year 2003 brings us two new Ultra Zoom cameras from Olympus.
The C-740 Ultra Zoom (reviewed here) and C-750 Ultra Zoom (see
our review) share two major changes: a new ED (extra-low
dispersion) lens, plus
a more compact body. Both use Olympus' new xD Picture Card format
for storing photos. Unlike the C-730 and earlier, these two new
models do not support SmartMedia.
C-740UZ is the more basic model of the two, with fewer bells
and whistles. Here's
a chart detailing the differences between the models:
|Remote control support
the "old days", there wasn't much competition in the
ultra zoom arena. That is changing, with Fuji, HP, and Panasonic
now getting into the act. That's good, because it means that
get better products.
note before we begin: this review will be eerily similar to the
C-750UZ review (still in first look status when this was written),
as they are almost the same camera.
Ready? Let's begin our look at this camera!
in the Box?
Olympus C-740 Ultra Zoom has an average bundle. Inside the box,
3.2 effective Mpixel C-740 Ultra Zoom camera
xD Picture Card
CR-V3 lithium batteries (not rechargeable)
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
manual, fold-out Quick Start guide, plus full manual on CD-ROM
C-740's bundle isn't as nice as the C-750's for one reason: batteries.
With the 750, Olympus gives you a set of NiMH rechargeables,
but here you're stuck with throwaway lithium batteries. My advice:
get two sets of NiMH AA batteries (1850 mAh or better) and a
fast charger -- you'll save money and the environment. You can
use alkaline AAs or CR-V3 lithium batteries to get you out of
a jam, of course.
include 16MB xD card is pretty skimpy considering the resolution
of this camera. You'll definitely want to buy something larger
includes a lens cap and retaining strap to protect that 10X
are a number of accessories available for the C-740. You can
add wide-angle, telephoto, and macro conversion lenses, but you'll
need to buy the CLA-4 lens adapter ($25) first. Other accessories
include an AC adapter, NiMH battery kit, camera case,
and numerous card readers.
all of Olympus' recent cameras, the C-740 is fully compatible
with Mac OS X and Windows XP. Most likely, you won't even need
to install drivers.
their new Camedia Master 4.1 software. This is a dramatically
improved version of their photo viewing/editing
software that they've been including for the last few years.
editing tools included with Camedia Master are impressive. You
can change all kinds of things like brightness, contrast, and
color balance. There are also red-eye reduction and "instant
software is much more responsive than the previous versions.
My only complaint is that the interface is non-standard on both
Macs and PCs.
$20 more (sigh), Olympus will upgrade you to the "Pro" version
of the software. This adds contact sheet printing, image e-mailing,
HTML albums, panorama stitching, and slide shows.
with a most unfortunate tradition, Olympus puts the full manual
on CD-ROM only, and not in print. You get a printed basic manual
, but it's just that -- basic. The quality of the manual itself
is about average.
the C-740 and C-750 are smaller than the C-730. The 750 has a
nice all-metal body, versus a plastic/metal combination on the
740. That said, the build quality is still quite good.
740 is too large to be called pocket size, but it's still
small considering the size of the lens. The grip for your right
hand is a little too small for my taste.
official dimensions of the C-740 are 4.2 x 2.6 x
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs about 295 grams
start our tour of this camera now:
the C-740 and C-750 use a new 10X ED lens. The ED (extra-low
dispersion) lens helps reduce the purple fringing
normally seen on "big zoom" cameras like this.
F2.8 - F3.7 lens has a focal range of 6.3 - 63 mm, which is equivalent
to 38 - 380 mm. The
lens is not stabilized, so you'll need a steady hand or tripod
to take shots at full telephoto. There
one camera currently on the market with a stabilized lens: the
Panasonic DMC-FZ1 (see
have already covered lens accessories in the previous section.
the top of the photo, you can see the C-740UZ's popup flash.
There's a button on the back of the camera that releases it.
