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Olympus C-7000 Wide Zoom

Seven megapixels, 5x zoom, great pictures, a ton of features, and great build quality - A real winner!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 11/26/04

Executive Overview

Following in the footsteps of previous Camedia C-Series digicams, Olympus presents the C-7000 Zoom, a slightly more compact, but still feature-laden digicam. With a 7.1-megapixel CCD for higher resolution images, and a full range of manual and automatic exposure controls, the Olympus C-7000 Zoom is well-suited to just about any user level. The C-7000 measures only 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.7 inches (102 x 59 x 43 millimeters), and should easily fit into most average shirt pockets. It's also relatively light weight, at 8.99 ounces (255 grams) with the card and battery. With its fairly sleek body (there are only a few slight protrusions), the C-7000 Zoom is easy to stash in a pocket, but I recommend a soft case for added protection.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom offers a wide range of user controls, including a one-touch white balance function (with a very useful white balance adjustment feature for minor color tweaks), spot autofocus, wide-ranging contrast and sharpness adjustments, and QuickTime movies with sound. It also incorporates an advanced Noise Reduction System, which uses dark-frame subtraction to minimize background noise in long exposures shot under low light conditions. Happily, the C-7000 Zoom includes a couple of features that I missed on the previously released C-5000 model, namely the histogram feature, Multi-Spot metering mode, and adjustable AF mode. While those options are definitely a plus, the C-7000 Zoom goes even further with a Timelapse photography mode and in-camera Redeye Fix option, making it a very capable camera with plenty of exposure features to experiment with.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom features both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 2.0-inch, color TFT LCD monitor, with approximately 206,000 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 overlaid on top of the viewfinder display (a nice feature not found on every digicam) and the number of images available in the current resolution setting, at the bottom of the monitor. The C-7000 Zoom also provides a very helpful numeric/bargraph 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 5x optical zoom in operation, and the progress of the digital zoom whenever you zoom past the range of the optical telephoto. In addition to the histogram display, the C-7000 Zoom offers a "Direct" histogram option, which displays the white and black areas of the frame in red and blue respectively, showing you directly which parts of the image may be under or overexposed. I actually found this much more useful than the histogram feature, as I could instantly tell which parts of the image were in danger. The blue and red only appear while you are framing the shot, and disappear when you press the shutter halfway.

The 7.9-39.5mm 5x zoom lens is equivalent to a 38-190mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a f/2.8 maximum aperture. In addition to the C-7000 Zoom's 5x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to 6x with the digital zoom function, which Olympus calls "seamless." The zoom does pause before entering digital zoom, however, so you won't cross over into the digital zoom realm without being aware of doing so. (Users should be aware that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom though, since the digital zoom merely and enlarges the center portion of the CCD. As a result, digitally enlarged images are invariably "softer" than ones enlarged via a zoom lens.)

The C-7000 Zoom's image file sizes include: 3,072 x 2,304; 2,592 x 1,944; 2,288 x 1,712; 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1280 x 960; 1024 x 768; and 640 x 480 pixels. Image quality options include three JPEG compression ratios, plus uncompressed TIFF and RAW formats that produce full-resolution images free of compression artifacts.

The C-7000 Zoom offers all the exposure control you could ask for, 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/2.8 to f/8.0 and shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to four seconds. The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but offers shutter times as long as 15 seconds. Setting the camera to 1/2,000 second in Manual mode requires that the aperture be set to f/4 or above; at f/2.8, f/3.2, and f/3.5 the maximum shutter speed is 1/1,600. (The same restriction on shutter speed applies in Aperture Priority mode as well.) There's also a selection of preset Scene modes, to make it easy to snap good-looking photos in what might otherwise be challenging conditions. Scene Program modes include Portrait, Sports, Landscape Portrait, Landscape Scene, and Night Scene modes. Although the Scene Mode option itself is accessed by a dial, changing between the various Scene modes is done in the menu, requiring at least eight button presses to change. (A little awkward, in my opinion.) Finally, the My Mode feature provides a custom setup for the camera, letting you select complex combinations of settings with a single menu choice.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom provides five ISO options (light sensitivity settings) of Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400; automatic exposure bracketing; Digital ESP, Spot, and Multi metering modes; and exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance can be set to Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Daylight Fluorescent, Neutral Fluorescent, Cool Fluorescent, or Quick Reference (aka custom or manual white balance adjustment) to accommodate a variety of lighting conditions, while a white balance color adjustment function lets you fine-tune the color balance across a wide range from red to blue.

Image contrast, sharpness, and saturation adjustments are available through the Shooting menu, and a Function menu option allows you to capture images in black and white or sepia tone. There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and a Remote Control mode for use with the optional IR remote.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with sound, for maximum times dictated by its internal buffer memory, at either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, and either 30 or 15 frames per second. A Sequence mode is available for capturing multiple images at up to 1.1 frames per second, with a Hi Sequence option that captures a maximum of two frames at 2.2 frames per second. A Panorama mode allows you to take up to 10 shots with the same exposure and white balance, for subsequent merging with the included Panorama Stitch software in the computer. (Note that the panorama option is only available when you're using Olympus-branded xD-Picture Cards.) There's also a Time-lapse mode for capturing a series of images over time, at preset intervals (perfect for capturing an opening flower, moving clouds, etc.).

The camera's pop-up flash offers five operating modes (Flash Off, Auto-Flash, Forced Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, and Slow Sync), with flash range extending to approximately 12.8 feet (3.9 meters). The Slow Sync flash mode uses a slower shutter speed with the flash, to allow more of the ambient lighting into the photo, and includes the option to fire the flash at either the beginning or end of the exposure, as well as add a Red-Eye Reduction pre-flash. You also can increase or decrease the flash power from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments through the Shooting menu.

The Olympus C-7000 Zoom ships with a 32MB xD-Picture Card for image storage (larger capacity cards up to 512MB are available separately). You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and Olympus' "Auto Connect USB" interface means the camera will automatically appear on your computer's desktop, if you're using Windows Me, XP, or 2000, or Mac OS 8.6 or later. A video output jack and cable let you play your images back on an external video monitor, which can also be used as a super-sized viewfinder in capture mode. Software shipped with the unit includes the Olympus Master 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.


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