Overall Image Quality

The C-2100UZ performs pretty much as we'd expect a 2 megapixel digital camera. That is the images are of equal or slightly better quality than 2 megapixel cameras already on the market (such as the C-2020Z). Obviously the big advantage of the C-2100UZ is the ten times zoom, add this into the equation and the camera really starts to make sense.

Colour balance is good (Olympus have always been known for good colour), white balance is accurate and where it's not you have presets to fall back on. Resolution is there, and it's as good as the best 2 megapixel cameras we've tested (more of that later in this section).

There are a few problems though, I really don't like the sharpening algorithm, it's too harsh and there's no in-between the normal sharpening and low sharpening (more of this below). There are also visible chromatic aberrations mostly at long focal lengths.

Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

The C-2100UZ does quite well at moderate focal lengths with hardly any visible chromatic aberrations, but as we've found previously with these compact "video type" zoom lenses there will be some chromatic aberrations at long focal lengths. The first sample below was at full optical zoom and as you can see there's been a shift in the blue channel image to produce this visible aberration.

Some visible chromatic aberrations in long focal length zoom shots.
Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot.

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

There's quite noticeable barrel distortion at the wide angle end of zoom but, even at full tele there's hardly any visible pincushion distortion which is impressive considering the length of the zoom.

Barrel Distortion, 1.25% @ Wide Angle Pincushion Distortion, 0.1% @ Full Tele

White Balance

On the whole the C-2100UZ's Auto White Balance seems to work quite well, even under difficult light such as strong incandescent (somewhere where automatic white balance normally fails). Unfortunately this isn't the whole story, under those circumstances where you can't get a good white balance with either Auto or one of the four presets you'll have no option but to colour correct the image later as there's no manual preset option.

Daylight: Auto White Balance Daylight: Cloudy White Balance
Incandescent: Auto White Balance Incandescent: Incandescent White Balance
Incandescent: Auto White Balance Incandescent: Incandescent White Balance

Night / Long Exposures

The C-2100UZ has a dedicated night scene mode under the "S-Prg" exposure presets, this mode appears to dynamically select a high sensitivity (greater than ISO 200) and a medium length shutter speed to reduce the effects of "stuck pixels"... This works to a certain degree, however it does introduce amplified noise which would not otherwise be visible, it also noticeably overexposed most night shots I took, I had to use a -1.3EV compensation to correct. I personally preferred to shoot in manual mode which will give much finer control over the exposure.

S-Prg: Night Scene, ISO 236, F2.8, 4 secs (-1.3 EV compensation)
Manual, ISO 100, F2.8, 5 secs

Dynamic Range

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-2100UZ's dynamic range as: (Higher numbers are better except for noise)

Camera ISO Noise Range Bits Density dB

Olympus C-2100UZ


100* 0.17 440:1 8.8 2.6D 53
100 0.16 345:1 8.5 2.5D 51
200 0.24 201:1 7.7 2.3D 46
400 0.46 119:1 6.9 2.1D 42

* In-camera sharpening disabled

Fairly impressive results for a 2 megapixel sensor system, delivering at least as much dynamic range as todays 3 megapixel digital cameras, Olympus obviously took care to get the most they could from the 2 megapixel sensor...