Olympus C-740 UltraZoom Review

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Olympus C-740 Ultra Zoom

Steve's Conclusion

The C-740 Ultra Zoom is a semi-compact camera with very good image quality. It's loaded with advanced exposure options and features that can also be used by those just starting out in photography. The AUTO mode turns the camera into a simple point and shoot which allows anyone to use it regardless of their experience level. It also satisfies those needing more control of the image capturing process. When you feel the creative urge just turn the Mode Dial to the Shutter-speed, Aperture priority or full Manual mode. If you're creative but want the camera to do most of the work, you can use one of the pre-programmed modes for Landscape, Sports, Night Scene or Portrait shots.

The overall image quality is quite good but it does exhibit some problems with chromatic abberation (purple fringing) of objects with strong backlighting. This is a problem with all of the "Ultra Zoom" cameras and seems to be very difficult to eliminate when coupling a CCD imager to a long 8x-10x telephoto zoom lens. 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 prints up to 11x14" from the 3-megapixel SHQ images. Another strong point is the quality of indoor flash pictures, Olympus excells at this task. Pictures of people look very natural and I noticed very little occurence of red-eye. The flash "throttles down" well for macro closeup photos. Unlike the C-720UZ, the C-730UZ does not have the 5-pin connector for the Olympus FL-40 external TTL flash unit though.

The C-740UZ uses an EVF (electronic viewfinder) instead of an optical viewfinder and this has both positive and negative aspects. On the positive - it gives you a real "through the lens" view so even macro shots are framed properly. As well as seeing your subject in the viewfinder it's also possible to overlay camera and exposure data on the screen. The EVF is simply a tiny color LCD screen so anything that can be shown on the big color LCD can also be shown on the EVF. This includes accessing the menu system as well as all the playback features. The negative side of EVF vewfinders is that they tend to be poor to useless in dim or very low-light situations. Some EVF displays can "gain up" to allow their use in these conditions, the C-740UZ however is not one of those, it is fairly useless in dim to dark lighting.

Things I don't like: The C-740 Ultra Zoom (and -every- digital camera) can greatly benefit from some type of focus assist illuminator. Earlier Olympus cameras like the C-2500L and C-2100UZ had one so why did it all of the sudden "go away" on newer models? Olympus used to include the RM-1 infrared remote control with most of their cameras. It wasn't included with the C-730UZ but it was an option, with the C-740UZ it isn't included and it isn't an available option either. The remote is not only handy for self-portraits and macro shots, it's also extremely useful when playing images back on the TV set (from across the room in your easy chair.) Another feature that seems to "come and go" is the 5-pin flash connector, it's gone again from the C-740UZ.

The bottom line: Excellent camera, good price, very long focal length zoom, all the exposure and finished image size options you could ever want. 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. Some users will no doubt end up with some blurry pictures when zoomed all the way out unless using a tripod. This is due to camera shake as the C-740's lens is not stabilized. Apart from that we are quite pleased with this camera and are sure that a great many others will be too.

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