the camera's Playback mode is also available in the Master software, and displays files according to their capture date. For panoramic images, Master supplies a "stitching" utility to piece together shots vertically or horizontally. A complete printing utility works with the DPOF settings and lets you 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 my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the C-7000 Zoom's "pictures" page.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Olympus C-7000 Zoom with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I 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 the C-7000 Zoom's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

 

Conclusion

Free Photo Lessons

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Learn how to take stunning photos with simple pro lighting tips, in our free Photo School area!

The C-7000 Zoom carries on the "high value" tradition established by the previous "C" series models, offering a very strong feature set at a very affordable price. The C-7000 Zoom offers all the features most "enthusiast" users crave (with the sole possible exception of an external flash sync connector), including a full range of exposure control, extensive creative controls for tweaking image parameters like contrast and saturation, and fine-tuning for white balance and flash power. The camera is small, and has a quality feel, with tight controls and a nice heft. In addition, the C-7000 Zoom accommodates less photo-savvy users with a range of preset scene modes, auto exposure options, and a Redeye Fix option for eliminating redeye in portraits. An excellent value for the enthusiast on a budget, this would also be an ideal camera for consumers wanting to gradually learn more about digital photography with a camera that has room to grow into. All in all, just an excellent camera, one of the best Olympus has yet made. (In my humble opinion, anyway.) Highly recommended, and definitely a Dave's Pick.

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