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Olympus C-2040 Zoom

Olympus updates an old favorite, producing a "third generation" two megapixel digicam.

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 2/20/2001

Test Results
In keeping with our standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the C-2040 Zoom's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, we 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-2040 images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

Overall, the C-2040 Zoom turned in an excellent performance, particularly in the areas of image quality and creative control. Colors were bright, accurate, and well-saturated, and detail was excellent. The C-2040 Zoom's white balance system handled our testing well, with the manual option providing the best results. In many cases, we noticed that none of the white balance settings appeared dead-on accurate, but overall, the manual adjustment seemed to result in better color balance. The difficult red / magenta separation is very good, and the camera does a pretty good job with the awkward blues of our model's pants and the blue flowers in our outdoor test shot, showing only a slight tendency to darken the tones (a common failing among many cameras we've tested). We also noticed a slight oversaturation of red in the skin tones, but the vibrant red flower of the model's bouquet appeared to stay in check.

The C-2040 also performed well in our "laboratory" resolution test. Detail is visible out as far as 750 lines per picture height, in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Aliasing starts at around 650 lines in both directions, so that's where we "called" the resolution for the camera. A good performance, although somewhat marred by chromatic aberration (green/red fringes around the target elements, particularly in the corners), which is more evident than we're accustomed to seeing.

The C-2040 Zoom's optical viewfinder was a little tight, showing about 86.7 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 87.0 percent at telephoto, for both the 1,600 x 1,200- and 640 x 480-pixel sizes. The 1,024 x 768-pixel resolution varied by a few percentage points, showing about 86.5 percent at wide angle and about 86.9 percent at telephoto. We also noticed that the optical viewfinder framing resulted in an image shift toward the lower right corner. The C-2040 Zoom's LCD monitor produced much more accurate results, showing approximately 98.7 percent accuracy at wide angle, and about 99.2 percent at telephoto. This time, frame accuracy was the same at all three resolution sizes. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accurate as possible, we felt the C-2040 Zoom did an excellent job.

The C-2040 Zoom also did an outstanding job in the low-light category, as we were able to obtain very bright, clear, usable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot candle (0.67 lux), at all three ISO settings. We were also pleased to note that noise levels remained minimal and fine-grained, even at the 400 ISO setting. Color balance and brightness looked great at all three ISO settings, even at the darkest light levels. To put the C-2040 Zoom's low-light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to about one foot candle of light, making the C-2040 Zoom well suited for dark shooting situations.

The C-2040 Zoom also performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 3.97 x 2.98 inches (100.88 x 75.66mm). Detail and resolution both looked great, with most of the fine details of each object completely visible. Color balance appeared to have a bit of a magenta cast, and we noticed a fair amount of barrel distortion from the lens' wide-angle setting. Still, the C-2040 Zoom performed well. Its built-in flash did a reasonably good job of throttling down for the macro area, though it produced a small shadow in the lower left corner of the image, and washed out the color balance slightly.

Overall, Olympus has built upon the strengths of its predecessor, the C-2020 Zoom, adding more creative control with an improved AE Lock function, as well as larger maximum apertures and longer exposure times for better low -light performance. We were very pleased with the C-2040 Zoom's performance throughout our testing.

With the C-2040 Zoom, Olympus has taken a very good digicam (the C-2020) and made it even better. The increased exposure flexibility and focusing options, combined with the Camedia's creative features, make the C-2040 Zoom capable of handling just about any shooting situation. Its compact size and SLR-style design will endear it to more traditional film-based photographers who are looking for a good crossover digicam that is free of unnecessary gimmicks and promises a reasonably fast learning curve. Add to all this the improved low-light performance and excellent image quality and color, and we think the C-2040 Zoom should be just as popular, if not more so, than its very successful predecessors.

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