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Overall Image Quality

The C-3030Z produces well metered, sharp and pleasing (important word) images. Colours show better saturation than some of its competitors and this adds to the overall feel of the images the camera produces.

The range of manual control is impressive and allows the photographer in you to get out and explore a little more, or you can just leave things alone and snap away all day long safe in the knowledge you're likely to get a good set of images at the end.

My niggle would be that the move up to 3 megapixels should have come with a brand new lens system (not one based on the C-2020Z glass) as it's obvious (by the chromatic aberrations) that at 3 megapixels this glass has gone beyond its capabilities.

As with all my reviews opinions expressed are my own, the advice would be to download the samples and view them for yourselves.


Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

Sadly the C-3030Z exhibits a fair amount of chromatic aberrations, worse indeed than the 990 (sorry Olympus, but I had to say it). When I posted my "first look" one of the images was a classic example of what you'll see when the chromatic aberrations take hold, not just on contrast against the sky areas of the image but elsewhere too...

The second image here is our new chromatic aberrations test shot. It's a sheet of black card with a test pattern cut into it which produces very bright regions, against a window. Camera set to full wide angle and deliberately overexposed 3 stops to make the aberrations more visible.


Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

The lens system in the C-3030Z is based on that found in the C-2020Z, Olympus have chosen to go for a wider field of view (32mm - 96mm). One consequence of that is barrel distortion (a spherizing of the image at wide angles), although the worst of this effect can be removed afterwards with third party software and techniques.

Distortion calculated as the amount of distortion to the horizontal line (from left or right to its center) as a percentage of image height.

Full Wide Angle (32mm)
1 .0% Barrel Distortion
Full Telephoto (96mm)
0.4% Pincushion Distortion

Apologies for the slightly odd lighting above, one of my dichroic daylight studio lights blew a (800W) bulb half way through the photo shoot.


Low light (and temperature)

Since my last review (Coolpix 990) I began experimenting cooling the camera before doing low light and night exposures when the camera was cool rather than room temperature. (For my results with the 990 see this article and this article).

Typically it's difficult to take long exposures with a digicam because the build up of dark current over the exposure time produces unacceptable levels of noise. However, if you cool the camera a little (leave it outside for 20 minutes) you'll get significantly less noise and the ability to take very long exposures.

Thanks to Dave Martindale for detailing this, "dark current noise is exponentially related to temperature - it DOUBLES for every 6 or 8 degrees C temperature rise (depending on the CCD)."

The two sets of images below were taken 20 minutes apart with an outside temperature of about 10oC, thus for the first shot camera temperature would be about 24oC (room temperature), the second about 10oC.

Olympus C-3030Z @ about 24oC
 
Olympus C-3030Z @ about 10oC
Crop, 8 seconds, F4.5 Crop, 8 seconds F4.5
 
Crop from "black frame", 8 seconds, F4.5 Crop from "black frame", 8 seconds, F4.5
 

Warning

Whenever you take the camera between environments of significantly different temperature you MUST let the camera cool down or warm up slowly, and you must NEVER turn the camera on until it has properly acclimatized (about 15 minutes) as you may well damage internal electronics or get condensation into the lens system.

For example, the Operating Environment stated for the Olympus C-3030Z is:

  • Temperature: 0 � 40oC (32 � 104oF)
  • Humidity: under 90% (no condensation)

Digital Photography Review accepts no responsibility to damage caused to anyone's camera equipment by this technique. Never use a refrigerator to cool your camera

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