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Olympus C-740 Ultra Zoom

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

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C-740 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 03/02/2003, Updated: 07/17/03

Digital Cameras - Olympus Camedia C-740 Ultra Zoom Test Images

 

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 from the harsh sunlight, but excellent color, detail, and resolution.

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-740 Ultra Zoom had a bit of a hard time holding onto highlight and shadow detail at the same time, due to the harsh lighting.

The shot at right was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, electing to lose a little detail in the strongest highlights, in exchange for better skin tones and midtone detail. The 740's native contrast is high, and even though I shot this with the camera's contrast adjustment dialed down a couple of notches, the midtone range is still somewhat compressed. Still, the overall photo shows excellent color, a good bit of shadow detail, and a reasonable amount of highlight detail when I looked at the full-sized image. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, despite a slight magenta cast. The Daylight setting had a stronger magenta cast, and the Manual setting was slightly warm.

Skin tones are very good, just slightly ruddy, and the colors in the bouquet are excellent as well. The blue flowers in the bouquet are just slightly dark, but the 740 overall handles this tricky color much better than most cameras. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right. For reference, the flowers are an almost pure light navy blue,, with just slight tinges of purple in them.) Resolution is high, with great detail throughout the frame. The shadow areas show good detail as well, with moderately low noise. The C-740 Ultra Zoom's in-camera sharpening does a good job here, as details are well-defined and sharp throughout the frame, without too much of a "halo" around contrasting edges.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files C74OUTAP0.HTM through C74OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


Contrast Series

-5

Default
+5


Saturation Series

-5

Default
+5


 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail, once again rather reddish skin tones.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above in terms of color and exposure, although Marti's skin tones here are quite a bit more reddish. (Although that ruddiness may be a result of using the low-contrast option fairly heavily here.) The C-740 Ultra Zoom's 10x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features, avoiding the "chipmunk" look common to fixed focal length cameras with wide-angle lenses. As is typical with this shot, the level of visible fine detail increases dramatically, with sharp details in Marti's face and hair. The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which again resulted in somewhat high contrast despite having the internal contrast setting dialed down quite a bit. (I really wish that the camera's default contrast was closer to this level, with a goodly range of adjustment still available below it.) Midtones are a little brighter in this shot than in the wider shot above, however. Shadow detail is again strong, with moderately-low noise.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files C74FACM1.HTM through C74FACP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
+1.0 EV
Slow-Sync Mode
+1.3 EV

Good intensity and coverage with the built-in flash, and good color as well (though a blue tint from the flash in the slow-sync mode). An excellent job.

The C-740 Ultra Zoom's built-in flash illuminates the subject very well here, with only slightly low intensity even at the default exposure setting. The best exposure was obtained with a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment, which brightened Marti's face without overdoing the highlights. Light from the flash results in a bluish cast on Marti's shirt and face, particularly in the slow-sync mode. The room lighting also produces a slight orange cast on the back wall, which spills onto Marti's features as well. Overall color is still very good though, better than most cameras manage on this shot. I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode setting, which combines the flash with a slower shutter speed for a more even exposure. While the orange cast on the wall decreases, the blue cast from the flash is stronger here.

To view an abbreviated exposure series at zero compensation and from +1.0 to +1.7 EV with the normal flash mode, see files C74INFP0.HTM and C74INFP3.HTM through C74INFP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Accurate color with Manual and Incandescent white balance settings, average exposure accuracy.

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-740's Auto setting did very well here, but still left a bit more of the warmth of the room lighting in the image than I'd prefer, and the Incandescent white balance option produced an even stronger warm cast. I felt that the Manual option produced the most accurate color, despite a slight greenish cast. Marti's skin tone is pretty good here, although the blue flowers came out quite dark and purplish. (A very typical result, thanks to the very warm cast of the lighting.) The shots at right have a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which produces a good overall exposure, just holding onto the highlights in Marti's shirt.

To see the entire exposure series at zero exposure compensation and from +1.0 through +1.7 EV, see files C74INMP0.HTM and C74INMP3.HTM through C74INMP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


ISO Series:
Noise is moderate at the 100 ISO setting, but increases to a pretty high level at ISO 400, with a more pronounced grain pattern. Overall, the noise vs ISO is fairly typical of cameras in this price range.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

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

Slight color casts with each white balance setting, but great resolution and detail, and overall good color.

On this shot, I chose the Manual white balance setting as the most accurate, with the best white value on the house trim (though just slightly cool). The Auto setting appeared just a little reddish, and the Daylight setting was warm. Resolution is very high, with the tree limbs and shrubbery showing a lot of fine detail. Actually, the C-740 Ultra Zoom is beginning to stretch the limits of this poster as a test target. Even though the poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens, the C-740 Ultra Zoom extracts most of the detail that's to be found here. Details are just slightly soft throughout the frame, though still fairly well-defined, with only a slight softening in all four corners.



Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, good dynamic range (but more forgiving lighting than is sometimes the case).

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 C740 Ultra Zoom performed quite well. The tree limbs over the roof show strong detail, even in the subtle textures of the tree bark. The fine foliage in front of the house also looks good, with reasonably distinct leaf patterns. Details are just a little coarse throughout the frame, with a slight added softness in the right corners. My one complaint though, is that the 740's default sharpening is a little heavy-handed, contributing to the slightly coarse details. (Fortunately though, the camera has a very nice sharpness adjustment that lets you choose the amount of sharpening you want.) The bright sunlight tricks the camera into losing most of the detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is fairly strong in the shadow area above the front door though, evidence of the C-740 Ultra Zoom's basically dynamic range. Overall color looks quite good, and exposure is about right. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, and contrast series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
3,200 x 2,400
(Enlarge size)
C74FARGF
C74FARGN
2,048 x 1,536
C74FARLF
C74FARLN
1,600 x 1,200
C74FARMF
-
1,024 x 768
C74FARSF
-
640 x 480
C74FAR640F
-


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Sharpness Series:
As mentioned above, the C-740 Ultra Zoom's default sharpening is a little heavy-handed, but it gives you a very nice range of adjustment via the menu system, letting you select exactly the amount of sharpening you want.

Sharpness Series
-5
-3
Default
+3
+5


Saturation Series:
The C-740 Ultra Zoom's saturation adjustment provides a very useful range of control, in very fine steps. The steps are fine enough that you can really customize the camera to suit your personal preferences.

Saturation Series

-5

-3

Default


+3

+5


Contrast Series:
Just as with the saturation adjustment, the C-740 Ultra Zoom's contrast adjustment provides a useful range of control, in very fine steps. Here again, the steps are fine enough that you can really customize the camera to suit your personal preferences. - I'd really like to see the whole range of the contrast adjustment shifted downward (toward lower contrast) a little though.

Contrast Series

-5

-3


Default

+3

+5

 

White Balance Series:

White Balance Series

+7 Blue


+4 Blue


Default

+4 Red

+7 Red




 

Lens Zoom Range

Wow, that's a lotta zoom: 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-740 Ultra Zoom's lens is equivalent to a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a pretty long telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
10x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Manual White Balance

Good color (though none of the white balance settings really nailed the color balance), and great detail.

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-740 Ultra Zoom's Manual white balance setting handled the challenge best overall, though with a slightly cool color balance. The Auto setting was a little too warm, and the Daylight setting had a reddish cast. Even with the slightly cool Manual white balance, the blue background has purplish tints that aren't in the original image. Skin tones look pretty good, though just a little cool, and the blue robe looks nearly right (although with some purplish tints in the shadow areas).

While I don't have time on these routine test shots to play with features like the manual white balance "tweak" adjustment (which lets you vary any white balance setting from reddish to bluish), it would likely have been just what the doctor ordered here, and doubtless could have brought the manual white balance results to near-perfection.

Resolution is very high, with a lot of detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. (Note: The original data file for this poster was only 20MB, so cameras like the C-740 Ultra Zoom are capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash
Super Macro Setting

Slightly better than average macro area, though excellent detail and color.

The C-740 Ultra Zoom performed nicely in the macro category, capturing a slightly smaller than average minimum area of 3.27 x 2.45 inches (83 x 62 millimeters). In "Super Macro" mode, the camera captured a somewhat smaller image area at 2.56 x 1.92 inches (65 x 49 millimeters). Resolution is very high, as the dollar bill, coins, and brooch show excellent detail. Details on the dollar bill are just slightly soft, though the coins and brooch are quite sharp. Corner softness is noticeable in the top left corner of the frame, but isn't too bad. The C-740 Ultra Zoom's flash throttles down pretty well for macro shooting, although it was fooled by the bright reflection from the brooch, causing it to underexpose elsewhere. Also, the camera's long lens creates a small shadow in the lower left corner at closest approach.



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

Slight color casts with each white balance setting, but great color and saturation overall.

Each of the C-740 Ultra Zoom's white balances produced slight color casts here, but they were slight indeed, and the overall color is really excellent. I eventually chose the Auto setting as the most accurate, despite a slight red tint in the large white color block and mini-resolution target. The Manual setting had a greenish tint, and the Daylight setting was quite warm. Exposure is about right, and the camera distinguished the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. Colors are bright and well saturated in the large color blocks, though the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) look just a little bit too bright. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows moderate detail, with low noise, and the last steps of both gray scales are barely distinguishable. Following are ISO, contrast, and saturation series

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



As before, here are series of shots showing the effects of the contrast and saturation adjustments:

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series

-5


-3


-1


+1


+3

+5

Saturation Series:

Saturation Series

-5


-3


-1


+1


+3

+5




 

Low-Light Tests

Great low-light performance at all ISO settings, albeit with a slightly warm color balance.

With full manual exposure control and a maximum exposure time of 16 seconds, the C-740 Ultra Zoom is well-equipped to handle quite dark shooting conditions. In my testing, the camera produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) test limit, at all three ISO settings. Color is good overall, though slightly warm with the dimmer lighting. At ISO 100, the 1/16 foot-candle image is just a little dark, but still bright enough to use. The C-740 Ultra Zoom's Noise Reduction system did a good job of keeping noise in check. Even though noise is visible at ISO 400, the grain pattern is tight and subdued. (The last column of the table shows images shot without Noise Reduction, at ISOs of 100, 200, and 400.) The autofocus system seemed to work down to about 0.7 foot-candles (8 lux or so). The camera can thus photograph at light levels much darker than those at which its AF system will work, a fairly typical behavior among digicams I've tested. (An AF-assist light would be most welcome.) 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 my 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 C74LL1003.JPG
2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see C74LL1004.JPG
4 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see C74LL1005.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see C74LL1006.JPG
16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see C74LL1007.JPG
16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see C74LL1007NNR.JPG
16 secs
F2.8
ISO: 100
ISO
200
Click to see C74LL2003.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see C74LL2004.JPG
2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see C74LL2005.JPG
4 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see C74LL2006.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see C74LL2007.JPG
13 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
Click to see C74LL2007NNR.JPG
13 secs
F2.8
ISO: 200
ISO
400
Click to see C74LL4003.JPG
1/ 2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see C74LL4004.JPG
1 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see C74LL4005.JPG
2 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see C74LL4006.JPG
4 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see C74LL4007.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400
Click to see C74LL4007NNR.JPG
8 secs
F2.8
ISO: 400



Flash Range Test

Good flash performance, with only a slight drop in intensity at 14 feet.

In my testing, the C-740 Ultra Zoom's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, with only a very small decrease in intensity. (Oddly, although I had the camera's ISO set to 100 for this series, it seemed like the camera was adjusting it somewhat, actually using values below the normal range. It's possible though, that the program I use to generate these tables (Thumber) was just misinterpreting the data in the EXIF file headers, but it gave the correct values in other situations.) 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 C74FL08.JPG
1/ 160 secs
F3.2
ISO: 57
Click to see C74FL09.JPG
1/ 160 secs
F3.2
ISO: 57
Click to see C74FL10.JPG
1/ 160 secs
F3.2
ISO: 57
Click to see C74FL11.JPG
1/ 160 secs
F3.2
ISO: 57
Click to see C74FL12.JPG
1/ 160 secs
F3.2
ISO: 80
Click to see C74FL13.JPG
1/ 160 secs
F3.2
ISO: 80
Click to see C74FL14.JPG
1/ 160 secs
F3.2
ISO: 80



ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Good resolution, 1,000 lines of "strong detail." Better than average geometric distortion.

The C-740 Ultra Zoom performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines horizontally and vertically. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,150 lines.

Optical distortion on the C-740 Ultra Zoom is a good bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.4 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared slightly better, as I measured a 0.3 percent barrel distortion. Both of these numbers are better than average, especially for a long-ratio zoom lens. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing only weak color on either side of the target lines in the corners. (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 only other distortion noticeable was a little softness in the corners, most evident on the left side of the frame.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
3,200 x 2,400 (Interpolated)
C74RESWLF
C74RESWLN
2,048 x 1,536
C74RESWMF
C74RESWMN
1,600 x 1,200
C74RESWSF
-
640 x 480
C74RESWTF
-

Resolution Test, Telephoto

3,200 x 2,400
(Fine, Tele)
C74RESTLF



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the electronic viewfinder.

The C-740 Ultra Zoom's Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and LCD monitor are very accurate, both showing approximately 97 percent of the frame at wide angle, and about 98 percent at telephoto. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-740 Ultra Zoom's LCD monitor performs well in that regard. The C-740 Ultra Zoom also has an electronic "optical" viewfinder, which shows the same view as the LCD monitor, only at a smaller size. (The arrangement of both monitors was such that I ended up with a slight shift in the image, the top cut off slightly, the bottom slightly extended. This effect was worse at the maximum telephoto focal length, and slightly more evident with the EVF, but not too bad overall.) Flash distribution shows slight falloff in the corners at wide angle, but is almost perfectly uniform at telephoto.

Wide Angle, EVF


Telephoto, EVF

Wide Angle , LCD


Telephoto, LCD



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