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Olympus C-3040 Zoom

Olympus updates its top-of-the-line 3-megapixel model with a "faster" lens and increased movie capabilities.

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 4/14/2001

Executive Overview
The Olympus C-3040 Zoom is an excellent update of the Camedia C-3030 Zoom, originally introduced in February 2000. One year later, the C-3040 offers a newly designed super-bright 7.1-21.3mm f/1.8 3x zoom lens for better low-light capabilities, a multi-spot metering mode that averages eight user-selectable spot readings, and a one-touch white balance function, with a plus or minus three-step white balance correction function. The C-3040 looks essentially the same as its predecessor, with the same compact SLR-style design, and a classic all-black body, with textured, non-slip surfaces on the back panel and right hand grip. The C-3040 Zoom also features a spot autofocus function, contrast and sharpness adjustment settings, and extended (up to five minutes) QuickTime movies with simultaneous sound recording capabilities. Best of all, the C-3040 Zoom retains its very compact body size, measuring 4.3 x 3.0 x 2.7 inches (109.5 x 76.4 x 69.6mm), and weighing only 10.8 ounces (307 grams) without batteries.

The C-3040 Zoom features both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.8-inch, wide view color TFT LCD monitor, with 114,000-pixels. When the LCD monitor is engaged, it automatically displays detailed exposure information, with the current exposure mode, f/stop setting, shutter speed, and exposure compensation listed across the top of the monitor (a nice feature not found on all digicams) and the number of images available in the current resolution setting (displayed briefly when the monitor is turned on), at the bottom of the monitor. The C-3040 also provides a very helpful distance display when using the Manual Focus option, as well as a Digital Zoom bar (activated when Digital Zoom is on) that shows the camera's 3x optical zoom in operation, and the Digital Zoom progress, when you zoom past the optical telephoto limit.

The 7.1-21.3mm 3x zoom aspherical glass lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a very fast f/1.8-f/2.6 (wide angle to telephoto) maximum aperture. In addition to the C-3040's 3x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to an additional 5x with the Digital Zoom, depending on the image resolution size. (Users should be aware that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom, since the digital zoom is merely cropping and enlarging the center portion of the CCD. As a result, digitally enlarged images often result in higher image noise and/or softer resolution.)

The C-3040's default image resolution is 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, but lower resolutions of 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 TIFF mode that produces full-resolution images.

The C-3040 Zoom offers a great deal of exposure control, including Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Speed Priority (S), and Manual (M) exposure modes. Program mode controls both aperture and shutter speed, with exposure times as long as one second. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you control over aperture or shutter speed, while the camera chooses the best corresponding settings. When used in A or S modes, apertures range from f/1.8 to f/10.0 and shutter speeds from 1/800 to four seconds. The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but with shutter speeds as long as 16 seconds.

The C-3040 provides four ISO options (Auto, 100, 200, and 400 in all modes), automatic exposure bracketing, Digital ESP and Spot metering modes, Single and Multi-Spot Metering AE Lock modes, plus exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance can be set to Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent, or Quick Reference (manual adjustment) to accommodate a variety of lighting conditions, and a white balance color adjustment function enables you to adjust red and blue color shifts in the image.

Image contrast and sharpness adjustments are available through the Mode Setup menu, and a Function menu option allows you to capture images in black and white or sepia tone (with additional White Board and Black Board settings for capturing text). An adjustable Automatic Exposure Lock (AEL) function locks an exposure reading, without having to hold down the shutter button halfway while you reframe the image. AEL must be activated through the Capture menu, and can be based on a single exposure reading or up to eight averaged spot readings for more accurate exposures. There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and an infrared (IR) remote controller with a three-second shutter delay.

The C-3040 Zoom's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with or without sound, for as long as the SmartMedia card has available memory space, in either SQ (160 x 120 pixels) or HQ (320 x 240 pixels) modes. Four-second sound clips can be recorded to accompany still images, either with image capture, or later during image playback. A Sequence mode is available for capturing multiple images at up to 3.3 frames per second, and a Panorama mode allows you to take up to 10 formatted shots for merging with Camedia's Panorama Stitch software in the computer.

The camera's internal flash offers four operating modes (Flash Off, Auto-Flash, Forced Flash, and Red-Eye Reduction), with flash power extending to approximately 18.4 feet (5.6 meters) in wide-angle mode and to about 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) in telephoto mode. Any of these modes can be combined with the Slow Sync option to increase ambient light exposure. A proprietary sync socket allows you to connect an external flash unit when additional flash power is needed. You also can increase or decrease the internal flash power from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments through the Record menu.

The Olympus C-3040 Zoom ships with a 16MB SmartMedia memory card for image storage (larger capacity cards are available separately). You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and if you want a larger viewfinder (or image playback) display, Olympus has provided a video output cable for connection to a television set (which works nicely with the remote control). Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master 2.5 utility package, which provides minor organization and editing tools, in addition to a panorama "stitching" application. Apple QuickTime and USB drivers for Macintosh and Windows are also supplied.

We were already pleased with the original Camedia C-2000 and C-3000 digicams, as well as the C-2020 and C-3030 updates (we use the C-2020 Zoom for our own product shots on the website), now we've fallen in love the new and improved C-2040 and C-3040 versions. The C-3040 prosumer model, with its 3.34-megapixel CCD chip, provides exceptional creative control and a straightforward user interface. Combine this with first-rate image quality, and you have what we think will be another extremely popular digicam in the Camedia line.

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