The working range of the flash is 0.3 - 4.5 m at wide-angle,
and 1.2 - 3.5 m at telephoto. Unlike the C-750, the 740 does
not support an external flash.
above-left from the lens is the self-timer lamp. The C-740 does
not support a wireless remote control, like some of the earlier
else missing here is an AF-assist lamp.
the back of the camera. The C-740 has a smaller-than-average
1.5" LCD display. It is of very good quality, though --
bright and fluid, with a high resolution.
the upper left of the photo, you can see the electronic viewfinder
(EVF). The EVF is not a traditional viewfinder that you're probably
used to -- it's more like a little 0.44" LCD display. An
EVF is a mixed bag: you get to see what the CCD sees (thus, no
parallax error), and menus and settings can be viewed on it.
The negatives include increased power consumption, and difficult
viewing when it's too bright or too dark. I'd rather have a real
optical viewfinder myself, but all these ultra zoom cameras use
EVF here is about the equal to others I've tested. The resolution
is fairly good, and images on the EVF move smoothly -- not choppy
like on EVFs. The EVF has a diopter correction
knob for those without perfect vision.
three buttons to the right of the EVF serve multiple purposes,
depending on which mode the camera is in. From left to right:
Macro + spot metering
(Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, forced, slow sync)
the right of those buttons is the release for the pop-up flash.
northeast of the main LCD are the power and "custom" button.
I found the power button to be much too sensitive -- in fact,
on several occasions I turned the camera on and off with one
push of the button. The custom button is AE lock by default,
but you can change it to
button to rotate photos.
the right of the LCD, you'll find the usual four-way switch,
with the OK/Menu button in the middle. Besides operating the
menus, the switch is used for changing the shutter speed and
aperture while in the manual modes, plus exposure compensation
(±2 in 1/3 increments).
and hold the OK button and you will activate the manual focus
feature. You can then adjust the focus yourself, using the four-way
switch. The camera enlarges the center of the image on the LCD/EVF
so you can make sure the subject is in focus. There is also an
indicator showing you the current focus distance.
final button on the back of the camera is the Disp(lay) button,
just below the four-way switch. This turns the LCD on and off
(the EVF is always on in record mode). Press this button twice
quickly (which is harder than it sounds) and you'll enter playback
on to the top of the camera now. Normally, I'd complain about
the lack of an LCD info display up here, but since you're forced
to look at the main LCD or EVF, it's really not necessary.
zoom controls are perfectly placed, and they operate the 10X
zoom smoothly (though noisily). The zoom is quite responsive
-- you can move from the wide to tele position in about 3 seconds.
You can also make precise adjustments to the lens by just slightly
pushing the zoom controller.
items on the mode wheel are the same ones that were on the C-730.
of those items are what we call "scene modes". You
pick a scene and the camera uses the best options for that situation.
Self portrait lets you turn the camera on yourself (a scary thought).
record is pretty much point-and-shoot. You can't change many
program mode, you have full control over everything except the
shutter speed and aperture.
aperture priority mode, you choose an aperture, and the camera
picks an appropriate shutter speed. The apertures available
from F2.8 - F8, depending on the zoom position.
priority mode is just the opposite; you choose the shutter speed,
and the camera selects the aperture. The shutter speed range
is 1 - 1/1000 sec. I wish Olympus would open up the full shutter
speed range, instead of cutting you off at 1 second.
get at the longer shutter speeds, you'll need to use full manual
mode. Here, you set both the aperture and shutter speed. The
range is the same, but the shutter speed range expands to 16
- 1/1000 sec.
Mode" is a feature that I wish more cameras had. This mode
allows you to store your favorite settings for easy retrieval.
For me, that's SHQ, ISO 100, no flash, with all other settings
normal. The C-740 can store four different sets of settings in
have more on the movie and playback modes later in the review.
this side of the camera are the I/O ports, found under a
sturdy plastic cover. The ports are video out, USB, and DC-in
(for optional AC adapter).
the other side of the camera, with the sturdy plastic door opened
C-730 was sort of an "in between" camera with regard
to memory cards, reading both SmartMedia and xD memory cards. The
C-740/750 complete Olympus'
transition to xD for their Ultra Zoom line, as it only supports
xD Picture Cards.
can also see the included 16MB xD card as well. It's tiny (in
both capacity and physical size)!
here is the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the battery
compartment as well as a plastic tripod mount. The C-740 uses
two CR-V3 or four AA cells.
the Olympus C-740 Ultra Zoom
C-740 takes under 4 seconds to extend the lens and
"warm up" before you can begin shooting. This assumes that the
lens was at the wide-angle position when you last used the camera.
