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Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: December 4, 2003
Last Updated: December 11, 2003
The Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom ($699) is the new top-of-the-line fixed lens camera in Olympus' line up. It takes the popular C-5050Z (see our review) and swaps in a new wide-angle 4X zoom lens, passive AF system, and VGA movie mode. The flip-out LCD has also been redesigned, making it more useful than before.
Is the C-5060WZ one of the best 5 Megapixel cameras out there? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The Olympus C-5060WZ has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Olympus includes a 32MB xD card with the camera, which is decent, but it won't hold very many 5.1MP pictures. So, you'll quickly want to buy a larger card -- I suggest 256MB as a good size. Like the 5050, the 5060 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 5060.
The C-5060 has switched batteries since the C-5050 -- it now uses the same BLM-1 battery as the E-1 digital SLR (the 5050 used AAs). This battery has a whopping 10.8 Wh of energy, way more than the competition (even the Sony DSC-F717, the current battery king). 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.
When 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.
If the BLM-1 just isn't enough for you, then you want the B-HLD20 power battery holder ($100). 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).
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. The C-5050Z used the full-featured RM-1 remote.
Olympus includes a lens cap and retaining strap to protect that nice lens.
The C-5060Z has a nice selection of accessories available. You can add 0.7X wide-angle and 1.7X telephoto conversion lenses (both have a list price of $199), but first you'll need the CLA-7 conversion lens adapter ($35). The CLA-7 will also let you use filters, but I'm not sure what the thread size is.
Since the C-5060 has a hot shoe, you can add an external flash, or use a PC sync cable and flash bracket. Olympus sells three flashes -- the FL-20, FL-40, and new FL-50 -- ranging in price from $130-$450. Other accessories include an AC adapter ($55) , carrying case, and various memory card-related items.
One really cool accessory that I can't seem to find for sale in the U.S. yet is the PT-020 underwater case. It lets you take your C-5060 up to 50 meters underwater. But wait, there's more. Want a more powerful flash while you're diving? Add the PFL-01 flash accessory, and the FL-20 flash can go swimming too. Need a wider lens? The PPO-02 will let you attach the wide-angle conversion lens to the underwater case. Very cool.
Like all of Olympus' recent cameras, the C-5060 is fully compatible with Mac OS X and Windows XP. Most likely, you won't even need to install drivers.
The C-5060WZ includes Olympus' Camedia Master 4.1 software. The screen shot above will give you a good idea of what this software can do. It's way better than the old versions of years past.
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.
The software is much more responsive than the previous versions. My only complaint is that the interface is non-standard on both Macs and PCs.
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.
Unfortunately keeping with Olympus tradition, there's only a printed "basic" manual in the box. If you want to view the full manual, you need to look at the PDF file on the CD. The quality of the manual itself is about average.
Look and Feel
The C-5060WZ's design is an evolution of the original C-2000 from many years ago. Thankfully the C-5060 doesn't share the unimpressive (I'm being nice with that word) look of the C-5000Z. While the important controls are well-placed, I didn't like how small buttons were scattered all over the body (a purely subjective observation).
The C-5060Z is made of a mix of metal and high grade plastic. It feels very solid, and it competes with the best cameras in its class in terms of build quality. The camera is easy to hold, thanks to a sizable right hand grip.
Here's a look at the dimensions and weight of the C-5060WZ, and how it compares to the competition:
|Canon PowerShot G5||Nikon Coolpix 5400||Olympus
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V1|
(W x H x D, inches)
|4.8 x 2.9 x 2.8||4.3 x 2.9 x 2.7||4.6 x 3.4 x 2.6||4.0 x 2.6 x 2.3|
|Volume (AKA bulk)||39.0 cu. in.||33.7 cu. in.||40.7 cu. in.||23.9 cu. in.|
|Mass||410 g||320 g||430 g||300 g|
As you can see, the C-5060 is the biggest camera in the group. Its bulk means that you won't be putting it in your pocket.
Let's begin our full tour of the camera now!
Two of the C-5060's new features can be found on the front of the camera.
The first is the all new F2.8-4.8, 4X optical zoom lens. The focal range of the lens is 5.7 - 22.9 mm, which is equivalent to 27 - 110 mm, making this the widest built-in lens on a digital camera. The C-5050Z had a 3X lens, but it had a very fast F1.8 maximum aperture, so there's a tradeoff here. The lens is threaded for conversion lenses and filters, but you'll need the CLA-7 adapter first.
At the top of the photo is the built-in flash. The flash has a working range of 0.8 - 3.7 m at wide-angle, and 0.8 - 2.2 m at telephoto. The flash recharge time is about 6 seconds. As I mentioned, you can add an external flash or PC sync cable adapter to the camera's hot shoe, for more flash power and less redeye.
After all my complaining about Olympus not having any AF-assist system on their cameras (the C-5050 as a rare exception), the 5060 has got it -- and more. First, there's an AF-assist lamp, located just to the right of the flash. In low light, it fires an orange light on your subject, helping the camera focus. But wait, there's more. Below the assist lamp is a passive AF sensor, which not only aids in low light focusing, but it speeds up focusing in good lighting too. Way to go, Olympus!
