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


   


Olympus C-8080 WZ Review

Review Date: May 4, 2004

Category: Advanced Amateur - Prosumer

Olympus Camedia C-8080 Wide-Zoom

USER'S EXPERIENCE

Friday, May 7, 2004 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Camedia C-8080 Wide-Zoom
  • Lens Hood
  • Lens Cap & String
  • Neck Strap
  • Wireless Remote Controller
  • Li-Ion Battery & Battery Charger
  • 32MB xD-Picture Card
  • Interface Cables: A/V; USB
  • Instruction Manuals: Basic Manual; Quick Start Guide
  • Software CDs: Camedia Master 4.2, Reference Manual

The Olympus Camedia C-8080 Wide Zoom comes with a 32MB xD-Picture card, rechargeable Li-Ion battery and battery recharger. A wireless remote controller is a nice addition.

It takes a looong 5 hrs to fully charge a depleted Li-Ion battery but, once charged, the battery lasts as long, which is quite nice. There is no indication how much of the battery is recharged: red light means the battery is charging; green light indicates it is fully charged.

The C-8080 is unique among the 8MP digital cameras in that it accepts both an xD-Picture card and a CF card, thus allowing you to double the amount of images you can capture before you have to change cards. The supplied 32MB xD-Picture card will hold about 8 Superfine Large (3264x2448 pixels) images or 2 RAW images or 1 TIFF image. I recommend you purchase at least a 512MB CF card, or as large a memory card as you can afford. For example, a 256MB CF card will allow you to record about 63 Superfine Large images or 21 RAW images or 10 TIFF images. A 8MP image takes a lot of space (though compressed) so unless you fancy changing cards in the middle of a shooting session, check out the larger capacity memory cards. The C-8080 accepts both CF Type I and II.

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, switch the Mode Dial to Playback, and power on the camera. The camera is recognized as a drive, and you just use Windows Explorer or the supplied Camedia Master software to transfer images to your PC. Transfer is hyperfast, taking about only 2 sec. per image! 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. Fortunately, there is an electronic version of the Reference Manual on the CD. [There is one typo in my electronic manual under Specifications: the image sensor is listed as 1/1.8 in. instead of 2/3 in.]

I like having the Reference Manual on my PC for 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 the field. If Olympus intends to pursue the paperless route, then I suggest it seriously considers porting and formatting its electronic manuals to handheld pda devices.

Chipmunk: 1/80 sec., F3.5, and ISO 50
Chipmunkl
35.6mm (170mm), Program AE, Pattern, 1/80 sec., F3.5, and ISO 50
Cropped

The Olympus Camedia C-8080 is a full-featured prosumer digital camera, and as such does require some adjustement time to master all its features.

Some reviewers have complained about the usability factor. I believe it's because Olympus has redesigned the whole controls and user interfaces, and so they look a bit unfamiliar at first. However, spend the time to understand the menu structure and everything becomes intuitive.

On the one hand, I really like the idea of having all the options possible for a function available at the press of a button. It quickly becomes very intuitive to use. I mean you don't have to go hunting through the menu to find a function; the possible options are always available at the press of a button.

On the other hand, the ideal purpose of a dedicated button is to set one -- and only one -- functionality. Some of you might balk at the idea of a menu popping up when you press a "dedicated" button.

So, I propose to the Olympus engineers to extend the functionality of each button thus: one short press of a button sets a functionality, e.g. a short press of the WB button sets One-Touch WB (you can safely assume I am already pointing the camera at the white object); a longer press of the WB button brings up the WB sub-menu. This way, we can have the best of both worlds!

You can use two memory cards in the camera, a CF card plus an xD-Picture card. Just press a button to switch between them. For panorama shots using the panorama assist feature, you must use the xD-Picture card. Of course, if you do (as I usually do) and take panorama pictures without the panorama assist feature, then it really does not matter which memory card you use. Two memory cards mean you have double the amount of storage for your pictures! Hey, every prosumer level digital camera should have that!

Transfering extrafine jpeg images is extra fast, at an amazing 2-3 sec. per image on my Windows XP PC. I'm still with USB 1.0 but the C-8080 has USB 2.0, so if you have USB 2.0, your transfer should literally zing!

The C-8080 has an AF Assist Illuminator to aid in focusing in low-light conditions. This works very well though, as expected, it will hunt a bit in extreme low-light to obtain focus.

There is a proprietary hot shoe for external (Olympus) flash units.

Manual focus is done using the up and down arrow keys on the Arrow Pad, with the central portion magnified to aid in focusing. It works pretty well, with the clear magnified central image coming crisply into focus. Of course, it's not as enjoyable to use as turning a focus ring.

The C-8080 is a big digital camera. It looks big and feels big, but it fits well in the hands. The lens barrel is huge (probably getting ready for the 4/3 System image sensor, fingers crossed?) with a ring around it. First thing I did was to give that ring a twist -- was it a manual focus, a manual zoom,... -- and it disappointingly did not do anything. Well, not really: give it a harder twist and it twists off to allow attachment of optional extended lenses.

Disappointingly, SETUP and Playback are on the Mode Dial, which means you have to move from your chosen shooting mode to access these two functions.

A unique C-8080 feature is the "Direct Histogram" where white and black areas are superimposed as tiny blue and red rectangles on the image. Some of you might find this much more intuitive than using the traditional histogram.

I found the included wireless remote controller very handy when taking macro shots to prevent camera shake. The remote sensor is at the front of the camera, so you have to be somewhat careful not inadvertently include yourself (or part of your hand) in the picture.

I find the C-8080 a very enjoyable digital camera to use. It gives great images, and the feeling of quality is tops. Once past learning the controls and menu structure, it becomes very intuitive to use. The C-8080 is not really for the Point-and-Shoot crowd, though they can get excellent pictures just using the Program Auto mode (we used the "P" mode for most of our sample images in the Olympus C-8080 Photo Gallery).

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