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Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom

Olympus packs a 10x zoom lens into an amazingly small body, for an amazingly low price.

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 5/31/2001

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-700 Ultra 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 the C-700's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

Throughout our testing, the C-700 produced great color, with accurate saturation and tone. The C-700's white balance system handled most of our lighting situations well, though we often noticed that the manual setting produced less than accurate results. (A little surprising, since you'd think the manual adjustment would be the most accurate.) The C-700 did a better than average job with our tough indoor portrait test, with both the manual and incandescent white balance settings producing good (if slightly different) color balances. The indoor flash shots turned out good too, although we found that we had to boost the exposure compensation a fair bit to get the right lighting. Color-wise, the large color blocks of our Davebox test target are accurate and well saturated, though the yellow block is a little weak. The difficult red and magenta separation came out great great, with accurate color in both squares (many digicams reproduce these squares with an orange tint). The awkward blues in the flower bouquet of our outdoor test shot also came out pretty good, thoughthere was a noticeable purplish tinge (this is a common problem area for many cameras we've tested). Overall, the C-700 produced accurate, pleasing color under a wide variety of conditions, although we found its images slightly noisy relative to some of its two-megapixel competitors.

The C700's resolution test results were about average for a two megapixel camera. In the horizontal direction, artifacts begin at about 550 lines per picture height, while in the vertical direction, they don't begin until 600 lines. Strong detail is visible in both directions out to about 650 lines. We did notice fairly severe softness in the extreme corners of the image though - This didn't extend very far at all into the image area, but roughly a 100x100 pixel area in the corners of the test shots was quite soft.

Optical distortion on the C-700 is a bit high at the wide angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.89 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we saw less than a pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate in this target, showing about two or three pixels of coloration around the target elements at the edges of the frame. (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.)

We had a little trouble measuring the accuracy of the C-700's electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor, as our standard lines of measurement were outside of the final frame. At the wide angle setting, the bottom target line is cut off, making the viewfinder a little loose. At telephoto, the image is slanted, cutting off parts of the top and bottom target lines. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, we'd have to say that the C-700 does a good job in this respect. We would like to see it just a *hair* tighter though, to make sure you don't miss part of the subject when framing.

The C-700 provides excellent exposure control, and thus did well in our low-light testing. The maximum shutter speed of 16 seconds enables the camera to capture bright, useable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux), at all four ISO settings. The higher ISO settings produced brighter images at these low light levels, but the 100 ISO setting does a good job as well. Color is good in all of the images, though the slightly darker exposure of the 100 ISO setting produced a faint yellow cast. Noise is moderate at 100 ISO, increasing steadily with each higher ISO setting to a very high level at 800 ISO. To put the C-700's low-light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, so the camera should easily handle much darker situations.

The C-700's macro capabilities are about average, as the camera captures a minimum area of 4.31 x 3.23 inches (109.42 x 82.06 millimeters). Resolution is moderately high, with good detail visible throughout the image. Details are also fairly sharp, though the brooch came out a little soft (possibly due to the limited depth of field when working this close). We also noticed corner softness in this shot. The C-700's built-in flash had some trouble up close, overexposing the subject and washing out color. The lens blocks the flash as well, causing a dark shadow in the lower left portion of the frame. Overall, the C-700 is a good but not spectacular macro performer, and you'll need to plan on external lighting for macro shot.

With its extensive exposure control and very good color, the C-700 performed well throughout our testing. Its low-light capabilities are excellent, and the camera captures images with great resolution and detail. We'd like to see slightly lower image noise, and would have preferred the lens to hold sharpness into the extreme corners a bit better, but overall it's a great performer, and a great bargain for a camera with a 10x zoom lens.

Incorporating all of the great features we've come to appreciate in the Olympus Camedia line of digital cameras, the C-700 Ultra Zoom has enhanced their traditional compact SLR design with a high-quality 10x optical zoom lens, electronic optical viewfinder, higher light sensitivity, faster shutter speeds, and a selection of preset shooting modes that makes it simple to take foolproof images under a variety of shooting situations. The redesigned LCD menu system takes some getting used to, but once conquered, provides more flexibility and user-customizable controls than any digicam user interface we've previously encountered. The C-700's image quality definitely lived up to the Camedia's excellent reputation, especially when shooting in low-light situations and indoor lighting. As both the most compact and (at introduction at least), the least expensive digicam equipped with a 10x zoom lens, the C700 seems destined for even greater popularity than its predecessors.

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