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Olympus Camedia C-765 Digital Camera Review
Introduction: Currently the worlds smallest digital camera with a 10x Optical Zoom - This is a 4MP digital camera with a 10x Optical zoom (6.3-63mm 1:2.8 - 3.7 equivelant to 38 - 380mm on a 35mm camera), the camera comes with a 16mb XD card and a rechargable lithium-ion battery. The camera has a 1.8" Colour screen, as well as aperture priority, shutter priority, ISO settings, etc. The camera takes XD memory, and records 640x480 videos with sound. The camera is available for £199 / $359 from amazon. The camera's size and weight: Dimensions: 104.5 mm (W) × 60 mm (H) × 68.5 (D) mm (excluding protrusions). Weight: 280g.. Olympus have this to say about their camera:

"Looking for a change? Here's your chance to shoot like a celebrity, sports or wildlife photographer. With the extremely compact C-765 Ultra Zoom in your hand you're able to move into new subject areas and aesthetics. For example, its 10x zoom power lets you capture a frame-filling shot of your favourite player on the pitch. This digital camera not only gives you the optical power to explore new territory and subjects. With its four million pixels, innovative TruePic Turbo processing system and array of shooting features, you can be sure your images have the clarity and colour to really come alive."

The camera offers good value for money - especially for a 4mp digital camera with a 10x Optical zoom - the camera was first annouced in April 04.

Full specifications and further details can be found on the Olympus site, and press release.

The Camera: It's a compact and made out of plastic - it's smaller in width and height than the Pentax PC-550 35mm, a camera I use as a size comparison.


Front - Camera off. No built in lens-cover - don't lose the lens cap! On the left is the Self-timer lamp, and on the right is the microphone.


Front - Camera on - lens extended. The pop-up flash is at the top.


Back - Optical viewfinder (with diopter adjustments - allows you to focus the optical viewfinder), AEL / Self-Timer / Flash button, Flash pop-up button, Power button, Quick View button, 4 way controller with an OK / Menu button in the middle, 1.8" TFT screen, plus the display button at the bottom to choose between the LCD and EVF. There's also a grip on the back that the thumb rests on, and at the top of that there is the card access lamp.


Top - Flash, Zoom control, shutter release, mode dial.


Bottom, under the camera is the tripod mount which is not under the lens. On the left is the battery / memory card compartment.


Left Side (from back) - DC in, USB connection, TV out.


On this side is nothing (just the lens strap holder) - Lens extended.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic


There is no optical viewfinder, as the camera uses an electronic viewfinder. The camera is considerably smaller than the Olympus C-725, and is only bigger than the Pentax PC-550 in depth due to the protuding lens.


Size comparison

Specifications:

  • 4.0 million pixels
  • 10x optical zoom, f2.8 - 3.7 (equiv. 38 - 380mm on 35mm camera)
  • TruePic Turbo image processor
  • Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Full manual modes
  • 4 scene programs (Portrait, Sports, Night Scene, Landscape)
  • Super macro mode: shooting from as close as 3cm (normal macro mode: 7cm-60cm)
  • Movie recording function with sound
  • 240,000 pixel electronic viewfinder
  • 1.8 inch LCD monitor with 110,00 pixels
  • PictBridge compatible
  • USB 2.0 (AutoConnect)
  • CAMEDIA Master 4.2 software provided

Full Specifications can be found on the Olympus Site.

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Strap
  • 16 MB xD-Picture Card
  • USB cable
  • Audio/video cable
  • Battery charger with rechargeable battery
  • CAMEDIA Master 4.2.
  • Lens cap / Lens strap
  • Instruction manual
  • Warranty card

Average box contents - a larger memory card and a case would have been nice.

Features / Options: The camera mode is selected using the dial on the top of the camera:

The modes are: Auto, Play, P, A/S/M, MyMode, Video, Night, Landscape, Action, Portrait

The buttons on the back of the camera quickly give you access to: Drive, Flash/Night, Power, AEL (auto exposure lock), Menu/OK, LCD, EV. There is also a handy Quick View button on the back - unfortunately there is no dedicated Macro button - although the AEL button can be programmed as a feature/option of your choice.

