review has been completed using a production-level C-8080
case you haven't noticed, 8 Megapixel cameras are the latest
and greatest thing in 2004. It seems like just about everyone
has announced one! The C-8080
Wide Zoom ($999) is a totally new
body style, finally breaking free of the body that's been with
us since the C-2000Z.
addition to its 8 Megapixel CCD, the C-8080WZ offers a 5X optical
zoom lens (that starts at 28mm), manual controls, a hot shoe,
a flip-up LCD screen, VGA movie mode, and dual memory card slots
(CF and xD). The new TruePic TURBO image processor promises improved
image quality, as well as rapid startup, shutter release and
more about the C-8080 in our review!
in the Box?
Olympus C-8080WZ has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll
8.0 effective Mpixel C-8080 Wide Zoom camera
xD Picture Card
lithium-ion battery (rechargeable)
featuring Olympus Camedia Master software and drivers
manual (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM
includes a 32MB xD card with the camera, which won't hold very
many 8 Megapixel photos. So, you'll quickly want to buy a larger
card -- I suggest 256MB as a good size. Like the C-5060, the
C-8080 supports both xD and CompactFlash cards. If you're after
a large capacity card, then CF is the way to go. The camera is
FAT32 compatible, so that means you can use the big CF
cards (2GB and above) with the 8080.
C-8080 uses the same BLM-1 battery as the E-1 and C-5060UZ. This
battery has a whopping 10.8 Wh of energy, which is way more than
previous generation batteries. Unfortunately, Olympus doesn't
publish any battery life statistics, but it's seemed to be very
good during my time with the camera. Do note that extra battery
costs a whopping $70 -- so there's one big disadvantage of the
BLM-1. The other is that if the camera is running low on juice,
you can't just drop in 4 AAs to get you through the day.
it's time to recharge the BLM-1, snap it into the included BCM-2
charger. It takes a sluggish 6 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.
the BLM-1 just isn't enough for you, then you want the B-HLD30
power battery holder ($149). It can hold one or two BLM-1 batteries,
giving you (drumroll please) double the battery life. It also
provides vertical controls, and a port for the remote shutter
release cable ($53).
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.
includes a lens cap and retaining strap to protect that nice
lens. Something else that's included and not shown here is a
lens hood, which comes in handy when you're shooting in bright
Optional wide-angle lens
C-8080Z has a nice selection of accessories available (I already
mentioned the battery grip). Here they are:
you want it
the wide end of the camera down to 22.4 mm; requires CLA-8
conversion lens adapter ($35)
the tele end of the camera to 196 mm; requires CLA-8 conversion
lens adapter ($35)
improve your flash photos
shoe TTL cable
you put your flash on a bracket or elsewhere
your batteries by plugging your camera into the wall
it easier to see your LCD outdoors
all of Olympus' recent cameras, the C-8080 is fully compatible
with Mac OS X and Windows XP. Most likely, you won't even need
to install drivers.
C-8080WZ includes version 4.2 of the Olympus Camedia Master software.
The screen above shows you everything it can do.
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
of the RAW image format can also use Camedia Master to tweak
the properties of your images. This includes exposure compensation,
white balance, contrast, sharpness, saturation, and hue. The
beauty of RAW is that it allows you to change settings like white
balance with no loss in image quality. It's a "virtual reshoot",
if you will.
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.
C-8080WZ continues the 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.
C-8080's body is sort of a mix of the C-5060 and the old (but
good) E-10. It's got a magnesium alloy body (and just a little
plastic) and it's built like a tank. It has a small, but comfortable
right hand grip, and the big lens leaves plenty of room for your
left hand. The major controls are all within easy reach, though
there are small buttons scattered about whose locations you may
need to memorize.
a look at the dimensions and weight of the C-8080WZ, and how
it compares to the competition:
x 2.8 x 3.5 in.
x 3.4 x 4.5 in.
x 4.1 x 3.1 in.
x 3.3 x 3.9 in.
x 3.6 x 6.2 in.
you can see, the C-8080 falls right in the middle of the pack.
begin our full tour of the camera now!
C-8080WZ has a brand new 5X zoom lens -- and it's on the "wide
side" as well. This F2.4-3.5 lens has a focal range of 7.1
- 36.6 mm, which is equivalent to 28 - 140 mm, putting it on
the lower end of the 8 Megapixel camera (in terms of total zoom
power). The end of the lens is threaded (for filters), and you
can unscrew the ring around the lens barrel as well (for conversion
lenses). I believe the threads on the lens are 55 mm, but I'm
not 100% positive.
above the lens is a powerful pop-up flash, which has a working
range of 0.8 - 5.8 m at wide-angle, and 0.8 - 4.0 m at telephoto.
