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Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom

The Olympus C-7070 offers a nice range of "enthusiast" features in a capable and affordable 7-megapixel camera.

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Page 11:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 03/01/2005, Updated: 04/27/2005

Test Results

In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For full details on each of the test images, see the Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom's "pictures" page.

For a look at some more pictorial photos from this camera, check out our Olympus C-7070 Photo Gallery.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Olympus C-7070 Wide 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!

  • Color: Very good to excellent color overall. Good performance under incandescent lighting. The Olympus C-7070 produced very good color throughout my testing, with good results from the Auto and Manual white balance settings in most cases. Saturation was generally pleasing and natural. Skin tones looked very good, and the blue flowers of the bouquet in both the indoor and outdoor portraits were pretty close to dead-on. Indoors, both the Incandescent and Manual white balance settings performed well on the Indoor Portrait, and even the Auto white balance setting produced results that were within an acceptable range. Very good color rendering overall.

  • Exposure: Generally accurate exposure, high default contrast, but an effective contrast adjustment control. The Olympus C-7070 handled my test lighting quite well, and produced only slightly high contrast under the high-key lighting of the "Sunlit" Portrait thanks to the broad range of its contrast adjustment control. Dynamic range was a little limited on the highlight end, but midtones tended to hold up pretty well under harsh lighting, and the shadows typically held onto good detail as well. Indoors, the camera required a bit more than average amount of positive exposure compensation without the flash, an average amount with. The C-7070 had no trouble distinguishing the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target of the Davebox. Overall, very good results.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,550 lines of "strong detail." The C-7070 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It didn't start showing artifacts in the test patterns until resolutions as low as 1,200 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,550 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,900 lines. For critical work, shooting with the camera's sharpening control set to its lowest value and then sharpening after the fact in Photoshop(tm) delivered really excellent detail.

  • Image Noise: Generally good noise performance, a tight grain pattern helps in printed output. Noise was generally pretty unobtrusive with the C-7070. There was some detectable noise in the blue channel even at low ISO settings, but the noise pattern was quite fine-grained, which made it much less visible in prints than it would be otherwise. Noise at ISO 400 was on the high side, and some fine detail was traded away to hold it in check, but the noise pattern was fine enough that even prints at 8x10 inches should be acceptable for most uses. At 5x7 inches, noise will be a non-issue for all but the most critical applications.

  • Closeups: Good macro performance in normal mode, exceptional in Super mode. Excellent detail and good color. Flash performs pretty well in normal mode. The C-7070 captured a large macro area, measuring 2.95 x 2.21 inches (74.9 x 56.2 millimeters) in normal macro mode (good to average). Super Macro mode got in really close, with a minimum area measuring just 1.12 x 0.84 inches (28 x 21 millimeters), with relatively little corner softness. Resolution was high, with good detail definition. The C-7070's flash did a good job of throttling down for the macro area, with just a little falloff in the corners of the frame. (NOTE though, that the C-7070 produces the tightest closeups in normal macro mode with the lens set to its telephoto position, not the wide angle position as described in the manual.)

  • Night Shots: Very good low-light performance, with pretty good color and fairly low noise. Focuses to about 0.7 foot-candle without AF illuminator, in total darkness (on nearby objects) with it. The C-7070 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, at the 200 and 400 ISO settings. (At ISOs 80 and 100, the target was visible at the 1/16 foot-candle light level, but images were bright only to about 1/8 foot-candle.) The autofocus system worked without the AF-assist illuminator down to about 0.7 foot-candle, and could focus out to about 8 feet in complete darkness with the illuminator turned on. Noise was fairly low in most shots, higher at ISO 400. Color balance was slightly pink. Since city street-lighting at night generally corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, the C-7070 should do very well for after-dark photography in typical outdoor settings, although I'd like to see it's AF system work down to slightly darker levels without the AF-assist light being enabled.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: An accurate LCD monitor, but tight optical viewfinder. The C-7070's optical viewfinder was rather tight, showing only 84 percent frame accuracy at wide angle and about 83 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor turned in much better results, with 99 percent frame accuracy at wide angle. (The lines of measurement were just out of frame in the telephoto shot, though results were still very close to 100 percent.)

