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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus C-8080 WZ


Olympus C-8080 WZ Review

Review Date: June 11, 2004

Category: Advanced Amateur - Prosumer

Olympus Camedia C-8080 Wide-Zoom 


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 portraits).

We find the overall image quality of the Olympus Camedia C-8080 Wide Zoom to be excellent.

5x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 7.1mm Telephoto 35.6mm
Wide-angle 7.1mm
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 35.6mm
(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 picture.

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 format desired.

[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
Macro (20 cm / 7.9 in.) Super Macro (5 cm / 2 in.)
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.

Super Macro
Super Macro
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 Indoors
AWB WB = Tungsten
AWB 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.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 50
ISO 50
ISO 64 ISO 80 ISO 100
ISO 64 ISO 80 ISO 100
ISO 125 ISO 160 ISO 200
ISO 125 ISO 160 ISO 200
ISO 250 ISO 320 ISO 400
ISO 250 ISO 320 ISO 400

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!

Chromatic Aberrations

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.

Long Shutter Speed
23.4mm (112mm), Manual, 10 sec., F8, ISO 50
One-Touch WB, Super Macro, Remote Control, Tripod Used

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 background.

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 bandwidth. Thanks!


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