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Olympus Camedia C-765 Zoom

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

Review First Posted: 06/16/2004




MSRP $599 US

 

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4.0-megapixel resolution for 2,288 x 1,712 images. (Interpolated, native size is 3,200 x 2,400)
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10x zoom lens.
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ISO sensitivity from 64-400
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xD-Picture Card memory storage
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 TruePic TURBO image processor

 

Manufacturer Overview

The Olympus C-765 Ultra Zoom is the latest in an ongoing line of long-zoom digicams from Olympus. While the long-zoom market is getting more crowded these days, Olympus really pioneered it with their excellent C-2100, and still retains a commanding position with their latest C-765 and C-770 models. The Olympus C-765 UltraZoom sports a four megapixel CCD and a full 10x zoom lens, a new TruePic Turbo processor and a larger LCD, along with a range of features tailored to "enthusiast" users looking for full exposure control and compatibility with external flash units.

In most respects, the C-765 Ultra Zoom is very similar to the earlier C-750, C-740, and C-730 models that preceded it, except for a few tweaks and a new body style. It's about the same size and weight, and has the same zoom ratio and manual controls (such as adjustable AF area, long exposure times, and scene modes). The main difference between the past models is the 765's larger LCD and inclusion of a Li-ion battery pack instead of the 4 AA batteries previous models used. Continuing Olympus' stated intent of standardizing on the new xD-Picture Card memory format, the C-765 accepts only xD cards for image storage. The C-765 also carries forward the well-received "My Camera" menu, which lets users custom-configure a broad range of settings to meet specific needs, as well as the full range of exposure options. Compared to the current higher-end C-770 model, the C-765 saves money by dropping the dual-range internal flash design of the 770, as well as the onboard speaker and hot shoe connection for use with external flash units. All in all, the C-765 Ultra Zoom is an impressive, full-blown "enthusiast" camera with an unusually long-ratio zoom lens, selling at an attractive price point.

High Points

 

 

Executive Overview

Olympus' Camedia C-720 and C-730 Ultra Zoom digicams debuted to immense popularity, with their excellent feature offerings and exceptional zoom capabilities. These were followed last year by the C740 and C-750, which were also popular. Now, in the 2004 model year, the C-765 Ultra Zoom updates this popular design with a faster processor and a new rechargeable Li-Ion battery that offers good power capacity in a compact package. (While still good though, run times have decreased considerably from last year's models.) The C-765 Ultra Zoom continues with the outstanding 10x zoom lens, wide range of exposure control, and healthy range of creative shooting options as well. The C-765 has manual white balance, five preset Scene modes, a maximum exposure time of 15 seconds, variable ISO, and AutoConnect Storage Class USB (providing plug-and-play transfer of images to Windows 2000, Windows Me and XP, and Mac OS 8.6 and higher computers, without the need for additional driver software). With the full range of exposure control available, Olympus gives users as much or as little exposure control as needed. Though the C-765 was designed with more experienced digital photographers in mind (those who want to step up to a camera with expanded capabilities and full exposure control), the available Program mode offers point-and-shoot ease of use, and six preset shooting modes make it easy for even rank beginners to handle common shooting situations.

With its compact size and surprising portability, the C-765 Ultra Zoom is a viable option even for heavy travelers. The same compact rangefinder-style design that's characterized Olympus digicams for several years is comfortable and familiar, and compact compared to many other long-zoom digicams currently on the market. The C-765 measures only 4.1 x 2.4 x 2.7 inches (104.5 x 60 x 68.5 millimeters) with the lens retracted, and is only three-quarters of an inch thicker with the lens fully extended. Its mixture of plastic and light metal body panels weigh just 11.1 ounces (315 grams) including the battery, light enough to fit into a large purse or waist pack. That said, its classic silver and black color combination, enhanced by a satin finish, makes it deserving of its own protective camera bag or pouch.

The C-765 features an "electronic" optical viewfinder, which is essentially a miniaturized version of the larger, 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. The C-765's EVF has a bright, clear display, and a high eyepoint and a diopter adjustment make it comfortable for eyeglass wearers. Both the LCD and EVF have detailed information displays and provide access to the LCD menu system. The EVF also performs unusually well under low-light conditions, a traditional weakness of EVFs. The 6.3-63mm, 10x zoom lens is equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8-f/3.7 (wide angle to telephoto). In addition to the C-765's 10x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to an additional 4x with the "digital zoom," effectively increasing the camera's zoom capabilities to 40x. (Keep in mind though, that digital zoom directly trades off image quality for magnification, because it simply crops out and enlarges the central pixels of the CCD.) The C-765's maximum image size is 3,200 x 2,400 pixels, interpolated up from the 2,288 x 1,712-pixel sensor resolution. Lower resolutions of 2,288 x 1,712; 2,288 x 1,520 (a 3:2 ratio), 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1,280 x 960; 1,024 x 768; and 640 x 480 pixels are also available. Image quality options include two JPEG compression ratios, plus an uncompressed mode that produces full-resolution TIFF images.

The C-765's well-rounded exposure modes include Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, and Manual settings. In Program mode, the camera controls both aperture and shutter speed, with exposure times as long as 1 second. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you control over aperture or shutter speed, while the camera chooses the best value for the other exposure variable. When used in aperture or shutter priority modes, apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8 and shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to 1 second. The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but permits shutter speeds as long as 15 seconds. You can also put the camera into full Auto mode, or select between Portrait, Sports, Landscape-Portrait, Landscape-Scene, and Night-Scene scene modes for easy capture of what might otherwise be tricky subjects. (Night Scene mode extends automatic exposure control down to four-second exposure times.)

The C-765 has five ISO settings (Auto, 64, 100, 200, and 400), automatic exposure bracketing, two metering modes (Digital ESP, Multi-pattern, and Spot), plus exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance options include Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, or Custom to accommodate a variety of lighting conditions. Image contrast, saturation, and sharpness adjustments are available through the LCD menu, and a Function menu option lets you record images in black and white or sepia tones, or in Whiteboard or Blackboard photo modes (good for capturing text). An adjustable Automatic Exposure Lock (AEL) function locks an exposure reading, eliminating the need to hold down the Shutter button halfway while you reframe the image. There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and an optional remote control.