The C-5050Z had a flip-up LCD, similar to Olympus' E-10 and E-20 cameras. It was nice, but not nearly as useful as the rotating LCD on some Canon and Nikon models. So, for the C-5060Z, Olympus has redesigned the LCD, making it much for useful. It can be put in any of the positions you see above and below, and many places in between. If you flip over the LCD, the image on it is oriented correctly.
In addition to its acrobatic abilities, the C-5060's LCD is also good-sized (1.8") and high resolution (130,000). Images on the LCD are sharp, and motion is smooth. LCD brightness is adjustable in the menu.
Directly above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which is quite large. It has a diopter correction knob, a nice feature for those of us without perfect vision.
To the right of the optical viewfinder is the AE-Lock button (used for deleting photos in playback mode), plus the QuickView button, which is a fast way into playback mode.
The button to the lower-right of the QuickView button is the "display" button, which turns the LCD on and off, and it also toggles what is shown on it.
Below that is the four-way controller, which is used for menu navigation and adjusting manual settings.
Press and hold the OK button and you will activate the manual focus feature. You can then adjust the focus yourself, using the four-way switch. The camera enlarges the center of the image on the LCD so you can make sure the subject is in focus. There is also an indicator showing you the current focus distance.
Below that is the CF/xD button, which switches between the two memory card slots.
At the top-right of the control dial, which is used for adjusting camera settings (such as flash, exposure compensation).
I suppose that now's a good time to mention how you do that on the C-5060. Unlike many cameras where you just press the button once (such as the flash button) to change the current setting, the 5060 requires you to hold it down and use the control dial. When you do that, the LCD shows a kind of "mode dial" where you move between settings (see example above). I'm not a big fan of this interface (which Olympus calls direct buttons), but that's purely subjective. One thing's for sure: it takes some getting used to.
On the left side of the photo above, you've find two silver buttons. They are for adjusting:
The C-5060WZ'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. In addition to attaching a flash, you can also use a PC sync cable adapter.
Moving to the right, we find the LCD info display, an item rarely seen these days. It shows current settings, shots remaining, battery status, and more. Unfortunately, it's not backlit.
Continuing eastward, we find the zoom controller, which has the shutter release button inside it. It takes about three seconds to move the lens from the wide-angle to telephoto position. With quick presses of the lever, you can make precise adjustments to the zoom.
Below the zoom controller are two more silver buttons, which adjust:
The custom button can be defined to control virtually any camera setting. If it's in the menu, odds are that the custom button can use it.
Below those buttons is the mode dial, which has the power switch underneath it. The items that you'll find here include:
Beginners and folks who don't want to deal with shutter speeds and apertures will probably spend their time in Program mode. If you want a little more control over those, try the Program Shift feature, which lets you choose from a few sets of apertures and shutter speeds. An example of when you'd use this is when you want more depth of field than the camera is giving you.
One thing Olympus continues to do is lock up the full shutter speed range in shutter priority mode. If you want to do longer exposures, you must use manual (M) mode. There, you can also do "bulb" exposures for as long as 2 minutes! A tripod and remote shutter release cable is advised for this.
While it's not as unique as it once was, the My Mode feature is very useful. This feature allows you to store up to *8* sets of your favorite settings -- right on the mode dial.
On this side of the camera, you'll find the speaker, I/O ports, and even more buttons.
The I/O ports are all kept under rubber covers. They include:
On the far right are two more buttons. The top one adjusts exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments), while the bottom one adjusts the flash setting (auto, auto w/redeye reduction, fill flash, slow sync, flash off). Hold down both and you can adjust the flash exposure compensation (same range as regular exp. compensation).
On the other side of the camera, you'll find the dual memory card slots, which are behind a flimsy plastic door. The C-5060WZ supports both xD and CompactFlash (Microdrive included) cards. The old C-5050Z also had a SmartMedia slot.
The included 32MB xD card is shown.
We 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.
To the right of that is the metal tripod mount, whose placement prevents you from switching batteries while the camera is on a tripod.
The included BLM-1 battery is shown at right.
Using the Olympus C-5060 Zoom
The C-5060WZ took under five seconds to extend the lens and "boot up" before it could start taking pictures.
Once 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.
The C-5060's passive AF system allows it to focus very quickly in good light -- 1/2 second in most cases. 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.
Shutter lag wasn't an issue at faster shutter speeds, but once you start getting below 1/30 sec, it becomes more noticeable. In those situations you should probably using a tripod (or the flash), though.
Shot-to-shot speed is excellent, with a delay of just over one second, assuming you've turned off the post-shot review feature.
