Olympus Camedia C-770 Zoom4.0 megapixels, a sharp 10x zoom lens, a unique flash head, and loads more features!
<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>
C-770 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 07/06/2004
Digital Cameras - Olympus C-770 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, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe 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-770 Ultra Zoom did a pretty good job with it, with its contrast adjustment dialed down, although I'd still like to see better preservation of detail in the strongest highlights.
The shot at right was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment and the camera's lowest contrast setting. (The default contrast setting produced very high contrast in response to the deliberately harsh lighting.) Midtones are good in the shot at right, but the highlights are very bright, with limited detail. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, as the Daylight setting was a hint reddish, and the Manual setting looked a little yellow.
Overall color is quite good, despite a very slight yellow cast. The slight cast leaves Marti's skin tones just a tad on the yellow side, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are rendered almost perfectly. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, but the C-770 handles it very well here.) The strong reds and greens are pretty accurate, and saturation is good, even with the low contrast setting. Detail is good throughout the frame, even in the shadows, and resolution is very high, but the anti-noise processing does appear to flatten out the more subtle detail in Marti's hair. Perhaps because of this though, image noise is low to moderate, even in the shadows.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV with the low contrast setting, see files C77OUTAP0LC.HTM through C77OUTAP4LC.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Excellent resolution and detail, and good exposure.
Color balance is similar to the wider shot above, with a slight yellow cast from the Auto white balance. As is usually the case, this close-up shot required much less exposure compensation than the wider shot, actually needing a -0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment. The C-770's 10x zoom lens does a great job of preventing geometric distortion here, an important factor in close-up portraits like this. Detail and resolution are much higher here, with excellent definition, and once again very good detail in the shadow areas with low to moderate noise.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +1.0 EV, see files C77FACM1.HTM
through C77FACP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good coverage with the built-in flash, and good color. Strong color cast with the Slow-Sync flash mode.
The C-770's built-in flash illuminated the subject very well here, and
the C-770 seemed to require a bit less exposure compensation on this shot
than do most cameras that I test. I got good results with a +0.7
EV exposure compensation adjustment, where many cameras seem to require
+1 EV of adjustment. (The default exposure
was quite dim though.) Color looks good, with a good blue in the flower
bouquet, and good skin tones. The fairly strong household incandescent
lighting results in a slight orange cast, mainly visible in Marti's hair
and parts of the white shirt, but it isn't too bad. I also shot with the
camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, which required only a +0.3
EV exposure compensation boost. The
longer exposure time allowed more ambient light into the image, resulting
in this case in a stronger orange-yellow cast from the incandescent lighting.
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Good color with the Incandescent and Manual white balance settings, good exposure as well.
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-770's Incandescent
white balance did the best job here, though the Manual
setting produced nearly accurate results (just slightly cool). The Auto
white balance had some trouble though, producing a very noticeable reddish
cast, although the result is still better than many cameras manage in
Auto mode. The main shot was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation
adjustment, about average for this shot. Skin tones look good, but the
blue flowers in the bouquet are dark and purplish (probably to be expected
under this light source).
High resolution with good detail, but very slight color casts, and some softness along the edges and in the corners of the frame.
Though slightly warm and reddish, I felt that the C-770's Auto
white balance setting produced the best overall color here, with the most
believable color (though the white house trim had a slight reddish tint).
The Manual setting resulted in nearly accurate
color as well, but was a bit too cool for my taste. The Daylight
setting resulted in a warm, yellow cast. Resolution is high, with a lot
of fine detail visible in the tree limbs and front shrubbery. (Even though
this poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp
lens, the C-770's four-megapixel CCD is close to extracting all the detail
that's to be found here.) Details are reasonably sharp with good definition,
though the edges and corners are somewhat soft.
Excellent resolution and detail, though a slightly limited dynamic range from the high contrast.
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-770 captures a lot of detail. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house have a lot of fine detail, although the very bright sky in the background leads to some loss of detail, apparently due to lens flare. Details are pretty sharp, though there's a little softness in the corners of the frame. The camera just barely holds onto detail in the strong highlights of the white paint on the bay window in the front of the house, a difficult area for many digicams. Detail is very good in the shadow area above the front door, however. Overall color looks good with the Auto white balance. (For comparison, here are sample images with the Daylight and Manual white balance settings.) The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, and saturation 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-770 Ultra Zoom's lens is equivalent to a 38-380mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a very substantial telephoto. In addition to the 10x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom, the C-770 also offers a 14x Super Zoom setting. (Apologies, Super Zoom results aren't shown here. The "Super Zoom" mode is a bit of a trick, basically a variation on the Digital Zoom theme. It forces the resolution to 1600x1200, and then just crops that many pixels out of the center of the image area. So you get a two megapixel image, but one that's effectively "zoomed" another 1.4x.) Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Slightly cool color with the Manual white balance, but good results overall. High resolution with excellent 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. As is often the case with this shot, I chose the
slightly cool color balance of the Manual
white balance setting, as the C-770's Auto
and Daylight settings produced warm color balances.
