Testing an Olympus Superzoom 76G
I bought the Olympus Superzoom 76G in a thrift store two weeks ago for three dollars. I usually stay away from the zoom point and shoot cameras, but this one had a short zoom range and apparently reasonably fast lens for these kinds of cameras. I have come to learn that many of the Olympus point and shoots are very good little cameras, and few are less than competent, so three dollars did not seem like much of a risk.
I can’t find a manual on-line for this model, but the Superzoom 80G/Infinity Zoom 80 model seems nearly identical (it can be found here). I was fooled at first by the duplication of names for the 80G into thinking that the Infinity Zoom 76 would be the same as the Superzoom 80G, but in fact it is very different, so unfortunately that readily available manual can’t be used. Not having exactly the right manual results in uncertainty about things like aperture and DX code ranges and so on. However, since the 80G looks identical with same controls and LED displayed icons and so on and appears to differ only in zooming an extra 4mm focal length I think it is likely that the information for that camera will be close enough for this one too.
There are some things to like about this camera including
, in no particular order:
- The non DX coded film default is ISO 100, which could be useful if you want to over-expose some colour film by one or two stops and can’t be bothered to recode the cassette – you can cover it up instead if 200 or 400 speed.
- The clamshell cover (pioneered by Olympus on the XA) that turns the camera on and off, while also protecting the taking lens, viewing lens and focus ‘lenses’ on the front.
- Focus and exposure lock (spot metering) with half press of shutter
- Batteries (one CR123A) are still easily found
And there are some things I dislike including:
- The lack of an on-line manual
- the DX coding will read film from ISO 50 to only 800, though only in full stops and without explanation of what it does for, say, ISO 160 film (presumably defaults to 200?).
- Closing the clam shell is a two-step process as the lens must first retract before it can be covered, and it is easy to forget and push it too vigorously before it is ready
- The electronic settings including flash disable are reset when the camera is turned off
The lens ranges from 38mm to 76mm, with an easily used knob next to the shutter button. At 38mm the widest aperture is f4.5, and at 76mm it is either about f6.2 (what the manual says for the Infinity Zoom 76 which may have the same lens) or around f8.9 which is what the Superzoom 80 has. Near focus is between 2.5 and 3.3 feet depending on zoom. The shutter speed information is missing for the Superzoom 80 manual and might not be the same anyway.
There are several flash modes – most importantly is the ability to disable the flash, and the ability to force the flash to fire (for in-fill). The other flash modes are red-eye reduction and a night scene mode which I never seem to use.
This camera is a pretty good performer in bright light (all that I tested), especially at 38mm but also zoomed to 76mm. It is quite simple compared to many of the other Olympus point and shoot zoom cameras – fewer controls and options and that is a blessing. The optics appear to be excellent for this kind of camera.
In general terms it is not a great lousy street camera as 38mm is not quite wide enough and has an annoying tendency to fire the flash without warning if you forget to turn it off. It is fairly quiet though there are many that are better. As with other similar cameras no one is going to think you a serious photographer if you have this thing in front of your face, so it might work as a bit of camouflage in the street.
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Olympus Superzoom76G, Fuji Superia X-TRA 400
Hey! I’m new to the film cameras and I just bought an Olympus Superzoom 76G as well at a thrift store and had a couple questions! Do you just use 35 mm film and how do you load the film in?
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Three dollars! I like the fallen petals and the chair in the corner. The outdoor photos seem very contrasty, not sure why.
Hi Lynn – thanks. Three bucks is pretty much as good as it gets. It was one of those stores where there were 5 cameras and all of them were pretty high quality but only one had a fixed focal length and it was the most expensive (7.50). The problem with it was that it takes a kind of relatively expensive battery that I don’t have. So I went for this Olympus as the other Olympus had a longer zoom range and is similar to others I already own.
I think it is a pretty good camera, the optics are at the better end for a P&S. I am not sure if the contrast is because of the way the scan was done, or if the camera lens imparts a contrasty feel to the images. I suspect it was the scan. Also, I might have added a touch of contrast in post to all the images, without then dialing it back on the ones where it doesn’t work. That happens sometimes when I am short on time. Biggest draw back on this one is lack of a manual, which is a pretty unusual circumstance with the internet providing so many.
definitely worth salvaging for $3. I like the beachcombing crow.
Hi Richard, thanks for the comment. That crow did position itself quite nicely. And the camera is worth quite a bit more than $3.
The pier shots are lovely, and remind me of the kind of work I get from my p&s Olympuses. Nobody did p&s like Olympus!
Hi Jim, thanks for the comment a few days ago, sorry for the slow response. I totally agree, Olympus pretty much ruled the roost for point and shoot. They were so consistently good, even the cheaper ones were not bad. Most other brands, with the possible exception of Canon, had some top end p&s models, but a lot of dross at the lower end. Pentax comes to mind, with a few very good cameras and way too many crappy ones. But no one ruled the design like Olympus – starting with their Pen half frames, and the superlative XA/XAn series (nearly perfect design) followed up by the wonderful mjuii/Stylus Epic (and mju/Stylus). An XA or XA2 and a mjui or mjuii are really the only point and shoot cameras that anyone needs.
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