Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom Review

Steve's Digicams

Olympus C-5060 Zoom

Steve's Conclusion

The Camedia C-5060 Wide Zoom is built on the popular C-5050 Zoom with the addition of a 4x wide-angle zoom lens with 27mm to 110mm equivalent coverage, a fully-articulating color LCD viewfinder, and improved shooting performance, while retaining the C-5050's full range of shooting modes and exposure controls. While the C-5060 will have its greatest appeal to the advanced photographer, beginners will be able to get good results using it as a point-n-shoot in Program AE mode and any of the several Scene modes (Landscape, Portrait, Sports) in which the camera automatically sets the optimal shooting parameters.

Although the C-5060's 4x zoom lens is slower than the C-5050's 3x zoom (f/2.8 versus f/1.8) it offers more versatility by extending the wide-angle end of the zoom range to 27mm from 35mm in 35mm-equivalence. While this may seem like only a small numerical improvement, the wider field-of-view provided is of great benefit for interior and landscape shooting. The motor-driven zoom moves smoothly and quietly through its range and I counted at least 28 steps of movement, more than enough to precisely compose your shots. The lens produced sharp results throughout the zoom range, but with noticeable barrel distortion at wide angle and slight pincushioning at telephoto. There was a slight amount of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in high-contrast areas at all focal lengths. The lens offers two macro settings, Macro and Super Macro; Super Macro allows you to focus as close as one inch, nearly filling the frame with an object the size of a dime!

If you find the C-5060's 27-110mm zoom range limiting, Olympus offers two conversion lenses to broaden it. The conversion lenses are attached via the Olympus CLA-7 Lens Adapter Tube, which has a locking bayonet mount. The TCON-1.7C Telephoto Conversion Lens multiplies the lens focal length by a factor of 1.7, extending the telephoto end of the zoom range to 187mm; vignetting will occur if this lens is used in the wide-angle range of the camera's zoom. The WCON-0.7C Wide Conversion Lens reduces focal length by a factor of 70%, widening the focal length range of the camera's zoom lens to 19-77mm in 35mm-equivalence. Both lenses are of high quality, but add to the barrel distortion and pincushioning produced by the camera's built-in lens. Chromatic aberration was present in high-contrast areas of images produced by both conversion lenses.

No matter what you want in the way of features this camera has got it -- from the point and shoot simplicity of Program AE to Shutter speed priority (4 to 1/1000 seconds), Aperture priority (F2.8 to F8) or full Manual with shutter speeds as long as 15 seconds plus Bulb. Exposure metering options include matrix, spot, center-weighted, and a unique multi mode that lets you take individual readings from up to 8 points to calculate the final exposure. Its accurate Autofocus system is complemented with a manual focus mode having a distance gauge and a magnified central-LCD display to aid in critical focusing. White balance options include Auto, Shade, Cloudy, Sunny, Evening, Incandescent, Fluorescent 1,2,3,4 and manual Preset, plus a White Balance Adjustment which allows you to fine-tune the setting while observing its effect on the LCD's live image.

The C-5060's all-magnesium body and large finger grip provide a comfortable and stable feel in your hand. The major controls like the mode, power dial, jog control, zoom lever and shutter button are ergonomically placed and easy to operate. Major settings (flash mode, drive mode, focus mode, metering mode, exposure compensation) are accomplished via onscreen "virtual dials." You can also see these changes on the monochrome data display on the top. The Dual Control Panel setup option turns the color LCD into a realtime data display. Particularly useful is the custom My Mode options where you can preset up to four sets of custom configuration combinations of image size, quality, operational mode, lens startup position, EV compensation, flash mode, and most every other camera option available. This is a powerful feature for recalling frequently-used settings, or as a startup default when you turn the camera on.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom gives the user a wide choice of image sizes and Quality settings from 640 x 480 to 2592 x 1944 in JPEG or uncompressed TIFF. It also offers an "Enlarge Size" of 3264 x 2448, the product of in-camera interpolation, RAW mode at the full 2592 x 1944 size of the imager and a 3:2 aspect image for "perfect" 4x6" prints with no cropping. In-camera image processing options are provided for Sharpness, Contrast and Saturation, all with settings ranging +/-5. There's also an in-camera noise reduction option available for exposures of 1/2 second or longer; it worked very effectively on our long exposure test shot.

