Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom

Olympusā trunk-line C-series has done very well in the market; you see their distinctive, retro-rangefinder lines everywhere. Keeping up with the many variations on this theme is a challenge, as the company releases several every year. While their compact dimensions may lead you to equate them with The Common Plastic Digicam offered by dozens of me-too makers, the C series is all about packing the most innovative features into a comfortable midsize body and selling it at a competitive price. At this, Olympus has succeeded very nicely, with the lions share of their number two worldwide sales position coming from C series cameras.

So itās no surprise that the new C-5060 Wide Zoom is attracting a lot of attention among the digirati, with stores selling out of 5060 stock regularly. Offering essentially every feature known to modern electronic photography in an attractive sub-$600 package, the 5060 deserves all the attention, and serious consideration as your next camera.

Rather than waste energy making radical design changes to the C camera line over the years, they have wisely chosen to continually refine the original C-2000 winning combination of size and performance. The 5060 is a bit taller than older C models in order to accommodate the newly redesigned articulating LCD mechanism, the larger lens body, and the autofocus assist beam emitter and more powerful flash. Iād have to rate the new cameraās looks as the most professional-looking consumer Oly to date, with several design cues seemingly taken from their high-end E1 line of pro cameras and lenses. The only aesthetic criticism I have is the polished metal ring on the face of the lens, which is pure flash that serves no purpose. There is a reason why pros prefer their cameras to be matte black: the possibility of an unwanted reflection ending up in the final image is bad for precise studio work, and shiny surfaces gives can away your position during field work.

Previous Oly C models such as the 5050 offered ultra-fast f1.8 lenses, but the 5060 offers a more conventional f2.8 maximum aperture in exchange for a 27mm-equivalent wide-angle view. There are precious few digicams (or film cams, for that matter) that offer such a view, so it is good to see Olympus add this feature to their line. There is nothing like a wide-angle to capture a subject surrounded by its environment, or a large group of subjects without clustering them unnaturally together.

I could write paragraphs listing the dozens of cool features offered by the C-5060, but that would be too easy. Instead, Iāll bring to your attention the most interesting. Rest assured, if there is some particular obscure feature I havenāt discussed here, it is probably in the 5060.

Model-Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom
List price-US$649
Sensor res-5.1 megapixels
Image dimensions-2592x1944 down to 640x480
ISO-80/100/200/400 or auto
Lens focal length-5.7-22.8 mm (27-111mm equiv.)
Shutter-1/4000 to 16seconds
Exposure compensation-N/A
Storage-CF + xD Card (32MB incl.)
Focus-TTL contrast, spot, manual
LCD screen-1.8 inch daylight TFT(134k)
Flash modes-7 modes
Battery-BLM-1 Lithium-Ion
Weight-15.2 ounces w/o batteries
Dimensions-4.6 x 3.4 x 2.6 inches
Included-Camedia, strap, cables, remote

The Movie mode is particularly interesting. Not only does it capture at a nice big 640x480 at 30fps, it allows you to zoom while you shoot. Theyāve even disabled the comparatively noisy mechanical zoom in favor of the competent digital zoom when you have sound recording on. You can capture as much as your storage card (xD or CompactFlash) can hold, with a countdown in the finder.

In addition to the well-designed articulating LCD, the panel itself is now daylight-readable and higher density to boot. With a coverage of 97% compared to the what the newly upsized CCD imager is actually capturing, you can frame very accurately. (The optical viewfinder only covers a disappointing sub-90% view.)

I particularly like the handy AEL (autoexposure lock) button that lets you lock in exposure without depressing the shutter to achieve autofocus. Most people seem to think AF and AE are a single operation, but experienced shooters know how important is can be to separate these functions in challenging lighting situations. I am also fond of the multi-pattern AF setting which uses up to eight spot readings and intelligently averages them for you. This is a real time saver when you just donāt have time to fuss with taking readings off of individual objects or grey cards, northern sky, or whatever you usually use. My tests delivered extremely well exposed shots with zero planning ÷ a real plus when you have an active five year-old daughter zooming around on a swing.

Most folks buy a camera to take good pictures and thatās the end of it. For them, any number of fine digicams can deliver the goods for less than a car payment. For those of us who want all the features and as little of the weight and bulk as possible, there is the Olympus C-5060.

öEdison Carter



© 2004 D.C. Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.