Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom
At a Glance
Olympus Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom Compact Camera
The C-7070 has been around a while, but it has winning image quality and a bargain price. Olympus will soon phase it out.
It would be easy to classify the Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom as a simple case of keeping up with the Joneses. A near twin to the older C-5060 that it replaces, the C-7070's bump in resolution from the now pedestrian 5 megapixels up to a more desirable 7.1 megapixels keeps it competitive with the slew of recently released 7- and 8-megapixel cameras. But Olympus has also added numerous refinements to the C-5060's prodigious collection of creative controls and made the C-7070 noticeably easier to use.
I will confess at this point that I own the C-5060, having purchased it based on our own Best Buy recommendation. Smaller and lighter than an SLR, the C-5060 made a good choice for the back-country and travel photography I do. The new C-7070 has all of the qualities that made its predecessor attractive, including a well-thought-out selection of control buttons and menus, plus extras like dual-media support (XD-Picture Card and CompactFlash) and a swiveling LCD--the latter being especially useful for shooting low-lying wildflowers.
The C-7070's refinements include the capability to capture RAW and JPEG images at the same time--useful if you want to display your work immediately, then go back and process the RAW files at a later time. The scene mode function is improved somewhat--though there are no longer individual settings on the mode dial, they are still easily selected by picking from a list on the LCD. Each scene mode choice now displays a sample image, helpful for less-experienced photographers.
Two completely new features are the in-camera red-eye fix and the so-called oracle auto focus, a function that might help sports photographers. It works like this: After you set the exposure lock on a moving subject, oracle AF tries to predict the correct distance to the subject at the time you actually press the trigger. To test this, I shot cars moving down a city street using either traditional autofocus or the oracle AF setting. I can't say that oracle AF was more successful in freezing my desired subject.
The focal length of the camera remains unchanged. The 4X optical zoom starts at the 35mm equivalent of 27mm--ideal for interior and landscape shooting. The f-stop range, however, is a little better on the newer model: f2.8 to f11 versus f2.8 to f8. That's helpful for a little more depth of field, but it would have been more useful if Olympus had made the lens faster--the now ancient C-5050 started at f1.8, and there were complaints from users when the C-5060 went to f2.8.
My expectations for the C-7070's image quality were not matched by the results of PC World's lab tests and my less-formal shots. Though it received an overall score of Very Good, the C-7070's image sharpness was only marginally better than that of the C-5060's images. Like a number of 7-megapixel models I've seen recently, there was a distinct falloff in sharpness when I viewed the C-7070's shots at 100 percent in Photoshop. Test images also had somewhat more noise than I expect to see in this level of camera. It's not objectionable in a standard 8 by 10 print, but will likely be pronounced if you crop and enlarge much.
Though image quality is not quite what you'd expect, the C-7070 is still one of the most powerful and flexible advanced digital cameras available.
Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom
7.1 megapixels, 3072 by 2304 maximum resolution, 27mm to 110mm focal range (35mm equivalent), f2.6 to f11 maximum aperture range, shutter speeds from 16 seconds to 1/4000 second, optical and LCD viewfinders, USB connection, XD-Picture Card and CompactFlash slots, rechargeable lithium ion battery, 13.5 ounces with battery, Olympus Master software. One-year parts and labor warranty, 13-hour weekday toll-free support.