Olympus C-4040 ZoomOlympus introduces a top-of-the-line 4-megapixel model with noise reduction technology, optimum image enlargement, and newly designed interface
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C4040 Test ImagesReview First Posted: 07/23/2001
|We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
Portrait (1771 k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the C-4040 performed well. The shot at right has a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the midtones about as much as we felt we could without losing too many highlights. We shot this with the Auto (2085 k) white balance setting, as it resulted in more natural color than the Daylight (1809 k) white balance. (Daylight produced a much warmer image.) Color is very good, although skin tones are slightly magenta. The blue flowers look much better than what we see from most cameras, although there's still a hint of purple in them. (these blues are tough for digicams to get right). Excellent detail in the shadows, with low noise.
Readers interested in seeing the effects of a range of exposure compensation
settings are directed to the thumbnail page,
and photos C44OUTAP0-4. These range from +0 to +1.3EV, in steps of 1/3
Portrait (2087 k)
Results are similar to the longer portrait shot above, with good color and resolution. The 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of the model's features, and more detail is visible than in the shot above. Skin tones again show a slight orange tint, but overall color looks nice. Shadow detail is great, with moderately low noise. Our main shot has no exposure adjustment at all, which still overexposes the highlight areas of the white shirt collar. (Olympus cameras have tended to have higher than average contrast in the past, the C4040 Zoom seems less so, but still struggles with the tonal range on this shot a bit.) The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.0 EV.
Readers interested in seeing the effects of a range of exposure compensation
settings on this shot are directed to the thumbnail
page, and photos C44FACAP0-3. These range from +0 to +1.0EV, in
steps of 1/3 EV.
Portrait, Flash (2666 k)
Flash is too dim in this shot without an EV boost, but does a good job when you tweak the power up a little.
The C-4040's flash was slightly dim without any exposure compensation, but did a good job illuminating the subject when we cranked it up a bit. (We really like variable flash power as a digicam feature, it comes in very handy in settings like this.) The background incandescent lighting resulted in a strong magenta/orange color cast, which dissipated with each additional exposure adjustment. Color looks good with the brighter exposures, though the slight color cast persists. We chose the +1.3 EV exposure adjustment for our main series because it had the best lighting on the model, though the white shirt is overexposed. The table of small thumbnails below shows exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV.
Exposure Compensation Settings:
Portrait, No Flash
Manual white balance does well, but Auto and Incandescent do poorly. High noise, especially at ISO 400, but fairly fine-grained. Good job in Manual mode, but we'd like to see incandescent do better.
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, and the C-4040 produced good results with
the Manual (2691 k) white balance setting.
The Auto (1931 k) white balance setting was
very orange, and the Incandescent (2005 k)
setting produced a warm, sepia image. We selected an exposure adjustment
of +1.3 EV for our main shot, which resulted in a good exposure with
fairly accurate color. The blue flowers again show purplish tints, which
is a common problem among digicams with this shot.
Exposure Compensation Settings:
We shot a series of photos with the range of ISO settings the C4040 offers. The image noise was higher than we'd like to see in all cases (almost all blue-channel noise, surprisingly little red-channel), and was very high in the ISO 400 example. It is fairly fine-grained though, which makes it somewhat less objectionable. (We'd still like to see it lower though.)
Shot (1856 k)
Very good detail, very good color. Soft in the corners, but we'd give it a "very good" overall.
Though the color balance is a hint magenta, we chose the Auto
(1856 k) white balance setting for our main selection. The Manual
(1898 k) setting produced very cool, greenish results, while the Daylight
(1887 k) setting was much too warm. Detail looks great in the tree limbs
and house front, with a slight softness at the corners of the frame.
Noise is moderate in the roof shingles, and faintly noticeable in the
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 our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The C-4040 picked up great detail throughout the frame, though details are slightly soft, particularly in the corners. The fine foliage details are slightly softer than the perpendicular details of the house front, a common occurrence among digicams. We also measure a camera's dynamic range in this shot, and noticed that the C-4040 fell victim to the bright sunshine glare on the bay window, losing all but the strongest details. (And this was a somewhat hazy day, not as contrasty as this shot can be at times.) The shadow areas under the porch and in the shade of the tree (at right) fared slightly better, with fairly strong details visible in the brick and shrubbery patterns. The extreme contrast of the scene resulted in a slightly dim image as well. The table below shows our resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, sharpness, and white balance series. We also shot with the C-4040's two interpolated resolutions: 2,816 x 2,112 (3132 k) and 3,200 x 2,400 (5042 k) pixels.
The C4040 Zoom gives you *very* fine-grained control over contrast, with a range of +/- 5 steps up and down from the default. We've skipped over most here, showing just representative points along the range. Check the thumbnail page to see the full range, files C44FARCON01-11. Very handy, we like fine-grained adjustments like this, that allow you to really customize the camera to your own preferences.
The same story on in-camera sharpening, a total of 11 settings. We don't see as big a need for lots of sharpening settings, but still handy to have nonetheless. Same story as above, a few links below, see the thumbnail page for the rest. (C44FARS01-11)
There's also a very broad range of adjustment available for the auto and preset white balance settings. The menu option lets you push the color toward red or blue, with 7 steps in either direction. To our eye, only the first couple are really useful, we'd prefer to see the same number of steps spread over a (much) narrower range. Kudos for including the adjustment though! Same story as above, a few links below, see the thumbnail page for the rest. (C44FARS01-11) - It'd be interesting to see what a strong blue tweak on the incandescent setting would do for the warm-tone problems we saw above. - Didn't have time to try this though...
|Lens Zoom Range
A pretty typical zoom range...
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 3x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with 2x digital zoom enabled. The C-4040's lens covers a range equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Poster (1943 k)
For this test, we
shot with the Auto (1943 k), Daylight
(1956 k), and Manual (1960 k) white balance
settings, choosing Auto as the most accurate. The Daylight came out
rather warm, while the Manual setting produced a much cooler image with
slightly pale, bluish skin tones. Color is good throughout the frame,
with an accurate blue value on the Oriental model's robe (this blue
has a tendency to go purple, a common problem with digicams, and we
did notice slight purplish tints in the darker blue shades). Detail
looks good throughout the frame, with a nice level of sharpness.
The C-4040 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum
area of just 3.24 x 2.43 inches (82.22 x 61.66 millimeters). Resolution
looks great, with nice detail in the coins and brooch, and color is
reasonably accurate (though with a slight greenish cast). The flash
(2012 k) did an excellent job throttling down for the macro area, with
just a slight reflection in the large coin. (An unusually good job for
a flash in macro mode.)
"Davebox" Test Target (2396 k)
We shot samples of
this target using the Auto (2450 k), Manual
(2396 k), and Daylight (2466 k)
white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting for our main
image. (The Daylight shot was very warm, while the Auto shot had a slight
magenta tint.) Exposure looks about right, as the overall colors are
bright and the highlight details are strong. Color accuracy and saturation
are good, though the large red and magenta color blocks appear cool.
The C-4040 captured good detail in the shadows, with pretty low noise.
Very good at low light, down to the limit of our test. Great for pictures of night scenes, dim interiors. Long-exposure noise reduction on the camera works very well.
The C-4040 performed very well in the low-light category, and captured bright, usable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) at all three ISO settings. We shot with the camera's Noise Reduction setting at all light levels, which did an excellent job of decreasing the image noise. Interestingly, the shots taken at 1/16 foot-candle without Noise Reduction have a more accurate color balance, but the noise level is much higher. With Noise Reduction activated, we see practically no need for any noise removal software. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera. Click here for sample images at ISO 100 (2301 k), 200 (2566 k), and 400 (2565 k) without Noise Reduction at the 1/16 foot-candle light level.
|Flash Range Test
Flash seems good out to the 14 foot limit of our test. (Very good)
In our testing, we found the C-4040's flash bright and effective as far as 14 feet from the test target. Intensity decreased only slightly between the eight and 14 foot distances, noticeable mainly as a slight pinkish cast as the flash power dims. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
(WG-18) Resolution Test (1988 k)
The C-4040 performed well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,300 lines. We also shot at the interpolated 2,816 x 2,112- (3462 k) and 3,200 x 2,400-pixel (4141 k) resolutions, noticing slightly softer details and decreased resolution.
Optical distortion on the C-4040 is higher than average at the wide angle end, as we measured an approximate 0.91 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only one pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about two or three pixels of coloration on both sides of the target lines, which are somewhat distorted from the slight corner softness. While only a couple of pixels in breadth, there's more color there than we like to see. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Series, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Average optical VF accuracy, excellent LCD accuracy. Flash is uneven at wide angle, excellent at telephoto.
The C-4040's optical viewfinder was a little tight, showing approximately 83 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 85 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 98 percent of the image area at wide angle, and almost exactly 100 percent at telephoto. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-4040 did an excellent job here. Flash distribution is rather uneven at the wide angle setting (though bright), with slight falloff along in the corners. At the telephoto setting, flash distribution is even, though the intensity is dimmer.