DCRP Review: Olympus C-60 Zoom
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: May 4, 2004
Last Updated: May 4, 2004

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The Olympus C-60 Zoom ($449) is an updated version of 2003's C-50 Zoom (read our review). Both cameras share the same all-metal body and 3X zoom lens, and the C-60Z offers the following upgrades over its predecessor:

  • 6.1 effective Megapixel CCD
  • Hybrid AF system
  • Higher capacity battery
  • Sound recording in movie mode
  • TruePic Turbo engine for faster performance
  • Larger 1.8" LCD
  • USB 2.0 support

The C-60Z (known as the X-3 in Japan) joins the growing crowd of 6 Megapixel cameras. How does it perform? Find out in our review!

What's in the Box?

The Olympus C-60Z has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 6.1 effective Mpixel C-60 Zoom camera
  • 32MB xD Picture Card
  • LI-12B lithium-ion battery (rechargeable)
  • Battery charger
  • Remote control
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
  • Basic manual (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM

Olympus includes a 32MB xD card with the camera, which won't hold very many 6 Megapixel photos. So, you'll quickly want to buy a larger card -- I suggest 256MB as a good size.

The C-60 uses a higher capacity version of the battery that came with the C-50. This one, called the LI-12B, has 4.5 Wh of energy versus 4.0 Wh on the old LI-10B. Olympus doesn't publish any battery life information, but the C-60 didn't seem any better or worse than other cameras I've tested recently.

If you do have any LI-10B batteries laying around, they can still be used in the C-60Z.

The usual rules about proprietary batteries apply here. For one, they're expensive (at least $40 a pop). Secondly, if you're in a bind, you can't just toss in AAs to get you through the day. The C-60 certainly has room for AA batteries -- but Olympus went the lithium-ion way instead.

When it's time to recharge the battery just snap it into the included external charger. It takes about 2 hours to fully charge the battery. Note that this isn't one of those nice "plug it right into the wall" chargers -- there's a power cable.

Olympus includes the RM-2 remote control with the camera. It's very basic, with just one button. You can take a picture with it, or view a slide show in playback mode. No zoom control or anything.

With a built-in lens cover, there's no need to worry about lens caps on the C-60Z. The lens cover is also the power switch for the camera, which I found to be too easy to bump while the camera is on, thus turning it off.

If you like accessories... well, the C-60Z isn't your camera. The only ones I could come up with are an AC adapter ($40) and a soft case ($13). A waterproof case (model PT-024) is offered in Japan -- maybe it'll be sold here in the States one day.

Like all of Olympus' recent cameras, the C-60Z is fully compatible with Mac OS X and Windows XP. Most likely, you won't even need to install drivers.

The C-60Z includes version 4.2 of the Olympus Camedia Master software. The screen above shows you everything it can do.

The editing tools included with Camedia Master are impressive. You can change all kinds of things like brightness, contrast, and color balance. There are also red-eye reduction and "instant fix" options.

If you don't mind parting with $20, Olympus will upgrade you to the "Pro" version of the software. This adds contact sheet printing, image e-mailing, HTML albums, panorama stitching, and slide shows.

The C-60Z continues Olympus' unfortunate tradition of including the camera manual on CD-ROM. The manual itself is decent, but it's a shame that you have to view it on your PC. A printed basic manual is included, but it lacks the depth of the full manual.

Look and Feel

The C-60 uses an evolved version of the all-metal body first seen on the C-50. Things have been moved around in places, but if you're familiar with the C-50, you'll have no problem just picking up and using the C-60.

The C-60's body is fairly sturdy for the most part, and it's easy to hold. The important controls are easy to reach, though I couldn't stand the tiny zoom controller. While not tiny, the camera is small enough to fit in most of your pockets.

One thing to watch out for with these metal cameras is they scratch very easily -- so take good care of them.

Let's begin our full tour of the camera now!

The front of the camera is where you'll find one of the C-60's nicest new features (which I'll get to in a second).

The camera uses the same F2.8-4.8, 3X optical zoom lens as its predecessor. The lens has a focal range of 7.8 - 23.4 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm. The lens is not threaded, and the camera does not support conversion lenses.

To the upper-left of the lens is the C-60's flash, which has a working range of 0.2 - 3.4 m at wide-angle, and 0.3 - 2.0 m at telephoto. That's the same range as on the C-50. You cannot attach an external flash to this camera.

Directly below the flash is the passive autofocus sensor. The camera uses both traditional contrast detection and phase-difference detection to focus (the sensor helps with the latter). That helps speed up focusing in normal lighting, but doesn't do much for low light shooting. That's where an AF-assist lamp comes in handy.

The little red circle to the right of the AF sensor is the self-timer/remote control lamp. The dark circle to the lower-left of the lens is the receiver for the remote control. The microphone can be seen at the top-right of the photo (the C-50 didn't have one).

