Olympus C-60 Zoom

Some camera companies seem to end up favoring one particular body design over all others, with those designs ending up being the most liked and most successful over time. With Olympus, this is the C-XXXX series. But their compact models, such at the C-60 I am reviewing here, have an air of oversimplification to them that make them somewhat unsatisfying to anyone with pretensions to making interesting photographic images. This body style and user interface is not bad, exactly, just sort of dumbed-down for mass appeal. Whether or not it appeals to you depends on just how mass-market you feel your photographic needs are.

Resembling nothing more than a super-sized version of their Stylus film and digital cameras, the C-60 is done up in an attractive brushed metal body with a solid feel to it. Corners and projections are rounded and beveled to be pocket friendly, and controls are kept to the bare minimum. There is considerable power under the hood, but it is all buried in quirky menus and multi-icon buttons. You can get used to accessing all this camera has to offer you, but it is somewhat less intuitive than comparable models from other camera makers.

Viewed as a straight point-and-shoot digicam, the Cų60 has all the hallmarks of a winner: a reasonably fast f2,8 3X (38mm-114mm equivalent) zoom, a 4X „seamlessš digital zoom option, bright daylight-readable display, built-in lens cover/power switch, optical viewfinder, 320x240 15fps movie mode, decent battery life, effective scene modes, multi-point metering and spot metering. On full-auto, you can hand it over to anyone with a pulse, show them where the shutter button is, and they will take a decent picture of you and your latest Iraqi torture subject.

Going beyond these desirable basics, Olympus has thrown in some pleasant surprises: uncompressed TIFF files, a wireless remote, programmable „My Modeš user settings, exposure autobracketing, and a smooth 64 ISO sensitivity setting.

Model-Olympus C-60 Zoom
List price-US$449
Sensor res-6.1 megapixels
Image dimensions-2816x2112 down to 640x480
ISO-64/100/200/400 or auto
Lens focal length-7.8-23.4 mm (38-114mm equiv.)
Shutter-1/1000 to 4 seconds
Exposure compensation-+/- 2.0 EV in 1/3 EV increments
Storage-xD Card (32MB incl.)
Focus-TTL contrast/spot AF
LCD screen-1.8 inch semitransmissive (134k)
Flash modes-6 modes
Battery-LI-10B Lithium-Ion
Weight-7.0 ounces w/o batteries
Dimensions-3.9 x 2.22 x 1.6 inches
Included-Camedia, strap, cables, remote

The C-60 is Oly‚s first 6-megapixel model, using the latest CCD imager that is found is several other cams of very recent vintage. As I always like to remind readers of my reviews, image quality is not determined solely by the number is pixels in the final file. If the imager is very small (as this one is) and you pack too many pixels on it, they bleed their voltage into each other and create chromatic distortions sometime referred to as „purple fringing.š Did you see any other recent Mars surface images? That camera has a one-megapixel imager but it is quite large. Each photosite (the technical name for the pixel „wellsš in the imager) holds more information about the particular spot of reflected light it is capturing. That‚s why digital SLR pro cameras are so big and bulky; they‚re imagers are several times larger than the ones used in consumer-cams. Larger optics are required to throw a circle of light larger enough to strike all the photosites. In photography, bigger is always better ų unless you have to carry the thing around the zoo all day while your kids alternate between hanging all over you and trying climb into the orangutan cage. The C-60 is made for times like these.

With the obvious aesthetic benefits of the sturdy all-metal body and perfectly good image quality, you‚ve got yourself a quirky but likable little digicam. Just remember to read the manual to get all that you paid for, since this camera hides many of its charms so as not to scare off the technophobes at purchase time.

ŲEdison Carter



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