If not, it may take longer.
the shutter release halfway and the camera locks focus in under
a second. At lower light levels, expect longer AF lag times,
and some difficulty locking focus (due to the lack of an AF-assist
good lighting (with fast shutter speeds), the shutter lag was
very short. When taking pictures with slower shutter speeds,
the lag will be more pronounced. Of course, you should probably
be using a tripod for those shots anyway.
speeds are excellent. You can keep shooting with only a 1 second
delay (assuming post-shot review is off) until the buffer is
full. The exception of course is with TIFF files, which will
lock up the camera for 15 seconds while the image is saved -- not
bad compared to some cameras.
and quality settings are pretty complex on the C-740UZ, as you'll
photos on 16MB card (included)
x 1360 (3:2)
x 1360 (3:2)
x 1360 (3:2)
you know why I suggested buying a larger xD card! As you can
see, there's a TIFF mode. Unless you're a real perfectionist,
using JPEG mode is fine.
I didn't list it in the chart, in SHQ and HQ modes you have the
option of saving images at 3200 x 2400. That involves interpolation,
and your images will lose some quality as a result.
uses one of the better file numbering systems that I've seen.
Files are named Pmdd####.jpg, where m is the month (1-9, A-C),
d is the day, and #### is 0001-9999. This way your file numbers
are always unique (well, for one year at least). File numbering
is maintained as you erase and switch memory cards.
C-740UZ uses the recent, customizable Olympus menu system. When
you first open the menu, you're presented with four choices:
like those choices? With the exception of Mode Menu, you can
put other items in this menu.
Mode Menu is where most of your options are, and it can be a
little intimidating at first. Here are the menu options:
(Single-frame, sequential, high speed sequential, AF sequential,
auto bracketing) - see below
(Auto, 100, 200, 400)
- switches between aperture priority, shutter priority, and
full manual modes
Mode (1, 2, 3, 4) - choose from four sets of camera settings
that you have saved
strength (-2.0EV to +2.0EV, 1/3EV increments)
slow sync (1st curtain, 1st curtain w/redeye reduction, 2nd
reduction (on/off) - reduces noise for shutter speeds 1 sec
AF (on/off) - keeps the image in focus at all times. Puts
extra strain on batteries but reduces AF lag
mode (iESP, spot)
macro mode (on/off) - more later
- helps you make panoramic shots. Requires Olympus-branded
in 1 - two shots in succession combined into one
(Off, black & white, sepia, white board, black board)
- various photo effects
Area (on/off) - lets you choose the AF target by using the
four-way switch. Must put camera in spot metering mode first.
(on/off) - toggles info shown on LCD/EVF
(on/off) - toggles live histogram on LCD/EVF
Balance (Auto, sunlight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent x3,
balance compensation (-7EV to +7EV in 1EV increments) - fine
tune white balance
(-5 to +5, increments of 1)
(-5 to +5, increments of 1)
(-5 to +5, increments of 1)
(the interesting ones, at least)
reset (on/off) - retain settings after camera is powered
(English, Français, Deutsch, Español)
on/off setup - choose startup screen/sound
View (on/off) - shows image after it's taken on LCD
(30 sec, 1, 3, 5, 10 min) - for power saving
Mode setup - save your favorite settings for easy retrieval
naming (Auto, reset)
mapping - helps eliminate "bad pixels"
brightness - affects both the EVF and main LCD
output (NTSC, PAL)
cut - configure the first page of the menus, as I explained
button (AE lock, info, ISO, P/A/S/M, digital zoom, quality,
white balance) - customize what the AE Lock button does
further explanation is required on some of those. First, the
drive options. There are three continuous shooting modes. Regular
sequential mode will lock the focus and exposure settings on
the first shot, and can take up to 11 shots at 1.4 fps. High
speed sequential works in the same way, just faster and for fewer
shots: 3 shots at 2 fps.
the focus and exposure for each shot, which slows the rate down
bracketing will take 3 or 5 shots in a row, each with a different
exposure compensation value. You can set the EV increment (±0.3,
±0.7, ±1.0) in the menu.
fine-tunable white balance lets you make the white balance redder
or bluer. If you can't get good white balance with this camera,
then you may be out of luck.