While the C-50 had a 1.5" LCD display, the C-60 has a 1.8" screen. With a resolution of 134,000 pixels, the screen is quite sharp, and motion is fluid as well. You can adjust the screen brightness in the setup menu.

To the upper-left of the LCD is a decent-sized optical viewfinder. As is often the case with compact cameras, the viewfinder lacks a diopter correction knob, which is used to focus the image in the viewfinder.

To the right of the viewfinder are two buttons:

  • Flash setting (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, slow sync, slow sync w/redeye reduction, flash off) {record mode} / Delete photo {playback mode}
  • Macro + metering (Off, spot metering, macro, spot metering + macro) {record} / Protect image {playback}

To the right of the LCD is the button to enter playback mode as well as the four-way controller. The four-way controller is used for menu navigation and adjusting exposure compensation (the usual -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments).

On top of the C-60 you'll find the mode dial, shutter release button, and zoom controller.

The mode dial, which was located on the back of the C-50, has the following options:

  • Auto mode - fully automatic, most menu items locked up
  • Program mode - still automatic, but with full menu access
  • Aperture priority mode - you choose aperture, camera selects shutter speed. The aperture range is F2.8 - F8.0
  • Shutter priority mode - you choose shutter speed, camera selects shutter speed. Shutter speed range is 4 - 1/1000 sec
  • Manual mode - you choose both the shutter speed and aperture; Shutter speed range expands to 8 - 1/1000 sec
  • My Mode - save your favorite camera settings to spot on mode dial. This is a great feature.
  • Movie mode - more on this later
  • Scene mode
    • Landscape-scene
    • Landscape-portrait
    • Self portrait
    • Sports
  • Night Scene - why these two aren't under with the rest of the scene modes is beyond me
  • Portrait

I was excited when I saw that the C-8080 gave you the full shutter speed range in shutter priority mode. Unfortunately Olympus didn't do the same thing with the C-60. If you want exposures longer than 4 seconds, you must use "M" mode.

To the right of the mode dial is the shutter release button, with the zoom controller next to that. If there's one thing I hate passionately about the C-60, it's the zoom controller. It's too small and has no "play" (range of motion). Obviously your mileage may vary, but I thought it's worth pointing out. It takes 2.4 seconds to move the lens from wide-angle to telephoto, and you can make precise movements by quickly pressing the controller.

The only thing to mention in this shot is the C-60's speaker.

On the other side of the camera, you'll find the C-60's I/O ports. These include DC-in (for optional AC adapter0, A/V out, and USB. The C-60 supports USB 2.0 high speed, and is also backward compatible with good ol' USB 1.1. The ports are protected by a fairly sturdy plastic door.

Finally, we finish our tour on the bottom of the C-60. Here's where you'll find the battery and memory card slots, as well as a plastic tripod mount.

The battery and memory card slots are covered by a plastic door that may bust off if forced.

The included LI-12B battery is shown at right.

Using the Olympus C-60 Zoom

Record Mode

I was not impressed with the startup speed of the C-60Z. While it extends the lens quickly, the camera spends an eternity reading the xD card. All this adds up to a startup time approaching 7 seconds.


A live histogram is shown in record mode

The hybrid AF system on the C-60 gives it above average focusing speeds, with a typical delay of a little over half a second. If the camera has to hunt a bit, it may take a second or longer to lock focus. Despite not having an AF-assist lamp, the C-60 focused very well in low light conditions.

The camera does very well in the shutter lag department, with no major delays, even at slower shutter speeds.

Shot-to-shot speed is excellent, with a delay of just over one second, assuming you've turned off the post-shot review feature. Much to my surprise, the camera did not lock up while saving a TIFF file to the memory card. In fact, I was able to take three shots in a row in TIFF mode before the buffer was full. Nice!

There's no easy way to delete a photo immediately after it is taken. You can, however, use the QuickView feature to do so.

There are tons of image resolution and quality choices on the C-60. And here they are:

Quality Resolution Approx. File Size # photos on 32MB card (included)
TIFF 2816 x 2112 17.9 MB 1
2560 x 1920 14.8 MB 2
2272 x 1704 11.6 MB 2
2048 x 1536 9.5 MB 3
1600 x 1200 5.8 MB 5
1280 x 960 3.7 MB 8
1024 x 768 2.4 MB 13
640 x 480 900 KB 34
SHQ 2816 x 2112 4.4 MB 7
HQ 2816 x 2112 1.5 MB 21
SQ1 - High 2560 x 1920 3.7 MB 8
2272 x 1704 2.9 MB 11
2048 x 1536 2.3 MB 13
1600 x 1200 1.4 MB 22
SQ1 - Normal 2560 x 1920 1.2 MB 26
2272 x 1704 1.0 MB 33
2048 x 1536 800 KB 40
1600 x 1200 500 KB 66
SQ2 - High 1280 x 960 900 KB 35
1024 x 768 600 KB 55
640 x 480 200 KB 142
SQ2 - Normal 1280 x 960 300 KB 104
1024 x 768 200 KB 153
640 x 480 100 KB 398

That's a lot of options! You may never need a 640 x 480 TIFF, but it's nice to know that if you ever did need it, it's there.