  • Optical Distortion: Higher than average barrel distortion at wide angle, but almost no distortion at telephoto. Moderate chromatic aberration at wide angle, almost none at telephoto. Good sharpness in corners, best at wide angle. I measured approximately 1.1 percent barrel distortion at the wide angle end. (Not too surprising, the 27 mm equivalent wide angle is a good bit better than the 35mm that's more common.) The telephoto end did a lot better, as I measured approximately 0.03 percent barrel distortion (one pixel). Chromatic aberration was moderate at wide angle, but very low at telephoto. (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.) The 7070's images were sharper than average in the corners, most noticeably so at telephoto zoom settings.

  • Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: Pretty good shutter lag figures, but generally middle-of-the-road performance. The Olympus C7070 is middle-of-the road in a lot of its performance characteristics, but does focus somewhat faster than average, with full-autofocus shutter delays of 0.65 - 0.66 second. Shutter lag when manually focused is slower than average, its lag when prefocused is reasonable at 0.169 second. Cycle times are OK, if not dramatic, at about 2.16 seconds/frame for large/fine images. Buffer capacity is a little low by current standards, at 4 large/fine shots in single-shot and low-speed continuous modes, and only two frames in high-speed continuous mode. Overall, a camera with faster-than-average focusing speed, but not one that you'd look to if your primary interest was sports or other fast-paced action.

  • Battery Life: Really excellent battery life. With a worst case run time (capture mode with the rear panel LCD turned on) of almost five hours, the Olympus C7070 has really excellent battery life. With the LCD off, you can shoot literally all day on a full battery, but the C-7070's poor viewfinder accuracy means that you'll probably find yourself using the LCD more often than not. Still, really outstanding battery life, easily one of the top cameras on the market in this respect.

  • Print Quality: Excellent prints at 13x19 inches. ISO 400 shots are noisy at 8x10 inches, but quite acceptable at 5x7 size. Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5000 here in the office. (See our Canon i9900 review for details on that model.) The Olympus C7070's sharp lens and 7-megapixel sensor make for beautiful big prints. Images printed at 13x19 inches looked very good, just very slightly soft. Shooting at the low sharpness setting and then applying strong/tight unsharp masking in Photoshop delivered exceptionally crisp-looking 13x19s. The C7070's ISO 400 shots were just slightly rough looking at 8x10 size, but entirely acceptable for typical display settings where they wouldn't be minutely scrutinized. Printed at 5x7 inches, even ISO 400 shots looked very clean, tight, and sharp.

 

Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Very good resolution
  • Sharp lens, good distortion characteristics
  • Excellent wide-angle capability
  • Better than average shutter response
  • Really excellent macro performance
  • Excellent, fine-grained control over contrast, color balance, saturation
  • Really excellent battery life
  • Good noise performance
  • Accurate LCD viewfinder
  • Nifty tilt-swivel LCD viewfinder
  • Good low light exposure capability
  • Excellent "live" histogram/exposure warning system
  • Hot shoe for external flash
  • Dual-media capability (CF and xD)
  • Generally good movie capability
  • Unique "Camera Motion Compensation" gives anti-shake in movie mode
  • Tight optical viewfinder (83-84% accuracy)
  • Low light autofocus without AF illuminator could be a bit better
  • Maximum aperture is only average (f/2.8-4.8)
  • Shot to shot cycle times are only average for its class, buffer capacity is a little low
  • Movies limited to 20 seconds at 640x480, 30fps (lower res/frame rates have no limits though)
  • Panorama exposure mode only works with Olympus-brand xD cards

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The Olympus C7070 Wide Zoom is something of a hybrid between the previous C5060 and C8080 models, incorporating elements from both. With a sharp 4x optical zoom lens that extends all the way to a 27 mm wide angle equivalent, and a 7-megapixel CCD with good color and noise characteristics, the Olympus C7070 delivers very high quality images under a wide range of shooting conditions. In its Program Auto or Scene modes, it's easy enough for non-technical users to operate, but it's first and foremost an "enthusiast" camera, with all the bells and whistles such shooters demand. Like its predecessors, the Olympus C7070 offers excellent user control and fine-tuning over white balance, color saturation, contrast, and exposure. Such fine-grained control deserves special notice, because it lets you really customize the camera's response to match your personal preferences and the demands of your subjects and lighting. (Want color that "pops" a little more? Just dial up the saturation a notch or two. Need to tone down the contrast a bit? That's accomplished just as easily.) All in all, the Olympus C7070 is a very capable camera for the "enthusiast" crowd, offered at an attractive price, and with nice extras like an extra-wide zoom lens and controls that let you customize the camera's imaging to an unusual degree. Definitely a Dave's Pick, one of the better cameras on the market in its price/performance range.




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