Essentially a 4 mega pixel digital camera with 10x optical zoom lens, the C-770 allows high-end mpeg4 quality recording at up to 30 frames per second. While it won’t replace a camcorder in terms of quality or the length of capture, the recording quality is obviously far higher than a 2.5G/3G mobile or that the average webcam can muster. Being able to record sound is a bonus and in .WAV (Wave) format no less, but it’s not easy to pick up a clear recording - especially in outdoor conditions.

The 10x optical zoom is equivalent to 38-380mm on a 35mm camera, with two aspherical lenses to help reduce distortion. It lets you bring distant objects closer and permits macro focusing from just 3cm away, but using the zoom has dramatic effects on quality, especially if you plan to manipulate later via photo editing software. Luckily, there is a seamless 4 x digital zoom for those special shots- ideal for anything going on the web.

The C-770 is easy to master and quick to pick up and shoot with. While loaded with helpful pre-sets for both stills and movies, it is not without manual tweaks. The six scene programs are rudimentary, but the aperture and shutter settings can be switched to manual. There is also a hot shoe for an additional flashgun (not included).

There is good use of icons on the viewfinder screen- ideal for powering up and taking that all-important snap as quickly as possible. As expected from Olympus, all the required cables are included and the high quality flat bed charger, remote control and 128MB picture card are the standard issue type.

The C-770 is PictBridge compliant, meaning you can send images direct to the printer, as well as to a PC or Apple Mac via 2.0 USB. With the picture quality of MPEG4 being so high, Olympus claim excellent results on playback via TV, even at full picture size.

Olympus has included its standard CAMEDIA Master 4.2 SE software and to push the video side of the camera Ulead VideoStudio7 SE Basic is also included to help transfer the data to a PC or Mac, with a little bit of editing possible via the VideoStudio software.

Verdict

For a mid-range camera, with the added MPEG feature, it's well priced and extremely well made. For beginners, it's easy to use and the layout will be familiar to anyone who has laid their hands on the Olympus range before. For the semi-professional or those looking for that second digital camera, there is the option to experiment a little more with shots but not enough to warrant the extra spend.

On the downside, not all printers support PictBridge- one of the unique selling points of the camera. The MPEG4 is of little use to professionals, although it can help thicken out a business presentation, looks good on both the viewfinder and a TV and with the industry pushing MPEG4 personal media players so hard don't count it out just yet- the C-770 may just be ahead of its time.

Overall you can't fault the C-770 for fulfilling the design brief. It's a good all rounder for the snapper who doesn't want to lug around a camcorder too. Therefore it's rightly billed as the flagship model in the ultra zoom range.