If that's not enough flash power for you, or if you want to eliminate
redeye worries, try using an external flash. You'll see where
that goes in a second.
the lower-left of the flash is the autofocus sensor. The camera
uses both traditional contrast detection and phase-difference
detection (which is what the sensor is used for) to focus. That
helps speed up focusing in normal lighting. But wait -- there's
more. Just to the left of that sensor is an AF-assist lamp, which
is used in low light situations. This camera really has it all
in the focusing department.
the AF-assist lamp is the AE-lock button. At the top-left of
the photo is the shutter release button. Finally, that red item
on the grip is both the remote control receiver as well as the
C-8080 has the same flip-up LCD as the C-5050Z and E-10/20. It's
not quite as useful as those that can rotate as well, but it's
better than a standard fixed LCD.
LCD itself is a high resolution 1.8" screen with 134,000
pixels. The screen is bright, sharp, and motion is very fluid.
Brightness is adjustable in the setup menu.
tends to be the case with cameras like this, the C-8080 has an
electronic viewfinder instead of a traditional optical one. As
EVFs go, the one on this camera is excellent. With a whopping
240,000 pixels, it's very sharp. Just like the main LCD, the
EVF is bright and motion is smooth. You can adjust the brightness
of both the LCD and EVF in the setup menu. By turning the knob
around the EVF, you can adjust the focus of the screen (diopter
correction). Both the EVF and LCD are usable in low light, sine
the camera brightens them automatically.
the lower-left of the EVF is the button for self-timer/remote
control and deleting photos. Over on the opposite side of the
EVF is the main command dial, which you'll use to select various
the right of the LCD, you'll find several buttons, the four-way
controller, and the I/O ports (I'll get to the stuff to the left
of the LCD a bit later).
QuickView button is the fast way into playback mode (no need
to use the mode dial). The four-way controller is used for menu
navigation, and using the program shift feature that I'll describe
display button (with the screen on it) switches between the LCD
and EVF. The CF/xD button to the right of that chooses which
memory card slot to use.
those, under plastic covers, are the I/O ports. These include
DC-in (for optional AC adapter), USB 2.0 high speed, and A/V
C-8080WZ's hot shoe supports Olympus' own flashes, plus third
party flashes as well. Do note that if you use a non-Olympus
flash, you'll need to use both the camera and the flash in manual
mode. Unlike the C-5060 (and I believe the E-10/20 as well),
there's no flash sync port on the camera. The camera can sync
as fast as 1/300 sec. A slave flash mode allows you to choose
how much light is emitted by the flash (in 10 steps).
to the right of the hot shoe is the mode dial, which has quite
a few options. The options include:
mode - automatic; Program Shift lets you cycle through several
aperture/shutter speed combinations -- handy when you need
a faster shutter speed or more depth of field
priority mode - you choose aperture, camera selects shutter
speed. The aperture range is F2.4 - F8.0
priority mode - you choose shutter speed, camera selects shutter
speed. Shutter speed range is 15 - 1/4000 sec
mode - you choose both the shutter speed and aperture; Same
ranges as above plus a bulb mode allowing for exposures as
long as 8 minutes
Mode - save up to eight sets of your favorite camera settings
for easy retrieval later. This is a great feature.
mode - more on this later
mode - more later
mode - more on this later
I've knocked Olympus on this before, I'll give them credit when
they do things the right way (or at least the way I like things).
On previous models, you can't get at the full range of shutter
speeds while in shutter priority mode -- you had to use "M" mode.
That's no longer the case, with a 15 second max shutter speed
available in "S" mode. Yay!
above the mode dial is the power button. To the right of the
dial, you'll find the custom button, which you can set to control
just about any camera setting (it's ISO by default).
the custom button is the zoom controller, which moves the lens
from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.3 seconds. There are
ten steps in the 5X zoom range to choose from.
this side of the camera, you'll find a whole bunch of buttons.
I'll work my way left to right, top to bottom.
This is how you select options on the C-8080.
Hold down the button and then use the command dial.
first button is the release for the pop-up flash. Below that
are buttons for white balance and image quality. The available
white balance options are:
(1-4) - retrieve one of four saved WB settings
- create a new custom WB setting and save it if you wish
must confess that I don't like how Olympus splits the WB over
so many submenus. By holding down the WB button and pressing
the OK button, you can get to the white balance compensation
menu. This lets you fine-tune the WB in the red and blue directions
(7 steps each way).
touch on the image quality options later.
next button over is the focus button, which lets you choose from
autofocus, macro, manual focus, super macro, and super macro
w/manual focus. In manual focus mode, you use the left/right
buttons on the four-way controller to focus the lens (Olympus
seems to have an aversion to focus rings). The current focus
distance is shown on the LCD/EVF, and the center of the frame
is enlarged, so you can verify that your subject is in focus.
