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Image Processing: Sharpening / Contrast

Just as with the rest of the 2001 generation of Olympus digital cameras we now have separate control over Sharpening and Contrast. On older Olympus digital cameras these two settings used to be tied together in the Sharpening setting, thankfully we now have control over the two independently. Both settings adjust the post-processing algorithms applied to the image before it is saved to the SmartMedia card.

Sharpening (Normal Contrast)

Hard Sharpening Normal Sharpening Soft sharpening

Contrast (Normal Sharpening)

High Contrast Normal Contrast Low Contrast

If you don't mind (or are inclined to) post-processing your images the Low Contrast / Normal (or Low) Sharpening seem to be the best option, Low Contrast appears to maintain the most image information (especially shadow detail) and produce the "flattest" most natural image, although this won't be to everyone's taste.


Aperture Priority (A)

Aperture priority is where you designate the aperture and the camera calculates the best shutter speed. 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). As you adjust the aperture the camera immediately reflects this change in the image on the LCD screen.

The C-700UZ offers a fairly good range of apertures (limited by the max aperture of the lens):

  • Wide: F2.8, F3.2, F3.6, F4.0, F4.5, F5.0, F5.6, F6.3, F7.0, F8.0
  • Tele: F3.5, F4.0, F4.5, F5.0, F5.6, F6.3, F7.0, F8.0

Aperture priority is available in the manual exposure mode (marked A/S/M on the exposure dial), you have to ensure you have selected mode "A" from the menu, apertures are selected by pressing the up/down arrow on the 4-way keypad. A basic example of the use of aperture priority to control depth of field is shown below:

F3.6, 1/25 sec, medium depth of field F8.0, 1/5 sec, large depth of field


Shutter Priority (S) / Manual Exposure (M)

Shutter priority is where you designate the shutter speed and the camera calculates the correct aperture. Shutter priority is available in the manual exposure mode (marked A/S/M on the exposure dial), you have to ensure you have selected mode "S" from the menu, shutter speeds are selected by pressing the up/down arrow on the 4-way keypad. These are the available shutter speeds:

  • 1/2, 1/2.5, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 1/10, 1/13, 1/15, 1/20, 1/25, 1/30, 1/40, 1/50, 1/60, 1/80, 1/100, 1/125, 1/160, 1/200, 1/250, 1/320, 1/400, 1/500, 1/650, 1/800, 1/1000 sec

Additionally in Manual Exposure mode (mode "M" from the menu) there are even slower shutter speeds available:

  • 16, 13, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3.2, 2.5, 2, 1.6, 1.3, 1, 1/1.3, 1/1.6 sec


Macro Focus

The C-700UZ's macro focus mode turned out to be relatively good for such a long zoom lens. We found the optimum focus / frame coverage position to be at about one third zoom where we could achieve 58 mm (2.3 in) frame coverage.


White Balance Fine Tune

A feature we first saw on Nikon's Coolpix 990 has now been implemented (thankfully) on the C-700UZ. This feature allows you to adjust the pre-programmed (or Auto) white balance by seven levels towards blue (cooler white balance) and seven levels towards red (warmer white balance). This feature is ideal for setting up a consistent white balance under known lighting conditions. It's a shame that the fine tuning isn't remembered against the individual white balance setting, but all the same it's a very welcome addition.

+7 (blue) +6 (blue) +5 (blue) +4 (blue) +3 (blue)
+2 (blue) +1 (blue) +/- 0 (normal) -1 (red) -2 (red)
-3 (red) -4 (red) -5 (red) -6 (red) -7 (red)
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