The C-765's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with sound, in either SQ (160 x 120 pixels) or HQ (320 x 240 pixels) modes. Actual recording times vary with the resolution and the amount of memory card space. While it can record sounds with its movies, the C-765 cannot replay the audio portion of recordings, as it lacks a speaker. (See the C-770 model for that capability.) Two Sequence modes capture multiple images at short intervals (actual speed depending on file size), with an AF Sequence mode option that adjusts the focus between each shot. A bracketing mode also can be The C-765 also offers a panoramic mode, and a "2-in-1" capture mode that records two images side-by-side (like a split-screen view). The camera's internal, pop-up flash unit offers six operating modes (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, Flash Off, Night Scene, and Night Scene with Red-Eye Reduction modes), with adjustable flash intensity.

The Olympus C-765 Ultra Zoom ships with a 16MB xD-Picture Card for image storage. Larger capacity cards are available separately, up to the current limit of 512MB, and I highly recommend purchasing a much larger card along with the camera. You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and if you want a slightly larger viewfinder (or image playback) display, Olympus also provides a video output cable for connection to a television set. Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master utility package, a capable all-in-one image management program that provides basic organization and editing tools, in addition to a panorama "stitching" application. Apple QuickTime and USB drivers for Mac and Windows are also supplied.

I've always been impressed with the user-friendliness and flexibility of Olympus' Camedia digicams. I really enjoyed the performance of the C-750 and its 10x lens, and the C-765 Ultra Zoom appears to have filled its shoes nicely. The larger 4.0-megapixel CCD produces even higher image quality, and the external flash hot shoe increases the camera's flexibility even more. The same excellent manual exposure controls, impressive 10x optical zoom, and versatile array of exposure options return to handle a wide range of shooting conditions. Given the wide range of exposure options, there's no question that novices and advanced amateurs alike will find a lot to like in the C-765.

 

Design

The C-765 Ultra Zoom features the same general body shape and size as the rest of the C-series, though it has shrunk a little around the grip area, largely due to the use of a Li-ion battery pack instead of its predecessors' 4-AA scheme. The control layout is nearly the same, with a large Mode dial on top of the camera and a sprinkling of multi-functional controls on the back panel. The silver body is boxy yet compact, and fits well into the hand. The C-765 Ultra Zoom features a 4.0-megapixel CCD, which delivers a maximum image size of 3,200 x 2,400 pixels with interpolation, or 2,288 x 1,712 pixels uninterpolated. This is enough resolution for sharp 8x10 inch prints, even with moderate cropping. Its 10x zoom lens offers incredible zoom power, and the range of manual and automatic exposure options is as complete as I've seen on a consumer-level digicam.

The C-765 Ultra Zoom measures 4.1 x 2.4 x 2.7 inches (104.5 x 60 x 68.5 millimeters), a little smaller than the C-750. The mixture of plastic and thin metal body panels keeps the C-765 Zoom relatively light at 11.1 ounces (315 grams) without batteries, though the larger lens assembly gives it a solid heft when you pick it up. While stashing the camera in a shirt pocket is out of the question, the C-765 does at least have a chance at larger coat pockets and purses. The accompanying neckstrap is useful and secure, but I strongly recommend picking up a soft camera case to protect the C-765 when traveling.

The front of the C-765 features the lens, self-timer LED / IR remote sensor, microphone, and the front lip of the pop-up flash compartment. When fully retracted, the lens barrel projects a bit less than an inch beyond the depth of the hand grip, and it extends about another three-quarters of an inch when powered up in any capture mode. When not in use, the lens is protected by a removable plastic lens cap that attaches to the camera with the supplied tether strap. A nice touch is that the lens cap rides along with the telescoping lens body, so you don't have to worry about straining the lens motor if you accidentally turn the camera on with the lens cap in place. The combination of the subtle finger grip on the front of the camera body and the gently sculpted thumb rest on the back make the C-765 easy to hold securely, but I'd still recommend using a wrist or neck strap as a backup.

The right side of the camera no longer has the memory compartment door seen on previous models; this is now accessed from the bottom. All that is here is one of the eyelets for attaching the neckstrap.

On the opposite side of the camera is the connector compartment, housing the DC-In, A/V Out, and USB connector ports. A hinged plastic door protects the jacks when not in use, and snaps firmly shut. The second eyelet for attaching the neck strap is also on this side of the camera.

The C-765's top panel has just a few controls on it, including the Shutter button (surrounded by the Zoom lever), a Mode dial, and the pop-up flash compartment.

With a control layout similar to previous C-series models, the C-765's back panel layout is clean and logical. All of the control buttons fit conveniently above or to the right of the 1.8-inch LCD monitor. The four-way Arrow Pad serves multiple functions depending on the camera's operating mode, and is adjacent to the right of the display. The use of separate buttons for the arrow keys, rather than the rocker-type controls used on some cameras makes for more sure-footed operation, with little likelihood of accidentally pressing keys other than the one you're aiming for. Arrayed across the top of the back panel are the AE Lock / Rotate button, Self-Timer, Remote / Erase, Flash / Protect, and Flash Release buttons. Below these is the red Power button. Just to the right of the LCD's top right corner is the Quick View button, which switches between whatever record mode you happen to be in and Playback mode without having to select Playback mode from the Mode dial. A Display button sits just below and to the left of the four-way Arrow Pad and controls whether the rear-panel LCD or electronic viewfinder (EVF) display is illuminated. The electronic viewfinder in the upper left corner of the camera shows a miniaturized version of the larger LCD display, and features a diopter adjustment dial for eyeglass wearers.

The bottom of the camera holds the battery compartment cover and a plastic screw-mount tripod socket. The tripod socket is just a little too close to the battery compartment to make battery changes easy when mounted on a tripod. (This is a pet peeve of mine, but I recognize that most people don't spend as much time with their digicams locked down to a tripod as I do.) Inside the battery compartment, the new Li-ion battery is retained by a spring loaded clip, and the xD card releases with a downward push. I found it's important to put the battery in the right way, because it's easy to put it in almost all the way in backwards, but not easy to get it back out.

