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Olympus Camedia C-765 Zoom

4.0 megapixels, a sharp 10x zoom lens, tons of features, and an affordable price!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 06/16/2004

Executive Overview

Olympus' Camedia C-720 and C-730 Ultra Zoom digicams debuted to immense popularity, with their excellent feature offerings and exceptional zoom capabilities. These were followed last year by the C740 and C-750, which were also popular. Now, in the 2004 model year, the C-765 Ultra Zoom updates this popular design with a faster processor and a new rechargeable Li-Ion battery that offers good power capacity in a compact package. (While still good though, run times have decreased considerably from last year's models.) The C-765 Ultra Zoom continues with the outstanding 10x zoom lens, wide range of exposure control, and healthy range of creative shooting options as well. The C-765 has manual white balance, five preset Scene modes, a maximum exposure time of 15 seconds, variable ISO, and AutoConnect Storage Class USB (providing plug-and-play transfer of images to Windows 2000, Windows Me and XP, and Mac OS 8.6 and higher computers, without the need for additional driver software). With the full range of exposure control available, Olympus gives users as much or as little exposure control as needed. Though the C-765 was designed with more experienced digital photographers in mind (those who want to step up to a camera with expanded capabilities and full exposure control), the available Program mode offers point-and-shoot ease of use, and six preset shooting modes make it easy for even rank beginners to handle common shooting situations.

With its compact size and surprising portability, the C-765 Ultra Zoom is a viable option even for heavy travelers. The same compact rangefinder-style design that's characterized Olympus digicams for several years is comfortable and familiar, and compact compared to many other long-zoom digicams currently on the market. The C-765 measures only 4.1 x 2.4 x 2.7 inches (104.5 x 60 x 68.5 millimeters) with the lens retracted, and is only three-quarters of an inch thicker with the lens fully extended. Its mixture of plastic and light metal body panels weigh just 11.1 ounces (315 grams) including the battery, light enough to fit into a large purse or waist pack. That said, its classic silver and black color combination, enhanced by a satin finish, makes it deserving of its own protective camera bag or pouch.

The C-765 features an "electronic" optical viewfinder, which is essentially a miniaturized version of the larger, 1.8-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. The C-765's EVF has a bright, clear display, and a high eyepoint and a diopter adjustment make it comfortable for eyeglass wearers. Both the LCD and EVF have detailed information displays and provide access to the LCD menu system. The EVF also performs unusually well under low-light conditions, a traditional weakness of EVFs. The 6.3-63mm, 10x zoom lens is equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8-f/3.7 (wide angle to telephoto). In addition to the C-765's 10x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to an additional 4x with the "digital zoom," effectively increasing the camera's zoom capabilities to 40x. (Keep in mind though, that digital zoom directly trades off image quality for magnification, because it simply crops out and enlarges the central pixels of the CCD.) The C-765's maximum image size is 3,200 x 2,400 pixels, interpolated up from the 2,288 x 1,712-pixel sensor resolution. Lower resolutions of 2,288 x 1,712; 2,288 x 1,520 (a 3:2 ratio), 2,048 x 1,536; 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 mode that produces full-resolution TIFF images.

The C-765's well-rounded exposure modes include Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, and Manual settings. In Program mode, the camera controls both aperture and shutter speed, with exposure times as long as 1 second. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you control over aperture or shutter speed, while the camera chooses the best value for the other exposure variable. When used in aperture or shutter priority modes, apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8 and shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to 1 second. The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but permits shutter speeds as long as 15 seconds. You can also put the camera into full Auto mode, or select between Portrait, Sports, Landscape-Portrait, Landscape-Scene, and Night-Scene scene modes for easy capture of what might otherwise be tricky subjects. (Night Scene mode extends automatic exposure control down to four-second exposure times.)

The C-765 has five ISO settings (Auto, 64, 100, 200, and 400), automatic exposure bracketing, two metering modes (Digital ESP, Multi-pattern, and Spot), plus exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance options include Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, or Custom to accommodate a variety of lighting conditions. Image contrast, saturation, and sharpness adjustments are available through the LCD menu, and a Function menu option lets you record images in black and white or sepia tones, or in Whiteboard or Blackboard photo modes (good for capturing text). An adjustable Automatic Exposure Lock (AEL) function locks an exposure reading, eliminating the need to hold down the Shutter button halfway while you reframe the image. There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and an optional remote control.

The C-765's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with sound, in either SQ (160 x 120 pixels) or HQ (320 x 240 pixels) modes. Actual recording times vary with the resolution and the amount of memory card space. While it can record sounds with its movies, the C-765 cannot replay the audio portion of recordings, as it lacks a speaker. (See the C-770 model for that capability.) Two Sequence modes capture multiple images at short intervals (actual speed depending on file size), with an AF Sequence mode option that adjusts the focus between each shot. A bracketing mode also can be The C-765 also offers a panoramic mode, and a "2-in-1" capture mode that records two images side-by-side (like a split-screen view). The camera's internal, pop-up flash unit offers six operating modes (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, Flash Off, Night Scene, and Night Scene with Red-Eye Reduction modes), with adjustable flash intensity.

The Olympus C-765 Ultra Zoom ships with a 16MB xD-Picture Card for image storage. Larger capacity cards are available separately, up to the current limit of 512MB, and I highly recommend purchasing a much larger card along with the camera. You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and if you want a slightly larger viewfinder (or image playback) display, Olympus also provides a video output cable for connection to a television set. Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master utility package, a capable all-in-one image management program that provides basic organization and editing tools, in addition to a panorama "stitching" application. Apple QuickTime and USB drivers for Mac and Windows are also supplied.

I've always been impressed with the user-friendliness and flexibility of Olympus' Camedia digicams. I really enjoyed the performance of the C-750 and its 10x lens, and the C-765 Ultra Zoom appears to have filled its shoes nicely. The larger 4.0-megapixel CCD produces even higher image quality, and the external flash hot shoe increases the camera's flexibility even more. The same excellent manual exposure controls, impressive 10x optical zoom, and versatile array of exposure options return to handle a wide range of shooting conditions. Given the wide range of exposure options, there's no question that novices and advanced amateurs alike will find a lot to like in the C-765.


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