In addition to the still image modes the C-5060 can also record 640x480, 320x240 and 160x120 resolution QuickTime movie modes at 15fps with sound. Movie recording time is limited only by the amount of available memory. The movies are sharp and clear but both the optical zoom and full-time AF are disabled during recording when the audio is enabled, preventing the noise of lens movement from being recorded; the optical zoom can be used to compose the movie before recording starts. You'll need a large memory card if you intend to record movies at 640x480; our test movies consumed about 800KBytes of memory per second of moving image.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom's shooting performance is impressive. The start-up time is under five seconds from turning on the power until you capture the first image, much of that spent extending the lens into shooting position. Shutter delay, the elapsed time between releasing the shutter and capturing the image, measured an impressive 2/10 second when pre- focused, and averaged about 7/10 second including autofocus time; the LCD viewfinder contributed about 1/10 second of the delay. The shot to shot time measured 1.5 seconds each for up 4 shots, then 2 seconds between subsequent shots while the camera's buffer emptied. The C-5060 offers three sequential shooting modes: HI, normal and AF. In HI mode, I was able to capture 4 images in 1.1 seconds, followed by a five-second delay before the next shot cold be taken; the LCD viewfinder went blank during this image capture sequence. In normal mode, the C-5060 captured 9 shots in 5.7 seconds, with additional shots taken at about 3 second intervals; the LCD viewfinder froze on the most recently captured image in this mode. In Sequential AF mode, the C-5060 refocuses for each image, slowing-down the capture rate to 9 shots in 10 seconds, with the LCD viewfinder showing the live image briefly between shots. You'll prefer to use the small but useful optical viewfinder during sequential image capture so you can follow the action while you shoot; this is not a good option, however, when you are using either of the conversion lenses as the optical viewfinder is partially blocked and its image is inaccurate when conversion lenses are attached. These timings were obtained using a Transcend 45X 1-gigabyte CF memory card, with the camera set for an image size of 2592x1944 at SHQ with flash off, and include viewfinder delay, photographer response time, and image capture - they are numbers you can reproduce in the real world.

The C-5060 performed well indoors. The combination of a powerful (by consumer digicam standards) flash and 27mm wide angle zoom will allow you to capture large group portraits and obtain good flash exposures of moderately large rooms, while the generous field of view will give you flexibility in composing shots in small interior spaces. Flash shots were well exposed and had good color balance. The C-5060 flash had a tendency to overexpose macros, but zooming into the telephoto range allows you compose the shot at a greater distance, overcoming the "hot" flash. As a result, the C-5060 would be a good choice for taking images of small objects for your online auction listings. The C-5060 is equipped with a focus-assist lamp, allowing the camera to autofocus even in complete darkness. It's also equipped with a hot shoe if you need more flash power or to take flash exposures using either of the conversion lenses, and takes full advantage of the Olympus FL-50 electronic flash zoom and focus-assist features.

The C-5060 also performed well outdoors. Images were consistently well-exposed and richly- saturated. The range of the zoom lens provides plenty of flexibility in shot composition, with the wide-angle 27mm focal length providing extra field of view for landscapes. The LCD viewfinder has a brightness adjustment, allowing it to be used even on the brightest of days, but it has no anti-glare coating to prevent the reflection of direct sunlight. The LCD is fully articulating, allowing you to shoot at waist-level, overhead, or even from in front of the lens for a self-portrait. It's also great for doing tabletop macro shots.

The C-5060's powerful flash, motorized zoom and bright LCD can consume a lot of power, so Olympus equipped it with a sizable 7.2-volt, 1500mAh Lithium Ion battery of a proprietary design. I was able to capture 250 images before its capacity was exhausted, and that included a lot of time using the LCD to test and explore the camera's menu system. As usual, I recommend that you obtain a second BLM-1 battery and keep it charged with the BCM-1 charger included with the camera, avoiding the disappointment of a dead battery during a special photo op.

With a high resolution 5.1-megapixel imager, a 4x zoom lens with wide field of view, an all-magnesium body, a choice of CF or xD memory cards, exposure options galore and robust image processing -- this camera is sure to satisfy even the most demanding of users. It's also a perfect camera for those just starting out that want the best possible camera to "grow into" later as their photographic talents expand. With all of its advanced features and controls the C-5060 Wide Zoom is still very easy to use for the novice too. The bottom line as always is the image quality and this camera delivers sharp, well saturated and true to life color images, one after another. There's no doubt that Olympus has produced a winner with the Camedia C-5060 Wide Zoom, and with a street price of under $700 (as of Dec 2003), it's a terrific value -- and will make an excellent holiday gift.

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Want a second opinion?

Imaging-Resource's C5060 Zoom review

DC Resource's C5060 Zoom review

Photo Tidbit's C5060 technical review

DC View's C5060 review

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