In Photo mode the menu is different depending which mode you are in, they are accessed by pressing the MENU button. Rather than laboriously going through and listing all the menu options available and where they are located, I will simply list/explain the main options this camera has so that you are aware of the different features and options. (If you would like me to go back to how I used to do it, and found this useful, please email me.)

The menu system in Photo mode is split into four main sections: Camera, Pic, Card and Set. In camera the options are: ESP, Macro (normal, super), Drive, ISO, ASM, EV, Flash, Noise Reduction, Digital Zoom, Fulltime AF, AF mode, People?, Panorama, 2 in 1, Function (Black&White, Sepia, White board, Black board), Info, Histogram, Audio, Super Zoom. Another feature is manual focus, simply hold the OK/Menu button for a few seconds and then you are able to choose between manual or automatic focus.

In Pic the options are: Picture Quality (options explained below), White Balance (WB) Auto, Preset, Custom, WB Red/Blue, Sharpness (+/- 5), Contrast (+/- 5), Saturation (+/- 5).

Card allows you to format the memory card, or erase the pictures in Playback mode.

Setup options are: All Reset, Language, Power, Rec View, Sleep, MyMode Setup, Filename (Reset / Auto - Reset is the default and numbers the files from 1 every time you clear the memory card - it would be better if Auto was the default, as this remembers the file number count), Pixel Mapping, LCD Brightness, Time / Date, m/ft, Video out, Short Cut, Custom Button (AEL button), Camera beep.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures / and the following number of images will fit in the 16mb provided memory: (an extra memory card is recommended if you intend to go on holiday or are going to be away from a computer for more than a day!)

Size: Number of Photos Stored / Quality / (Average file size)
  TIFF SHQ HQ
3200 x 2400 (7.68mp Enlarge / Interpolated) n/a 2 8
2288 x 1712 (4mp) 1 5 (2.25mb) 16 (850kb)
2288 x 1520 (3:2 ratio) 1 6 18
2048 x 1536 (3mp TIFF / SQ1) 1 8 20
1,600 x 1,200 (2mp TIFF / SQ1) 2 11 32
1280x960 (1.3mp TIFF / SQ1) 4 17 49
1024x768 (TIFF / SQ2) 6 26 76
640x480 (TIFF / SQ2) 16 66 165
Movie 640x480 (with sound) 17seconds    
Movie 320x240 (with sound) 46seconds    
Movie 160x120 (with sound) 3min 5seconds    

You can fit an average amount of images on the provided 16mb, depeding on the size and amount of compressions used - although a larger memory card is definitely recommended. There is a very good choice of image size and compression levels available. It's also nice to see that Olympus don't market this camera as a 7/8mp camera due to it's interpolated / enlarge mode.

Speed, ease of use: Very easy to use, simply switch the camera on, and start taking photos. The screen updates are very quick and smooth - which is very impressive. The camera is fairly quick in use. The camera is a very nice size, especially as it has a 10x Optical zoom lens - although the right hand side grip could be a bit larger. The menus are slightly more difficult to pick up and use when compared to other cameras I've used, but it doesn't take too long to get the hang of things - one thing that I find a little bit odd is that you have to go about 2 steps into a menu in order to playback movies, and then you have to exit the menus before you can conitnue viewing the other pictures. The EVF is clear, but you have to be very close to the camera to use it, as someone who wears glasses I find this quite difficult - although this can be solved using the diopter adjustments and taking my glasses off.

Battery usage: Seems okay-ish - it's not as good as I would have liked, especially as the camera only comes with one battery, charging the battery takes on average 2 hours - a spare battery is definitely recommended as you can not simply use AA batteries if it runs out.


LCD display in photo mode: Shutter speed, Aperture, EV, Flash, Mode, HQ compression, Live Histogram, 7 remaining pictures.

