Olympus C-765 UltraZoom Review

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Olympus C-765 Ultra Zoom

Steve's Conclusion

Building on the success of the popular Olympus C-750UZ, the Olympus CAMEDIA C-765 Ultra Zoom is a compact, yet highly durable camera that can fit easily into any size handbag. It features the same 4 megapixel imager and 10X optical zoom lens found on the C-750UZ, but adds new features like the TruePic TURBO image processor, which improves image quality and delivers faster overall processing speeds. The C-765UZ offers a shutter speed range of 1/1000th of a sec. for action shots or up to 15 seconds for taking night-scene shots. You can record QuickTime motion video with sound at resolutions of 640x480 and 320x240 (up to 15fps). The length of these movies are limited only by the capacity of the memory card. The camera is also PictBridge compatible, allowing it to direct-print to any PictBridge compatible printer using the standard USB cable.

The most obvious feature of this camera is its 10X 38-380mm (35mm equivalent) Ultra Zoom lens. The wide angle end of the zoom range is average for consumer digicams, and provides enough field of view to satisfy typical group and landscape shooting requirements. At full telephoto, the lens delivers a range that sports and nature photographers depend on for capturing distant subjects. The camera's zoom is smooth and quiet, and allows you to precisely compose your shots, minimizing the cropping needed to create that perfect print. The lens produced sharp results throughout its zoom range, with slight barrel distortion at wide angle. When using a camera with a long focal length like the C-765UZ, hand holding the camera may cause your images to be affected by camera shake (blurring of the subject). While the C-765UZ's lens is not stabilized, the relatively fast F3.7 aperture at full telephoto will help minimize the effects of camera shake and allow for overall good results. We recommend the use of either a monopod or tripod whenever using the telephoto capabilities of a camera.

The C-765UZ uses an EVF (Electronic ViewFinder) instead of the usual optical viewfinder. This has both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, it gives you a real "through the lens" view of your subject and helps for proper framing. It also allows for overlay information to be displayed on the screen. The EVF is simply a small color LCD screen, so anything that can be shown on the large LCD screen can also be seen on the EVF. This includes accessing the menu system as well as the playback features. The negative side of EVF viewfinders is that they are difficult to use in dim or very low-light situations. The C-765UZ does "gain up" to allow use in these conditions and also has a function under the setup menu to adjust the brightness of the LCD. During auto focus the EVF (and LCD) will momentarily "freeze" which can often make following a rapid-movng subject difficult.

The overall image quality in SHQ 2288x1712 is very good. One thing I noticed was that the amount of chromatic aberration (purple fringing of objects with strong highlights) has been significantly reduced when compared to other "C" series cameras and most other manufacturer's 10-12X super zoom digicams. The vast majority of the shots that I took were properly exposed, well saturated and the white balance was on the money. The Olympus exposure system works very well on this camera as it does on most all of the Olympus cameras we have reviewed to date. You will have no problem printing excellent photo- quality 8x10-inch prints from the 4 megapixel SHQ images. Another strong point is the quality of indoor flash pictures, Olympus excels at this task. Pictures of people look very natural and I noticed very little occurrence of red-eye. The flash "throttles down" well for macro closeup photos and the lens only blocks a small amount of light from the flash.

The C-765UZ's shooting performance is good, with a shutter lag of approx. 0.1 - 0.2 seconds when pre-focused and approx. 0.6 - 0.7 seconds including autofocus (in average lighting.) The C-765UZ features three sequential shooting modes (Normal, High, AF). Sequential drive mode records a maximum of three frames in approx. 1.5 seconds (focus, exposure and white balance are locked after the first frame). High Speed Sequential mode captured 2 frames in approx. 0.5 seconds. The AF Sequential mode also captures a maximum of three frames but the focus is locked for each frame before capture so the rate is bit slower at about 2.0 seconds. All test were done in SHQ/2816x2112 quality, using a Olympus 256MB xD-Picture card. Times may vary and are dependent on lighting conditions, media, etc.

Overall, the Olympus C-765UZ is an excellent camera. It produces sharp, well exposed images. The camera is both stylish and durable thanks to its metal body. Controls are well placed and easy to use. With a wide variety of exposure modes, the C-765UZ can be used by all levels of photographers. For the less experienced, simply select the Auto exposure mode for fully-automatic operation, or at the turn of a dial you can select one of the Scene modes to be a little more creative. Experienced users will appreciate the more advanced controls like Shutter or Aperture Priority or full Manual. With a respectable street price of around $499, the Olympus CAMEDIA C-765 Ultra Zoom makes a great choice for anyone who wants a full-featured "Big" zoom digital camera in a compact form factor.

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