Olympus uses one of the more sensible file numbering systems that I've seen. Files are named Pmdd####.jpg, where m is the month (1-9, A-C), d is the day, and #### is 0001-9999. This way your file numbers are always unique (well, at least a year). File numbering is maintained as you erase and switch memory cards.

The C-60Z uses Olympus' customizable menu system. When you first open the menu, you're presented with four choices:

  • Self-timer / remote control
  • Mode Menu
  • Monitor off
  • Image quality

Don't like those options? With the exception of Mode Menu and Monitor off, you can put whatever you want in that menu -- they're all just shortcuts into the mode menu.

The Mode Menu is where most of the options on the C-60 are located. The menu is one of the more confusing systems out there, and it takes some getting used to. Here's what you'll find in the mode menu:

  • Camera Settings
    • Scene (Landscape, landscape-portrait, self-portrait, sports) - this option only available in scene mode
    • Self-timer/remote control (Off, self-timer, remote control)
    • Drive (Single-frame, sequential, AF sequential, auto bracketing) - see below
    • ISO (Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400)
    • Flash intensity (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
    • Noise reduction (on/off) - reduce noise in long exposures
    • Digital zoom (on/off)
    • Fulltime AF (on/off) - camera is always trying to focus; reduces AF lag at the expense of battery life
    • Accessory (Off, underwater case)
    • Sound recording (on/off) - add a 4 sec voice clip to each photo
    • Super macro mode (on/off) - described later
    • Panorama (on/off) - helps you frame panoramic shots
    • 2-in-1 (on/off) - combines two successive pictures into one
    • Function (Off, black & white, sepia)
    • Info (on/off) - whether exposure info is shown on LCD
    • Histogram (on/off)

  • Picture Settings
    • Image quality (see chart)
    • White balance (Auto, sunlight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent) - no custom mode is a disappointment
    • Scene modes (Normal, portrait, landscape, night scene)
    • Sharpness (-2 to +2, increments of 1)
    • Contrast (-2 to +2, increments of 1)

  • Card Setup (Format)

  • Setup
    • All reset (on/off) - retain settings after camera is powered off
    • Language
    • PW on/off setup - for startup/shutdown screens
      • Screen (on/off)
      • Volume (Off, low, high)
    • Rec view (on/off) - post-shot review feature
    • Beep (Off, low, high)
    • Shutter sound (Off, 1, 2) - you can set the volume for whichever shutter sound you choose
    • Sleep (30 sec, 1, 3, 5, 10 mins)
    • My Mode setup - save your favorite settings to spot on mode dial
    • File name (Reset, auto)
    • Pixel mapping (on/off) - removes dead pixels that can appear in images
    • Monitor brightness (variable)
    • Date/time (set
    • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
    • Shortcut - choose what functions go in the initial record and playback menus

There are three continuous shooting modes on the C-60Z. Regular sequential mode will lock the focus and exposure settings on the first shot, and will take 3 shots at 1 frame/sec. AF sequential mode will redo the focus and exposure for each shot, slowing the burst rate even more. Auto bracketing will take 3 or 5 shots in a row, each with a different exposure compensation value. You set the EV increment (±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1EV) in the same menu.

Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.

I was disappointed to see that the C-60Z lacks a custom white balance function, especially since it has quite a few other manual controls. The camera handled my 600W quartz lamps pretty well, though there's a bit of a blue cast. If you shoot under more "normal" lighting, you need not worry about this. Aside from that slight color cast, the photo looks pretty good.

The C-60 has two macro modes: standard and super. In standard mode, you can get as close to your subject as 20 cm at wide-angle and 30 cm at telephoto -- not great. For real closeups you want to use super macro mode, where you can get just 4 cm away from your subject. Do note that the lens is locked at the wide-angle position in super macro mode.

The C-60Z took a well-exposed, but noisy photo of the famous SF skyline. With shutter speeds as long as 8 seconds (though only in M mode... grrr), you can take in plenty of light. Noise levels were above average, most notably in the sky. I did take this shot a little earlier than usual, which may account for that (since the sky is usually black, and you wouldn't notice the noise). Purple fringing was not an issue.

Here's a look at how the C-60 performs at different ISO sensitivities:


ISO 64
View Full Size Image

ISO 100
View Full Size Image

ISO 200
View Full Size Image


ISO 400
View Full Size Image

Interesting how the ISO 400 looks totally different from the rest! As you can see, image noise starts to ramp up quickly at ISO 200, and it' pretty nasty at ISO 400.