LCD display in photo mode: When the shutter is half pressed, the screen will display the shutter and aperture settings (as long as you are not in AUTO mode). The screen is clear, and updates very smoothly - the colours appear accurate - although slightly more colourful than they appear when viewed on the computer.. The screen shows how many remaining photos you can take with the available memory, it also shows the picture size and compression quality, the battery level, current mode, plus other things - it's also possible to enable a live histogram by changing a menu option.

Playback mode: Pressing OK will display additional information about the picture, eg size, compression, white-balance, ae, ISO, shutter speed, aperture size - you can also view the pictures histogram - by turning on this feature in the menu system. Scrolling through the photos is fast. The zoom can be used up to 4.0x, there are in between steps, every 0.5x, this feature is quick. Playback menu options: Play, Edit, Card, Set.

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. Full size (and medium size) version of these photos are available in the gallery!

Inside:

Wide-angle flash Inside Fruit, Milk, Tea - with flash

Inside: The camera has quite a powerful flash. Red eye was not noticable on most photos. Great colours and details - excellent skin colour, and excellent true to life colours on the fruit.

Noise: [A small paragraph about noise:] Noise generally is 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.

The camera has 5 modes for ISO: Auto, 64, 100, 200 or 400. (In Auto the camera seems to have additional ISO modes as well) To choose the ISO setting, you need to take the camera out of AUTO mode - This photo was taken with flash, actual pixels shown below from area next to the camera/frog:


Picture, Flash on.

ISO64 - 100% ISO100 - 100%
ISO200 - 100% ISO400 - 100%

Noise levels at ISO64/100, are quite low - which means you get quite smooth images. ISO200/400 still displays fairly acceptable noise levels.

Outside:

Heather and Zak Sharon, Heather, Zak - Mid-zoom Red Bull Mini One (cloudy day)

Excellent colour, low noise, good detail - no signs of vignetting in the corners. Pictures taken on the 'HQ' setting - this creates a 4mp image which is around 850kb in size - I did not notice jpeg artifacts in the images. Images are a bit soft and could do with a slight sharpen, although this could be due to the compression.

Chromatic Aberrations / Purple Fringing was noticable in some pictures, for example in the first picture, purple fringing occured on the edge of the white mug. In the second picture purple fringing mainly occured in the trees in the top left.

Flash. (HQ) 100% - actual pixels.
10x Telephoto (Taken through a window) 100% - actual pixels. (lower right)

Zoom: The main feature of this camera is the 10x Optical zoom - the camera also has a 14x "Super Zoom" which can be used when taking 2mp images - the camera has a built in 4x Digital zoom which can be switched on and off (but not used at the same time as the "Super Zoom") - the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software to blur the image so that it does not look pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image. If you need to crop an area of your image, or enlarge an area, you can get better results using an image manipulation program on your computer. I've included examples below simply to show what these features do - and whilst the digital zoom looks acceptable at the size shown (the last photo), if you printed the images out or viewed the full size versions in the gallery you would easily notice the negative effect digital zoom has on image quality.

Super Zoom (14x Optical Zoom 2mp) Full 10x telephoto + digital zoom (4x)

The digital zoom is seperated from the optical zoom with a line - the "Super Zoom" and normal Optical Zoom is also seperated in the same way. When using the digital zoom the magnification level does not appear on screen.

When using the optical zoom, it's quite quiet, and seems fairly quick, it has about 20 steps between wide and telephoto. The amount of optical zoom is not displayed on screen numerically. In low light / cloudy conditions it's quite difficult to hand-hold the camera and get a clear photo when using the full 10x optical zoom - as the camera is more sensitive to movement when using the 10x optical zoom - in these conditions it may be necessary to use a tripod or use a higher ISO setting. (Other cameras such as the Konica Minolta Dimage Z3, and the Canon S1 IS, combat this problem by using image stabilisation.)

Macro: When this camera is in macro mode, the lens is at full wide angle, and you can zoom in? - you can also use the digital zoom? - when in Super Macro mode the camera zooms in slightly. The camera can focus down to 7cm in normal macro mode - In Super Macro mode it can focus as close as 3cm. Please excuse the poor lighting (both of these photos were taken at ISO200).