enough about menus. Let's take a look at some photo samples now.
have two night test shots for you: one wide-angle, one telephoto.
a little noisier than I'd like, both test images were well-exposed
and fairly sharp. With full manual controls, you can get pretty
creative with the C-740. Do remember that for the longest shutter
speeds, you'll need to use the full manual mode.
got no complaints about the 740's macro abilities. There are
actually two different macro modes: regular and super. With regular
macro mode (used for the nice shot above), you can get as close
as 7 cm at wide-angle, or 1.2 m at telephoto. In super macro
mode, the lens is fixed in the middle of the focal range, and
you can get as close as 3 cm to your subject.
complaints about the redeye test either -- there's none to speak
of. Note that I enlarged this crop slightly so you can see
distortion test shows mild barrel distortion at wide-angle, and
no vignetting (dark corners).
the photo quality on the C-740UZ is very good. Both color and
exposure were accurate, but what impressed me the most was how
much the ED lens helps reduce purple fringing. It's still there,
but in much smaller concentrations when compared to older Ultra
Zoom models. The 740's images are sharp, but at the expense of
noise, which is higher than I'd like.
just take my word for it -- have a look at the gallery and decide
for yourself if the 740's photo quality is right for you.
C-740's movie mode would be pretty nice if the camera recorded
sound. Unfortunately, it doesn't -- you'll need to upgrade to
the C-750 for that.
can record for as long as there is space on the memory card.
For the included 16MB card, that's 48 seconds at 320 x 240. Get
a 32MB card and the number jumps to 96 seconds. And so on. Use
the smaller 160 x 120 resolution and those numbers are 211/424
are saved in QuickTime format, with a 15 fps frame rate.
zoom lens can be used during filming.
a sample movie for you:
Click to play movie (4.7MB, QuickTime
Can't play it? Download QuickTime.
C-740 has the standard (and very good) Olympus playback mode.
Slide shows, DPOF print marking, thumbnail mode, and image protection
zoom and scroll feature is here too, allowing you to zoom in
as much as 4X into your photo, and then move around in it.
other handy features are image resizing (to 640 x 480 or 320
x 240), trimming, and rotation. The trimming (cropping) feature
in particular is well implemented. You can resize the cropping
box and move it around. Hit okay and a new image is saved.
an image is a piece of cake -- just hit the delete button on
the back of the camera. You can delete one photo, or all of them
-- but not several at a time.
you don't get much information about your photos in playback
you want more info, you can turn on "info" in the menu,
or better yet, the histogram feature.
between photos on the C-740 is fairly quick: it takes about 1.5
seconds to load another photo.
Does it Compare?
of the new features in the Olympus C-740 Ultra Zoom are pretty
dull, but there's one that stands out: the extra-low
dispersion (ED) lens noticeably reduces purple
which should make owners of the older Ultra Zooms a bit jealous.
It doesn't eliminate it, but it's much better than before. Other
nice features of the C-740 include good photo quality, full manual
support for add-on lenses, and of course that 10X lens. On the
other hand, I'm a bit disappointed that Olympus got rid of the
remote control option, flash sync port, and microphone on this
model. Also, the photo quality is just a bit noisy for my taste,
and the bundle could be better. For most folks who want a big
zoom camera, the 740 is a fine choice. For more resolution plus
sound recording and a hot shoe, check out the C-750.
purple fringing than earlier models
manual controls, including white balance which you can fine
buttons and menus
store four sets of your settings
good image quality (though a tad noisy)
mapping feature blocks out bad pixels from CCD
I didn't care for:
levels higher than they should be
difficult to see in low light
more sound recording, flash sync port (which C-730 had)
shutter speeds only available in full manual mode
could be better (larger xD card, full printed manual, rechargeable
other big zoom cameras with a big zoom (7X or greater) include
Photosmart 850 (8X), Minolta
DiMAGE 7Hi (7X), Nikon
Coolpix 5700 (8X), Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FZ1 (12X), and the Sony
Cyber-shot DSC-F717 (5X).
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try
out the C-740 and its competitors before you buy!
out our C-740UZ photo gallery!
a second opinion?
another opinion at Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions about this review. Send
them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due
to my limited resources, please do not write asking for personal
recommendations, missing software/manuals, or technical support.