Olympus C-7000 Zoom 7.1MP and a 5X Optical Zoom

There's lots to like about the new Olympus C-7000 camera, including the size of the image files it puts out and the "seamless" 30X zoom (5X optical and 6X digital combined) that delivers better quality digital zooms than many cameras we've worked with in the past. The C-7000 is aimed at those who like to get involved with their photography, and offers as many options and modes as you could desire. They certainly make this a camera that allows you to flex your creative muscles. Granted, you have to delve into the menu to get at most of the options, something that helps streamline the body but can hold up spontaneous changes.

Olympus C7000 camera from file (PMA)

The C-7000 offers Olympus Raw, TIFF and a host of JPEG options, with the Olympus SHQ and HQ nomenclature. ISO ranges from 80, for outdoor scenes, to 400, which delivers great images with virtually no noise, as we saw in our images made inside the new Modern Museum of Art in New York City. Those Raw and TIFF files and JPEGs at 3072 x 2304 pixels deliver near 20MB files, good enough to make gorgeous 8 x 10 in and 11 x 14 in prints. The 38-190mm (equivalent) optical lens is sharp as a tack, something Olympus is known for and that continues here. And rumors about the smallish (1x1.8 in.) sensor causing fringing can be put to rest, as shots of various architectural details we made attest.

Along with its 7.8-39.5mm optical zoom (equivalent to 38-190mm) the C-7000 offers a 6X digital zoom, which delivers better image quality than most we've seen. Shot at full wide (left) and then at 30X zoom (right) handheld, the detail and sharpness of the Empire State Building are very good. Shot using a tripod it would have even been better.

The camera has a functional design and a nice 2 in. monitor, and at about 7 oz and 4 in wide is certainly portable enough. There's a host of exposure modes and overrides, metering patterns and two macro modes for close-up fans, normal macro being in the 3.2-4 ft. range and "super" macro at less than an inch. You can also shoot movies and sequences at either 1.5 or 2.2 frames per second. And to aid in capturing good exposures, you can choose a histogram when shooting as well as red (for highlight overexposure) and blue (for shadow underexposure) warnings while making the shot. There's also a one-touch red-eye fix right in the camera.

As of this writing the Browser for Adobe CS and Elements 3 didn't work with the .ORF files the C-7000 produced, so we used the supplied Olympus RAW software. This screen shows the processing options and while it worked fine, if a bit slow, there was no preview as sliders were worked before processing.

This is the original Raw file (left) and while colorful and sharp enough we added some saturation and changed the white balance to "cloudy" to add warmth (right). The Olympus Raw software allows for basic image processing changes and Save As in a number of different file formats.

There are also some quirky items that we feel could be improved, like a panorama mode that only words with Olympus brand xD cards, 11 (count `em) resolution options that we feel can only lead to confusion, a Raw format converter that has basic functions but fails to preview changes as you work and the fact that the camera reverts to HQ resolution (JPEG compression) whenever you drop power unless you go into a personalized "My Mode" setup. We wish the camera had a dual slot, as xD cards we can find only go as high as 512MB. The Raw converter using Adobe Camera Raw (in Elements 3 and CS) wasn't updated at the time of this writing, although we sure it will be by the time you read this.

The new MOMA surprises you with its intimate association with the exterior, and almost every gallery yields amazing views of the city around it. This shot was made through a plate glass window and required no "infinity mode" setting, and yielded every line and shadow of the architecture in a brisk manner.

This photo of an interior gallery at the new MOMA in New York was shot on Auto white balance with the camera set at ISO 400. No flash is allowed inside the museum, but you can photograph to your heart's content in most galleries with available light. Most are lit with tungsten, and the AWB handled it well requiring only a minor blue kick.

At $599 (suggested list) the Olympus C-7000 Zoom is a great camera for those who want the larger file sizes a 7MP sensor can deliver without working with a larger-size digicam or digital SLR. It has all the options for creative image making you could desire, and its lens, image processor and metering patterns and modes deliver stunning pictures indoors or out.

Contact: www.olympusamerica.com

The 7+MP sensor allows you to crop into images and still get great 8x10 and larger prints, a real advantage for getting quality results for pictures within pictures. These staircases at MOMA can be seen from various vantage points and make the building a continual delight. Cropping in to emphasize the vertical thrust didn't sacrifice large print quality.