Olympus C-5500 Sport zoom
The Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom is for people who want more
than just the basics in a digital camera, but without going to extremes.
Itās for those who want more than the standard 3X optical zoom but
donāt want to shlep around a camera with a huge zoom lens barrel.
Itās for those who want to quickly snap pictures, but also play
with manual controls without having to spend hours pouring through
the manual. Itās for those who want speed, a great macro function,
the ability to take good movie clips, and also enough resolution
for large prints. And letās have all of this for a decent price,
say US$350 or less.
listened, as always, and the result is the C-5500 Sport Zoom.
a 5.1 megapixel camera, and that is plenty enough even for very
large prints. Sure, you can now get a camera with 6, 8, 10 or even
more megapixel resolution, but weāre aiming for balance here.
Sport Zoom has a gratifyingly large 5X optical zoom thatās the equivalent
of a 38-190mm conventional lens. 5X gets you significantly closer
than the common 3X magnification found in most digicams. There are
cameras out there with 10X and 12X optical zoom, but they usually
have large lens barrels that make the camera bulky. The C5500ās
5X lens, on the other hand, retreats completely inside the camera
body when power is off. Turn power on, and the lens motors out between
an inch and an inch-and-a-half, depending on the zoom. If 5X is
not enough, you can seamlessly combine that with a 4X digital zoom
for up to 20X total zoom capability. As is always the case with
digital zooms, image quality suffers a bit and itās best to use
a tripod, but even at maximum magnification you still get good pictures.
C-5500 has two macro modes, The standard macro lets you get as close
as 3.2 inches and still use the optical zoom to get it just right.
In Super Macro mode you can get as close as 0.8 inches for ultra
close-ups. The zoom canāt be used in that mode, but itās not needed
anyway. Between the powerful optical zoom and the equally power
Super Macro mode, you have an amazing range. Nothing is ever too
far away or too close for this camera. I quickly came to love this
feature. It really adds to the enjoyment of taking pictures in just
about any situation.
since this is Olympus, one of the undisputed leaders in the digital
camera field, the C-5500 doesnāt just stop with its exceptional
zoom and macro. Like the competition, Olympus has its own exclusive
electronic wizardry to suppress noise, boost image definition, and
deliver sharper and clearer pictures. Itās called TruePic TURBO
and it works.
is also an ćanti-shakeä function when shooting movies. Almost all
dedicated video cameras have that, but it is not that common in
digital cameras. The C-5500 also records movies at a full 30 frames
per second for lifelike quality. Unfortunately, movies can only
be recorded in 320x240 pixel format, which is disappointing as 640x480
is becoming the norm.
cool feature is the way the cameraās ten scene modes are presented.
Most cameras have scene modes these days÷special settings that work
well in certain situations÷but they are usually represented by goofy
icons. The C-5500, on the other hand, illustrates each scene mode
with a representative and very high resolution picture on the cameraās
large 2-inch LCD. No big deal, but it shows that Olympus cares about
little details such as this.
speaking of the LCD, Olympus digicams are not generally known for
large LCDs, so the 2-inch, 110,000 pixel display was a pleasant
surprise. There are smaller cameras out there with larger displays,
but 2 inches is large enough to actually see the picture and also
details when you zoom in. The display is very bright indoors and
stays reasonably readable outdoors. In bright sunlight you might
have to resort to the optical viewfinder though (and hope it works
with your eyes as there is no diopter adjustment).
terms of size and appearance, the C-5500 falls somewhere inbetween
the small compact cameras you can stick in your pocket and the larger
ones that you need a special bag for. It measures 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9inches
and weighs about 9 ounces without batteries. The plastic body feels
very sturdy and has a nice silvery metallic finish. Like many cameras
in this size range, the C-5500 has a ćpower bulgeä on the right
side. It houses four AA batteries and makes it easy to hold the
camera in the palm of your hand (if youāre right-handed, that is).
I like having 4 AA batteries because they provide good battery life
and you can use either alkalines or rechargeables.
an ergonomic point of view, the C-5500 is good but not great. Iāve
recently reviewed several cameras where all controls were within
perfect reach of my thumb and index finger. Thatās not the case
with this camera, but the controls are good enough. One thing I
donāt like is having the zoom as a ring around the shutter because
that way you can either operate the zoom or press the shutter, but
not both. I prefer separate controls where the zoom is handled with
the thumb. Another criticism concerns the flash. It is very small
and you need to pop it up by manually pushing a button before you
can use it. Inevitably, youāll forget to pop it up and thus will
miss some shots where you need the flash.
all current Olympus consumer cameras except for a couple of the
high end models, the Sport Zoom uses xD-Picture cards for storage.
If you already have invested in CompactFlash or SD cards youāre
out of luck and have to buy a good-sized xD-Picture card. The C-5500
comes with a 16MB card, but that is nowhere near enough for a modern
|Model-Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom
Sensor res-5.1 megapixels
Image dimensions-2592x1944 down
ISO-80 to 400 or auto
Lens-F:2.8-8.0 5X opt./4X digital
Lens focal length-7.9-39.5 mm (38-190mm
Shutter-1/1500 to 15 seconds
Exposure compensation-+/- 2.0 EV
in 1/3 EV steps
Storage-xD-Picture Card (16MB incl.)
Focus-CCD contrast detection
LCD screen-2.0 inch TFT (110k pixels)
Flash modes-3 modes, up to 12.5
Viewfinder-optical real-image zoom
Weight-8.9 ounces w/o battery or
Dimensions-4.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 inches
Included-Master software, cables,
the field, the Sport Zoom is a very pleasant companion. Even though
it has to motor out the lens, it starts up very quickly. Auto focus
is generally quick, there is virtually no shutter lag, and the camera
recycles quickly between pictures. In automatic mode, you simply
set your preferred resolution and JPEG compression, and then point
and shoot. Macro and flash have their dedicated buttons which cycle
through the options. In the more advanced modes (Program, Shutter
and Aperture Priority and Manual) you have fairly extensive menu
control over settings. Those used to Olympus on-screen menus will
feel right at home. Those new to Olympus will need a bit of practice.
I also recommend perusing the very good 200 page manual that comes
in PDF form on a CD.
picture with this camera is sheer pleasure. Nothing ever seems too
far away or too close. A special ćDirect Histogramä function provides
real-time access to exposure information. Red and blue highlights
show over- and under-exposed areas, making it easy to correct even
before you take a shot. The macro and super macro works so well
that you can get addicted to taking extreme closeups of all sorts
of things. The only problem you encounter here is in dim lighting
conditions where the auto focus illuminator beam will shoot right
by a very close object so that the camera has a hard time focusing.
playback mode you can zoom in up to 5X in five steps, and pan around
in very small steps (42 x 32 steps in maximum zoom). You can also
trim and resize pictures, get rid of the dreaded redeye syndrome,
and add up to four seconds of sound to each picture.
I really like this camera. For not much money you get a high quality
Olympus product with a terrific lens and the kind of flexibility
that makes a camera a pleasure to use. And thanks to its manual
modes, the C-5500 is equally well suited for beginners as for more