Olympus C-2020 Zoom
By Bryan Young
The LCD screen display during Record mode when you press the OK/MF button. On the right is the focus distance indicator which shows the exact distance to the subject in feet or meters. It is active in autofocus (AF) or manual focus (MF) mode. More on this in the next frame below.
The C-2020 displays the aperture value, shutter speed and EV override value across the top. In the lower left is a black vertical bar that indicates the status of the internal RAM buffer. In sequence mode it fills up with green as the camera temporarily stores the image data and then empties it as the pictures are stored. Next to that is the number of pictures remaining at the current resolution and quality setting.
A very new feature with the C-2020 is the ability to quickly go to Play from
Record mode by pressing the LCD display button twice.
When in manual focus (MF) mode and adjusting the distance the
display is zoomed 2.5x times normal so that you can actually see the results of
changing the focus setting on the small LCD screen. You set the focus by using
the jog switch up/down buttons.
This is the screen display during QuickTime MOVie recording mode. The amount of
time available for recording is shown in the lower left. You can record up to
(approx) 60 seconds in SQ mode (160x120) or 15 seconds in HQ mode (320x240).
In my testing a 15 sec SQ movie was about 1.5MB and a 15 sec HQ movie was
The first page of the Setup menu. New with the C-2020 is that you can set the
ALL RESET parameter to OFF and it now remembers all current camera settings
between power off and power on.
The next option sets the Sharpness for Normal or Soft. The SHQ Setup option
lets you select either JPEG or TIF for the SHQ mode. The speaker icon is the
volume setting for the button beeper.
Setup menu page two options: The REC VIEW enables or disables the quick preview
on the LCD display immediately after taking the picture.
The FILE NAME option either resets the
filenames everytime or keeps numbering them in series. The next option lets
you set the brightness of the LCD display. Then we have the usual time and
date setting option followed by the setting to display the focus distance in
Meters or Feet.
These are the onscreen menus while in Record mode.
DRIVE options are normal single frame, sequence with focus, WB and AE locked after the first frame, sequence with focus, WB and AE measured on every frame, selftimer/remote mode or exposure bracketing (see next frame).
EXTENSION FLASH allows you to use an external flash unit with the internal flash unit, the settings are: Disabled, Auto, On.
SLOW SHUTTER FLASH SYNC lets you use long shutter speeds and the flash. There are two settings available, the 1 setting fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure and the 2 setting fires the flash at the end of the exposure.
DIGITAL TELE turns on the digital zoom feature and lets you select 1.6x, 2x or 2.5x magnification values.
WB selects how the camera will handle the white balancing. Options are Auto,
Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten and Flourescent.
Shoot like the pros by using the Auto Bracket feature. You can select an
exposure compensation value of +0.3, +0.6 or +1.0 as your bracketing factor
and have it applied to either 3 or 5 pictures. The focus, white balance
and exposure is calculated from the first frame and is locked for the
following frames. Auto Bracket is not available if in manual focus or
manual exposure mode.
ISO selects the relative film speed as 100, 200, 400 or automatically raises the speed up when necessary.
FUNCTION selects normal color mode, black and white, sepia, white board or black board modes.
The next option is the PANORAMA mode. It is only available when you have an Olympus brand SmartMedia card in the camera.
CARD SETUP lets you format the SmartMedia card
MODE SETUP gives you access to the two Setup menus shown near the top of this
The "Q" option lets you select SQ, HQ or SHQ resolution. The SHQ mode now uses much less compression than the C-2000 did, an average SHQ image is now about 1.35MB in size.
A/S/M MODE lets you select "A"perture priority, "S"hutter priority or
"M"anual mode for the Mode Dial when you select the A/S/M position on the dial.
Here is a typical Play screen with the overlay information. Upper left
is the battery status. Upper right is the resolution that the picture was
captured in. Across the bottom from left to right is the date and time and
the current picture number.
Thumbnail playback mode is enabled by pressing the zoom lever to the "W"ide
position and then scrolling through the thumbnails with the jog switch. When
you want to display a picture fullscreen you then press the zoom switch to the
While displaying a picture fullscreen you can zoom in by pressing the "T"elephoto
zoom lever. There are several levels of zoom available and once you zoom in
you can then scroll through the enlarged picture by using the jog switch.