The C-60 has just mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens, and there's no vignetting to speak of.

Being a compact camera, I was not surprised to see some noticeable redeye on the C-60Z. It's not horrible by any means, but you may want to clean it up in your favorite photo editor later.

Overall image quality was good, but not great. My main beef with the C-60's photos is noise. There's too much of it, and frankly I'm not surprised -- the more pixels you stuff into a tiny sensor, the worse the noise is going to be. Noise doesn't just add "grain" to your images, it eats away at details too. The C-60Z's photos have what call a "video capture look", a kind of fuzziness. Here are two crops from images in the gallery that show what I mean:


Fuzzy!


Things like trees and grass are what look the worst

You can see this in the Steve's Digicams photo gallery as well -- so it's not just my camera.

On at least two occasions, I noticed another weird problem: horizontal lines in my images. You can see a bit of this in the shot just above... here are two samples of that:

That's not good. It's hard to say if this was just my camera, since I haven't seen many C-60 photos on the web yet.

What's the bottom line? If you're downsizing or making reasonable sized prints (meaning 8 x 10 or smaller) then the noise is not an issue. For big prints, the noise may degrade the output. The C-60 does have nice color, low purple fringing levels, and generally good exposures.

Don't just take my word for all this -- view our photo gallery and decide if the C-60's images meet your expectations.

Movie Mode

The C-60Z has an unexciting movie mode. You can record 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 video at 15 frames/second until the memory card is full. Sound is recorded as well.

For whatever reason, the lens is fixed at the wide-angle position while in movie mode. You can't even zoom in before you start recording.

Movies are saved in QuickTime format.

Here's really uninspiring sample movie (and I again apologize for the wind noise):


Click to play movie (6.5MB, QuickTime format)

Can't play it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

The C-60Z has a pretty nice playback mode. Basic features include slide shows, voice annotations, thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, image protection, and "zoom and scroll". The camera supports direct printing using the PictBridge system, as well.

The zoom and scroll feature (my term) allows you to zoom in as much as 5X into your photo, and then move around in it.

You can rotate, resize (to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240), and crop photos in playback mode.

Normally, you don't get much information about your photos in playback mode. By going to the menu, you can activate one of two info screens. One shows exposure info, while the other shows that plus a histogram.

The camera moves through photos at an average clip, with a 1.5 second delay between each picture.

How Does it Compare?

The Olympus C-60Z is a compact 6 Megapixel camera that's average in all respects. It has a stylish, all-metal body that's small but not Digital ELPH or Stylus-sized. In terms of performance, the camera does well in all areas except startup speed, where it takes nearly 7 seconds before you can start taking pictures. The camera does focus well in low light, a nice surprise considering the lack of an AF-assist lamp. I was also pleased to see that the camera could take a few TIFFs in a row without locking up the camera for 30 seconds. The C60's support for USB 2.0 helps to speed up the transferring of photos to your PC.

In terms of photo quality, I was a bit disappointed with the C-60. Photos are well-exposed and colorful, but noise levels are higher than average, most likely due to the tightly-packed pixels on the 1/1.76" sensor. I also noticed some strange horizontal lines in some of my photos, which may just be specific to my camera.

The C-60Z has quite a few manual features, including control over shutter speed and aperture. It would've been nice if you had access to the full range of shutter speeds while in shutter priority mode, though. Some manual controls that I would've liked to have seen include manual focus and custom white balance. Its movie mode also leaves much to be desired.

Two other things that bugged me are the tiny, uncomfortable zoom controller, and the camera manual on CD-ROM. The 6 Megapixel resolution is overkill for almost everyone, and the tradeoff can be seen by looking at the higher-than-average noise levels in the C-60's photos. All-in-all, the C-60Z is a decent camera that could be better. I hesitantly recommend the C-60 based on its features and price, but do check out the competition carefully.

What I liked:

  • Compact metal body
  • Many manual controls
  • Hybrid AF system; good low light focusing
  • My Mode feature lets you store favorite settings to spot on mode dial
  • USB 2.0 support
  • Can shoot TIFFs without delay (assuming there's space in the buffer)
  • Remote control included
  • Histogram in record and playback mode

What I didn't care for:

  • Images are noisy; also noticed strange lines in some images
  • Sluggish startup speed
  • No manual white balance or focus
  • Full shutter speed range only available in "M" mode
  • Poorly designed zoom controller
  • Average movie mode
  • Full manual only on CD

Other cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot S50, Fuji FinePix F700, Konica Minolta DiMAGE G600, Pentax Optio 555, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the C-60Z and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

Want to see how the photo quality turned out? View our gallery!

Want a second opinion? How about more?

Read another review over at Steve's Digicams.

Buy it now

Feedback & Discussion

If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.

To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.

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