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Olympus C-730 Ultra Zoom

3.2 megapixels, a sharp 10x zoom lens, tons of features, and an affordable price!

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C-730 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 11/25/2002

Digital Cameras - Olympus C-730 Ultra Zoom Test Images

(Originally posted: 11/24/02)

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the 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:

High contrast, even with a contrast adjustment, and strong saturation, but good detail.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the C-730 had a little trouble with the high contrast lighting.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment and a -5 contrast adjustment, which still resulted in a very contrasty image with slightly dark midtones. Highlights are blown out, and the shadow areas are rather dark. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Manual setting produced nearly identical results. The Daylight setting had a bit of a magenta cast. (Even the Auto setting has a slight magenta cast, mainly noticeable in the white shirt.)

Skin tones are good, although slightly pink, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are darker and more purplish than they are in real life. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right. For reference, the flowers are a fairly pure, light navy blue.) The C-730 oversaturates the bright red and greens a little, resulting in a slight "glow" around the red roses. Resolution looks good, as detail is strong throughout the frame, even in the darkest shadows. Details are reasonably sharp, and image noise in the shadows is low.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files C73OUTCM5AP0.HTM through C73OUTCM5AP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast Series:
The C730 offers a contrast adjustment, a feature I'd like to see on more digicams. Unfortunately, its range is somewhat limited, not able to bring down the contrast to the level that I'd personally prefer. - The same control range, but with the camera's default contrast set to what's now its lower limit would be excellent.

Contrast Series

Lowest

Low

Normal

High

Highest

Saturation Series:
You can also adjust the C730's color saturation across a fairly wide range.

Saturation Series

Lowest

Low

Normal

High

Highest



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail, though again rather high contrast.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the C-730's 10x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. Detail is excellent, with sharp details in Marti's face and hair. The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting with a -5 contrast adjustment, which still results in slightly high contrast. Highlights are a little too bright, but midtone detail is good. Detail is again strong in the shadows, and image noise is very low.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files C73FACCM5DP0.HTM through C73FACCM5DP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
(Default Exposure)
Normal Flash
(+1.0 EV)
Slow-Sync Flash
(Default Exposure)
Slow-Sync Flash
(+1.3 EV)

Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, pretty accurate color.

The C-730's built-in flash does a good job illuminating the subject here, though it required an exposure compensation adjustment of +1.0 EV to get the best exposure. At the default exposure setting, the image was dim with a blue cast from the flash. The household incandescent lighting results in a slight orange cast on the back wall, that spills onto Marti's face and shoulders some. I also shot with the C-730's Slow-Sync flash mode, which combines the flash with a longer shutter time, allowing more ambient light in to brighten the image. At the default exposure setting, the image is fairly bright, though with a strong blue cast on Marti's face and shirt. Increasing the exposure compensation to +1.3 EV brightens the image a fair amount, though a slight blue cast remains. A good job overall.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance
(Also +1.3EV)

Most accurate color with the Manual white balance option, although there's still a very slight greenish cast there. Very good job overall though.

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. The C-730's Manual white balance produced the best color here, albeit with a slightly greenish tint. The Auto option produced a pinkish image, while the Incandescent was warm and brownish. Marti's skin tone is slightly pale and pink, and the blue flowers are very dark and purplish. (Though, considering the light source, this is probably to be expected.)

The main shot has a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is slightly more of an adjustment than I'd ideally like, but the exposure is about right.

ISO Series:
The C730 offers light sensitivity settings as high as ISO 400. As usual, noise increases in pretty direct proportion to the increase in ISO rating, reaching a fairly high level at ISO 400.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Great resolution and detail, though slight color casts with each white balance setting.

The C-730's Manual white balance setting produced the most accurate results here, though the resulting image is slightly cool. I preferred the cool cast to the strong magenta cast of the Auto setting, and the warm, yellow cast of the Daylight setting. Apart from the very slight color casts, color rendition is excellent, with accurate hues and just the right level of saturation. Resolution is high, with excellent detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery. Details are fairly crisp throughout the frame, with only slight corner softness in each corner. Overall, a very nice job.


 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, but somewhat limited dynamic range.

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.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the C-730 performs very well. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show strong detail, with great definition in the leaf patterns and branches. Details are reasonably sharp, though the presence of higher than average levels of fine-grained image noise seems to soften the finer details. All four corners of the frame also show a little of softness, though it doesn't extend far into the image. The bright sunlight tricks the camera into losing a good bit of detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Shadow detail is also limited, as the brick pattern above the front door is just barely visible. Thus, the C-730 shows a somewhat limited dynamic range. Overall color looks good, and exposure is about right, but image noise is moderately high. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, saturation, and white balance series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
C73FAR2048F
C73FAR2048N
1,600 x 1,200
C73FAR1600F
N/A
1,280 x 960
C73FAR1280F
N/A
1,024 x 768 C73FAR1024F N/A
640 x 480
C73FAR640F
N/A


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Sharpness Series:

Sharpnerss Series
Low Sharpness
Soft
Normal
Sharp
Very Sharp

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series

Lowest

Low

Normal

High

Highest

Saturation Series:

Saturation Series

Lowest

Low

Normal

High

Highest

White Balance Series:
One of the features I really like on Olympus' more advanced camera models is the ability to "tweak" the white balance across a fairly wide range. The shots below show the range of adjustment available, starting from the "daylight" setting. NOTE though, that the steps available are actually a lot smaller than what's shown here: Each of the steps in the table below corresponds to three or four steps on the camera's adjustment for this option.

