Overall Image Quality
The C-3040Z produces very pleasing, sharp, relatively noise free and very well exposed (metered). Colours are accurate but not over saturated, this can leave skin tones looking slightly pale (which may not be to everyone's taste) though this can be easily resolved with a simple saturation increase in your favourite photo editing application.
It's interesting that Olympus appear to have acted on a comment I made on this page of the C-3030Z review "...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...".
The new lens does appear to be sharper than the old and it's also clear that Olympus have made some internal changes because noise levels in normal exposures are definitely cleaner, obviously the brighter lens system means that you have more latitude in low light and will be shooting at higher shutter speeds in normal light.
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
Chromatic Aberrations are only a little better, the C-3030Z does have a reputation of producing some of the worse chromatic aberrations of all 3 megapixel digital cameras. We had hoped that this new lens system had been designed to address that, and although slightly better that purple fringe is still visible in some shots.
|Visible chromatic aberrations in an "every day shot"|
|Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The C-3040Z does suffer from noticeable (1.2%) barrel distortion at full wide angle, this is countered by almost no (not measurable) pincushion distortion at full tele.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.2% @ Wide Angle||Pincushion Distortion, ~0% @ Full Tele|
While things are better here with the addition of the one-push manual mode I'd still like to have seen more white balance options, the Indoor option doesn't work under any of our test artificial lighting, nor does the Outdoor option work on a cloudy day (you get a blue cast as seen below).
|Outdoors, Auto||Outdoors, Outdoor||Outdoors, Manual|
|Incandescent, Auto||Incandescent, Indoor||Incandescent, Manual|
|Fluorescent, Auto||Fluorescent, Fluorescent||Fluorescent, Manual|
Dynamic range simply defines the range of light the camera is able to capture before it either loses detail in darkness (shadows for example) or blows out a highlight (edges of chromed metals are good examples of this). Most consumer digital cameras only have a 8-bit analog to digital converters, plus their CCD's are not built to have a particularly large dynamic range.
Using our new dynamic
range measurement method we measured the C-3040Z's dynamic range as
(higher numbers are better except for noise):
Dynamic Range is pretty much in line with other consumer 3 megapixel digital cameras, what's really surprising here is the low noise figure, this may well have been skewed slightly by some clever in-camera noise reduction system.