(on its way)
Why I chose this camera
After owning, and loving, my C-5060 it seemed a very reasonable upgrade to move add the extra 2 Megapixels that the almost physically identical C-7070 offered. Like the 5060 the camera offers manual everything, a 'super' macro setting for shooting from 3cm, took cheap compactflash cards and had the same connector for external strobes - so I could use my existing set.
Where I bought it and How much
I bought through Jessops during one of their sporadic price matching promotions. I like to support high street retailers and they also have an excellent all risks insurance package. I paid �369 and added the insurance for another �25. The C-7070 differs only very slightly from the 5060 but one of the significant changes is in the shape of the power switch. Thus it requires either a new case, the PT-027, or some careful work with a file! I sold my 5060 to a fellow diver and choose the new route, I paid �155 which was the going rate from most of the online suppliers and was pleased with the improvements to the case which reinforced the strobe connector and allowed the focus light to work underwater.
Likes and dislikes
After using a 5060 the 7070 feels completely familiar, aside from a change in finish - smooth gunmetal rather than black crinkle. I'm not sure I prefer the new to the old but strangely it feels warmer to the touch and I think might actually benefit underwater use as it would deter condensation. That's not too much of a worry though as like the 5060 the 7070 doesn't suffer from condensation due to the large case volume and its cool running.
The menu modes have been improved over the 5060 with the same generous supply of direct access buttons but no need to keep them held down whilst rolling the selection dial. You can choose to have the old mode back but the new one is much better for gloved and 'one free hand' use. The number of controls can still overwhelm newcomers but it's really no problem as they can work up from simple program mode to manual operation at their own pace.
Almost everything can be accessed via menus and buttons and the only 2 picky changes I would want to see in the control method are the use of the up/down keys for aperture in manual mode so that f number and shutter speed are accessible at the same time and to put manual focus on the dial rather than the up/down buttons as this would make fine adjustment much easier.
As with the 5060 the zoom lens is unusually wide. It's no alternative to a fisheye but usefully wider than the average which makes the 4x zoom very versatile. This is very useful for UK diving as you can be that bit closer for the same view as most cameras - less distance, less water, less back scatter. With the addition of two wet lenses you can cover the same range as
an SLR user with everything from a 110mm macro (for use down to the glass) to a 20mm wide angle with no gaps in between. The 67mm thread on the front port takes the standard wet lenses from several suppliers with Inon's being particularly well regarded - even offering a dome port for their wide angle which would render a true 20mm lens view.
The addition of external lenses flexibly adds the option to change views
under water and the zoom lens allows some overlap between the various modes. For example you can still zoom fully and focus up to the glass on the wide angle lens (UWL100) whilst the macro (UCL165 or UCL330) can work at all but wide angle and allow some extra working distance over the camera's own super macro mode. There is some vignetting at full wide with both lenses but since you can see it on the display there's no problem in adjusting zoom until
it's gone. Without extra lenses the 'super macro' mode stilll allows focus down to 3cm from the lens - nearly inside the case when under water! At this range focus is hard to judge for diver and camera alike and it can take bit of time to appreciate how good diving technique will make life easier for the autofocus system.
The internal flash does not work in this 'super macro' mode, not even manually like the 5060 so an external flash is a definite requirement. Once fitted the camera is an excellent macro tool. It has to be said that Olympus' macro TTL is impressive, there is generally no need for manual
flash control as it will expose perfectly no matter how close you are. In fact the strobes will still run TTL while using manual exposure allowing you to choose shutter and aperture whilst the strobes supply whatever light you need. The strobes will sync at up to 1/1600th which cuts down motion blur! Compact cameras such as this are limited to the range of apertures they can
offer (by optical diffraction) so whilst f11 is offered f8 is the recommended maximum.
After the 5060, which was an unexpectedly dramatic step over my previous camera, the pictures from the 7070 weren't initially a revelation as but I've grown to understand it the results have been very good. The lens is superb and when the auto focus locks the results are super sharp. The character of the pictures from the 7070 is pleasantly film like with more
clean detail than the 5060 at the expense of some of its aesthetically pleasing grain.
Once housed the 7070 is one of the largest compact cameras and certainly looks obvious on small UK diveboats. This is amplified when the camera is fitted with twin strobes, I made an additional hooked handgrip to allow the weight of the rig to be supported by the tray rather than hanging off the case. The tripod screw on the bottom of the case is really only for fixing
the camera to things rather than taking the strain from heavy add-ons. Although bulky there is still a gulf between this and a housed SLR in size and weight which makes this a viable option for airline travel within normal luggage - your mileage may vary but we can travel with one rig each and spares within economy baggage limits.
Battery life is remarkable, the camera will cope with a day of 4 hour long dives and 600+ pictures on a single charge. An original Olympus replacement for the big lithium battery isn't cheap but there are lots of cheap copies available online which seem to work just as well. They all take a long time (around 4 hours) to charge from flat.
Resolution: 7 Megapixels (3072x2304)
Depth rating: 40m
Weight: About 1.2kg cased + a large weight is included to stop the case floating
Lens: 27-110mm (Equivalent on 35mm film camera)
The case has a standard 1/4" Whitworth tripod mount for mounting flashes and lights, this is not particularly strong (although no worse than others) considering the heavy twin flash rig you might consider hanging from it. The lens port has a 67mm thread and there are plenty of lenses available for this fit. It's a fine thread so putting the lens back on can be tricky with cold hands or thick gloves. Olympus have continued to add underwater peripherals and there are now two cased strobes to match its housing connector, which is unique to Olympus. There is also a bulky internal wide angle lens and larger front port, results are OK but not very different from an external lens with a significant loss of flexibility.
It should be noted that this housing is a further revision over the several iterations made for the 5060 case (PT-020) after many people had problems with the flash connector on early versions. Regular checking and greasing is the order of the day here, adding a couple of 20p 'o' rings also improves matters somewhat. I haven't had any problems in hundreds of dives but the connectors aren't very strong and I have been on boats where they have been accidentally pulled out as someone rolled into the water.
Olympus are well supported by third parties:
Some charming Germans (Sales http://www.mike-dive.de/
Athena in Japan have made functionally similar flash control units to what looks like a much better standard. They also offer replacement front ports which allow bayonet mounting of wide and domed inon lenses. For macro fiends they offer an amazing port which can internally accommodate an extra 3x telephoto lens but these are very expensive and not stocked in the UK.
The 7070 can also pair with optically coupled slave strobes but bear in mind that the internal flash cannot be set to fire in super macro mode.
The 7070 is large for a compact - especially in this unfair comparison with the tiny mju770!
It captured the skin texture of this Dutch Sea Scorpion beautifully
This brown blubber jellyfish was caught in all its glowing alien glory
You can focus to 3cm normally but use full zoom too with an extra macro lens
Using RAW mode allowed more control over the highlights in this sunburst
Using a macro lens and full zoom allows more working distance from nervous subjects
Dawn says she's a technophobe but got to grips with the 7070 in no time