Olympus C-730 Ultra Zoom3.2 megapixels, a sharp 10x zoom lens, tons of features, and an affordable price!
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C-730 Sample ImagesReview 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!|
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.
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
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
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:
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.
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.
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.
White Balance Series:
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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
Resolution Test, Telephoto
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.
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420