 

Viewfinder

The C-765 Ultra Zoom has both a 0.44-inch electronic viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD screen. The EVF has approximately 240,000 pixels, while the rear panel screen sports 118,000. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) accommodates eyeglass wearers with a diopter correction adjustment and a comfortably high eyepoint, leaving enough room between your eye and the finder for most eyeglass lenses to fit in, although I did notice a little vignetting around the edges while wearing my own glasses. The tiny display is identical to that of the larger LCD monitor, complete with menus and exposure information. The EVF remains active only when the LCD monitor is switched off, as the Display button switches between the two views.

My regular readers will know that I'm no fan of electronic viewfinders. Unfortunately, they seem to be a necessary evil with long-zoom cameras, as it'd be prohibitively expensive and bulky to include an optical viewfinder with an 10x zoom to match the lens. EVFs do have the dual advantages of providing true "through the lens" (TTL) viewing, as well as the same information display as on rear-panel LCDs, but to my mind the negatives usually outweigh the positives. My biggest objection to EVFs is that they are generally useless for low light shooting, but the EVF on the C-765 Ultra Zoom seems to be one of a new generation that are doing much better in this respect. The display gets rather dark while the camera's autofocus was working, but at other times seem quite capable of providing at least a usable display, even under very dark conditions. (Depending, of course, on what you consider "usable:" I could actually see enough of my DaveBox target to aim the camera, even at the limit of my low-light test, a light level about 4 f-stops (16x) darker than that of typical city street lighting at night.)

On the C-765, the Display button located just off the LCD's lower right corner, toggles between the rear-panel LCD and the EVF display. A detailed information readout on both monitors highlights a number of exposure settings, including the currently selected f/stop, shutter speed, and exposure compensation adjustments across the top of the screen. (Note though, that specific exposure parameters are not displayed in any of the "scene" modes.) Part of the information display disappears within a few seconds of half-pressing the Shutter button, and through the Record menu, you can set how much information remains in the display. In Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, the chosen aperture or shutter speed appears as a constant, while the second, automatically determined exposure value updates continuously to respond to changes in subject or lighting. The Manual mode displays both of the selected f/stop and shutter speed values, while the right-hand set of numbers reports the amount by which the camera thinks the image will be under- or overexposed, up to +/- 3 EV units. (When you're more than three EV over or under, these numbers turn red and remain fixed at +/-3 EV.) The C-765 also features a optional live histogram display, which graphs the tonal distribution of the current composition. This is useful in determining any over- or underexposure that may occur with the current exposure settings, letting you correct the exposure before actually taking the shot.

When using the LCD monitor to review captured images, you can zoom in up to 4x on displayed images and then scroll around the enlarged image using the arrow buttons. This is extremely handy for checking focus, small details, or precise framing. There's also an Index display option which shows 4, 9, or 16 images at a time, as selected in the Playback menu. A very handy "quick view" function lets you switch to playback mode by pressing the Quick View button. The image will remain displayed on the LCD until you revert back to Record mode by pressing the Display button again, or by half-pressing the Shutter button.


Like some other Olympus digicams, the C-765 also offers the ability to resize or crop your images post-exposure. This is very handy, as it's almost always possible to improve your photos by cropping (trimming) them a little. On the C-765, a cropping menu option lets you trim away as much as 30 percent or so of the image area, and even change the composition from horizontal to vertical, or vice versa. In cropping mode, a bold green outline indicates the current crop area, and the zoom toggle zooms the crop in or out, while the four arrow keys let you move it around the image. Once you've got the crop adjusted to your liking, the camera will save a new image onto the card, with just the cropped area in it. (Your original photo is left undisturbed.) Likewise, using another menu option, you can resize previously-shot photos, to create smaller versions more suitable for emailing.

 

Optics

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The Olympus C-765 is equipped with an all-glass lens, with 11 elements in seven groups. The 10x, 6.3-63mm lens provides a focal length range equivalent to a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm film SLR. (That's a moderate wide angle to quite a long telephoto.) Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8, with the maximum aperture setting dependent on the lens zoom position, ranging up to f/3.7 at the maximum telephoto position. The C-765's normal minimum focusing distance supposedly extends from 3.9 to 6.6 feet (1.2 - 2.0m) as the lens ranges from wide angle to telephoto, but in practice, I found that there was no difference in behavior between "normal" focusing and "normal macro" mode: The camera always seemed to focus as close as about three inches at wide angle, and around four feet at telephoto focal lengths. - The close end of this range matches Olympus' spec for closest focus in normal macro mode at wide angle, but the minimum distance in telephoto mode is quite a bit further than the 2.0 feet that Olympus claims. Through the Record menu, a Super Macro option lets the camera focus as close as 1.2 inches (three centimeters), but the lens focal length in this mode is fixed at an intermediate focal length near the wide angle end of the lens' range.

Autofocus is determined through the lens, using a contrast detection method. This means that the autofocus will work properly with auxiliary lenses, although it should be noted that add-on lenses will usually affect a camera's focusing limits: Don't expect the C-765 to focus as close as it usually does when it has a telephoto adapter attached. A green dot lights solid in the viewfinder display whenever focus is set, and flashes if the camera is having trouble adjusting focus. An optional Full-time AF mode continuously checks focus and refocuses as conditions change. This assures that the camera is more likely to be focused on a moving subject when you're ready to shoot; but it also uses more battery, so use this feature wisely. Also, note that, with stationary subjects, the continuous AF option does nothing to reduce shutter delay. Two AF area modes are available as well, iESP and Spot. In iESP mode, the camera bases focus on the entire frame, automatically determining the primary subject, based on proximity to the camera. Spot mode looks at only the very center of the frame, the area within the black AF target marks on the viewfinder display. The C-765 also lets you adjust the AF area, through an option in the Record menu. Once enabled, you use the arrow keys to move the AF target marks anywhere in the frame (though only while in Spot AF mode). Finally, the C-765 features a manual focus option. Pressing and holding the "OK" button displays the AF/MF focus menu, as well as a distance scale that you can set to meters or feet. You then adjust focus with the up and down arrow keys. As an aid to accurate focusing, the center portion of the view enlarges whenever you're actively adjusting the focus setting..