Macro - Kitten Actual Pixels (100%)
Super Macro Mode- Timex Watch Actual Pixels (100%)

The macro mode is very good, although due to the long lens, the flash / light could be obstructed by the lens. The images look a bit soft when viewed at 100%.

Movie: 640x480 - 320x240 - 160x120 / 15fps (with 8khz / 8bps mono sound) - you can't use the optical zoom with sound on, but you can use the digital zoom whilst sound recording is on. Continuous Auto-Focus can only be used when sound is off. The movie is recorded as a .MOV file. Length is only limited by the memory card size.


Download 320x240 movie - Click here. (3.2mb MOV) (saved as Zip file)

Click here to view a screenshot from the 640x480 movie.
Download 640x480 movie - Click here. (2.9mb MOV) (saved as Zip file)

The quality of the movie(s) is good - the VGA mode is also good, 15fps is also good. Unfortunately you have to choose between having sound on the videos or being able to use the optical zoom. Another dissapointment is the fact that you can't listen to the sound when playing the videos back on the camera - as there is no built in speaker - this is reserved for the more expensive C-770.

Conclusion

Image: Image quality is very good - the images have great colour, good detail, low noise, but seem a bit soft occassionally - there is some purple fringing, which unfortunately is quite normal for ultra zoom digital cameras at the moment. The macro mode is very good. The flash didn't cause any problems in any of the pictures I took. The movie mode is very good but unfortunately you can't use both sound and the optical zoom at the same time. I had some of the photos printed by www.photobox.co.uk and they all looked EXCELLENT.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is very small, and stylish considering the zoom power, and has a very nice screen that is a decent size screen and updates very smoothly. The camera is easy to use, the menu systems easy to use with only a few minor usage issues (such as movie playback menus). One thing that impressed me was the vast array of features / options and controls - if you want to get past the basics of using this camera in AUTO mode - there is lots of scope to expand your skills and abilities.

Alternate ultra zoom digital cameras: 6x Optical Zoom: Fuji S3000/S3500, 8x Optical Zoom: Olympus Camedia C-725, Konica Minolta Dimage Z10, HP 945, 10x Optical Zoom: Olympus Camedia C770, Fuji S5000/S5500, Konica Minolta Z1/Z2, Canon S1 IS, Kodak DX6490, Kyocera Finecam M410R, 12x Optical Zoom: Konica Minolta Z3 (IS), Panasonic FZ3(IS), FZ10(IS), FZ20(IS). See www.amazon.co.uk, www.kelkoo.co.uk or www.dealtime.co.uk for latest prices.

Summary: This 4mp digital camera has a large 10x Optical zoom lens packed into a small stylish body, currently the world's smallest digital camera with a 10x optical zoom lens. The camera produces excellent images, with great colour and low noise levels, although sometimes this is ruined by purple fringing. The camera offers good value for money. The camera is easy to use and has a very good macro mode. The cameras video mode is very good, although let down as you have to choose between zoom or sound. The only major thing that lets this camera down is the lack of image stabilisation. If you need a 10x optical zoom lens digital camera, but want a small camera, then I would highly recommend this camera!

Olympus Camedia C-765 Rating: Highly Recommended!
Buy now from Amazon: £199 / $359

What I like:

  • 10x Optical Zoom Lens
  • Excellent image quality - great colour and detail in pictures
  • Great screen - clear, smooth, good size
  • Good movie mode (unfortunately the zoom can not be used when recording sound)
  • Low noise levels
  • Easy to use
  • Very Good macro / super macro mode
  • World's smallest digital camera with 10x Optical zoom lens

What I don't like:

  • No Case
  • Purple Fringing
  • No Image stabilisation
  • No built in speaker for movie playback - for that you will need the more expensive Olympus C-770.
  • No AF-Assist Lamp

Remember to have a look at the full size (and medium size) versions of these photos in the gallery!