Review: Olympus C-2040Z
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, February 19, 2001
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 27, 2001
hard for me to believe that nearly two years ago, I reviewed the
Olympus C-2000Z. It was a big comparative
review against the Nikon Coolpix 950, and I chose the Coolpix
as the winner. (Don't worry, Olympus fans, in the next comparison
I did, the Olympus C-3030Z beat out the Nikon Coolpix 990). A few
months after the C-2000Z was introduced, the upgraded C-2020Z
arrived. And now, in 2001, the latest model in the C-2000 series
has arrived: the C-2040Z
C-2040Z adds the following to the already very nice C-2020Z:
F1.8 optical zoom lens
1/2" 2.11 Megapixel CCD
white balance mode
shutter speed choices
if you take an already very good camera and add these features,
you'd expect this camera to be even better -- and that's just how
it turned out.
in the Box?
C-2040Z has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
2.1 Mpixel Olympus C-2040Z camera
CR-V3 "long life" Lithium batteries (non-rechargeable)
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
page manual (three of them actually: English, French, Spanish)
get my grumbling out of the way first: "Bad Olympus" for
not including rechargeable batteries on a $700 camera (this seems
to be a trend of late with them). While the CR-V3 batteries do last
for a really long time, they're no substitute for a good set of
NiMH batteries, so go out and grab some right away.
back at my reviews of the similar C-2000Z and C-3030Z cameras, I
complained both times about the lack of a strap to keep the lens
cap from falling off. While many readers think this is a stupid
thing to complain about, I actually had the C-3030Z's lens cap plunge
off the side of a mountain during testing. But there's no need to
complain here - Olympus includes the strap with the lens cap, and
everybody's happy. I'm glad it's there, since the lens cap had the
tendency to pop off if it was bumped.
opposite has happened with the remote control: where the C-2000Z
had it, it's now optional on the C-2040Z.
covered Olympus' Camedia Master software in a previous
review. Overall, I found it to be better than the average software
that comes bundled with the camera.
not terrible, I'm still not a fan of the layout and organization
of Olympus' manuals.
C-2040Z is an easy to hold, point-and-shoot style camera. There
is decent sized grip for your right hand, and there's enough room
for your left as well. There is quite a bit of plastic on the C-2040Z,
but it still feels solid and well-built. The dimensions of the camera
are 4.3 x 3.0 x 2.7 inches, and it weighs in at 307 grams / 0.67
Let's begin our tour of the C-2040Z with a look at the front.
of the big selling points of the C-2040Z is its new "super
bright" F1.8 - F2.6 lens. It's a 3X optical zoom, with a range
of 7.1 - 21.3 mm, which is equivalent to 40 - 120mm on a 35mm camera.
This "super bright" lens, sometimes called "fast",
should allow the camera to take better low light shots. A side effect
of this is that is extends the range of the flash. No complaints
lens is threaded (43mm) and requires a step-up ring in order to
use the various lens accessories that Olympus sells (macro, wide-angle,
on to the back of the camera now. The 1.8" LCD is, interestingly
(and annoyingly) enough, far superior to the LCD on my $2,000 Olympus
E-10. It's bright and fluid, never choppy.
optical viewfinder above and left from the LCD includes diopter
correction for those of us with glasses. If you use your left eye
to compose your shots, your nose will smudge the LCD.
two buttons just to the right of the optical viewfinder are for
flash (rec mode) / delete (play mode) and macro/spot metering (rec
mode) / DPOF print mark (play mode).
right of those buttons is the four-way switch for the menu system.
Below that is the OK (in menu), Exposure lock (rec mode), and protect
(play mode) button. The Display button below that turns the LCD
on and off, and can invoke playback mode easily when the mode wheel
is in a record mode. The button below that invokes the menu system.
top of the camera has everything you'd expect: the LCD info display,
mode wheel, zoom lever, and shutter release button. A few notes
zoom control on the C-2000/3000 series has always seemed counterintuitive
to me. To zoom in on something, you move the lever towards you.
I'd expect to move the lever towards the subject to zoom in on it.
Maybe it's just me. The zoom action itself is fairly smooth and
mode wheel has the following selections:
priority / Shutter priority / Manual mode
all that real estate on the wheel, I don't know why Olympus combines
A/S/M onto one notch. If you want to change between those modes,
it requires a trip to the menus. Some details on A/S/M mode:
priority mode: F1.8 (full wide) or F2.6 (full tele) to F10.
priority mode: 4 sec to 1/800 sec
manual mode: same for aperture; shutter choices of 16 sec to 1/800
still puzzled at the reason for limiting exposures to 4 sec unless
you're in full manual mode.
an (overexposed) look at the left side of the camera. I've opened
up the door and removed the cap on the flash sync port so you can
get a closer look. The 5 pin flash sync port supports the FL-40
external flash from Olympus, and compatible models. Under the door
you'll find ports for DC in, video out, and USB out. There is no
serial support on this model.
the other side of the camera you'll find the SmartMedia slot, under
a plastic door (don't open it too hard, it seems like it could snap
off). The slot is spring-loaded so the card is easy to remove. The
camera includes the 8MB card that you see here.
but not least, the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find the
battery compartment, as well as a plastic tripod mount.
the Olympus C-2040Z
C-2040Z takes about four seconds to extend the lens and initialize
before it's ready to start shooting. When you depress the shutter
release button halfway, it takes less than 1/2 second to lock focus.
