Olympus Digital 740 All-weather review

Price when reviewed

Compact digital cameras

Olympus  Digital 740 All-weather review

With huge TFTs, underwater capabilities and high resolutions for under £200, now is the time to buy

These days, there’s little point in spending more than £200 on a compact digital camera. You can buy a decent 6.1-megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom for just £144, and the shutter lag associated with older cameras is all but gone. All the cameras here let you shoot great macro photos and take TV-quality movies with audio, as well as prevent blurred pictures thanks to the super-high ISO settings now on offer. Plus, all five here have large TFTs (the Ixus 65 has a huge 3in display), which make it easier than ever to frame shots and check focus.

Olympus Digital 740

The Olympus Digital 740 is the most expensive camera here, but boasts a 5x optical zoom – equivalent to 36-180mm in 35mm terms. Yet, it shares a similarly thin body to the Digital 700 – just 16mm thick at the left-hand side – and weighs only 130g. You can choose from silver, blue and red models too.

With a 7-megapixel CCD, maximum resolution is 3,072 x 2,304. Movies with sound can be shot at 640 x 480 at 15fps. Burst shooting offers a choice of 0.9fps at maximum resolution or 3.2fps at 2,048 x 1,536.

An anti-shake mode graces the dial at the rear, just like the 700, boosting the ISO to 800 or 1,600 to avoid blur in low light. It works too, but inevitably results in a noisier image. The body is “weather” resistant, but you can’t use it underwater.

On the rear is a 2.5in LCD, which isn’t the highest resolution or most responsive we’ve seen. Also, the tiny buttons on the rear are difficult to use unless you have correspondingly tiny fingers. 17MB of internal memory can be augmented using xD-Picture cards, and capacities are now starting to ramp up – you can buy a 2GB card for around £45.

Image quality proved disappointing compared to the Canon. Not only were low-light shots plagued with noise, but a hefty amount of blurring in the corners of images is the trade-off for the longer zoom. In super-macro mode, the Olympus couldn’t focus any closer than the rest here. And, with no speaker, you can’t listen to the audio from movies on the camera itself.

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