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Image Sharpening

The C-3030Z offers control over the internal sharpening algorithms of the camera, you can choose from three levels of sharpening . The samples below are 100% crops of different sharpening levels for the same scene.

Camera settings: ISO 100, Aperture Priority (F8.0), White Balance: Auto, Measured light: 8 EV.


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Hard Sharpening
 
Normal Sharpening

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Soft Sharpening
 
 

This is weird. I've no idea what kind of sharpening algorithm Olympus are using in the camera or what effect each of these sharpening levels has but it seems to effect the CONTRAST of the image as well as the sharpness of detail. Very odd... I'd stick to Normal Sharpening.


Digital Zoom

Readers of my reviews will know I'm not a huge fan of digital zoom as it's often a badly implemented and seldom used (by owners) marketing "ploy" to sell cameras which don't have an optical zoom. The C-3030Z does indeed have optical zoom, and has a range of digital zooms which can be used on top of the standard 3x optical zoom. These zooms range smoothly from nothing to 2.5x. They are however simply cropping (selecting the mid part of the image) and sampling-up, the only advantage in doing digital zoom inside the camera is (a) if you don't have any photo software to magnify (and interpolate) the image or (b) to digitally zoom without zooming the JPEG artifacts.

Camera settings: ISO 100, Aperture Priority (F8.0), Sharpening: Normal, White Balance: Auto, Measured light: 8 EV.


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Full Optical Zoom, No Digital Zoom
 
Full Optical Zoom, 2.5x Digital Zoom

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Full Optical Zoom, 2.5x Bicubic Photoshop
 
 

Here I've included a Photoshop 2.5x Bicubic sampled image, simply resampled 250% then cropped to 2048 x 1536, results are fairly close to the in-camera interpolation, though I feel the C-3030Z's in-camera image looks a little cleaner.


Manual Focus

Last year the C-2020Z led the way with the first decent implementation of a manual focus system, when focusing manually the scene was automatically magnified at its center to make it easier to see exactly where the focus point is. The C-3030Z uses the same method which makes it (fairly) easy to use the manual focus. This year Nikon caught up with their focus confirmation technique making focus more visible by applying a sharpening mask to the image displayed on the LCD. In the sample below we've manually focused on two different distances..

Camera settings: ISO 100, Programmed Auto, Sharpening: Normal, White Balance: Auto, Measured light: 8 EV.


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Manually focused on front of ruler
 
Manually focused about 3/4 down ruler


Aperture Priority Mode (A)

Aperture priority is where you designate the aperture and the camera calculates the best shutter speed, if the exposure is outside of the cameras range (either over or under exposing) the aperture will flash on the LCD screen. Used properly Aperture Priority can be invaluable as it has a direct effect on depth of field (the distance in front and behind the focal point which will be in focus when taking the shot).

The C-3030Z offers a wide range of apertures for the photographer, better still they're constant throughout the zoom range (which will please studio flash photographers). Aperture Priority mode is accessed from A/S/M mode on the mode dial. A basic example of aperture priority is shown below for more read my digital photography glossary:

Camera settings: ISO 100, Aperture Priority, Metering: Matrix, Focus Locked, Sharpening: Normal, White Balance: Cloudy, Measured light: 8 EV.


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F2.8, 1/30 sec (short depth of field)
 
F11.0 1/2 sec (more depth of field)


Shutter Priority Mode (S)

Shutter priority is where you designate the shutter speed and the camera calculates the correct aperture, if the exposure is outside of the cameras range (either over or under exposing) the shutter speed will flash on the LCD screen. The two samples below show two examples of places you may use Shutter Priority.

The C-3030Z offers the largest range of shutter speeds seen on a digital camera, the only thing missing is a BULB mode for the astro photographers. Shutter Priority mode is accessed from A/S/M mode on the mode dial. The slowest shutter speed in Shutter Priority mode is 1 second, for longer exposures you must switch to Manual mode (below). For the image on the left we use it to bring the shutter speed up to 1/800s while using the flash to freeze these water droplets splashing on a plug. For more read my digital photography glossary:


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ISO 100, Shutter Priority, Macro, Sharpening: Normal, WB: Auto, Flash On
Exposure: 1/800s, F11.0


Manual Mode (M)

The C-3030Z also includes a full manual mode, in this mode you have complete control over the exposure system, you can define both the shutter speed (up and down jog dial) and aperture setting (left and right jog dial)).

When setting the exposure in Manual mode the exposure compensation indicator will now act as a meter indicating the amount the image is under or over exposed (based on the cameras own metering). You can only access shutter speeds slower than 1 second in Manual mode.

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