The C-765's lens barrel incorporates body-mounted filter accessory threads that couple to Olympus' range of accessory lens kits, which extend the camera's telephoto, wide-angle, and macro shooting capabilities. (Note that an Olympus adapter tube, part number CLA-4, is required to permit mounting the auxiliary lenses beyond the furthest extension of the C-765's telescoping lens assembly.)

While the C-765's lens provides up to 10x optical zoom, the camera's 4x Digital Zoom increases that magnification to a maximum of 40x, although the digital zoom brings with it the usual reduction in resolution. Digital zoom is enabled through the Record menu and controlled by the Zoom Lever on top of the camera. Since so-called "digital zoom" just crops out and enlarges the central pixels from the CCD's image, it directly trades resolution for magnification. This will result in very soft images if you're working at the camera's maximum four-megapixel file size, but can be useful if you're only looking for 640 x 480 pixels for web or email use.

As an alternative to the blurring effect of the interpolation used with normal digital zoom, the C-765 offers a "Super Zoom" mode. This seems to be an unusual combination of digital telephoto and optical zoom. In Super Zoom mode, image resolution is forced to 1600x1200, and the zoom range is extended by about another 40%. This sounds a lot like a digital zoom function, where the image is being cropped to 1600x1200 to give the greater telephoto effect. What's different about the Super Zoom mode though, is that there's obviously some motion of the lens elements as you zoom from the normal maximum telephoto position to the "super tele" setting. My guess is that the C-765 uses a combination of cropping and optical zooming in its Super Zoom mode, to achieve a smooth 14x zoom range from wide-angle (where it uses the full sensor area, resampling the full frame to 1600x1200) to maximum telephoto (where it uses only the central 1600x1200 chunk of sensor pixels, but does no resampling). An interesting concept, basically giving you an option to use the camera as either a four-megapixel, 10x zoom model, or two-megapixel, 14x zoom model.

 

Exposure

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The C-765 Ultra Zoom offers an impressive amount of exposure control, including Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes, as well as a small handful of scene modes that preset exposure and color parameters for shooting in specific situations. The Full Auto and Scene modes make the camera easy to use for novices, while the other options provide the flexibility demanded by more advanced users. All capture modes are set by rotating the Mode dial on top of the camera, which also accesses the My Mode, Movie, and Playback modes. (My Mode lets you create a custom setup for the camera, including settings for virtually every exposure and operating parameter. The saved setup can then be selected simply by rotating the Mode Dial to the "My" position. See below for more information.)

In Auto mode, the camera has complete control over the exposure parameters. You can adjust options like lens zoom, drive mode, image size, etc., but can't make any exposure adjustments at all (not even exposure compensation or white balance, this is truly a "point-and-shoot" mode). Program mode leaves the camera in charge of the aperture and shutter speed, while you control the remaining exposure options such as ISO, metering, and white balance. In Program mode, you also have access to the exposure compensation adjustment, which lets you adjust the camera's automatically determined exposure setting by plus or minus two exposure equivalent (EV) units, in steps of 0.3 EV. Aperture Priority lets you set the aperture from f/2.8 to f/8 (the bottom end of which depends on the lens zoom position) leaving the camera to automatically determine the appropriate shutter speed, down to 1 second. In Shutter Priority, you can select shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to 1 second, with the camera selecting the corresponding aperture setting. The Manual exposure option lets you control both aperture and shutter speed yourself, and the bottom end of the shutter speed range is extended to 15 seconds. In common with other Olympus cameras, a handy feature of the Manual mode is that, as you scroll through the various exposure settings, the camera indicates whether it thinks your chosen setting will produce a correct exposure. It does this by showing the f/stop, shutter speed, and exposure differential (the difference between your settings and what the camera metering system thinks is correct) in green, up to a limit of +/- 3EV. For exposure differentials outside that range, the numbers turn red and remain fixed at the 3EV reading. (This is a very handy feature that I'd like to see more manufacturers implement in their cameras' manual exposure modes.)

The four scene modes include Portrait, Sports, Landscape, and Night Scene, which optimize the camera for specific shooting situations. In Portrait mode, the camera uses a larger lens aperture, reducing depth of field to throw distracting background elements out of focus. Sports mode biases the exposure system toward faster shutter speeds, to help freeze fast-moving subjects. Landscape mode keeps foreground and background in focus, adjusting the camera's color handling to emphasize blue and green hues in the image (producing more intense foliage and sky colors). Night Scene employs slower shutter speeds, allowing more ambient light into the image. Limited menu options are available in the scene modes, as their purpose is to simplify camera setup for novices. (A multitude of menu choices would only add complication to what are intended to be easy-to-use camera settings.)

The C-765 features a variable ISO setting, which lets you set the camera's light sensitivity to 64, 100, 200, or 400 ISO equivalents, or to an Auto mode in which the camera selects an ISO appropriate to the subject's brightness. The higher sensitivity settings, combined with the camera's maximum 15-second shutter speed and noise reduction option, provide excellent low-light shooting capabilities. The higher ISO settings are also helpful when you want faster shutter speeds under normal lighting, to help freeze fast action. Of course, as with all digicams, the higher ISO settings produce photos with more image noise, in much the same way that higher-ISO films show more film grain. To combat this problem, the C-765 offers a Noise Reduction mode through the Record menu, which greatly reduces the amount of image noise from long exposures, particularly at the higher ISO settings.

Two metering systems are available on the C-765: Spot and Digital ESP. Both are accessed through the Spot / Macro / DPOF button on the camera's back panel. Under the default Digital ESP setting, the camera takes an exposure reading from the center of the image as well as the surrounding area and chooses the best exposure based on brightness and contrast across the entire scene. Spot metering simply reads the exposure from the very center of the image, so you can pinpoint the specific area of the photograph you want properly exposed. (Spot metering is very handy when you have a subject that's backlit, or that has a very different brightness, either lighter or darker, than the background.)

An AE Lock button locks the current exposure settings whenever pressed, so you can independently lock exposure and focus. (AE Lock is useful when you want to base your exposure on an off-center subject. Point the camera at the subject, lock the exposure, then recompose your shot however you like. Your subject will be correctly exposed, regardless of what might be in the center of the frame when you finally snap the shutter.)

