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Camera Reviews > Olympus C-8080 WZ
Olympus C-8080 WZ Review
Date: June 11, 2004
Amateur - Prosumer
HANDLING & FEEL
12.1mm, Program, Pattern, 1/160 sec., F2.8 and
The Olympus Camedia C-8080 Wide-Zoom innovates
in body design with a brand new look. At 124W
x 84.5H x 99D mm (4.9W x 3.3H x 3.9D in.), it's
one of the larger 8MP digital cameras. With a
large lens barrel and tall body, handling feels
sure and comfortable. It comes in a professional
black finish that feels tough and very high quality,
the best of the current 8MP crowd.
There's no doubt that Olympus engineers have
decided to rethink the traditional placement of
controls, as most reviewers have found out. Some
have dismissed the new layout design out of hand
because, as with any new design, it does take
some time to get used to the operation of the
C-8080, especially its Menu System. One of the
reasons why I like to review one camera at a time
is because it gives me plenty of time to get to
know the camera quite well in the space of 2-3
weeks. This cannot happen if I am carrying two
or more cameras with me and switching from one
to the other all the time. My personal bias will
automatically favour the one I feel most comfortable
with and look at the others unfavourably.
The Olympus C-8080 has a nice sculpted handgrip
which is comfortable and allows unimpeded reach
of the controls on top of the camera. However,
because the handgrip is not deep, carrying the
camera in one hand, holding it by the handgrip
(as I like to do), does not feel too safe because
it starts to slip out of my hand. So I find myself
carrying the C-8080 by its lens barrel instead,
which is also quite comfortable. The C-8080 comes
with a nice neck strap for those who prefer to
carry their camera this way.
[Having read some concerns in the forums, I'll
just like to mention that the lens itself moves
slightly inside the lens barrel. This is normal,
so don't worry about it.]
On the back of the C-8080, there's a deep well
for your thumb to rest in, and the Control Dial
and Mode Dial are within easy reach of the thumb.
Personally, I can rotate the dials easily with
my thumb and both dials click securely in place.
However, if you rotate the Control Dial with your
index finger and thumb, you will most probably
inadvertently switch the camera off a couple of
times because of the placement of the power button.
I like this power button that does not require
you to hold it for a few seconds to turn on/off
the camera. It would however be simply better
if it were recessed a bit to avoid the accidental
The index finger comes to naturally rest on
the shutter release button, which is angled a
little bit more to the vertical than is traditionally
the case. At first, if you find yourself confusing
the Power button and Shutter Release button, don't
worry. You'll get used to that, too, in no time.
Olympus engineers figured that the middle finger
has been idle far too long and so decided to give
it a job to do: it comes to naturally rest on
the AEL button, which is uncharacteristically
on the front of the camera body. Until you get
used to its placement, it's easy to forget it
At the back, controls are limited to the Menu
button and the Arrow Pad surrounding it; the Quick
View button, which provides a quick way to review
your last shots (you can press the Quick View
button again or tap the shutter release button
to instantly revert back into Shooting Mode);
the Monitor button to toggle between the LCD monitor
and the EVF; and the Card button to toggle between
the xD-Picture Card and CF memory card. That's
right: the C-8080 has dual memory card slots!
There's one more button that sits right next
to the EVF: the Self-timer/Remote Control/Erase
button. Now that button is just out of place there.
In fact, I hunted quite a while to figure out
how to erase pictures: the red trash can symbol
is kind of small and, being in the shadow of the
large comfortable eyepiece, is very difficult
to notice. I think I know why it was placed there.
You press the button with your left thumb, and
dial in your selection with your right thumb.
So, by necessity, it had to be placed on the left
side. Its proper place is, of course, where the
Monitor button is currently sitting.
The EVF has 240,000 pixels resolution and is
very clear. There is a Diopter Adjustment Ring
around the eyepiece and -- as is unfortunately
too often the case with the majority of digital
cameras -- is quite difficult to turn while you
are peering into the EVF. Fortunately, you only
have to set this once and be done with.
The 1.8-in. LCD monitor has 134,000 pixels resolution
but no usable B&W high-gain option in extreme
low-light situation. It tilts up 22°, 45°
and 90° to allow low-angle shots, and down
45° for high-angle shots. At the 90° placement,
waist-level shots are easy. This tilting LCD is
incredibly useful when taking low levels macro
In My Mode, you can specify whether the EVF or
LCD monitor should be the default when you turn
on the camera.
All the other control buttons are on the left
side of the body and, if you are used to the buttons
being on the back of the camera, at first this
arrangement seems kind of odd. But you get very
quickly used to it. There are no buttons on the
large lens barrel itself which I find quite surprising.
The AF/Macro/MF button would have been at home
on the lens barrel. [I have this feeling that
the large lens barrel and lens itself are to make
way for the 4/3 System image sensor, the natural
evolution for the Olympus prosumer digital cameras.]
