Olympus C-5060 a High Caliber Shooter
By Jim Bray
Digital cameras have come a long way since the first affordable consumer
models offered about as much flexibility and quality as an old style Instamatic.
Take the Olympus C-5060 for example. This is a fine camera that offers
fine performance and which has an overall feel that reeks of quality and
professionalism. In short, other than a couple of minor quibbles, this
is a nice camera that's deserving of consideration for those shopping in
this price point.
That price point is $700 US ($1000 Canadian), by no means the lower end
of the market but by no means near the top, either.
Speaking of high end, for those who think this cameras price is
steep, Olympus - and others - offer much higher end digital cameras aimed
at the professional photographer and, while Id give my eye teeth
to try some of them (Olympus gorgeous E-1 for example), for my own
personal use something like the C-5060 is just fine, thank you.
Fine indeed. Ive played with quite a few digital cameras over the
years and while Ive liked a good many of them, this Olympus is my
favorite so far, not only for its perfornace and features, but for more
subtle aspects such as feel, comfort and the like.
Olympus has done a nice job here.
One complaint I have with many digital cameras is that they place the
LCD monitor screen right where my nose tends to hit it when Im peering
through the optical viewfinder, causing endless smudges on the screen.
Not a big deal, perhaps, but its one of those little intangibles
that translate into overall enjoyment of a product.
This Olympus solves that in one swell foop. Theyve put the LCD viewfinder/monitor
in the same place as usual, but on an extremely flexible mount that lets
you either turn it inward to face the camera (preventing nose prints and
protecting the screen from scratches and other damage), or flip it upward
above the camera body facing either direction. So you not only get
protection and convenience, you can also monitor the shot even if youre
in it (provided you arent too far away, of course this isnt
a Big Screen TV here!) or make unusually-angled shots while still being
able to monitor them.
I used the latter feature to take some photos of my wifes quilting,
which shed laid out on our dining room table. Thanks to the swiveling
LCD, I could hold the camera in front of me, shooting downwards at the
table top, lining the shot up with the LCD at 90 degrees from the camera
body. It worked well.
A small thing, but its the little things that make the difference
between a good product and a great one. And it's just one of the things
that made me really like this camera - and hope that Olympus would somehow
forget I had it
Okay, on to the bigger stuff.
The Camedia C-5060 Wide Zoom, to call it by the full name
that appears on its front, is a high performance, 5.1 megapixel unit that
sports a 4x wide angle zoom lens offering equivalent coverage of 27 to
110 mm. It features a rugged black magnesium alloy case thats larger
than many of todays digital cameras but which is still smaller than
the conventional, film-based 35mm SLR camera with which I cut my photographic
teeth. It wont fit into the average shirt pocket, but that never
bothered me. And the case seems tough enough to stand up to everyday use.
The C-5060 is loaded with automatic settings, and also offers full manual
control for those who want it. And Olympus claims the camera is one of
the fastest digital cameras available. They claim a startup time (from
when you first turn it on via its unfortunately-located power switch) of
three seconds and a release time lag (including the time it takes to auto
focus) of 0.4 sec. in wide angle, focus position from 80cm to infinity.
I never timed this, of course, and never needed it to be that quick, but
I no reason to disbelieve the claim.
Its quick in other ways, too. According to Olympus' press materials
you can, for example, capture a friends bungee jump (Does anyone
do this any more? I tried it once and it was a hoot, but that was quite
a few orbits of the Earth around the sun ago), from a zoom photo
of the friend seconds before the jump, to a wide-angle shot showing him,
the harrowingly deep gorge and the spectators waiting expectantly below. You
should also be able to zoom in onto the pile of goo that was your friend
until the bungee cord broke
Talk about making snap photographic decisions!
The C-5060 also offers a high speed sequence shooting mode of three frames
This camera will probably scare off a lot of amateur shooters who may
be intimidated just by looking at the array of knobs, buttons and gewgaws
it has, but if youre up for a little adventure, you can have a lot
of fun and get some very nice shots in the process if you
take the time to learn its ins and outs. Ive merely scratched the
surface as I write this and look forward to honing my comfort level with
the camera before it has to go back.
That said, if you just leave it on Programmed Automatic mode, youll
get some very nice shots that are basically point and shoot easy, though
of course you wont be stretching the cameras legs either.
