Olympus C-750 UltraZoom Review
Complementing the 3-megapixel Olympus C-740 we reviewed earlier this year, the 4-megapixel C-750 is not just an extra megapixel wrapped in a durable body. While it shares many of the C-740's strengths and weaknesses, it has additional features which offer more versatility in certain shooting situations; they are a built-in flash hot shoe with TTL control of the Olympus FL-40 and FL-20 digital flashes, the ability to remotely release the shutter and control playback using the included RM-1 wireless remote control and sound recording for movies and attaching voice memos to still images.
The most dominant feature of this camera is the 38-380mm (equivalent) Ultra Zoom lens it shares with the C-740. The 38mm wide angle end of the zoom range is about average for consumer digicams, and provides enough field of view to satisfy typical interior and landscape shooting requirements. The 380mm telephoto end of the zoom spectrum delivers the magnification that sports and nature photographers require for capturing distant subjects. Zooming is smooth and quiet, and its operation is continuous (not stepped). This will allow you to precisely compose your shots, minimizing the cropping (and loss of image quality) you'll need to do to create the perfect print. The lens produced sharp results throughout its zoom range, with slight barrel distortion at wide angle.
Hand-holding a camera with a 380mm lens can produce a high percentage of photos suffering from camera shake. While the C-750 lens is not image-stabilized, the relatively fast F3.7 aperture at 380mm focal length will frequently allow the use of shutter speeds high enough to minimize the effects camera movement and obtain good results. However, if you plan to shoot sports and wildlife, the use of a monopod will provide the stable camera platform you'll need to exploit this lens to its fullest.
Like most consumer digicams, the C-750's built-in flash has limited range, 11.5 feet at full telephoto and 14.8 feet at wide-angle. It is well-positioned relative to the lens, casting only a slight shadow of your subject onto the background. Flash exposures produce pleasing skin tones; you'll be happy with portraits and photos of small groups. The C-750 is not equipped with a focus-assist lamp, so autofocus is frequently ineffective in low ambient light. If you need a more powerful flash and better interior autofocus performance, the Olympus FL-40 can be attached to the built-in hot shoe, providing better illumination of larger rooms and an autofocus-assist lamp. Another issue you'll have shooting in dimly-lit interiors is the absence of an optical viewfinder; the C-750 is equipped with an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which performs no better than the LCD viewfinder in low light.
The C-750 excels in outdoor shooting. Images are both well exposed and well focused, and the 38-380mm zoom offers great flexibility in composing your shots. We did notice a bit of delay in the zoom movement when changing the direction of zoom from tele to wide and visa-versa. Shooting performance is good, with a shutter lag of .1-to-.2 seconds from pre-focus, and .8-to-.9 second including autofocus. When you become used to the relatively short delay when pre-focusing, you'll be able to obtain a high percentage of good results from your sports and wildlife action shots. The EVF is quite an asset in such shooting situations, allowing you to pan with the action while seeing the entire image area - operating the camera more like an SLR than a consumer digicam. To achieve best results with fast-moving subjects, you should practice panning; the fastest shutter-speed on the C-750 is 1/1000 second which you may find limiting in some sports photography.
Overall, the Olympus C-750 UZ is an excellent camera. It has the "better than average" image quality that we have come to expect from Olympus cameras. The overall color balance, saturation and sharpness is excellent. At an MSRP of $699 it is a very good value; the extra resolution, built-in flash hot shoe and included remote control justify the $100 premium over the C-740. As we stated earlier, your telephoto shots will benefit from using a monopod or tripod, and you should include one in your kit if you plan to fully exploit the 380mm focal length of the high-quality lens. We are quite pleased with this camera and are sure that a great many others will be too.
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