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Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus C-5500
Olympus C-5500 Zoom Review
Date: Apr 14, 2005
Tuesday, Mar 15, 2004 - Here's what I receive
in the box:
- Camedia C-5500 Zoom
- Wrist Strap
- 4 AA Alkaline Batteries
- 16MB xD-Picture Card
- Interface Cables: A/V; USB
- Instruction Manuals: Basic Manual; Quick Start
- Software CDs: Olympus Master, C-5500 Advanced
The Olympus Camedia C-5500 SportZoom is
ruggedly handsome (looks so much better in the
hand than pictures give it credit), solidly built
(the lens does jiggle a bit but has not been a
problem) and extremely comfortable with a good
sized hand grip, plenty of space for your thumb
at the back of the camera and a shutter release
button placed at the right spot. You also notice
the large and bright 2 in. LCD right away.
The Olympus C-5500 is the first camera I've seen
that uses the memory card compartment hinge
as a wrist strap "eyelet." It works
quite well with no extruding part that can sometimes
get in the way as on some cameras.
Be aware that the Olympus C-5500 ships with image
quality set to HQ which results in more aggresive
JPEG compression than the SHQ mode.
Here are how I set the Olympus C-5500:
- ALL RESET = OFF (this will now keep all your
preferred settings, otherwise you'll have to set
them again every time you power on)
- AE = ESP, AF = iESP
- ISO = 80
- FULLTIME AF = OFF (Full time AF is quite noisy)
- INFO = ON
- HISTOGRAM = OFF, ON, DIRECT (your choice)
- PICTURE QUALITY/SIZE = SHQ 2592x1944 pixels
- REC VIEW = ON
- BEEP = OFF
- SHUTTER SOUND = OFF
- FILE NAME = AUTO (RESET will start back from
1 whenever you change memory card, and will result
in duplicate file names if you change cards on
the same day)
- AF ILLUMINATOR = ON
Note that the ALL RESET = ON/OFF setting is an
all or nothing sort of thing, i.e. either the
camera remembers all settings (even the ones you
set during a shooting session but don't want remembered
on power down) or forgets them all. To set your
preferred default settings, use the My Mode function
where you can save up to 4 different sets of settings.
In that case, set ALL RESET = ON, so settings
you set temporarily will be reset on power down.
I admit it's a bit more complicated than it really
The Olympus C-5500 uses the xD-Picture card and
comes with a 16MB xD-Picture card. With 16MB,
you get only 4 pictures; with 128MB, only 34 pictures.
I recommend you purchase at least a 512MB xD-Picture
card, or as large a memory card as you can afford.
Note that the Panorama function is available
only if you use an Olympus brand xD-Picture Card.
Concerning the Panorama function, it does not
display the previous picture to allow you to match
pictures on the LCD screen, but it's not really
necessary. The stitching in Olympus Master works
pretty well as long as you ensure the software
has identifiable vertical edges to match.
One thing about the EXIF info I noticed is that
Olympus saves the exposure mode as "M"
even though I used "P" but dialed in
an exposure compensation.
With Windows XP, you don't need to install any
software to transfer images from camera to PC.
Just plug the USB cable into your camera and PC
USB socket. The LCD monitor turns on automatically
(you don't even need to turn on the camera); press
OK to select PC. The camera is recognized as a
drive, and you just use the supplied Camedia Master
software to transfer images to your PC (if you
want to use it to index your images by date).
If you don't care with indexing your images, you
can simply use Windows Explorer to drag and drop
the images from the camera to anywhere on your
hard drive. Before unplugging the USB cable, you
need to click the "Unplug or Eject Hardware"
icon on the taskbar first.
The Basic Manual is, as its name implies, quite
basic, and in very tiny type. To read up on the
many features of the Olympus C-5500, you need
the electronic version of the Advanced Manual,
which is on the CD (in pdf format), and I would
encourage you to save a copy on your PC for easy
access. The electronic version is nice since it
makes searching for a feature quick and easy.
I can also enlarge the display to a comfortable
viewing size. However, the lack of a printed reference
manual means that you are totally clueless in
7.9mm (38mm), Program, Multi-Pattern, 1/50 sec.,
F2.8, and ISO 80
The Olympus C-5500 has a 2 in. LCD monitor with
good resolution (110K pixels) and fast refresh
rate for a clear and smooth display. Unfortunately
it does not gain up in low-light situations; use
the optical viewfinder in those instances.
P mode, Shutter Speed 2.5 sec.,
Aperture F2.8, +0.3 EV Exposure Compensation
ISO 80, Super Macro, Flash Off, Single Drive mode
5M HQ, 101 shots left
Frame Assist grid lines on
The other feature I really like is the inclusion
of the adjustable AF Area. You can position the
AF frame to any of 11 positions down * 13 positions
across = 143 positions, i.e. anywhere on the LCD
screen (except the very edges). This feature is
selected via the menu and unfortunately this setting
is not remembered by the camera so you have to
set it everytime you want to use it. Since AF
Area is my preferred AF mode, I was a bit disappointed.
But still, better to have it than not. Also note
that you must set the self-timer first before
AF Area -- two quite handy features for close
up macro shots.
I like the fact that you have to manually pop
up the flash for it to fire. I hate being surprised
by a flash popping up when I don't want to use
flash. Pop it up during the day and you have instant
fill-in flash. Leave it closed, and you can use
slow shutter speeds. This is fortunate also because
of the odd placement of the pop up flash at the
very top left corner (viewed from the back) of
the camera. This corner is also where your left
index finger naturally settles to stabilize the
camera, and an auto pop up flash would not pop
up with your finger resting on top of it. Because
of the unfortunate placement of the flash, you
do have to hold the camera differently with the
flash popped up.
Note that the Olympus C-5500 does not have RAW
or TIFF file format. Set at the highest JPEG mode
of SHQ, it will not allow you to take sequence
shots nor bracket the exposure (i.e. the Drive
Mode is disabled). Drive Mode is available at
HQ image quality.
The camera comes standard with 4 alkaline AA
batteries, and I recommend that you purchase a
set of 4 rechargeable NiMH batteries.
A couple of professional features found on the
- Multi-metering allows you to meter at up
to 8 different points. The aperture and shutter
speed are calculated from the average values.
For more on multi-metering, see page 55 of the
- White Balance Compensation is possible, with
up to 7 increments in both the [RED] and [BLUE]
Some cameras you just love and the Olympus C-5500
is one of those. It feels comfortable and right;
it starts up fast (about 1 sec.), has no practical
shutter lag; it zooms up to 5x providing above
average zoom range; it focuses fast and accurately;
it has flexible exposure control; and it produces
excellent images with great detail and low noise.
But, more importantly, it allows you to get the
picture without aggravation. If you are looking
for a compact digital camera for the serious amateur
photographer, be sure to check out the Olympus
Camedia C-5500 SportZoom.