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Design

As you can see, despite the lens barrel Olympus have managed to make the C-700 UZ look stylish and well designed. It's minimalists in design but everything is functional and where you'd expect it to be. One thing you notice (or rather, don't) is the lack of clutter on the front of the camera, there's no window for an optical viewfinder, nor is the flash visible, this leaves the camera looking very simple and "cool".

From the front the camera has an almost 4:3 ratio (how amusing is that to a shutterbug), side on it's chunky and the lens barrel "outer" does protrude a fair amount. Size wise the C-700UZ has almost identical dimensions as Nikon's Coolpix 880 (apart from the lens).

The only slightly odd thing here is the fact that the lens doesn't completely retract, there's always that little bit sticking out of the front. Never mind though because Olympus have come up with a novel lens cap which grips the inner barrel and protects it from occasional knocks.

Despite its budget price the C-700UZ is relatively well built, the whole of the front of the camera, including the lens barrel outer, are made from magnesium alloy. The back half of the camera is made from the normal heavy-duty plastic. Not many creaks except from the slightly disappointing connections and storage compartment doors (left and right of the camera respectively).

One feature which the C-700UZ has inherited from the C-2100UZ is its electronic viewfinder. This is simply a miniature LCD (0.55") with an eyepiece over it which shows the same image as the rear LCD, thus a "TTL view" just like a video camera. Probably the single biggest disadvantage is that this style of viewfinder doesn't work well in very low light situations, as it can only see what the camera's CCD sees.

Electronic viewfinders are a contentious option, you either love them or hate them. I simply consider them a better option than the normal "tunnel vision" optical viewfinder you find on other compact digital cameras.

In hand

In your hand the camera is comfortable and well balanced. The hand grip is just big enough with a nice chunky piece of rubber on the front which is a perfect hook position for the tips of your fingers. The camera is surprisingly light and as the batteries sit in the palm of your hand (they're in the grip) the camera doesn't pull to the left and feels as though you can shoot easily with one hand, though don't try that 10x zoom in anything but bright light.


Main LCD display

It may be small but the C-700 UZ's 1.5" TFT is sharp, bright and clear. It doesn't have an anti-reflective coating like we've seen on Canon's 1.5" LCD's but does have a "dark layer" coating which helps cut down reflections.

Indeed this little LCD has a 114,000 pixel count compared to 110,000 pixels of the almost standard 1.8" screen used on other digital cameras.

The C-700 UZ's LCD provides an almost unheard of 100% frame coverage, that is the edges of the frame are exactly the edges of the image which will be taken (the same of course is also true of the electronic viewfinder). When you power the camera on only the viewfinder is active, pressing the display button enables the main LCD, but for some odd reason also leaves the viewfinder powered (this must be an unnecessary drain on the battery).


Electronic Viewfinder

The C-700 UZ's is another digital camera to implement the electronic viewfinder. This is a 0.55" LCD you view through a magnifying eyepiece (just like a video camera). This (a) removes the need for a separate linked lens system for the optical viewfinder and (b) gives you a TTL view of the shot and allows other information to be overlaid. This one also features a dioptre adjustment. Note that this type of viewfinder typically doesn't work well in low light.

The view through the viewfinder is exactly the same as what is displayed on the main LCD screen. As I mentioned earlier you either love or hate electronic viewfinders, however they're definitely an improvement over the standard optical viewfinder which is often like looking down a tunnel. The viewfinder offers an impressive 100% frame coverage.


Battery Compartment

On the base of the hand grip you'll find the battery compartment door. It's the exact same design as seen on the C-3030Z/3040Z with a locking latch which must be clicked to the open position before the door will slide forward and open. The C-700 UZ will take either Olympus's CR-V3 Lithium (non-rechargeable) batteries or four AA batteries. I'd recommend a decent set of NiMH rechargeable batteries (at least 1500 mAh) and a charger.


SmartMedia Compartment

The SmartMedia Compartment door is designed as a moulded part of the hand grip (again, similar to the C-x0x0Z series). The door itself is made from plastic, although it does have a metal pin as its hinge and is better made than some I've seen recently. The SmartMedia slot is the pull out type, that is you remove the media card by gripping it and pulling. The C-700 UZ is compatible with SmartMedia cards up to 128 MB in size and is supplied with a (shameful) 8 MB card.

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