The Auto setting resulted in a strong yellow cast, while the Daylight
setting had more of a reddish tint. Skin tones are somewhat pale with
the Manual white balance setting, but overall color is more believable.
(As I've noted on other cameras, this is really up to personal taste,
as many users might prefer the warmer skin tones of the Daylight setting
and not mind the reddish background.) The blue robe looks about right,
with only faint purple tints in the deepest shadows. Resolution is excellent,
as the embroidery of the blue robe and the red vest show a lot of fine
detail. Contrast is slightly high, and aids in detail definition somewhat.
(Because the original data file for this poster was only 20MB, cameras
like the C-770 are definitely capable of showing more detail than the
poster has in it.)
A very tiny macro area in Super Macro mode, with excellent detail, although somewhat high chromatic aberration.
The C-770 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum
area of 2.25 x 1.68 inches (57 x 43 millimeters). The camera's Super Macro
setting produced even better results, capturing a minimum area of just
1.34 x 1.01 inches (34 x 26 millimeters). Resolution and detail are excellent,
with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are
softer in the brooch and coins (especially in the Super Macro shot, from
the very close shooting distance), but definition is good. As is often
the case with digicam macro shots, all four corners of the frame are somewhat
soft, particularly in the Super Macro shot, and the Super Macro shot shows
considerable chromatic aberration as well. The position of the C-770's
flash directly above the lens results
in a dark shadow in the lower portion of the frame, and the flash severely
overcompensated for the close shooting distance (likely tricked by the
specular reflection from the brooch), so plan on using external lighting
for your closest macro shots.
"Davebox" Test Target
Slightly high contrast, but good overall exposure. Accurate color with the Auto white balance setting.
I chose the C-770's Auto white balance setting
as the most accurate here, though the Manual
setting also produced good results (just slightly cool). The Daylight
setting resulted in a strong warm cast. Exposure is about right, though
contrast is slightly high, and the C-770 faintly distinguishes the subtle
tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks look good,
though a little bright from the exposure, but saturation is good. (That
said, the large red and blue color blocks are a hint oversaturated.) Detail
is moderately high in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with
low noise, and the last two steps of the vertical gray scales are just
Good low-light performance, with pretty good color, at all four ISO settings. Autofocus was effective down to right around 1/8 foot-candle, 1/8 the brightness level of typical street lighting. EVF is usable to very low light levels. Somewhat more noise than with the C-765 model though, particularly at the lowest light levels.
The C-770 did pretty well here, producing bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test at all ISO values except the lowest, 64. (The image at ISO 100 was dim, but probably still usable.) At ISO 64, images were bright down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, though you could arguably use the image captured at the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level. Color balance was slightly warm, and the warm cast increased as the light level dimmed. While by no means terrible, there's definitely more image noise here than I would have expected, based on the fairly low levels in the daylight shots from this camera. - For what it's worth, the C-770's image noise also seems to be noticeably higher than that of its lower-end sibling, the C-765. The noise reduction system does a good job of eliminating "hot" pixels, but in the process of cleaning up the image, it also boosts contrast, which has the effect of making the background noise more obvious, rather than less. The camera's autofocus works down to about 1/4 foot-candle, a light level about a quarter as bright as typical city street lighting at night, and the EVF is usable at levels quite a bit darker than that, so the camera should work fine for typical outdoor night photography. NOTE though, that AF times increase dramatically under very dark conditions, to the point that it can take 4-5 seconds for the camera to focus at the darkest levels it's capable of, with the lens set to the telephoto end of its zoom range. What's more, the camera has to be held absolutely still while it's focusing, or it won't be able to tell when it's achieved proper focus. - So plan on using a tripod if you have to shoot under very dark conditions. All things considered though, a pretty good job. 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 sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)
Flash Range Test
A powerful flash, virtually no falloff at the 14 foot limit of our test, even at ISO 64.
In my testing, the C-770's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity. - This seems to be consistent with Olympus' own rating of the flash range as 17 feet with the lens at telephoto focal lengths. (Let's hear it for the dual-tube flash design!) Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
High resolution, 1,100 lines of "strong detail." Lower than average barrel distortion at wide angle, virtually no distortion at telephoto. (Results essentially identical to those of the C-765, no surprise, as it's the same lens.)
The C-770 did a good job on the "laboratory" resolution test chart, its 1,100 line resolution being pretty typical of four-megapixel cameras I've tested It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred between 1,250 and 1,300 lines.
Geometric distortion on the C-770 is quite a bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.5 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared better yet, as I measured approximately 0.02 percent barrel distortion (about half a pixel) there. Chromatic aberration is higher than average though, showing several pixels of pretty strong coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)
Resolution Series, Normal Focal Length (~50mm equivalent)
Resolution Test, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Excellent accuracy from the electronic viewfinder.
The C-770's electronic "optical" viewfinder (EVF) is very accurate, showing 99+ percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto zoom settings. (Actually, at the wide angle setting, the viewfinder is a little loose, as my measurement lines wound up just outside the final frame.) The LCD monitor is also very accurate, 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-770's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in that regard (just remember to frame a hair's width of extra space at full wide angle). Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, with some falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is slightly more even, and even slightly brighter.