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Olympus Camedia C-7070 Wide Zoom

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      13.12.2005 16:50
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      • Reliability
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      Ideal for the beginner / intermediate who plans on getting better fast.

      Maybe Olympus should be thanked for ignoring the marketing bods and producing a camera that is pure functionality over form - because that's what the C-7070WZ is. To put it another way, it sure is ugly. A forgiving person might describe it as clunky and retro in a Kodak 1970's sort of way. Frankly it's too big to be described as a compact camera and too small to pass as a digital SLR. Pick one up though and you'll be amazed how balanced and easy this camera is to hold, and these factors are fundamental to achieving a great shot. Olympus have got the grip so right on this model.

      Build quality is absolutely top notch, with the exception of the memory card door. This seems unusually cheap and feels flimsy. As the camera can't transfer pictures at USB2 high speed, the average user is inevitably going to keep removing memory cards and shoving them in a high speed reader. That means the door will be opened and shut a lot and makes the decision to fit a cheap cover seem all the more odd. Maybe it is stronger than it looks.

      The wide angle lens might not seem like a particularly big selling point but for someone like me who takes a fair few shots indoors it's perhaps of more practical use than the mega zoom lensed models that often appear in High Street shop windows.

      I get great pictures out of this camera in all manner of conditions and with less noise than I've seen on 8 megapixel cameras at this price point. Colours seem a little more neutral than the slightly warm shades that are evident on my partner's Canon. To me that's a good thing but if you don't like it then there's a facility to tweak the relevant settings. The range of options (shutter speeds, flash settings, scene modes, etc) is such that, after having mastered the menu system, the C-7070 has managed to make me look like a more experienced photographer than I actually am. Unfortunately, that menu system is probably the camera's achilles heel. If you're the sort of person that will only buy an Apple computer or a Nokia mobile because 'they just work' then the Olympus menu system might put you off, as might the array of buttons scattered around the camera body.

      Nevertheless, the C-7070 rewards those who are prepared to read the manual (even if it is only included on a CD) and it has a point and shoot mode that works particularly well in many situations. The flash isn't bad either. The effective range seems a little shorter than average but I've ended up with a marked absence of red-eye in a majority of my portrait shots, despite not having ever enabled the red-eye reduction option. There is a video mode, too. At high quality it's very very good for a digicam- until you hit the 20 second clip limit, which can be very annoying.

      If you're a scuba diver then you're in luck; Olympus makes an underwater housing for the C-7070 which is of particularly high quality and the camera itself has 2 dedicated underwater scene modes. Just don't expect to get many good shots with the underwater macro mode unless conditions are perfect or you've mastered the art of keeping beautifully still at 20m in a current. I bought the housing and used it in the Maldives last month - and I'm chuffed to bits with the results.


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