Review: Olympus C-3040Z
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, May 9, 2001
Thursday, June 28, 2001
is the first time in two years that I'm not going to review Olympus'
high-end (well, under $1000) digital camera against the Nikon Coolpix
9xx series. Two years ago, it was the Olympus
C-2000Z vs. the Nikon Coolpix 950. Last year, there was the
vs. Coolpix 990. And while there's two new models to talk about
this year (the C-3040Z and Coolpix 995), they're more evolutionary
than revolutionary, and I don't have both at the same time like
in the past.
year, I picked the C-3030Z as the winner of that head-to-head competition
(which garnered much controversy), citing only a few weaknesses.
The C-3040Z adds a new, "brighter" F1.8 lens, USB mass
storage support (more on this later), new metering options, and
more. Can things get better? Read on...
in the Box?
C-3040Z has a pretty good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.3 Mpixel Olympus C-3040Z camera
CR-V3 lithium batteries (non-rechargeable)
cap w/ strap
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
I don't want to take all the credit for this, but I think all my
complaining about lens caps is paying off. Olympus seems to be including
both a lens cap and strap with their newest cameras. Hurrah!
area where Olympus is sorely lacking is in the battery department.
Olympus includes two "long life" CR-V3 batteries, which
are non-rechargeable. While they do last a long time, they end up
polluting our landfills, and you end up needing to buy batteries.
I recommend picking up a set or two of NiMH rechargeable batteries
(and a charger of course).
thoughtful folks at Olympus have always included the RM-1 remote
with their higher end cameras, including the C-3040Z. You can control
the camera in both record and playback mode (where it's most useful)
covered Olympus' Camedia Master software in a previous
review. Overall, I found it to be better than the average software
that comes bundled with the camera, but you won't be throwing out
your copy of Photoshop.
new feature of the C-3040Z is what Olympus calls USB AutoConnect.
What that means is that if you're using a modern Mac, or a Win98/2000
system, you won't need to install any drivers. I'm all for that!
tested the C-3040Z in Mac OS X, and not only did the Image Transfer
utility open, but the camera mounted on the desktop as well.
manual, while covering everything, seems confusing and poorly laid
out to me. They should get whomever wrote the E-10 manual to do
the rest of them, as it was a cut above all of Olympus' other manuals.
I was to grumble about anything else int he bundle, it would be
the somewhat skimpy 16MB SmartMedia card.
much the only thing that has changed about the design of the various
cameras in this C-2000/3000 series is the color.
I suppose that's because the design is already very good!
dimensions of the 3040Z are 4.3 x 3.0 x 2.7 inches, and it weighs
307 grams empty. The camera is very easy to hold and the controls
begin our tour.
biggest new feature of the C-3040Z is seen here: the lens. This
new F1.8 "super bright" 3X optical zoom promises better
low light shooting. The focal range is 7.1 - 21.3mm, equivalent
to 35 - 105 mm.
five little holes just above the lens make up the microphone. The
flash seen at the top of the photo has a range of 2.6 - 18.4 feet
at full wide-angle, and 7.9 inches - 12.5 feet at full telephoto.
the back of the camera, nothing has changed here from the C-3030Z.
The 1.8" LCD is very good - bright and fluid, and easy to see
except in direct sunlight. Nose and finger smudges may be a problem,
optical viewfinder is large, and has crosshairs for framing your
images. Diopter correction is also available for those of us with
To the right of that are buttons for flash [rec] / delete [play]
and macro & spot metering [rec] / DPOF marking [play].
right of that is the four-way switch, used for menu navigation.
that you'll find buttons for OK [menus] / AE Lock [rec] / Protect
[play], LCD power / quick review [both rec] and Menu.
top of the camera is pretty familiar territory as well. The LCD
info display shows the typical items; here, that's flash (off),
quality (SHQ), and shots remaining (4).
right of that is the mode wheel, which has the following options:
Mode (aperture priority, shutter priority, full manual)
would have preferred to have A/S/M as separate choices, rather than
having to use the menu system to change between them. They definitely
have space available on the mode wheel.
are the options you have in these manual modes:
priority: F1.8, F2.0, F2.3, F2.6, F2.8, F3.2, F3.6, F4.0, F4.5,
F5.0, F5.6, F6.3, F7.0, F8.0, F9.0, F10
priority: range of 4 sec - 1/800 sec
manual: same as above for aperture; shutter speeds 16 sec - 1/800
above the mode wheel is the zoom control / shutter release button.
Both buttons "feel right" and are well-placed.
this side of the camera, you can see the various I/O ports. That
sync (seen center, bottom)
(cable not included with camera)
you'd like to add an external flash, you'll need the FL-40 flash
as well as a flash bracket, both of which are sold by Olympus. Update
5/11/01: You can use third party flashes, but Olympus warns
against it in the manual.
other side of the camera is where you'll find the SmartMedia slot
(shown here with the included 16MB card). The slot is spring-loaded
so the card comes right out. The door and hinge to this compartment
seems a bit flimsy, though.
finally, the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the battery
compartment as well as a metal tripod mount.
the Olympus C-3040Z
camera takes approximately 5 seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start taking pictures. The C-3040Z is a
pleasure to use: it's responsive and easy to use. The zoom has a
slight delay between the time the button is pushed, and the lens
starts moving. When you depress the shutter release halfway, it
takes a little over half a second to lock focus. Depressing it fully
will yield a photo almost instantly. In HQ mode, there's about a
2.5 second wait before you can take another shot.
a look at the many resolution and quality options on the C-3040Z,
and how many fit on the included 16MB card, as well as a 64MB card
(for reference sake).
you can see, there's a whole lot of choices. Do note that full-size
TIFF files take over 20 seconds to write to the card, and you cannot
take additional photos during that time.
C-3040Z uses the familiar overlay menu system seen on most other
Olympus cameras. There may be changes on the horizon though: the
new C-700 Ultra Zoom has a completely different menu system (which
I'm not too excited about). Here's a look at the menu options on
this camera and what they mean:
(auto or manual focus; also available by hitting "OK"
button in record mode)
(single shot, continuous shooting, self-timer, auto-bracketing)
Balance (auto, presets, or full manual)
(Auto, 100, 200, 400)
Intensity (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV increments)
Timing (1st or 2nd-curtain flash for night shots)
Zoom (up to 5X, though resolution will be 640 x 480)
(special modes include black & white, sepia, white board,
comments (up to 4 sec of audio with each photo)
Helper (only on Olympus-branded SM cards)
Setup (format, erase all)
Setup (more on this below)
(see chart above)
Mode (switches between aperture/shutter/full manual modes)
of those should be familiar to DCRP readers. One which may not be
is Mode Setup. What this does is let you configure the default values
of the camera. For example, if you want the camera to start off
with the zoom at 80mm, the flash off, and in TIFF mode, you can
do that by editing the Custom menu in Mode Setup.
view from the LCD in record mode
feature of note is the C-3040Z's impressive sequential shooting
mode: you can take up to 5 shots in a row at 3.3 frames/sec. Of
course, this excludes TIFF files.
I alluded to in the list above, there's a full manual white balance
mode on this camera (as you'd expect). You can shoot a piece of
white paper (or whatever you want to be white) and get good results
in most lighting conditions.
onto our photo tests.
C-3040Z did an admirable job in our macro test. It even handled
the strange lighting in the "lab".
nightshot test came out great, with the C-3040Z's new super bright
lens doing its job. The colors are right on (and much better than
the C-700UZ) and there's no noise to speak of (just a little grain).
quality overall was excellent. Olympus has had a lot of time to
perfect the C-3040Z and it shows. The only thing I noticed was a
bit of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in one of my photos
(see the "tunnel of trees" photo in the gallery).
Don't let me tell you about the photo quality -- judge for yourself
in the gallery.
they came out at around the same time, the Olympus C-3040Z and E-100RS
have very different movie modes. Where the E-100RS could record
movies at 640 x 480, the C-3040Z is limited to 320 x 240. While
the E-100RS gave users a choice of 30 or 15 fps, the C-3040Z is
hardwired for 15 fps. Weird, huh?
chart below tells you how many seconds of video you can record:
on 8MB card
on 32MB+ card
unlike the E-100RS, you cannot use the optical zoom while filming
on the C-3040Z -- only the digital zoom. I'd love to see the movie
mode upgrade at some point to be more like the E-100RS, but in the
meantime, things are not that bad.
an unexciting sample movie for you (filmed in HQ mode):
to play movie (QuickTime format, M-JPEG codec; 2.1MB)
C-3040Z's playback mode covers all the bases. There's slideshows,
image protection, DPOF print marking, zoom & scroll, and more.
camera takes about one second to go between photos. You can zoom
out to 9 thumbnails at once, or zoom in to take a closer look at
your photo. The zoom & scroll mode, as I call it, is pretty
good - you can zoom in as far as 3X, and then move around inside
the picture. The only wish I have here is that the scrolling around
was a bit snappier -- you've got to hold the four-way switch down
for a bit before it really starts moving.
you want to get more info about a photo, you just press the Info
button. While not as detailed as some cameras, I think most users
will be happy with the information given.
far as things that are missing here, I think people would like to
be able to delete a group of photos, rotate a photo, and view a
histogram. Maybe in the C-3050Z?
Does it Compare?
took the already excellent C-3030Z and added a new lens and a few
other features, and have made it even better. If you've got a C-3000Z
or C-3030Z, I wouldn't run out to buy a C-3040Z, as the differences
aren't that great. However, if you're looking for your first digital
camera, or upgrading, then the C-3040Z is near the top of my list
for 3 Megapixel cameras. The C-3040Z is easy to use, well-designed,
feature-packed, and it takes great pictures to boot. I highly recommend
lens means better low light shooting
good photo quality
to use for beginners, with manual controls for seasoned veterans
for external flash
I didn't care for:
optical zoom in movie mode
mode could use some more features
rechargeable batteries included
aberrations noticeable in test photo
3 Megapixel market is crowded, so you have your work cut out for
you. Do consider the following other cameras before you buy: Canon
PowerShot G1, Casio
QV-3500EX, Nikon Coolpix 880,
DSC-S75, and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the C-3040Z and its competitors before you buy!