TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!

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 camera’s price is steep, Olympus - and others - offer much higher end digital cameras aimed at the professional photographer and, while I’d 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. I’ve played with quite a few digital cameras over the years and while I’ve 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 I’m peering through the optical viewfinder, causing endless smudges on the screen. Not a big deal, perhaps, but it’s one of those little intangibles that translate into overall enjoyment of a product.

This Olympus solves that in one swell foop. They’ve 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 you’re in it (provided you aren’t too far away, of course – this isn’t 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 wife’s quilting, which she’d 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 it’s 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 that’s larger than many of today’s digital cameras but which is still smaller than the conventional, film-based 35mm SLR camera with which I cut my photographic teeth. It won’t 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.

It’s quick in other ways, too. According to Olympus' press materials you can, for example, capture a friend’s 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 per second.

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 you’re 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. I’ve 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.



Olympus C-5060

That said, if you just leave it on Programmed Automatic mode, you’ll get some very nice shots that are basically point and shoot easy, though of course you won’t be stretching the camera’s 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 don’t 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 doesn’t 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 camera’s sensor at the right angle.

Rather than beat you over the head with paragraphs and paragraphs of descriptions, here’s a list of the C-5060’s 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 infinity)
• 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, f2.8–4.8)
• 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
• Hot shoe
• Movie and sound recording functions
• Saves to xD-Picture Card, Compact Flash and Microdrive (and it’ll accept both media cards at the same time!)
• PictBridge compatible
• 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 won’t 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 LCD screen.

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 it’s easy to find and use by feel. It isn’t 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 you’re 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 you’re serious about your digital shots, this is a camera that deserves to be on your list of potential choices.

Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

January 31, 2006