For precise manual control over exposure metering, an eight-point Multi-Metering mode is available when in Spot metering mode. Enabling the Multi-Metering option through the Record menu lets you take up to eight single readings throughout the frame, which are then averaged to get the best exposure. I particularly like way the C-765 displays exposure information in Multi-Metering mode. You select individual metering points by pressing the AEL button, and each time you do so, the relative exposure for that point is displayed on a little ruler-graph at the bottom of the LCD screen as soon as you select the first point. Once the exposure graph is displayed, a small green pointer above the line shows the relative brightness of the subject under the central metering spot in real time. Pressing the AEL button captures the current brightness value to incorporate in the exposure calculation, and adds a green marker arrow under the graph at that point. In this way, you can very easily see the range of exposure values represented in your subject, and choose how you want to weight them in the final exposure determination. (You can also bias the exposure toward a particular part of your subject by simply adding more exposure samples from that area.) This one of the most flexible and powerful exposure metering options I've seen on a digicam, incidentally first seen on the still coveted Olympus OM-4 film camera, and is another feature other manufacturers would do well to emulate. (The screen shot shown above right is actually taken from the previous C-740 model. The feature works identically on the C-765, but the aperture, shutter speed, and AEL indicator displays are arranged a little differently.)

A Record View function, enabled through the Record menu, displays the most recently captured image on the LCD screen while the image is recorded to the memory card. There's also a Quick View function that lets you check the previously captured image, by pressing the new Quick View button. Quick View basically drops you into Playback mode, with all playback functions (zoom, scroll, index display, delete, voice annotate, etc) available, but with the camera able to switch back to Record mode instantly, whenever you half-press the Shutter button.

In situations where exposure compensation is necessary, simply press either the right or left Arrow buttons (in all exposure modes except Auto and Manual) and the EV value displayed on the LCD will increase or decrease in one-third-step increments, up to a maximum of +/- 2 EV. Or, you can use the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) function to automatically bracket an exposure as much as +/- 2 EV in either three or five step increments of 0.3, 0.6, or 1.0 EV units each. The auto bracketing will center its efforts around whatever exposure you've chosen as the starting point, including any exposure compensation adjustments you've made. AEB is really handy for those times when you want to make sure you get just the right exposure for a critical subject.

White balance options include Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Custom, to accommodate a variety of lighting situations. You can also adjust the white balance, adding either more red or blue. This ability to "tweak" the white balance is very helpful when dealing with difficult light sources.

The C-765 Ultra Zoom also offers a 12-second Self-Timer for self-portraits or those occasions when you don't want to risk camera shake on a long exposure by pressing the Shutter button to trip the shutter.

There are also options on the Record menu to set the in-camera image sharpening, contrast, and saturation, in arbitrary units from -5 to +5. The contrast option is one that I personally find appealing. I find that I often want to decrease a camera's default contrast somewhat, to help preserve highlight detail on contrasty subjects. In the same general realm, you can also record images in black-and-white or sepia tones, or capture text via the Whiteboard and Blackboard photo modes, as set via the camera's Function sub-menu..

 

Flash

The C-765 offers a built-in, pop-up flash, with six operating modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, Flash Off, Slow Sync, and Slow Sync with Red-Eye Reduction modes. Auto mode lets the camera decide when to fire the flash, while the Fill-in mode fires the flash with every shot. (Fill-in is useful for throwing light on backlit subjects, keeping their faces from being obscured in deep shadow.) The Red-Eye Reduction mode fires a brief burst of low-power flash pulses before firing the flash at full power, making the pupils of your subject's eyes contract, reducing the occurrence of the Red-Eye Effect. Slow Sync allows more ambient light into the background, producing more natural lighting behind a flash-illuminated subject. Through the Record menu, you can set the Slow Sync flash to fire at either the beginning or end of the exposure. A button on the rear panel pops the flash up from its compartment, while the Flash / Protect button on the back panel controls the flash operating mode. You can also adjust the overall flash intensity from +/-2 EV through the Record menu.

What can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse is the manual control for the popup flash. Often a flash that pops up whenever the camera happens to think it should can be annoying or surprising, especially if you disagree. With the C-765, the flash only fires if you've popped it up yourself. If the light level is too low for a good exposure without the flash, an onscreen warning tells you that you should press the manual pop-up release; if you don't the camera does its best to make the shot work anyway.

 

Special Exposure Modes

Movie and Sound Recording Modes
The C-765's Movie mode is accessible via the Mode dial on top of the camera (marked with a small movie camera symbol). Once in Movie mode, you can record QuickTime movies with or without sound. The length of movie clips depends on the resolution setting and the amount of memory card space available. A number indicating the available seconds of movie storage on the memory card appears on the LCD and EVF monitors. Optical zoom is disabled while recording movies with sound, but is enabled when recording with the sound turned off, and most other exposure options are available in movie mode as well. (Note though, that when zooming during movie recording, it can take quite a while for the autofocus system to adjust to changes in zoom position - As much as several seconds may elapse after a large zoom adjustment before the image becomes sharp again.) Three image resolutions are available in Movie mode, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 and 160 x 120 pixels. Both resolutions record at approximately 15 frames per second, and recording time is limited only by the available space on the memory card. Note that movie files take up a lot of card space. The included 16 MB xD card holds only 17 seconds of movie with sound at the 640x480 resolution setting, 46 seconds at 320x240, and 186 seconds at 160x120. You'll definitely want a large memory card if you plan to do much movie recording.

In any record mode, you can record a short sound clip to accompany still images. The Sound option in the record menu activates the mode, and you can record a maximum of four seconds per image. Sound recording begins approximately half a second after the shutter is released. You can also record sound after the fact, through a menu option in Playback mode. Because there's no speaker on the C-765, you'll need to transfer the files to a computer or connect the camera to a TV or stereo with the included A/V cable to hear any audio that you've recorded.

Panorama Mode
Like most Olympus digicams, the C-765 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. The Panorama function 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 be able to do its job. Up to 10 shots can be taken in a panoramic series. Once the sequence of images is downloaded to your computer, you can use the included Olympus software to assemble them into an extended panorama.

