The Olympus C-750 digital camera was the best buy for many medium level business, professional, and hobby uses. The camera was replaced by slightly improved models with similar model numbers. Here are reasons why you should look at the camera and consider buying, or not buying, a descendant of the C-750.
The first thing you need in a digital camera is the right resolution. High resolution costs money. Low resolution makes the images useless. Current resolutions range from 1 Megapixel (1 Meg or 1 Mp) up to 8 Megapixel. Here is a rough guide to what you need.
Postage stamp pictures. You might use them to teach a photography student that low resolution digital photography is a waste of time. You can take an 800*600 pixel Web image using a 1Megapixel camera.
A 1280*1024 pixel image requires at least 1.3 Megapixels. Images this size are good enough to present in a projected slide show or on a notebook computer. Some mobile telephones claim to produce this resolution but they actually destroy the resolution with JPEG compression and other faults.
2 Megapixel digital images replace those small Polaroid prints used for stock control and by car smash repairers. You can use this size camera to fill a 1600 * 1200 pixel screen. The images produce prints big enough to teach photography to a serious student.
There is not enough spare resolution to reformat the image as reformatting usually cuts the quality in half. When you want to transform an image and end up with a quality 2 Megapixel image, start with an image of at least 4 Megapixels.
4 Megapixel digital images replace the common 10cm * 15cm (4" * 6") prints and are big enough to use on book covers. A 4 Megapixel image can be used on a magazine cover if the image does not have to spread behind the magazine title.
6 Megapixel digital images fills a magazine cover including the space behind the magazine title. Based on experience, 6 Megapixels replaces medium quality 35 mm film.
If you have $42,000, you can buy a 22 Megapixel camera. One day we will have reasonably priced 20 Megapixel digital cameras to replace medium quality large format cameras. We will need about 30 Megapixel cameras to replace the best quality 70mm (2 ¼") cameras using the 6*7 format.
I chose 4 Megapixels because it covers current high resolution digital displays, gives me the extra quality margin so I can reconfigure images before display, and because the Olympus C-750 is the smallest digital camera that gives me the right range of lenses.
I keep my water proof 35 mm camera for the occasional shot while swimming and have access to a standard 35 mm camera when I want high quality prints. If I did not have the other cameras, I would have purchased a 6 or more Megapixel digital camera.
You might choose another size. You might also choose two sizes, with a small pocket camera for recording work-related items, and a larger camera for family portraits.
I am used to a 35 mm camera with telephoto lenses up to 600 mm. You can get that with a small number of digital SLR cameras. My Olympus C-750 reaches that range when I use the built in zoom lens set to maximum length and add an Olympus TCON-17 tele converter.
Digital images are formed using silicon chips from the size of 35 mm film images down to less that one quarter of that size. The varying sizes of the silicon chips means the range printed on the lens of a digital camera may not be the equivalent of a 35 mm camera. Manufacturers often publish both figures.
Olympus state their C-750 has
Focal length 6.3 – 63mm (equivalent to 38 – 380mm lens in 35mm format)
The 6.3 – 63mm is meaningless to me because I think in 35 mm terms. You cannot use this range to compare this camera to other cameras because other cameras may have a different size silicon chip.
The 38 – 380mm part means something to almost everyone because they can compare it to existing cameras. 38 mm is wide enough to photograph a group of people indoors. The 380 mm end of the zoom range will pick up your son or daughter at the other side of a football field.
600 mm with give you a close up of your daughter's/son's face when he/she kicks a goal from the other side of the football field. The TCON-17 converter multiplies 380 mm out to 646 mm.
The WCON-07 divides 38 mm down to 26.6, which lets you photograph a lot of people in a small room. I used to use the occasional 28 mm lens so 26.6 mm is enough for me.
A professional photographer of interiors, in his role of site locater for movies, said he often needs a 24 mm lens to photograph tight spots. That would require a WCON-06 but there is no such thing. The pro will have to buy a more expensive digital camera.
Fish eye lenses are 14 mm and are close to useless as they distort images beyond practical use. To convert the C-750 to 14 mm, you would require a WCON-03, something totally impractical judging by the C-750 lens construction.
The Olympus C-750 with TCON-17 and WCON-07 covers the full range that I need. If you need really wide angle lenses, look at other models in the Olympus range.
