Olympus C-8080 WZ Review
Date: June 11, 2004
Advanced Amateur - Prosumer
The Olympus Camedia C-8080 is a digital
camera targeted to advanced amateur photographers.
It has 8 megapixel resolution on a 16.7 mm (2/3
in.) CCD image sensor, and has a unique "Direct
Histogram" that indicates black and white
areas in tiny squares directly on the image.
The Olympus C-8080 lens is a 28-140 mm (35mm
format equivalent) 5x optical zoom lens, with
a fast maximum aperture of f/2.4-3.5. Even though
the zoom is not as high as for the other 8MP digital
cameras, it still covers the most useful focal
lengths: from a 35mm equivalent of 28mm (wide
angle) to a medium telephoto of 140mm (ideal for
We find the overall image quality of the Olympus
Camedia C-8080 Wide Zoom to be excellent.
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
(140mm, 35mm equivalent)
There are only a few digital cameras that provide
a 28mm wide-angle coverage, with most stopping
at the 35mm focal length. In the above pictures,
we show the coverage for 28mm, and then delienate
the area covered by 140mm. Sometimes, that little
extra coverage a 28mm lens provides can make a
noticeable difference in landscape, real estate
and interior design photography.
Another professional feature of the C-8080 that
is directly related to image quality is the ability
to record images in RAW and TIFF file formats.
It takes about 14 sec. to save a RAW image to
memory card (about 17 sec. in TIFF file format).
Unfortunately, the C-8080 does not have an internal
buffer and you have to wait for each RAW/TIFF
image to finish writing before taking the next
There are two RAW modes: RAW and RAW+JPEG (where
the image is saved both in RAW file format as
well as in JPEG in the size you select). First
set to RAW mode. While still holding down the
Size button, press the central OK button on the
Arrow Pad to bring up the JPEG Duplicate Setting
screen. Use the Control Dial to select the JPEG
[The RAW file format records the image as captured
by the camera's CCD without further processing,
and allows you to precisely adjust white balance,
contrast, sharpness and saturation in an image
editing software without any loss of quality.]
| Macro vs. Super
| Macro (20 cm / 7.9 in.)
||Super Macro (5 cm / 2 in.)
There are two macro modes on the Camedia C-8080:
standard macro at 20 cm (7.9 in.) and Super Macro
at 5 cm (2 in.). You can zoom in standard macro
mode, but not in Super Macro mode.
|23.4mm (112mm), Program,
Pattern, 1/200 sec., F3.2, ISO 50
Super Macro, Tripod Used
Getting good macros is usually difficult with
any camera because the DOF is very shallow in
macro mode, and so precise focus is required.
Some digital cameras are better than others in
getting focus lock, and the Olympus C-8080 is
one of the better ones. In Super Macro mode, you
can get as close as 5cm (2") to your subject
(measured from the front of the extended lens).
In the above picture of a spent dandelion, I
use a large aperture and a long focal length (with
Super Macro) to throw the green grass background
nicely out of focus. The resolution and sharpness
of the lens is incredible. We've had our best
macro shots so far with the C-8080.
With macros, don't expect to be able to handhold
the shot: using a tripod is mandatory. Also ensure
the subject is not moving at all (e.g. in the
breeze); though a fast shutter speed can freeze
the movement, the subject may have slightly moved
into an out-of-focus zone. Out-of-focus macro
shots are usually caused by trying to handhold
the shot of a moving subject.
|Auto White Balance
||WB = Tungsten
As the above two pictures show, the auto white
balance works quite well under tungsten light
-- even better than setting WB=Tungsten. Under
mixed light conditions (fluorescent + natural
light), it does very well. As expected, AWB works
flawlessly in natural light.
The C-8080 allows you to set a One-Touch White
Balance, but unlike what its name implies, it
takes a minimum of three button presses to set
it: First, you need to press the WB button, which
brings up a menu (because there are other options
you can select). Next, you need to press the right
arrow key to display a special WB screen. Frame
your white object within that screen, and lastly
press OK to register the WB. The One-Touch WB
produces the best results.
The C-8080 has no less than 10 ISO settings going
from ISO 50 to ISO 400! The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds
of 50, 64, 80, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320 and
400. At ISO 50 thru 80, noise is under control.
At ISO 100 and upward, noise becomes visible.
The AF is able to focus on the pistils -- astounding!
The image quality of the Olympus C-8080 lens
is excellent. CA is minimal to non-existent in
everyday shots. The shot we have been using in
the other 8MP reviews is just crystal clear of
CA for the C-8080. We had to hunt hard to find
this one shot above; the corner delimited by the
red square at top middle is reproduced at 100%
crop at top right.
|23.4mm (112mm), Manual, 10
sec., F8, ISO 50
One-Touch WB, Super Macro, Remote Control,
The C-8080 allows the use of a long shutter speed
of up to 16 sec. in Aperture-Priority and Manual
mode (with an 8 min. Bulb in Manual mode), therefore
allowing night photography. Generally, with CCD
image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent
at slow shutter speeds. The C-8080 has special
noise reduction algorithms that automatically
kicks in at shutter speeds longer than 1/2 sec.
and you'll notice a slightly longer processing
time (approx. twice as long) before the next picture
can be taken.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we decided
to take a low-light indoors shot. Let's make it
also a Super Macro shot so we can more clearly
see any noise present.
At about 5cm (2 in.) away from the subject,
the camera lens focuses on Bamm-Bamm's eyes. Even
though we use a small aperture to maximize depth
of field, his nose still comes out blurred. For
a cheap DIY backdrop, we use a black fuzzy sweater.
Normal flourescent light bulbs from the ceiling
[yep, I switched to fluorescent just before I
took this shot because the tungstens just give
out too much heat in Summer] are the only source
of illumination. We experiment a bit to obtain
the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 10
sec. at F8. Even at this long shutter speed, the
C-8080's noise reduction seems to be working great,
producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the
We had to use One-Touch WB to obtain correct
colour reproduction in this picture. Neither AWB
nor any of the preset WB settings worked.
The last feature we will mention is the C-8080's
histograms (yes, there are two live histograms
available). A histogram can be displayed live
during Recording Mode. You can set the histogram
to display permanently, display only when you
press the Exposure Compensation button, or display
the unique "Direct Histogram" (indicating
the black and white areas) directly on the image.
The latter feature will be more intuitive to
most people than the regular histogram -- it not
only indicates there is over- and under-exposed
areas in your image, but also where they are!
By changing light metering mode, you can see which
one gives the best overall exposure for that particular
picture you're trying to take. Or, you can then
decide to meter directly at the problem areas.
The histogram is invaluable to give an indication
of under- and over-exposure (don't rely on the
LCD/EVF since the brightness is adjustable and
may be misleading).
The pictures in the Olympus Camedia C-8080
Wide Zoom Photo Gallery page provide a good
sample of what the camera is capable of. I have
provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed
to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well
as the 3264x2448 pixels original size (click on
the image for the original version).
You can safely assume that most macro shots
and slow shutter speed shots required the use
of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name.
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious