Olympus C-770 Ultra Zoom Digital Camera

Olympus C-770 Ultra Zoom Digital Camera

For all you photography buffs out there (I count myself with you), the Olympus C-770 Ultra Zoom digital camera has something that definitely makes it's zooming capabilities ultra: a big lens.

Un cropped wide - Copenhagen - Newly Weds Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth

Un cropped zoomed - Copenhagen - Newly Weds Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth

Most digital zoom cameras rely on the digital function to zoom in, similar to zooming in on a photo on a computer screen. The problem with this, though, is that the larger the object becomes, the closer you zoom, the more pixilated the image digresses. Not so with the C-770, because it actually captures the minutes details and lines of images in its lens, not just its digital card. It accomplishes this with its 10x optical zoom an amazing 38 - 380mm equivalent in 35mm photography , most cameras usually only go up to 4x. Also there is a Super Zoom which takes your optical zoom to an amazing 14x optical zoom. These images are captured at 1600 x 1200 resolution. Ideal for 4"x6" and 5"x7" prints.  A larger lens is able to take in more of the light and sight of what's being photographed. When this "real" image is transferred to the digital memory, viola! Beautiful photos are had. Also, the lens has "ED" elements which help to reduce the purple fringing that is so often found on ultra zoom cameras.

Un cropped wide - Italy Medieval Village looking at chapel in town

Un cropped zoomed - Italy Medieval Village looking at chapel in town


The C-770 Ultra Zoom is an updated version of 2003's popular C-750 camera. For 2004, it's been outfitted with a sleeker body, the TruePic TURBO engine (for better performance and image quality), MPEG4 support, and PictBridge where you can connect the camera to any PictBridge-enabled printer, such as the Olympus P-10, for quick and convenient printing of images without the need for a computer.

Some key features of this remarkable camera include: 4.0 megapixel CCD (effective) print your photos up to 11"x14" and larger; 40x total seamless zoom (this includes the 10x optical zoom in addition to the digital capabilities); electronic viewfinder and 1.8-inch color LCD display; auto-connect USB; 13 shooting modes including Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program Auto exposure control; PictBridge enabled; and EXIF 2.2 compatible Tiff & JPEG.

Copenhagen - Royal Square note great skin tones

Included with the camera are a 16MB xD picture card, LI-10B lithium-ion battery (rechargeable), battery charger, Remote control, lens cap w/retaining strap, wrist strap, USB cable, A/V cable, CD-ROM featuring Olympus Camedia Master, VideoStudio 7 SE Basic, manual, and drivers, basic manual (printed) plus full manual on CD-ROM. The paltry 16MB xD card won't hold too many high resolution photos. Most users will want to get a larger card. xD cards currently come in sizes ranging from 16 - 512MB.

A great feature with digital cameras is the movie capture capability, and the C-770 doesn't let down here. Simply switch to MPEG-4 movie mode record and playback mini movies in finely compressed, premium quality streaming video with teriffic sound that can be played back on your television or computer screen.

Click here to see the and hear the sounds of the Copenhagen Royal Wedding.

Copenhagen harbor

While I was in Stockholm Sweden I used this camera while covering The Polar Prize, one of Sweden's most distinguished music honors, which was presented to BB King and György Ligeti  as well as The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award  which was presented to Brazilian Lygia Bojunga.  As you can see, the photos have remarkable clarity…  I wish I could say it was all due to my remarkable skill, but I must give credit to this aptly named Ultra Zoom camera. If grading on a 1 to 10 scale, I'd definitely give this camera a high 8.

The eyepiece was particularly pleasing, because unlike many cameras, what you see is what you get. The eyepiece contains the digital image that will be generated. Eyepieces on many cameras are positioned in such a way as to cause the actual image photographed to be slightly different or off-placement than what is seen. With the C-770, the image seen in the eyepiece is the image photographed. Users can use either the eyepiece or the digital screen on the back of the camera.

South of France Eze Village

Another nice feature is that the zoom measurements remain even after the camera is shut off. Many cameras will return to a wide-angle view once they've been powered down. The C-770, though, retains its zoom position, saving valuable time that would normally be lost trying to reposition the lens back to its setting prior to being shut down.

One thing that I would have liked to see on this camera is an infrared illuminator for low-level light shots. Some digital cameras can penetrate darkness with this feature, allowing for night photography.

Copenhagen Tivoli Gardens

Also, there's no autoflash. Users must set the camera to flash instead of being able to rely on the camera to determine for itself whether or not it needs to flash. On the C-770, the flash pops up only when manually chosen and then will flash as needed, depending on your choice of settings. Don't get me wrong, it's a great flash, I just wish it could pop-up for itself as so many other cameras do. Sometimes when the light is fading and I'm snapping photos, I might forget to activate the flash even though the screen is telling me I need to use the flash.

Another, slightly picky, complaint: You have to cover the lens manually. I think this is because of the wonderful large hunk of glass that makes up the lens. I know, this isn't a big deal and somehow it feels more professional, more old fashioned, to need to remember to put on and take off the lens cover but with so many cameras having automatic lens covers that shut when the camera is turned off, I have become spoiled.

Copenhagen - Royal Wedding arrivals

And something else: When I was in Copenhagen standing in the cathedral snapping shots of the Crown Prince's Royal Wedding, I was very cognizant of the fact that this camera makes the sound of Olympus noise when it's turned on and off. Although I could program which other noises the camera made, I could not figure out how to deactivate that noise. While in my hotel room, I thought this noise was clever but during the ceremony, I was embarrassed by the camera's sounds which in a quiet cathedral, sounded very loud indeed. Those around me noticed as well worried that the Kings and Queens, Dukes and Duchess's, Princes and Princesses as well as the other royalty and VIPS attending the wedding might be disturbed. If there is a way to fix this, it's not easily accessible.

With the great ability to take close zoom photos, one fact that was soon obvious to me, was that in the low light of the cathedral, I should have had a tripod to take photos that were not as likely to be blurred. I needed to lean on pillars and that usually was not good enough. I tried to put the camera on timer mode so that when the photo was taken it would not have the added shake of my finger and that worked better if you did not mind waiting 30 seconds for a photo but you really need to take a tripod for close zoom photos unless you are shooting outside in bright light. The bottom of the camera has a plastic tripod mount, plus the battery/memory card compartment.

Very low lit plane interior

Overall, this camera feels very solid, sturdy, and of high quality. It's clean and slick, easy to use, and has little to complain about.

Features and Benefits:

  • Get the most colorful, realistic images yet with a 4 megapixel CCD and print them up to 11"x14" and larger.
  • Close the gap between you and a great shot with an incredible 10x optical zoom lens (38mm - 380mm equivalent focal length).
  • Extend your reach even further with a 4x digital zoom for an astounding 40x total seamless zoom.
  • Use the Super Zoom and take your optical zoom to an amazing 14x optical zoom and close the gap between you and your subject. Images captured at 1600 x 1200 resolution. Ideal for 4"x6" and 5"x7" prints.
  • New TruePic TURBO image Processor produces high-quality results that are smoother and clearer than ever before along with faster responses from operations including start-up, shutter, playback and recording.
  • MPEG-4 Movie Mode with Audio lets you record and playback mini movies in finely compressed, premium quality streaming video.
  • Select the best lighting for the situation with the built-in, multi-mode flash.
  • Extend the flash range by adding an external flash to the dedicated hot shoe or sync to a studio strobe.
  • Connect the C-770 directly to a PictBridge-enabled printer, such as the Olympus P-10, for fast and convenient printing of your images.
  • Experience the freedom of 12 shooting modes, including Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program Auto exposure control.
  • Increase the scope of your view with a wide-angle converter lens or get in closer with a teleconverter lens, each sold separately.
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery will keep you shooting day and night, day in and day out.

MSRP: $599.99, although rebates abound I have seen it for $399.00

For more information go to: http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_product_lobbypage.asp?l=1&p=16&bc=2&product=960&fl=4

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