For most people, the built in 10x zoom range of the C-750 is adequate. If you need long lenses, the TCON-17 is far more affordable than long SLR lenses. If you need wide angle for professional use and the WCON-07 is not enough, you need a Canon 300D at three times the price of the Olympus C-750.
If you photograph only bent panels in a car repair place, get a smaller lighter Olympus camera with only a 3x zoom range. The C-350 is perfect.
Electronic devices always run out of power when you most need them. The Olympus C-750 runs on 4 ordinary AA alkaline batteries which are available everywhere in the world. In an emergency you can buy 4 AA alkaline batteries in the local shop for AU$4.00. When you have time to plan ahead, you can buy multiple sets of 4 AA rechargeable NM (NMHD or Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries for AU$20.00 each.
If you were stuck with a Canon 300D, you would have to locate a camera shop and pay AU$155.95 for each extra battery. You might be lucky, when shopping ahead, to get the battery discounted to AU$119. The C-750's $20 batteries sound better to me.
Two AA batteries will power a film camera through a roll of 36 shots complete with full flash on every shot. The LCD display on the back of a digital camera doubles your power usage so you need four AA batteries instead of two. Even with 4 batteries, the C-750 is a little bit slow compared to a film camera with 2 AA batteries.
Lithium batteries provide up to twice the power of alkaline batteries but cost up to six times the price. Rechargeable Lithium batteries provide up to twice the power of rechargeable NM batteries but again cost up to six times the price (or 8 times the price in the case of the Canon 300D battery). Refuse to buy any Lithium battery that costs more than twice the price of the equivalent NM battery.
I carry 5 sets of batteries on a country trip. That is AU$100 for the Olympus versus AU$600 for the Canon. If the trip is for more than a couple of days, I take a mains powered charger so I can recharge batteries overnight. I might take 10 shots of a scene and, in a one hour drive, photograph 3 scenes. That uses one set of batteries. A five hour drive means I use up to 5 sets of batteries.
If you take only one shot per day, the cost of batteries is irrelevant. The real beauty of digital is that you can take many shots then select from the shots back at your computer. To take many shots, you need batteries. Allow between one and three sets of batteries per day on your next trip. Refuse to buy cameras that require batteries that are available only in camera shops.
You need lots of memory. Those wonderful figures you see quoted in the advertisements are based on images crushed to death by JPEG compression.
Compact Flash Memory Cards
CF (Compact Flash) memory cards have the largest large capacity at 8192 MB. The Olympus xD cards are limited to 512 MB. I prefer to use a number of small cards instead of one large card because, out in the field, it is easier to keep track of images on the smaller cards.
CF cards have the lowest cost. The xD cards cost almost double but are physically smaller. You can fit four xD cards in the space of one CF card. That means I can fit 2048 MB of xD in the same space as of 2048 MB of CF. Both cards are so small that their size does not matter compared to the size of the camera.
The smaller xD cards also mean smaller, lighter cameras. Medium and high resolution digital cameras are too heavy. Anything that makes them lighter is a good thing.
SD Memory Cards
SD memory cards are cheaper than xD cards. The two types of card are almost identical. There was never any reason for Olympus to develop the xD card. SD cards are easier to buy and several notebook computers already have SD slots built in.
I use between up to five rolls of film per day while travelling to new places. If I am unlikely to return, I use more film. If the place is visually interesting or dramatic, I use more film. When shooting digitally, I am free to take many more shots and chose the best later. That means I plan to buy lots of memory. My first choice was to use CF cards for their large capacity and low cost. I chose the xD card based camera because it was smaller and lighter than CF based cameras. Now that notebook computers have SD slots built in, SD is the better choice.
You will need extra batteries before you need extra memory cards so choose low cost batteries ahead low cost memory cards.
If you take only one shot per day, the cost of memory is irrelevant. The real beauty of digital is that you can take many shots then select from the shots back at your computer. To take many shots, you need heaps of memory. A 256 MB card is approximately the equivalent of the standard 24 shot roll of 35 mm film and the 512 MB card replaces the 36 shot roll of 35 mm film.
Olympus offer iESP and spot metering on their C-750 and other cameras. Does it work? Should you trust is? Here are some of my test results. Read more about Olympus iESP.
The Olympus C750 is too slow for photographing children jumping on trampolines and is fast enough for everything else I do during the day. People with young children should buy a faster camera. The autofocus is useless in low light so, if like me, you photograph in low light, get a camera with an easy manual override of focus. Get a camera with AA batteries and the faster, cheaper SD memory cards.