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Olympus Camedia C-770 Zoom

4.0 megapixels, a sharp 10x zoom lens, a unique flash head, and loads more features!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 07/06/2004

Test Results

In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the C-770's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I 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 C-770's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

NOTE: Because they're essentially the same camera inside, the results below are virtually identical to those for the Olympus C-765. To save you some reading, the main differences are that the C-770 has: 1) A bit higher image noise, particularly at low light levels and high ISO; 2) A deeper buffer memory, to permit longer runs of continuous shooting; and 3) Somewhat shorter battery life, the result of its faster processor and bigger buffer memory.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the C-770 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

  • Color: Very good color: Good skin tones, good handling of incandescent lighting too. Overall, the C-770 produced accurate, pleasing color, under a wide variety of shooting conditions. Hue was accurate in most instances, saturation appropriate (although strong reds and blues tended to oversaturate slightly), and skin tones looked very natural. As is the case with most cameras I test, the C-770's auto white balance system had a hard time with the household incandescent lighting that's so common in the US, but its Incandescent and Manual white balance options did very well indeed. All in all, a very nice performance.

  • Exposure: Good exposure accuracy. A contrasty tone curve, but an effective contrast adjustment to counter it. The C-770 handled my test lighting quite well, requiring less exposure compensation than average on the outdoor and indoor portrait shots, and generally producing accurate exposures on other shots I took. Like most consumer cameras, its default tone curve is somewhat contrasty, to produce the "snappy" photos most consumers prefer. As usual, this leads to lost highlight detail when shooting under harsh lighting conditions, but the C-770 differs from the run of the mill point & shoot models in that it has a very functional contrast adjustment control, accessible via its LCD menu system. Dialing the contrast down to its lowest level really helped to preserve highlight detail under the deliberately harsh lighting of my Outdoor Portrait test. Once again, a very good performance.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,100 lines of "strong detail." The C-770 did pretty well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart, its 1,100 line resolution being pretty typical of four-megapixel cameras I've tested It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred between 1,250 and 1,300 lines.

  • Image Noise: Good noise performance at daylight and bright indoor light levels, higher than average noise under night shooting conditions. Image noise on the C-770 is a bit of a mixed bag. It does very well under bright to moderate lighting, with absolute noise levels that are a little higher than the best four-megapixel models out there, but with a nice, tight pattern to the noise that makes it less obtrusive than it might be otherwise. Under low-light conditions though, the noise creeps up a fair bit, and the C-770 is worse in this respect than the C-765 I reviewed previously. (See my comments on the Night Shots portion of the pictures page.)

  • Closeups: A very tiny macro area in Super Macro mode, with excellent detail, although somewhat high chromatic aberration. Flash is blocked by the lens, however. The C-770 performed very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.25 x 1.68 inches (57 x 43 millimeters). The camera's Super Macro setting produced even better results, capturing a minimum area of just 1.34 x 1.01 inches (34 x 26 millimeters). Resolution and detail are excellent, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are softer in the brooch and coins (especially in the Super Macro shot, from the very close shooting distance), but definition is good. As is often the case with digicam macro shots, all four corners of the frame are somewhat soft, particularly in the Super Macro shot, and the Super Macro shot shows considerable chromatic aberration as well. The position of the C-770's flash directly above the lens results in a dark shadow in the lower portion of the frame, and the flash severely overcompensated for the close shooting distance (likely tricked by the specular reflection from the brooch), so plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots.

  • Night Shots: Good low-light performance, with pretty good color, at all four ISO settings. Autofocus was effective down to right around 1/8 foot-candle, 1/8 the brightness level of typical street lighting. EVF is usable to very low light levels. Somewhat more noise than with the C-765 model though, particularly at the lowest light levels. The C-770 did pretty well here, producing bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test at all ISO values except the lowest, 64. (The image at ISO 100 was dim, but probably still usable.) At ISO 64, images were bright down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, though you could arguably use the image captured at the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level. Color balance was slightly warm, and the warm cast increased as the light level dimmed. Noise performance and the operation of the noise reduction option were a little odd, but too involved to go into here: See my comments on the Night Shots portion of the pictures page. A pretty good job, despite higher than expected noise.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: A very accurate electronic viewfinder. The C-770's electronic "optical" viewfinder (EVF) was very accurate, showing 99+ percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 100 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor was also very accurate, since it shows the same view, just on a larger screen. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the C-770's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in this regard.

  • Optical Distortion: Lower than average barrel distortion at wide angle, virtually no distortion at telephoto. Higher than average chromatic aberration. Geometric distortion on the C-770 is quite a bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.5 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared better yet, as I measured approximately 0.02 percent barrel distortion (about half a pixel) there. Chromatic aberration is higher than average though, showing several pixels of pretty strong coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

  • Shutter Lag and Cycle Time: Average shutter lag, decent cycle times, and good buffer capacity. Long-zoom cameras are great for sports, but they're often plagued by slow autofocus systems, and the C-770 somewhat falls prey to this syndrome. With shutter delays on the order of 1.07-1.17 seconds, it's not the worst camera out there, but definitely on the slow side for sports and other action shooting. On the plus side though, it has a fairly deep buffer memory, able to capture up to five of its highest-resolution images without pausing in its fastest continuous shooting mode, up to nine high-res images in its slightly slower continuous mode.

  • Battery Life: Somewhat limited battery life, plan on buying a second battery. With a worst-case run time of only 79 minutes, the C-770's battery life is well on the short side of average. - And, because it's an EVF-based camera, you can't save very much power by turning off the rear-panel LCD. I always recommend purchasing a second battery, but with the C-770, would call it almost a necessity.


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Olympus was an early innovator in the long-zoom category, and have maintained a commanding presence there for some years now. The C-770 represents the top of their long-zoom line for 2004, offering good value and a very rich feature set in a full, "enthusiast-level" digicam, with four-megapixel resolution and a 10x zoom lens. It continues the flexible exposure control, useful preset Scene modes, and creative image adjustment tools of last year's long-zoom models from Olympus, and image resolution is high enough for sharp 8x10 prints, even with moderate cropping. With its varying levels of exposure control, the C-770 meets the needs of both enthusiasts and novices alike. Overall, the C-770's image quality is very good, my main complaint being the relatively high levels of chromatic aberration that it has in common with most long-zoom models on the market, and somewhat higher than average levels of image noise under nighttime shooting conditions. It improves over its lower-end sibling, the C-765 in a number of areas, but its more powerful processor and deeper buffer memory also contribute to noticeably shorter battery life. Apart from these fairly minor issues (relative to competing long-zoom models, at any rate), it's hard to find much in the C-770 to complain about, and its relatively large buffer memory, extensive movie capability (including MPEG4 format, at 640 x 480 resolution), great flash range and external-flash compatibility make it a standout in many respects. If you're interested in long-zoom digital photography and need its unique capabilities, the C-770 definitely deserves strong consideration. (If you can live without MPEG movies, external flash connection, and deeper buffer memory though, you can save yourself a hundred dollars or so by going with its lower-end sibling the C-765.)

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