Olympus C-60 Zoom Review

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Olympus C-60 Zoom

Steve's Conclusion

The first 6 megapixel camera from Olympus, the CAMEDIA C-60 Zoom is an ultra- compact, highly durable camera that fits easily in to any size pocket or purse. It combines a 6.1 megapixel imager with a 3X optical zoom lens (12X seamless zoom when combined with the 4X digital zoom) that has a 35mm equivalent of approx. 38mm to 114mm. The C-60 offers a shutter speed range of 1/1000th for action shots or up to 8 seconds for taking night-scene shots. You can record QuickTime motion video with sound at resolutions of 320x240 and 160x120 (up to 15fps), with the length of the movie limited only by the capacity of the memory card. When you switch the camera from record mode to movie, be sure to check the ISO speed. If you have changed the ISO in one of the record modes, remember to change it back to ISO "AUTO" for capturing movies. Otherwise your inside movies will be extremely under exposed.

Like the C-50, the C-60 offers a wide variety of shooting modes. Users can adjust the amount of control over the exposure process by a simple turn of the Mode dial, from "point-n-shoot" AUTO to Program AE, shutter speed priority, aperture priority or full manual. Exposure metering is handled nicely by the Digital ESP multi- pattern mode with a spot option if needed. The white balance is very accurate and rarely needs to be changed from Auto. The C-60's Mode Dial has 10 positions that let you quickly change shooting modes without accessing a menu or using the color LCD. Particularly useful is the "My Mode" position on the mode dial, where you can program your favorite combination of image size, quality, operational mode and many other camera options. Most of the user controls like the mode dial, zoom lever and shutter button are ergonomically placed and easy to operate. However the sliding lens cover, which also acts as the power switch, is easily pushed and it doesn't take but a slight tap to turn the camera off. Like some cameras, you have to learn how to hold and operate this camera. Other Olympus "clamshell" type cameras with the sliding lens cover/power switch are not this touchy.

Drive modes include: Single, Sequential, AF Sequential, AE Bracketing (3-5 frames with +/- 0.3, 0.6 or 1.0 stop increments), Self-timer and Remote. When using an Olympus brand xD-Picture Card there is a special Panorama mode available. The C-60's sensitivity can be set at Auto, 64, 100, 200, or 400 (equivalent). As with previous models, Olympus has included the RM-2 infrared remote control. It is very useful for tripping the shutter when doing shots on a tripod to eliminate camera shake and blurring. The RM-2 remote would work much easier if there were an IR (infrared) sensor on the back of the camera (hint, hint). You can usually find something to bounce the beam off of to hit the sensor on the front unless you're in a wide open or very bright area.

The overall image quality in SHQ 2816x2112 is good. It has good color balance and saturation. The white balance in AUTO works well and there are five white balance presets but no manual set option. You can see a visible "roughness" in open blue sky areas. This is visible in both JPG and TIFF images, so it isn't compression artifacting but rather some sort of imager noise. It isn't much of a problem as the six-megapixel images create photo-quality prints from 4x6" right up to 13x19" size. Exposure metering produced consistent results but when it was "off" it was only slightly underexposed, which is preferable to overexposure where highlights are blown-out and lost forever. You can control the exposure compensation to fine tune it when needed.

The all-glass 3X optical zoom lens covers a focal range of 38mm to 114mm (35mm equivalent). It exhibits the usual amount of barrel distortion at full wide angle and a moderate amount of pin cushioning at full telephoto. The maximum aperture at wide angle is a relatively fast f2.8 but the camera lacks an AF-assist lamp and can fail to lock focus in dim lighting. The motorized zoom mechanism is smooth and positive although it often seemed a little too fast and the zoom control itself is tiny and often difficult to operate precisely. The focus range is from 15.7" - Infinity (0.4m - Infinity) in Normal mode and 1.9" - 19.7" (20cm - 30cm) in Macro mode. Super Macro mode lets you get as close as 1.6" from the lens and is fixed in wide-angle position. In bright outdoor conditions the auto focus was very accurate and exhibited an average lag time of a second or less. The lens is protected by the front, sliding cover when it's not in use. Opening the front cover also powers up the camera in record mode.

Initial power up takes about 7 seconds, most of which is the time needed to extend the lens and read the xD card, larger xD cards extend the powerup time. Shot to shot times in SHQ are about five seconds when using the flash and four seconds without it. When shooting in uncompressed TIFF format, it can capture up to three images in the buffer in about five seconds. It requires just under a minute to process and store all three images. Sequential drive mode records a maximum of four frames (in SHQ mode) at about 2 frames per second, the focus, exposure and white balance are locked after the first frame. The AF Sequential mode also captures a maximum of four frames (in SHQ mode) but the focus is locked for each frame before capture so the frame rate a bit slower at about 1.3 frames per second. All test were done in SHQ/2816x2112 quality, using a Olympus 512MB xD-Picture card. Times may vary dependent on lighting conditions, media, etc.

The C-60's 1.8-inch low-reflective LCD delivers 134,000 pixels of image clarity. The LCD is "semi-transmissive", which helps combat sun glare during outdoor shooting. The semi-transmissive LCD uses not only its back light but also allows bright light to penetrate into the LCD panel, reflecting off the underside of the liquid crystal layer and presents a much brighter image, even in extreme sunlight. The brightness of the display even adjusts itself to ambient light conditions. The C-60 has a good eye level, coupled optical viewfinder but it lacks any kind of diopter adjustment. The optical viewfinder displays about 85% of the final captured image. The LCD when used as the viewfinder shows about 98% of the capture area.

The C-60 Zoom is a good little camera that produces sharp, well-exposed images. Its compact size enables it to be carried in almost any size pocket. The camera is both stylish and durable thanks to the brushed silver, all-metal body. I'm not crazy about super-small cameras with tiny and impossible to operate controls - the C-60 is NOT one of these (exception being its zoom control knob.) It's small but easy to use, even with large hands, and the controls are well placed and plainly labeled. The only problem we experienced was the too-touchy power off switch/sliding lens cover, it is way too sensitive. The C-60 Zoom is a camera that anybody can use in AUTO mode and at the turn of a dial you can select one of the Scene modes to be a little more creative. When you're ready for advanced control just select Shutter, Aperture Priority or full Manual exposure mode. Bottom line, the Olympus CAMEDIA C-60 Zoom is a good, full-featured and durable digicam with a respectable price of around $449.

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DC Resource's C60 review

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