Fully depressing the button will result in an almost instant exposure.
Shot-to-shot speed is exceptional, thanks to a hefty amount of buffer
memory. There's about a 2 second wait before you can take another
shot. The longest you'll ever wait on this camera is about 15 seconds
when recording TIFF files.
C-2040Z uses a more traditional non-overlay menu system, which I
found to be confusing. Things seem poorly organized, and hard to
get to. It takes trips to the menus for things that I wish were
buttons instead (but then again they've got little real estate to
work with on this camera). The options you'll find in the menus
in record mode are:
(continuous shooting, self-timer, or auto-bracketing)
Balance - more on this below
(Auto, 100, 200, and 400)
exposure compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV steps)
flash settings (1st or 2nd-curtain effect)
zoom (up to 5X at 640 x 480)
(black & white, white board, black board)
function - panorama assist (only on Olympus-branded SmartMedia
Setup (formats the card)
setup (choose defaults and basic settings)
mode - more on this below
mode (choose which one you want to use)
Lock (enables AE lock or multi-metering)
some more detail on a few of these items. First, white balance.
In addition to preset settings for daylight, overcast, tungsten,
and fluorescent lighting, there's also a "one touch" white
balance mode. Here, you shoot a piece of white (or whatever you
want to be white) paper, and the camera uses that as it's baseline
white color. If that's not enough for you, you can go into the Mode
Setup menu and change the color tone of the white balance-- using
a sliding scale between red and blue. I haven't seen this level
of white balance control on a low-cost camera before.
for quality settings, the chart below describes the standard settings,
and how many photos can fit on the included 8MB card. You have the
ability through the Mode Setup menu to define the various settings
if you'd like (e.g. change the size of a TIFF, change quality of
on 8MB card
C-2040Z faired well in our macro test, especially with one-touch
white balance enabled (as it is in the above shot). You can get
as close as 7.9" to the subject when in full wide-angle.
"Super Bright" lens proved itself worthy in our nightshot
test as well. There are no unnatural stars caused by noise, and
overall, things are very sharp.
LCD display while in record mode
the whole, the C-2040Z's photos were very good, though a little
"blue" sometimes. Check out the gallery
to see some sample photos.
C-2040Z can record movies at 15 frames per second, at resolutions
of 320 x 240 or 160 x 120. No sound is recorded during filming,
unfortunately. The good news is that the zoom lens is functional
during filming, and many menu options are also available (white
balance, ISO, black & white). The sample below (taken in the
rain) should be a decent example.
here to play movie (QuickTime format, 3.4MB)
C-2040Z has a fairly basic playback mode, but it covers most everything.
Slideshows, DPOF print marking, and file protection are there.
is the "zoom and scroll" mode. Using the zoom control
you can move up to 3X closer to your photos, and then use the four-way
switch to move around in the photo. While the zooming is snappy
enough, the scrolling around could be better -- you have to hold
the button down for a second or two before it really starts moving.
between photos is quick - about 2 seconds between each high-res
thumbnail. If you've got a TIFF in there, expect to wait 10-15 seconds
before it appears.
info display in playback mode
C-2040Z has an "Info" option which displays basic exposure
information along with the filename and date of the photo.
menu system is limited in playback mode
can delete one photo using the button on the back of the camera,
or all of them via the menu system. There is no option available
for deleting a group of photos.
the C-2040Z's playback mode is good at the basics, with few bells
Does it Compare?
Olympus C-2040Z is in kind of a strange position. It costs only
about $100 more than the D-490Z, and $100 less than the C-3000Z.
If all this talk of manual controls are too much for you, then you
might want to jump down to the D-490Z. If you can afford the extra
$100, the step up to the 3.3 Megapixel C-3000Z might be worth it.
from all that, though, the C-2040Z is a nice upgrade to an already
excellent camera. I have few issues with it, and most of them are
minor. If your old digital camera is looking for an upgrade but
you're not quite ready for the big leagues of 3 and 4 Megapixel
cameras, then the C-2040Z is seriously worth considering.
startup, shot-to-shot speed
white balance controls
for external flash
I didn't care for:
sound recording in movie mode
a bit pricey at with $699 list price
already mentioned two cameras to take a look at -- the Olympus D-490Z
Some other cameras worth considering are the Casio
MX-2900, Nikon Coolpix 800
(cheaper than you think) Sony
DSC-S50, and the Toshiba
PDR-M5. A few of those cameras may be hard to find since they're
near the end of their lifespan. As always, I recommend a trip to
your local reseller to "try before you buy!"
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the C-2040Z!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.