Note that the panorama function is only enabled by the built-in firmware found on Olympus brand memory cards, so this option isn't available when using third-party memory cards. (I have to say that I think this tying of the panorama function to Olympus-branded cards strikes me as one of the most ill-considered product decisions Olympus has made. I can't imagine that the number of memory cards Olympus sells through this mechanism balances the camera sales they lose by having a crippled panorama function. On the other hand, for occasional panorama shots, most users can probably get by with the memory card included in the box with the camera.)

"2-in-1" Mode
Accessed through the Record menu, "2 in 1" photography mode records two vertically-oriented, half-sized images in a single frame of memory. After capture, the images are saved side-by-side as one full resolution image, giving a split-screen effect. As with Panorama mode, a set of guidelines appear in the LCD display, to help you line up the shots.

Sequence Mode
The C-765 also offers three Sequence modes that mimic the motor drive on a film camera, recording images in rapid sequence when you hold down the Shutter button. As is usually the case, the number of frames you can capture quickly is limited by the camera's buffer memory capacity (typically three SHQ-quality images), and sequence mode isn't available at all for the TIFF (uncompressed) image format. What's a little surprising is that, once the buffer fills, you have to release and re-press the shutter button before the camera will capture any more frames. (In continuous capture mode, many cameras will simply keep snapping images whenever they're able, as long as you hold down the shutter button and there's space available on the card.) Hi-Speed sequence mode captures two frames, at a slightly faster frame interval. AF Sequence mode also captures a continuous series of images, but adjusts the focus between each shot, resulting in much slower shot to shot times.

My Mode
Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the "My" position, this mode lets you save customized settings and then access them simply by turning the Mode Dial. For example, if you consistently shoot in the same environment, you could save the exposure settings for those specific shooting conditions, so that they can be instantly recalled. (I can imagine this option being very handy for situations where you might have to switch quickly between two different environments. Think of a wedding reception, for instance: Standard "program" mode for outside shots on the lawn, etc, but a custom setup in My Mode to shoot the indoor scenes under incandescent lighting.) My Mode even lets you edit the Shortcut menu items, which appear when the Menu button is pressed, to reflect often changed settings. A total of four different sets of My Mode settings can be saved. The C-765's My Mode is very flexible, letting you preset the following camera parameters (see the subsequent section on camera modes and menus for explanations of any settings which might not be obvious from the list below):

Shutter Lag/Cycle Times

When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's generally a delay or 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 rarely reported (and even more rarely reported accurately), and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I 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 one millisecond.) Here are the figures I obtained in my testing of the C-765:

Olympus C-765 Ultra Zoom Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
5.7
Camera has to extend lens first. Longer than average.
Shutdown
2
Time to retract camera lens. Fairly fast.
Play to Record, first shot
2.3
Time until first shot is captured. Not as fast as I'd like.
Record to play
5.6/2.1
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. First time is for immediate switch to playback after snapping a picture, second time is for switch with camera finished processing the prior image. Average to a bit slower than average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.11 / 1.21
First number is for wide-angle, second is for telephoto. On the slow side of average. (Not unusual for long zooms though.)
Shutter lag, manual focus 0.68 A fair bit slower than average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.182
Time to capture, after half-pressing Shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution
2.26/ 2.27
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. The C765 seems to have only about a three-frame buffer memory when shooting large/fine files. After the first three shots, the cycle time stretches to between 2.4 and 6.2 seconds, varying quite a bit, as the buffer empties and fills. (Typical is 2 shots fast, then one very slow, one a bit faster, one fast, another slow again, etc.) Cycle time is quite competitive, but I'd like to see a bigger buffer on a camera of this caliber.
Cycle Time, normal continuous mode, max/min resolution
0.84/0.57
0.74/0.57
First numbers are for large/fine files, second numbers are for small/basic images. Buffer holds three shots at large/fine, 80+ at small/basic image size/quality. For both sizes of images, the interval between the first two shots is longer than between the second and third. First time shown for each size/quality is time between first two shots, second time is for subsequent. Buffer clears in about 8 seconds for large/fine files, upwards of 80 seconds for a long burst of small/basic ones.
Cycle Time, high-speed continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.42/0.39 In high-speed continuous mode, the interval between frames drops to ~0.4 seconds, but only two frames fit in the buffer, regardless of image size. After those two shots, you'll wait about 5 seconds for large/fine files to write to the card, or 2 seconds for small/basic ones. Very good speed, but again, I'd really like to see a bigger buffer.
Cycle Time, TIFF images
20.78
Fairly slow, but not unusual for a 4 MP TIFF image.

The C-765 Ultra Zoom is fast enough, but far from a speed demon. Startup is leisurely, although shutdown is about average. Shutter lag is on the slow side of normal, but its prefocus lag is very fast. (In my experience, long-zoom cameras suffer somewhat in the shutter lag area, apparently because such lenses take longer to focus.) Cycle times are average for a good-performing upper midrange camera, but the 3-shot buffer memory is smaller than I'd ideally like to see. Overall, not a bad performance, but I'd really like to see faster focusing and a deeper buffer.

 

 

Operation and User Interface

The C-765's user interface is very similar to that of the preceding C-750 model, as well as other recent Olympus C-series digicams. An intuitive set of menu options is easy to navigate, and many common exposure options are controlled externally. Even for users new to the interface, menu layouts are quite straightforward. Because the EVF displays the same information as the larger LCD monitor, you can quickly verify basic camera settings while aligning a shot, without having to activate the larger LCD display. A Mode dial on top of the camera changes capture modes quickly, and the AE Lock button can be customized to activate any one of a wide variety of settings. When you do have to call up the LCD menu, a shortcut screen appears first, with quick links to the image quality, white balance, and ISO settings. (You can also edit these shortcuts through the Setup menu, to select different camera functions for each.) Once you get into the actual Record menu, options are organized by function, accessed by a series of tabs along the left side of the screen. This layout lets you quickly skip to the options you need without sifting through pages of menu items. In any of the manual exposure modes, aperture and/or shutter speed is adjusted externally, as is exposure compensation. Once you get the hang of things, the control layout is quite intuitive and efficient.

Control Enumeration


Mode Dial
: On the top of the camera is the Mode Dial, which controls the camera's main operating mode. Choices are Playback, Auto, Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Night Scene, Movie, My Mode, Aperture / Shutter Speed / Manual (A/S/M), and Program modes.


Zoom Lever
: On top of the camera, in front of the Mode Dial and surrounding the shutter release, the Zoom Lever controls the optical zoom in all exposure modes, and the Digital Zoom when enabled through the Record menu.

In Playback mode, the zoom lever switches between Index view, normal image display, and playback zoom, and controls the amount of playback zoom applied.

Shutter Button: Located in the center of the Zoom control, the Shutter button sets focus and exposure settings when pressed halfway and triggers the shutter when fully pressed.


Flash / Protect Button
: Located on the top, right portion of the camera's back panel, this button controls the Flash mode in all still capture modes. Pressing it cycles through Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, Flash Off, Slow Sync, and Slow Sync with Red-Eye Reduction modes.

In Playback mode, this button marks the displayed image for write-protection, or removes protection. Once protected, files cannot be erased or manipulated in any way, but will still be deleted if the memory card is reformatted.


Flash Release Button
: Just to the right of the Flash / Protect button, this button releases the pop-up flash from its compartment.


Self-Timer / Erase Button
: Adjacent to the viewfinder eyepiece, on the right side, this button controls the camera's Self-Timer mode.

In Playback mode, this button lets you erase the current image. The camera presents a confirmation screen after the Erase button is pressed, to make sure you really meant to delete the image.


AE Lock / Custom / Rotation Button
: To the left of the self timer button, this button locks the exposure setting in any record mode. Through the Setup menu, it can be customized to control a number of other menu functions.

In Playback mode, this button rotates the image display clockwise in increments of 90 degrees.


Diopter Adjustment Dial
: To the right of the viewfinder eyepiece, this dial adjusts the electronic viewfinder's optics to accommodate eyeglass wearers. I don't have any way of measuring these adjustments, but the C-765's seems to cover a fairly wide range, almost accommodating even my 20/180 (very nearsighted) uncorrected vision.


Power Button
: Directly above the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this red button turns the camera on and off.


Four-Way Arrow Pad and OK / Menu Button
: Made up of four buttons arranged in a circle around a central "OK" button, the Arrow Pad controls many of the camera's operations. In all capture modes except Manual, the left and right arrow buttons increase or decrease the exposure compensation setting. In Aperture or Shutter Priority exposure modes, the up and down Arrow buttons 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. Up and down arrows jump through the images 10 frames at a time. All four are used to scroll around portions of the zoomed image in Zoom Playback mode.

In the LCD menu system, the Arrow buttons navigate through menu screens and select settings. The OK / Menu button in the center of the pad displays the settings menu in any camera mode, and also confirms menu selections.

In any capture mode, pressing and holding the OK button for a few seconds activates the camera's manual focus option. Press the left arrow key to enter manual focus mode, and then use the up and down arrow keys to adjust the focus.


Display Button
: Just off the lower right corner of the LCD monitor, this button toggles the viewfinder display back and forth between the EVF and LCD monitors.


Quickview Button
: Calls up the previously-captured image on the screen and enables most playback-mode functions.

 

Camera Modes and Menus

Movie Mode: Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera symbol, Movie mode lets you capture movies (with sound) for as long as the memory card has available space. Shutter speed is set automatically, depending on light levels and the camera's ISO setting, but Olympus gives no specification for the shutter speed range. (The C-750 had a movie-mode shutter speed range of 1/30 - 1/8,000, but the C-765's manual makes no mention of shutter speed in movie mode.)

My Mode: Quickly configures the camera based on a (large) set of previously saved user-defined settings. 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, and the camera can accommodate four different sets.

A/S/M Mode: Accesses a range of manual and semi-manual exposure modes, including Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give the user control over one exposure variable and the camera control over the other. Manual mode offers full user control over both aperture and shutter speed. Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8, depending on the zoom setting. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1 second, in both Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, and to 16 seconds in Manual mode.

Program Mode: Puts the camera in control of both aperture and shutter speed settings, while you control all other exposure variables, such as white balance, exposure compensation, etc.

Playback Mode: This mode lets you view previously captured images using the Arrow Pad to scroll through frames stored in memory. The Zoom Lever switches the image display to Index mode when moved in the wide angle direction, and when moved in the telephoto direction, enlarges a single image. While zoomed in on an image, the Arrow buttons can move the enlarged view around the full image area, allowing you to inspect all parts of it.

Auto Mode: This mode puts the camera in charge of all exposure variables, apart from zoom, flash mode, image size, and drive mode. This is a true "point & shoot" mode, requiring almost no input from the user apart from a press of the Shutter button.

Portrait Mode: Optimizes the camera for capturing portraits. A larger aperture is used, so that the subject will appear sharply focused in front of a slightly soft background.

Sports Mode: The camera's exposure system is biased toward faster shutter speeds to freeze action and moving subjects.

Landscape Mode: This mode is for capturing wide views of scenery, with both the foreground and background in focus. However, this mode also enhances any blue or green colors in the image, for more vibrant trees, water, and skies.

Night Scene Mode: This mode is best for capturing night portraits or night scenery, such as cityscapes. A slower shutter speed (as long as 4 seconds) lets you shoot under darker conditions.



Still Picture Shooting Menu: In capture mode, pressing the OK/Menu button initially brings up the "shortcut" menu shown at right. In its default configuration, this lets you quickly access the settings for drive mode, resolution and ISO by pressing the up-, left-, or down-arrow keys respectively, or enter the main menu system by pressing the right-arrow key. You can configure the shortcut menu through an option on the setup menu though, assigning a variety of functions to the up-, down-, or left-arrow keys. Following are the options available on each of the four tabs of the record-mode menu system. (Note that available menu options will change depending on capture mode.)








 

 









Playback Menu
As with its record mode menu system, pressing the OK/Menu button in playback mode initially brings up a "Short Cut" menu screen, which offers three shortcuts to frequently-used options, as well as an option to enter the main playback mode menu system. Unlike the record mode short cut menu though, the options on the playback mode short cut screen are fixed, and not subject to reprogramming via the setup menu.

 


Image Storage and Interface

The C-765 stores images on xD-Picture Cards, and comes equipped with a 16MB card. The C-765's file naming protocol includes the month and day at the beginning of the file name, and provides the option of numbering images progressively from one card to the next, or of resetting the naming sequence for each card. The camera lets you write-protect individual images from accidental erasure through the Playback menu. (Note that individually protected images can still be erased by a card format operation).