I'll cover the macro modes later in the review. This same button
is used for image protection while in playback mode.
button below-left of that is for exposure compensation, which
is the usual -2EV to +2EV, in 1/3EV or 1/2EV increments. Hold
this button down and use the four-way controller to manually
select the area in the frame on which to focus. This button also
shows exposure information while in playback mode. The button
to the right controls the flash setting. Choose from auto, auto
w/redeye reduction, fill flash, flash off, and slow sync. In
playback mode, this button rotates images.
down the exposure compensation and flash buttons at the same
time and you can set -- get this -- flash exposure compensation.
The range is the same as it was for exposure compensation.
final button here is the metering button, which gives you the
choice of ESP, spot, multi, and center-weighted metering. In
playback mode, this is the DPOF print mark button.
the other side of the camera, you'll find the dual memory card
slots, which are behind a fairly sturdy plastic door. The C-8080WZ
supports both xD and CompactFlash Type II (Microdrive included)
an xD card in its slot, as you can see.
end our tour with a look at the bottom of the camera. Down here
is where you'll find the battery compartment, which has a sturdy
door as well as a lock.
the left of that is the metal tripod mount, which is located
in the center of the body. Continuing left, we find the 8080's
included BLM-1 battery is shown at right.
the Olympus C-8080 Zoom
of the promises of the TruePic TURBO image processor is faster
startup speed -- and the C-8080 delivers. It takes 1 - 2 seconds
for the camera to get ready to shoot, depending on where the
lens has to go (this is based on its previous location).
the camera's ready, you'll find two interesting ways to display
a histogram. The first (above left) is the traditional-style
histogram that we all know and love. The second style (above
right) -- which is hard to see here -- is what Olympus calls
a "direct" histogram. Darker areas of the frame will
have blue boxes superimposed, while bright areas have red boxes.
Both of these can help you get better exposures, as long as you
know what to do with the information they provide.
C-8080's passive AF system allows it to focus very quickly in
good light -- 1/2 second in most cases. If the camera has to
hunt a lot, it can take up to two seconds to lock focus. In dim
light, the AF sensor and AF-assist lamp combo allow the camera
to lock focus with ease. It takes a little longer, but the camera
will lock focus.
camera does very well in the shutter lag department, as well.
I didn't notice it at all until slow shutter speeds like 1/8
sec), and even then, it was barely noticeable.
speed is excellent, with a delay of just over one second, assuming
you've turned off the post-shot review feature. When in TIFF
mode, the camera will be locked up for about 19 seconds while
the image is being written to the memory card. In RAW mode, the
delay is around 14 seconds.
no easy way to delete a photo immediately after it is taken.
You can, however, use the QuickView feature to do so.
are tons of image resolution and quality choices on the C-8080WZ.
And here they are:
photos on 32MB card (included)
x 2176 (3:2)
x 2176 (3:2)
x 2176 (3:2)
don't think you'll find another camera with than many options.
While it may be overkill (who needs a 640 x 480 TIFF file?),
it's better to have too many choices than too few.
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.
C-8080Z uses Olympus' customizable menu system. When you first
open the menu, you're presented with four choices:
need to turn digital zoom on or off very often? With the exception
of Mode Menu, you can put whatever you want in that menu. They're
all just shortcuts into the mode menu.
Mode Menu is where most of the options on the C-8080 are located.
To call the menu intimidating is an understatement -- it's 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:
mode (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, slow
sync, flash off)
exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
flash (Internal + external, external only, slave)
sync (1st-curtain, 1st-curtain w/redeye reduction,
mode (AF, macro, MF, super macro, super macro w/MF)
mode (iESP, spot focus) - the former is multi-point,
the latter is center-spot focus
AF (on/off) - if on, the camera will always be trying
(on/off) - if on, camera uses both contrast and phase
difference detection systems. If off, camera only uses
(ESP, spot, multi, center-weighted)
(Single-frame, high speed sequential, sequential, AF sequential,
auto bracketing) - see below
(Off, self-timer, remote)
(Auto, 50, 64, 80, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400) - wow,
that's a lot of options!