White Balance Series

Lowest

Low

Normal

High

Highest



 

Lens Zoom Range

Excellent 10x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (10x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The C-730's lens is equivalent to a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
10x Telephoto
3x Digital Telephoto


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good color with Daylight white balance, and good detail as well.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The C-730's Auto white balance setting did just that, producing a strong yellow cast. The Manual setting went the other way a bit, producing a very cool image with pale skin tones. Daylight white balance resulted in nearly accurate color overall, with more natural skin tones, so I chose it for the main image. The blue robe is slightly greenish in the highlights, though purplish in the shadow areas, but overall color looks good. Resolution is high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.


 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot

Very tiny macro area with excellent detail.

The C-730 performed well in the macro category, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 1.57 x 1.18 inches (40 x 30 millimeters). Resolution is high, with great detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. (Even the dust particles on top of the smaller coin are distinct.) Details are sharp on the coins and brooch, though the printing of the dollar bill is slightly soft. Some softness is noticeable along the left side of the frame, but undetectable on the right side. Corner softness like this is a very common failing of digicam lenses in ultra-macro shots, most likely caused by the optical phenomena called "curvature of field." Because of the close shooting range and the C-730's very long lens barrel, the flash was ineffective with this shot. (Plan on using external illumination for super-closeup shooting with the C-730.)


 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Very slight underexposure, but color and saturation are both excellent.

The C-730's Manual white balance adjustment produced the best color here, with the most accurate white value in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. The Auto white balance setting was nearly right, though slightly magenta, and the Daylight setting resulted in a warm, yellow cast. Exposure is just slightly dim, though the C-730 has no trouble distinguishing the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. Colors are bright in the large color blocks, although the red and blue additive primary colors are somewhat oversaturated. Detail is moderate in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, and image noise is low. Additionally, the last steps of both gray scales are just visible. A great job!




 

Low-Light Tests

Great low-light performance. Color balance is warm, but noise is low and exposures are bright and clear.

The C-730 has no shortage of manual controls, and features a maximum exposure time of 16 seconds. The long exposure times, combined with an adjustable ISO setting and its optional Noise Reduction feature, give the C-730 excellent low-light shooting capabilities.

The C-730 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, at all three ISO settings. Color balance was warm from the Auto white balance setting, but images were bright and clear. The C-730's Noise Reduction feature does a good job eliminating excess image noise. Even at ISO 400 and the longest exposure, noise is only moderate. (Here are some sample images without Noise Reduction, at ISO 100, 200, and 400, at the 1/16 foot-candle light level, also available in the far right-hand column of the table below.) The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

 

  1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
1/16fc
0.67lx
(No NR)
ISO
100
Click to see C73LL103.JPG

1.6 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see C73LL104.JPG

5 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see C73LL105.JPG

8 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see C73LL106.JPG

16 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see C73LL107.JPG

16 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see C73LL107MNR.JPG

16 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

ISO
200
Click to see C73LL203.JPG

1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see C73LL204.JPG

2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see C73LL205.JPG

5 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see C73LL206.JPG

8 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see C73LL207.JPG

16 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200

Click to see C73LL207MNR.JPG

16 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 200

ISO
400
Click to see C73LL403.JPG

1/3 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see C73LL404.JPG

1 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see C73LL405.JPG

2.5 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see C73LL406.JPG

4 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see C73LL407.JPG

8 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400

Click to see C73LL407MNR.JPG

8 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 400

 

Love high ISO photography? Hate noise? Check out Fred Miranda's ISO-R noise-reducing actions for Photoshop. Incredible noise reduction, with *no* loss of subject detail. (Pretty amazing, IMHO.) Check it out!



 

Flash Range Test

Virtually the same intensity from eight to 14 feet.

Olympus estimates the C-730's built-in flash as effective to 14 feet with the lens at full telephoto, which falls in line with my test results. In my testing, the C-730's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, and maintained a good intensity. Brightness decreased just slightly after the eight foot distance, but the flash remains effective at 14 feet. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see C73FL08.JPG

1/60 sec
F/3.5
ISO: 100

Click to see C73FL09.JPG

1/60 sec
F/3.5
ISO: 100

Click to see C73FL10.JPG

1/60 sec
F/3.5
ISO: 100

Click to see C73FL11.JPG

1/60 sec
F/3.5
ISO: 100

Click to see C73FL12.JPG

1/80 sec
F/3.5
ISO: 100

Click to see C73FL13.JPG

1/100 sec
F/3.5
ISO: 100

Click to see C73FL14.JPG

1/100 sec
F/3.5
ISO: 100



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution, 1,000 lines of "strong detail." Slightly high barrel distortion at wide angle, slight barrel distortion at telephoto.

The C-730 performed well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height in the vertical direction, and around 600 lines in the horizontal direction. I found "strong detail" out to about 1,000 lines vertically, perhaps 1,050 lines horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,200-1,300 lines.

Optical distortion on the C-730 is slightly higher than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.9 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a little better, as I measured a 0.3 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is about average, showing about 4-5 pixels of color around elements in the corners of the resolution target. (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
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
3,200 x 2,400
C73RESWLF
C73RESWLE
2,048 x 1,536
C73RESWMF
C73RESWME
1,600 x 1,200
C73RESWSF
C73RESWSE
640 x 480
C73RESWTF
C73RESWTE

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,048 x 1,536
(Fine, Tele)
C73RESTMF



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the electronic viewfinder, almost exactly 100%.

The C-730's electronic "optical" viewfinder (EVF) is very accurate, showing approximately 99+ percent frame accuracy at the wide angle zoom setting. (Basically, 100% accuracy, to the limits of accuracy of this test.) The LCD monitor showed the same level of accuracy, since it shows the same view, just on a larger screen. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-730's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard.

Flash distribution is fairly even in the center of the frame at wide angle, with just a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even, with only a hint of falloff.

 


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


 

 

 

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