The C-765 can store images in both uncompressed TIFF and compressed JPEG file formats. JPEG compression levels include Super High Quality (SHQ), High Quality (HQ), and Standard Quality (SQ). No less than seven image sizes are available, with a variety at each quality setting. Resolutions include 3,200 x 2,400 ("Enlarge" size, produced by interpolating up from the 2,288 x 1,712 pixels of the CCD); 2,288 x 1,712; 2,288 x 1,520 (3:2); 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1,280 x 960; 1,024 x 768; and 640 x 480 pixels.

The myriad size options can be assigned to the camera's TIFF, SHQ, HQ, SQ1, and SQ2 quality levels via the Shooting 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 earlier description of the user interface) or via the record setup menu. The second table below shows the approximate size and compression ratio of each of the 750's size/quality setting combinations, along with how many of each image size can fit on the included 16MB memory card.

Image
Size
Options
3,200 x 2,400
(Interpolated)
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
TIFF
 
SHQ
           
HQ
           
SQ1
 
 
     
SQ2
         

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
16MB Memory Card
Hi
(TIFF)
Fine
Normal
Enlarge Size
3,200 x 2,400
Images
(Avg size)
N/A 2
6,400KB
8
1,882KB
Approx.
Compression
N/A 4:1 12:1
2,288 x 1,712
pixels
Images
(Avg size)
1
11.8MB
5
2,909KB
16
1,000KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1 4:1 12:1
2,048 x 1,536
pixels
Images
(Avg size)
1
9.4MB
8
1,882KB
20
1,000KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1 4:1 12:1
1,600 x 1,200
pixels
Images
(Avg size)
2
5.8MB
11
1,455KB
32
500KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1 4:1 12:1
1,280 x 960
pixels
Images
(Avg size)
4
3.7MB
17
941KB
49
323KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
11:1
1,024 x 768
pixels
Images
(Avg size)
6
2.7MB
26
604KB
76
209KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
11:1
640x480
pixels
Images
(Avg size)
16
0.9MB
66
242KB
165
97KB
Approx.
Compression
1:1
4:1
10:1

 

The C-765 comes with interface software and cables for both Mac and Windows computers. It employs a USB interface for high-speed computer connection, and implements a "storage-class" connection. This is what Olympus refers to as their "USB Auto-Connect" function, which lets you connect the camera directly to a Windows Me, 2000, or XP computer, or a Mac running OS version 8.6 or later, without the need for driver software. Download speed is quite fast, but not as quick as many current models with high-speed USB 2.0 interfaces. I clocked the C-765 at a download speed of 759 KB/second to my 2.4 GHz Sony VAIO computer, running Windows XP. (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.)

 

Video Out

The C-765 has an A/V Out port 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. (This last means that you could use a TV monitor as a "remote viewfinder" if you wanted to.) Through the Setup menu, you can set the Video Out signal to NTSC or PAL.

Power

The C-765 is powered by a rechargeable LI-10B battery pack or 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 operating modes for the C-765...

Operating Mode
Power
(@6.5 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(3.7v, 1230 mAh LiIon battery pack)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
476 mA
120
Capture Mode, EVF only
447 mA
127
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
468 mA
122
Half-pressed, EVF only
438 mA
130
Memory Write (transient)
500 mA
N/A
Flash Recharge (transient)
1448 mA
N/A
Image Playback
309 mA
184


Overall, the C-765's battery life is a little better than I've come to expect from digicams with electronic viewfinders, but not up to the level of the earlier C-750 model. Generally, the issue with EVFs is that you can't turn them off, so they continue to draw power whether you need them or not. (You can often save significant battery power on cameras with optical viewfinders, simply by leaving the LCD display turned off.) In its worst-case power-drain mode (capture mode, with the rear panel LCD display active), the C-765's projected run time is almost exactly two hours, a good if not exceptional run time. As always, I strongly recommend that you purchase an extra battery and keep it charged.

 

Included Software

The C-765 comes with a nice complement of software on the supplied CD. Direct camera control and image downloading are provided by Olympus' Camedia Master software package (version 4.2) for both Mac and Windows platforms (Macintosh OS 8.6-9.2/OS X, Windows 98/98SE/Me/2000 Pro/XP). USB drivers for both platforms and an Apple QuickTime reader are also included.

Camedia 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). For panoramic images, Camedia Master supplies a "stitching" utility to piece together shots vertically or horizontally. A complete printing utility works with the DPOF settings and allows you to print images directly to Olympus or other DPOF-compliant photo printers.

 

In the Box

In the US, the C-765 ship with the following items in the box::

 

Test Images and "Photo Gallery"

These days, I'm trying to provide more pictorial "Gallery" photos, in addition to my standardized test shot images, as a way of giving more of an idea of how the cameras I test perform with more "natural" looking subjects. Accordingly, you can find my standard test shots from the C-765 on the standard Pictures Page, or a collection of more pictorial subjects (this collection shot by assistant editor Shawn Barnett) on the C-765's Gallery page.

 

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-765's "pictures" page.

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 C-765's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the C-765 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!


Conclusion

Free Photo Lessons

Check out the Free Photo School program for lessons and tips on improving your photographs!
Learn how to take stunning photos with simple pro lighting tips, in our free Photo School area!

Olympus was an early innovator in the long-zoom category, and have maintained a commanding presence there for some years now. The C-765 is one of their latest models, offering very good value as a full-featured digicam with four-megapixel resolution and a 10x zoom lens. It continues the flexible exposure control, useful preset Scene modes, and creative image adjustment tools of last year's long-zoom models from Olympus, and image resolution is high enough for sharp 8x10 prints, even with moderate cropping. With its varying levels of exposure control, the C-765 meets the needs of both enthusiasts and novices alike. Overall, the C-765's image quality is very good, my main complaint being the relatively high levels of chromatic aberration that it has in common with most long-zoom models on the market, and somewhat higher than average levels of image noise under nighttime shooting conditions. Apart from these relatively minor issues (relative to competing long-zoom models, at any rate), it's very hard to find anything significant to complain about. If you're interested in long-zoom digital photography, the C-765 definitely deserves strong consideration.

 

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