The other control buttons on the left side are:
WB, Record Mode (Image Quality/Size), Exposure
Compensation, Flash Mode, and Metering. You depress
the button to bring up the valid options on the
monitor and use the Control Dial to select one.
Manual Focus is possible on the C-8080 and it
is controlled by the Up and Down Arrows. The central
portion of the screen magnifies and a useful distance
indicator displays on screen. It works quite well,
though not as elegantly as a Manual Ring does.
There is a ring around the lens barrel but it's
just decorative, and you twist it off to permit
the attachment of optional lens converters.
The C-8080 comes standard with a wireless Remote
Controller that is very useful in group portraits,
macro shots, and slow shutter speeds using a tripod.
For the Remote Control to work, you need to first
set it in the Menu (depress the Self-timer/Remote
Control/Erase button and rotate the Control Dial
to select Remote Control). The Remote Control
Receiver is on the front of the handgrip so you
need to be careful not to include yourself in
pictures inadvertently. I find that if you preset
to use the Remote Control, you can still take
pictures using the shutter release button, so
I am not sure why Olympus did not just implement
the C-8080 to acept the use of the Remote Control
by default (i.e. not have to go into the Menu
to set it on).
As with any powerful system, there is a certain
amount of complexity that goes with the wide range
of options available. For example, the Menu system
of the C-8080 is quite intricate with tabs going
down the left side and each tab providing two
to three levels of nested options. This gets even
more complicated when some of the options are
White Balance is one example: instead of allowing
the user to scroll through all available White
Balance options, we are forced to pre-assign a
value to Preset 1 and Preset 2. Preset 1 is for
Outdoors (Shade, Cloudy Day, Sunny Day, Evening
Sunlight), and Preset 2 is for Indoors (4 fluorescent
options and 1 tungsten). It would have been extremely
easy even for a beginner programmer to program
the menu display to substitute the label "Preset
1" with whatever option was assigned to it.
Ditto for "Preset 2." Say, we assigned
"Shade" to Preset 1 and "Tungsten"
to Preset 2. Then, when we press the WB button,
we should see on screen "Auto, Shade, Tungsten"
instead of "Auto, Preset 1, Preset 2"
-- much more user friendly, eh? However, I would
still have preferred to be able to scroll thru
all the available white balance options.
I am not a big fan of the colour scheme used
in the menu, finding it sometimes pretty difficult
to read green on yellow. The menu options are
listed diagonally instead of straight down and
I find this quite distracting.
To tame the C-8080's intricate menu tree, Olympus
engineers have provided us a shortcut -- and this
works very intuitively. Here's how it works: Press
one of the button and a sub-menu pops up on screen
listing only the options available for
that button. Scroll the Control Dial to select
an option. Voila!
There is an AF Illuminator to aid in low-light
focusing that works quite well even in total darkness.
For some subjects, however, the focus will tend
to favor the more contrasty background if you
have selected iESP AF in the menu; I find that
by selecting Spot AF in the menu, I can get focus
lock in low-light situations. Unfortunately, you
won't see anything too well in the EVF/LCD monitor
in extreme low-light situations; the monitor image
does not switch to a high-gain B&W image that
The C-8080 is fast! Fast startup at less than
1 sec! If you keep missing pictures because your
digital camera takes too long to start up, you
will want to check out the C-8080.
As usual, we profer a number
of improvements that we feel would make the C-8080
even more enjoyable to use:
- Interchange the positions of the Monitor
button and the Self-timer/Remote Control/Erase
- Make the Remote Control option a default,
i.e. always ON and active. The camera works
as usual, but if we decide to use the wireless
remote controller, we should not have to go
into the menu to set it on before we can use
- Change the green on yellow colour scheme
of the menu -- or else, allow us to select our
own colour combinations.
- Please no more diagonal menu lists. A simple
vertical list will do, thank you.
- Mute the ping of the pop-up flash. While the
pop-up flash pops up nicely with a muted thud,
it retracts back with a loud ping on my review
- A dedicated ISO button is missing.
- When there are only two or three selections
to a sub-menu, provide a toggle option: instead
of having to hold down the button and dial in
a selection, allow repeated press of the button
to toggle between the selections. The advantage
of this functionality over the submenu is that
you can still concentrate on the image instead
of being distracted by a submenu.
The Olympus Camedia C-8080 Wide-Zoom feels right
and comfortable. It has a super fast startup and,
while the Menu system takes some learning, the
dedicated control buttons and sub-menus make operation
fast and intuitive. It has the best construction
finish of the current 8MP digital cameras and,
more importantly, the best image quality. If you
are graduating to the advanced amateur photographer
/ prosumer status and prefer a larger digital
camera, check out the C-8080.