reduction (on/off) - reduce noise in long exposures
(Off, panorama, guideline shooting, black & white, sepia)
- more below
assist (on/off) - more below
recording (on/off) - add a 4 sec voice clip to each photo
Mode (1-8) - save up to eight sets of your favorite settings
to the My Mode spot on the mode dial
(Off, on w/exp. compensation, on, direct) - described earlier
Balance - why they split it up like this is beyond me
1 (Shade, cloudy, sunlight, evening sunlight)
2 (Daylight fluorescent, neutral fluorescent, cool
white fluorescent, white fluorescent, tungsten)
(1-4) - select one of four sets of custom white balance
WB - shoot a white or gray card to get perfect color
in any light
quality (see chart)
modes (Normal, portrait, landscape, night scene)
(-5 to +5, increments of 1)
(-5 to +5, increments of 1)
(-5 to +5, increments of 1)
(-5 to +5, increments of 1)
reset (on/off) - retain settings after camera is powered
view (Off, auto, 3, 5, 10 sec) - post-shot review feature
(Off, 1, 2)
sound (Off, 1, 2)
(Normal, custom 1, 2, 3) - choose what the command dial does
step (1/3EV, 1/2EV) - set the increment for exposure, flash
button - choose a function for the custom button on top of
the camera; nearly any menu option can be used.
cut - configure the first page of the menus, as I explained
Mode setup - save your favorite settings (up to 8 sets) for
control panel (on/off) - see below
of those options require further explanation, so here goes:
the drive options. There are four continuous shooting modes.
Regular sequential mode will lock the focus and exposure settings
on the first shot, and will take 12 shots at 1 frames/sec, while
the high speed mode takes up to 5 shots at 1.5 frames/sec (those
are my measurements). AF sequential mode will redo the focus
and exposure for each shot, slowing the burst rate down considerably.
Auto bracketing will take 3 or 5 shots in a row, each with a
different exposure compensation value. You can set the EV increment
(±0.3EV, ±0.7EV, ±1EV) in the setup menu.
frame assist feature overlays a 3 x 3 grid on the LCD/EVF, which
you can use to help compose your photos (by the "rule of
thirds"). Buried in the function submenu is a "guideline
shooting" option, which puts the outline of a human head
on the LCD. I've seen this feature before, and I'm not really
sure why it's needed.
Dual control panel
control panel" feature was first seen on the C-5050Z, and
now it's on the C-8080WZ as well. Basically this feature puts
what would normally go on the LCD info display (if the camera
had one) onto the main LCD. Do note that you can't use the EVF
while having the control panel on the LCD at the same time --
a secondary setup menu, which is accessed by the mode dial. The
items there include:
(English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian?, Portuguese,
(Off, low, high)
(30 sec, 1, 3, 5, 10 min)
name (Auto, reset)
mapping - helps remove dead/hot pixels
brightness - adjust the brightness of the LCD and EVF
out (NTSC, PAL)
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
C-8080 produced a gorgeous rendition of our famous 3 inch tall
macro subject. Color looks nice, and the detail is excellent.
8080 has two macro modes: regular and super. In each mode, you
can use auto or manual focus.
macro mode has a focus range of 20 - 80 cm, which isn't so hot.
But the real action is in super macro mode, which lowers the
minimum distance down to 5 cm. Olympus says that you can fit
an object 48 x 36 mm in size into the frame (which isn't as good
as the Pro1 or CP8700). Do note that the zoom cannot be used
in super macro mode.
C-8080 did a great job with the night shot as well. This F3.5,
5 second exposure took in more than enough light. Even better,
both noise and purple fringing levels are low. With shutter speeds
as slow as 15 seconds available, the 8080 can take great low
light shots. Just remember your tripod!
a look at how the C-8080 performs at different ISO sensitivities:
you can see, things start getting pretty noise above ISO 200.
At ISO 400 it's pretty nasty, but better than most of the 8MP
cameras that I've tested (with the exception of the Sony F828).
Do note that the C-8080WZ has a wider range of ISOs than most
cameras, so you can find the setting with a noise level you are
C-8080 shows moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the
lens, and no vignetting.
-- no redeye!
two things that have plagued the 8 Megapixel cameras I've tested
are noise and purple fringing. You can expect to see both of
these on the C-8080WZ, but neither was horrible. In fact, the
8080 takes very good quality photos which are well-exposed and
sharp (most of the time; some images were soft for some reason).
A few times noticed the noise eating away at some details (usually
grass or leaves), but for the most part, photo quality is comparable
to other 8 Megapixel cameras. At the default setting, colors
seemed a little neutral to me, but that's easily correctable
by adjusting the camera's saturation setting.
things are a little too noisy for you, try turning down the sharpness
a notch or two. Another option is to use a noise reduction program
like NeatImage or NoiseNinja.