Steve's ConclusionOlympus has significantly improved the original C-2000 design by changing the things we complained about and adding some new and useful features. The most annoying thing about the C-2000 was the placement of the On/Off switch in the center of the mode dial. It was way too close to the shutter button and many people pressed it instead of the shutter button. Once you did this you then encountered the second most annoying thing about the C-2000, it was incapable of remembering the current camera settings. Both of these problems have been "fixed" on the C-2020Z. The mode dial is now the power switch and by changing the RESET ALL menu option to OFF, the camera now remembers all of the current settings.
Some functions just need to be on buttons rather than buried in a complex menu system and apparently the Olympus designers agreed with that theory. Next to the 4-way jog switch you will now find two new buttons, one controls the flash modes and the other is a combination macro and spot metering button. Pushing the flash button cycles you quickly through all of its options which can be seen by the icons on the top LCD data display. Similarly, pushing the macro/spot button brings up macro, spot or macro with spot metering or turns both options off.
And speaking of the 4-way jog switch, it has also been improved. On the C-2000 it was a single switch that "rocked" one way or the other and often brought up the wrong menu item or went in the wrong direction. It has been changed to four separate switches on the C-2020 and has much more positive control and tactile feedback than the old switch. The OK button is now also the MF (manual focus) control when in the P or A/S/M record modes. Pressing it brings up a nifty onscreen slider display of the focus distance. You then change the distance by using the UP and DOWN buttons on the jog switch. The color LCD zooms in by 2.5x when you are actively changing the focus which makes it much easier to critically focus on your subject.
One thing that any previous Olympus camera owner will immediately appreciate is that they have now finally made a separate English manual. No more thumbing up and down the multi-lingual pages looking for the English part. Although this used to be a great aid in learning a foreign language it wasn't much help when you were trying to find out how to use a specific function in a hurry. And thank you Olympus for printing the manual in the first place as some manufacturers selling $1000 cameras seem to think that we all now want an Adobe PDF document instead of a printed manual - NOT !
Other new features include a large internal buffer that lets you shoot rapid sequence shots. There's an onscreen indicator that looks like a vertical, black bar and as the buffer fills up this bar fills up with green to show its status. If the preview on the LCD after a shot is too quick you can now quickly jump to play mode by pressing the LCD display button twice. When you're done just press the display switch twice again and you're back to record mode. Also when you're in record mode with the LCD turned off, pressing the Menu button brings up the menu and turns on the LCD. When you turn off the menu it also turns the LCD off again.
The color LCD has been improved. They call it "wide view" and it is much more viewable off to the sides and top than before but it's still not real easy to see in brightly lit environments. The amount of JPEG compression used in the SHQ mode has been dramatically reduced which is apparent by the increased file sizes. It's not at all uncommon to see a 1.3MB SHQ image now. I noticed it right away because my empty 32MB SmartMedia card could only hold 22 images according to the top data display and I was used to seeing a "32" come up on the C-2000 in SHQ.
New with the C-2020Z is the ability to record QuickTime MOVies. Using SQ mode you can record up to 60 seconds or 15 seconds in HQ mode. Once stored they can be viewed back on the LCD or output to the TV via the Video Out port. There is no sound as the C-2020Z does not have a microphone but the quality of these "silent" movies in HQ mode is quite amazing.
One of the things that I really didn't like about the C-2000 was that you never really knew if the camera's auto focus was locked or not. Now with the C-2020Z the green LED in the viewfinder will blink if the focus fails or stays on steady when the auto focus is locked. There is also a red LED by the SmartMedia access door that blinks when the camera is either reading from or writing to the memory card.
The C-2020 works flawlessly in the "P"rogram AE mode but the real fun begins when you switch it into the A/S/M mode. There's more than enough real camera controls available to keep even the serious shutterbugs happy. Between the PC flash sync connector and the Extension flash options in the menu, you can easily interface this camera into a studio flash environment. Or add on a high-powered, bounce flash to get those professional looking portrait shots without the annoying shadows.
I really liked the overall image quality of the C-2000 and I'm happy to report that the C-2020 continues that and builds on it with the physical improvements to the camera itself. I did notice that the battery life seemed more robust even though I was frequently turning on the LCD to change options or using it as the viewfinder. I didn't do any exhaustive battery tests but it is apparent that they have improved the power consumption noticeably. It's always a good idea to carry a second set of charged batteries with you as usual though.
I have no problems recommending this camera to either new digicam buyers or
those of us who have been using them for awhile. The C-2020 Zoom is an
excellent camera with a rich set of manual features, good optics, fast image
processing and it's just plain fun to use -- Olympus has a winner here. And I
love that remote control (big hint to other camera manufacturers to include
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