And there are plenty of advanced settings for stretching said legs, including
controls for aperture priority and shutter priority. A mode dial
lets you access a number of quick settings for various shooting
situations when you dont have time to pore over the details yourself.
For example, you can access automatic exposures for such things as night
shooting, portraits, landscape portraits (sounds like a page
layout oxymoron doesnt it?), sports, and the like. Programmable My
Mode settings let you store frequently used settings into the C-5060,
a nice bit of automatic flexibility.
You get good wide angle performance, starting with a focal length of 27mm
and the 4x optical zoom lets you get pretty close to the actoin. Olympus
says its optical elements avoid cornershading (where the image quality
drops off near the edges), ensuring that light hits the cameras sensor
at the right angle.
Rather than beat you over the head with paragraphs and paragraphs of
descriptions, heres a list of the C-5060s main features, as
outlined by the manufacturer:
fast startup time (3 sec.) and short shutter release time lag of
0.4 sec. (including AF time in wide angle, focus position from 80cm to
5.1 megapixel capability for images up to 2592 x 1944
High speed sequence shooting: three frames per second in HQ mode
4x optical zoom (equiv. 27 110mm, f2.84.8)
Multi-angle high resolution LCD monitor
Programme, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Full Manual mode
6 scene programmes (normal, portrait, night scene, landscape, landscape
with portrait, sports)
Dual AF (auto focus) system
Movie and sound recording functions
Saves to xD-Picture Card, Compact Flash and Microdrive (and itll
accept both media cards at the same time!)
Variety of newly-developed accessories are available, including a direct
filter mount and bayonet mount conversion lens system
JPEG, TIFF and RAW image formats
Fully adjustable 1.8-inch color LCD tilts 180° and rotates 230°
3.0 frames/second burst in RAW or JPEG to 4 frames
1.4 frames/second burst in HQ up to 10 frames
Auto Exposure Bracketing, 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV and 1 EV, 3 or 5 images
iESP multi-pattern AF with Spot AF, Selective Spot AF, Full time AF and
Manual focus (with gauge and LCD enlarged view) modes.
Macro focus and Super Macro focus down to one inch!
Digital iESP multi-pattern, Spot and Multi-point Spot metering modes.
Program AE, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority or full Manual
Shutter speeds from 16 secs to 1/4000 sec in Manual mode.
Noise Reduction minimizes background noise so you get high-quality images
even in low-light situations
Sharpness, Contrast and Saturation is adjustable +/- 5 steps
Sepia mode, black & white mode, blackboard mode or whiteboard mode
ISO sensitivity: 80, 100, 200, 400 or AUTO
White balance: 8 presets (4 fluorescent) and one-touch custom
Built-in flash with Auto, Fill, Red-eye reduction and Slow-sync modes
640x480, 320x240 QuickTime movies w/audio at 15 fps
Storage Class USB connectivity insures quick and simple image downloads
to Windows XP, Me, 2000 or Mac OS 8.6+ computers
High-capacity Li-ion battery and charger included
The hot shoe lets you connect an external flash without cables (not a
new feature for cameras, but certainly welcome), and Olympus sells a couple
of flashes that work with the camera to give you through the lens metering.
Amateurs probably wont care about this, but those whose shooting
needs are higher end may appreciate it.
Other features include adjustable white balance, auto bracketing and exposure
compensation, as well as noise reduction and optimum image enlargements
modes. You can also get an adapter that lets you use optional zoom and/or
wide angle lenses with the camera. And a remote control, also optional,
lets you get in the action and make good use of that remarkably flexible
Quibbles? Of course! But nothing major. I thought the power switch was
poorly located (right below and too close to the mode dial), though on
the other hand its easy to find and use by feel. It isnt nearly
as easy to turn off as it is to turn on, however.
And when you turn the camera on, the lens zips out from its rest position
and this means that if you haven't yet removed the lens cover (yeah, you
should have taken it off by them, but sometimes one can forget such things)
you may lose it because it falls off the lens at that point and
if youre on the run after a shot you may never find it again. Perhaps
a handy little strap could be used on subsequent upgrades.
But those are pretty nit picky points. Overall, this Olympus had me in
love with it within minutes of unpacking it from the box.
You can buy cheaper cameras, but if youre serious about your digital
shots, this is a camera that deserves to be on your list of potential choices.