I like what I saw from the C-8080. Have a look at the gallery and
see if you do too.
finally has improved their movie mode. And good news -- it's
one of the better ones out there. You can record VGA (640 x 480)
quality video at 15 frames/second, until the memory card fills
up. Sound is recorded as well. The included 32MB xD card holds
a whopping 34 seconds of video, so you'll want a larger card
so you can take longer movies!
other resolutions are also available: 320 x 240 and 160 x 120.
Both of those also have a 15 fps frame rate. The movies are saved
in QuickTime format.
you'd expect, you cannot use the zoom lens during filming when
sound is recorded. But if you turn off the microphone, you can
use the zoom to your heart's content.
is a sample movie taken at the 640 x 480 setting. Be warned,
it's a very large download. I apologize for the wind noise...
front-mounted microphones don't do well on the windy days that
we have around these parts!
Click to play movie (16.2MB, 640 x 480,
Can't play it? Download QuickTime.
8080 has a pretty nice playback mode. Basic features include
slide shows, voice annotations, thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking,
image protection, and "zoom and scroll".
zoom and scroll feature (my term) allows you to zoom in as much
as 5X into your photo, and then move around in it.
can rotate, resize (to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240), and crop photos
in playback mode.
camera allows you to copy images from an xD card to a CompactFlash
card -- and vice versa -- by using the copy function.
RAW data edit feature lets you change several properties of the
image, including quality, white balance, sharpness, contrast,
saturation, and more. White balance doesn't look good? Change
it in this mode and you're set! After you adjust one of those
settings, the revised image is saved in TIFF or JPEG format format.
You can do all of this in the Camedia Master software as well.
you don't get much information about your photos in playback
mode. When you want more info, just press the "info" button
to get the screen above-left. Press it again to get the screen
above-right, which includes a histogram.
C-8080 isn't terribly quick between photos, with a 2 second delay.
Loading each RAW image takes about seven seconds.
Does it Compare?
Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom is an 8 Megapixel camera that holds
its own against the competition, despite having a lens that doesn't
have as much telephoto power as the competition. Image quality
is very good, though expect the above average noise and purple
fringing that have become hallmarks of 8MP cameras. Performance
is also good in all areas, except in RAW/TIFF write times, which
are on the slow side. The cameras dual autofocus systems let
it focus quickly and accurately, even in low light. And speaking
of which, Olympus has made sure that both the EVF and the flip-up
LCD are viewable in dim lighting.
you like manual controls, then you'll love the C-8080WZ. It has
nearly everything you can think of -- and then some. The only
downside is that getting to them can be difficult, with lots
of buttons and a confusing menu system to deal with. In terms
of build quality, the 8080 has a very nice body with a strong
metal frame. It's certainly not a small camera but I never got
tired of carrying it around. If the zoom lens doesn't cover enough
of a range for you, Olympus offers both wide and telephoto conversion
lenses. The camera also has a hot shoe for an external flash.
life on the C-8080WZ is very good as well, based on my time with
the camera. The hefty BLM-1 battery is a big part of that. Just
be warned that an extra battery (highly recommended) will set
you back $70. The camera has a nice VGA movie mode, though the
15 fps frame rate will lead to choppy video. Two other things
I like about the camera include the RAW image edit function in
playback mode, and the two different histograms in record mode.
things considered, the C-8080WZ is a good choice for those who
want lots of controls and 8 Megapixel resolution. For those who
don't need that much resolution, but like what they've read here,
consider the 5 Megapixel C-5060 Wide Zoom. The C-8080 holds up
well against the best cameras in the 8MP that I've tested, namely
the Canon PowerShot Pro1 and Nikon Coolpix 8700. Since they all
do quite well, I recommend trying them in person to see which
one fits your needs.
good photo quality, though expect some noise and purple fringing
like a tank
of manual controls
nice, wide-angle 5X zoom lens
histograms to choose from
lamp AND passive AF system!
RAW data edit feature
buttons and menus
Mode feature lets you store favorite settings to spot on mode
but expensive, battery
memory card slots
movie mode (though only 15 fps)
add-on lenses, external flash, and battery grip
viewable in low light
I didn't care for:
can be intimidating to new users
a little dull at default settings
lacks the telephoto power of competition
RAW/TIFF file write times
manual only on CD
competition from D-SLRs; spend just a little more, get a much
better camera (esp. in terms of photo quality)
cameras worth considering include the Canon
PowerShot Pro1, Minolta
DiMAGE A2, Nikon
Coolpix 8700, and Sony
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try
out the C-8080WZ and its competitors before you buy!
to see how the photo quality turned out? View our gallery!
a second opinion? How about more?
another review over at Steve's
Digicams. If that's still not enough, there's more to read
Resource and DP
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