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Olympus Camedia C-470 Zoom - Digital Camera Review
Introduction: Available in shops now from £150 including VAT - the Olympus C-470 is a compact 4 megapixel digital camera, with a 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 35-105mm on a 35mm camera), and a 1.8" TFT screen. The camera is made out of plastic, and records unlimited 320x240 / 15fps videos with sound. The camera is compact with the following size: 99.5 x 58 x 35.5mm (without protruding parts), and only weighs 160g (without the battery and XD card)

The Olympus C-470 is also known as the X500, and the D-595Z in other parts of the world. Olympus have this to say about the camera:

"The C-470 ZOOM is an excellent choice for anyone looking for great results. Its precision zoom lens ensures that images are always bright and sharp. Eight scene programmes are on hand, so that you are ready to master virtually any photographic situation, or switch to movie mode for exciting video sequences with sound."

More information can be found on their site.

The Camera: It's compact and made out of shiny silver plastic.
(Photos of the camera were taken with the Canon IXUS 500)


Front - Camera off, flash, led, on/off, lens cover, and microphone.


Front - Camera on, lens extended.


Back - the 1.8" TFT screen, no optical viewfinder, 4-way controller with the speaker in the center, zoom control, quickview / play, and the OK/menu button.


Top - shutter release.


Bottom, under the camera there is a tripod mount (hidden by the battery cover in this picture), battery comparment, and XD card slot.


Left Side (from back).


On this side is the wrist strap loop, DC in, AV out, and USB port.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic, this camera is smaller.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.

Specifications / Features:

  • 4.0 million pixels
  • 3x optical zoom (equiv. to 35-105mm on a 35mm camera) f3.1-5.2
  • 4x digital zoom
  • 1.8 inch sunshine LCD (134,000 pixels)
  • 8 scene programmes (e.g. Portrait, Night Scene and Indoor)
  • Movie recording function with sound
  • PictBridge (printing) support
  • TruePic TURBO image
  • Auto: Selected from ISO 64 – 250, up to ISO 500 for Indoor mode.
  • TV out

Full Specifications can be found on Olympus's site.

Box Contents:

  • Olympus C-470Z Digital Camera
  • Olympus Digital Camera Strap
  • 16MB xD-Picture Card
  • USB cable
  • Audio/video cable
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Charger, OLYMPUS Master 1.0.

Average box contents - 16mb memory is average but will get you going until you buy a larger card.

Battery usage: The camera uses a small 3.7v 1230mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery made by Olympus. Battery life seems good - I managed about 100+ photos with one charge. However, because the camera does not use AA batteries, a second battery is recommended. You can switch off the display to conserve battery power, although there is no optical viewfinder.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the Play / Quick View button.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screens as shown below:

On the left is the quick access photo options (giving quick access to image size, exposure compensation, and white balance), and on the right are the 'mode menu' options. The Camera section has the following options: ESP, Drive, Digital Zoom, Voice memo, Panorama (limited to Olympus XD cards), 2in1.

Setup menu options: All reset, language, power-on setup, colour (lets you change the menu colours), Volume, shutter sound, record view, file name (auto, reset), pixel mapping, LCD brightness, date and time, and video out.

Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown below:

Playback menu options: Info, slideshow, and erase. Mode menu options are: Lock, rotate, print, voice memo, edit: Black and White, Sepia, and Resize, card: all erase, and format.

Scene menu(s): Program, Portrait, Indoor, Beach and Snow, Cuisine, Lanscape and portrait, Landscape, Night scene, Self Portrait, and Movie.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 16mb card:

Size / Quality: Number of Photos Stored
  SHQ HQ SQ1/SQ2
4mp (2272x1704)) 5 16
3mp (2048x1536) SQ1     20
2mp (1600x1200) SQ2   24
1.3mp (1280x960) SQ2     38
1mp (1024x768) SQ2     58
VGA (640x480) SQ2   90
Video 320x240 15fps 41 seconds

You can fit a poor number of images on the provided 16mb memory - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / lower compression options. There is a very good choice of image sizes, and there is a good choice regarding image compression.

A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb memory card, and preferably a 256mb memory card, or larger especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Olympus Camedia C-470:

128mb xD memory card - £16.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
256mb xD memory card - £23.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
512mb xD memory card - £39.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

Speed, Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, quick to switch on, and quite quick to take photos - The controls on the back of the camera are very easy to use - the menus are quite responsive. The screen updates are quick and smooth. The camera is compact and fits very easily into pockets. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are very easy to access, quick and simple, as there are only 2 modes: Photo, and Play. The playback mode is also quick, although it only allows you to zoom as close as 4x.

Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel good, and are labelled fairly well. The on/off switch could be a bit awkward, as you could easily use too much force and jam the lens cover against the open lens if you aren't careful or if you have kids around.

LCD Display (Photo mode / Playback mode):

LCD display in photo mode: The screen is a fairly decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate.

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is very quick. The zoom is quick from 2x - 4x, and easy to use. More information can be displayed by selecting the Info option. Playback menu options are discussed above.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower Group Photo

Inside: The camera has good colour. The camera has a decent flash, and copes quite well with group photos - in darker conditions noise is quite visible, for example in the group photo above. The camera occasionally struggled to focus correctly.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (with a range between 64 and 500), but no manual settings, so I have not been able to test this cameras different ISO settings. Noise levels have been acceptable during my testing.

Outside:

Unisys Building Heather Cafe

Outside, the camera had decent colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail, and noise seemed under control. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images. (It's a shame the weather hasn't been better.)

Zoom: This camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x Digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below simply to show what these features do.

Wide-angle 3x Optical zoom 4x Digital Zoom

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is quite noisy, perhaps too noisy, but quite quick.

Other Image Quality issues: I noticed Chromatic Aberrations / Purple Fringing in a couple of the photos I took, namely the clock tower photos.

Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you press the macro button, there is also a super macro mode that zooms the lens into the subject. You can not use the flash in super macro mode but you can use it in the normal macro mode. In super macro mode you can get very close to the subject - about 9cm away, in normal macro mode the closest you can get to the subject is about 15cm.

Normal Macro Actual Pixels (100%)
Super Macro Actual Pixels (100%)

The macro mode is fairly average - you can't get very close, although you can zoom into the subject, but the super macro mode is very good, as you can get very close to the subject.

Movie: 320x240 / 15fps with sound - you can't use the digital or optical zoom whilst recording a video but you can use the optical zoom before recording - the movie mode is selected from the scene menu. The movie is recorded as an .MOV file. Length is limited only by the size of the memory card.


Kitten - Download movie. (right click, save target as, 4seconds, 1.43mb) (saved as Zip file)

The quality of the movie(s) is quite good, colour is quite good, 320 x 240/15fps with sound is average. In poor lighting the videos will be quite dark, as the camera does not seem to automatically make the video much brighter.

Conclusion

Image Quality: The images have good colour, saturation and contrast. Noise seemed quite low as long as lighting wasn't poor. Images have good detail although the camera occassionally struggled to focus in dark situations. Purple fringing was occassionally noticable. There is a good range of image sizes and compression options. The normal macro mode is average but the super macro mode is very good. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be quite good. The movie mode is average, at 320x240/15fps with sound.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The design is good, the camera is quite small, and pocketable, the camera is quite stylish when you get used to it. The 1.8" screen updates smoothly and has accurate colour and makes it easier to view and compose your pictures. The camera is very easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there are is a good layout of buttons and controls. There is an okay choice of options and features, including a good choice of scenes. The camera speed seems okay in use, although could be quicker. There is no custom white balance, and no manual ISO settings, but for someone looking for an easy to use point and shoot camera this shouldn't be a problem.

Alternative 4mp digital cameras: Kodak Easyshare DX7440 (£129 - read my review), Canon Powershot A85 (£171), Pentax Optio S40 (£149), Fuji FinePix A340 (155), Sony Cybershot P73 (129),Olympus Mju Stylus 410 (£159), Olympus Mju Mini Digital (£193), Nikon Coolpix 4100 (4mp, £149) / 4200 (4mp, £182), HP Photosmart R507 (4mp, £163 - read my review). Check amazon.co.uk / kelkoo.co.uk or amazon.com for the latest prices.

Summary: The Olympus C-470 is a compact 4 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens and a decent 1.8" screen. The camera records unlimited length videos with sound. The camera is easy to use, and produces good images with good colour and detail. The camera has a fairly quick switch on time, but focusing time is fairly average, although better outside. For around £150 (UK) this easy to use camera offers good value for money, is quite stylish, fits easily into pockets, produces good images, and has an excellent super macro mode.

Olympus Camedia C-470 Rating: Recommended
Buy now from Amazon: £149 / $269

If you would like a weather-proof 4 megapixel digital camera by Olympus then have a look at the Olympus Mju Stylus 410, available from Amazon for £159 including VAT and free postage.

What I like:

  • Clear 1.8" screen
  • Great super macro mode
  • Good colour
  • Good size (will fit easily into pockets)
  • Easy to use
  • Good image quality

What I don't like:

  • No custom white-balance
  • No manual ISO settings
  • Noisy lens

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.