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-5060WZ:
|Quality||Resolution||Approx. File Size||# photos on 32MB card (included)|
|RAW||2592 x 1944||7.7 MB||4|
|TIFF||2592 x 1944||15.2 MB||2|
|2592 x 1728
|2288 x 1712||11.8 MB||2|
|2048 x 1536||9.5 MB||3|
|1600 x 1200||5.8 MB||5|
|1280 x 960||3.8 MB||8|
|1024 x 768||2.4 MB||13|
|640 x 480||1.0 MB||33|
|SHQ||2592 x 1944||3.8 MB||8|
|HQ||2592 x 1944||1.3 MB||25|
|SQ1 - High||2288 x 1712||2.6 MB||12|
|2048 x 1536||2.3 MB||14|
|1600 x 1200||1.5 MB||22|
|SQ1 - Normal||2288 x 1712||1.0 MB||32|
|2048 x 1536||900 KB||40|
|1600 x 1200||500 KB||64|
|SQ2 - High||1280 x 960||1.0 MB||34|
|1024 x 768||600 KB||53|
|640 x 480||300 KB||132|
|SQ2 - Normal||1280 x 960||400 KB||99|
|1024 x 768||300 KB||153|
|640 x 480||100 KB||331|
There's a lot to talk about regarding that list! First of all, I 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. Second, there's a RAW file option available. In RAW mode, the camera saves the RAW CCD data, so you can manipulate things like white balance, sharpness, and color later -- as if you were taking the picture again -- right on the camera (more on this later). Do note that you must process the image with Camedia Master or other RAW conversion utility before you can open it in a regular photo viewer. Also, the camera will be locked up for about 9 seconds while the RAW file is saved to the memory card.
TIFF files is also a lossless format like RAW, except it takes up a lot more space (and you can't change the white balance et al on the camera). The camera will be locked up for about 17 seconds while the image is saved.
While I didn't list it in the chart, the camera can interpolate to 3264 x 2448 at the SHQ and HQ setting -- though expect extra noise in your images if you do it.
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-5060Z uses Olympus' customizable menu system. When you first open the menu, you're presented with four choices:
Don't like those choices? With the exception of Mode Menu, 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-5060 are located. To call the menu intimidating is an understatement -- it's one of the more confusing system out there (see the white balance menu above for example). Here's what you'll find in the mode menu:
As you can see, the C-5060WZ is the king of manual controls (or darn close to it). Many of those options require further explanation, so here goes:
First, 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 10 shots at 1.7 frames/sec, while the high speed mode takes up to 4 shots at 3.3 frames/sec. 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.
The frame assist feature has two parts. If you turn it "on", you'll see an outline of a person on the LCD, which you can use to help frame a portrait shot. There appears to be one outline for USA portraits, and another one for Latin America -- I don't get it. The other part of frame assist (chose that in the submenu) is a 3 x 3 grid which you can use to make sure your photo is level (boy do I need that!).
The fine-tunable white balance lets you make the selected white balance "redder" or "bluer". You can do it for any of the WB options, even "auto".
Dual control panel
The "dual control panel" feature was first seen on the C-5050Z. Let's suppose it's dark, you're using the optical viewfinder, and you can't see the LCD info display on the top of the camera. The dual control panel puts that information (and more) on the LCD instead, as you can see above.
Well that's enough of that, let's move on now.
The C-5060 did a fine job with the macro test, with accurate, saturated color, and sharp detail.
Like some of Olympus' other high end cameras, the C-5060WZ has two macro modes. Regular macro mode gives you a so-so focal range of 20 - 80 cm. If you want to get really close, you'll want to use "super" macro mode. This locks the lens in place (toward the wide end of things) and lets you get just 3 cm from your subject. You can then fill the frame with a 21 x 28 mm subject!
Aside from the fact that I can't seem to take a level shot anymore, the night shot above turned out nicely. The camera took in enough light, noise levels are low, and purple fringing is at a minimum. Since you can manually select the shutter speed (for as long as 120 seconds in bulb mode), you can take nice long exposures. My only gripe is that you must be in "M" mode to get at the full range of shutter speeds.
Here's the same shot taken at different ISO sensitivities, so you can see the relationship between ISO and noise:
View Full Size Image
(Notice how the white balance is different in this one. Weird.)
View Full Size Image
View Full Size Image
As you can see, noise is low at ISO 80 and 100, but then it starts to ramp up quickly at ISO 200. ISO 400 is pretty nasty.
The new body style of the C-5000 and C-5060 place the flash pretty close to the lens, so I wasn't terribly surprised to see this much redeye. Kind of disappointed to see it on a camera this expensive, though. Two solutions to this problem: 1) buy an external flash or 2) remove in later in software (Camedia Master does it). The flash shot I took for this test was noisier than I would've liked at ISO 80 (see this flash shot for an idea).
Wide-angle lenses traditionally have higher than average barrel distortion, and the C-5060 is no exception. One thing I don't see here is any vignetting (dark corners).
On the whole, image quality on the 5060WZ was very good, though definitely on the noisy/grainy side. This is because Olympus really cranks up the in-camera sharpening (which is why the images are so sharp!). Here's a comparison of how the sharpness setting affects noise levels:
Sharpness = 0
View Full Size Image
Sharpness = -1
View Full Size Image
Sharpness = -2
View Full Size Image
Sharpness = -3
View Full Size Image
Sharpness = -4
View Full Size Image
Sharpness = -5
View Full Size Image
As you can see, noise and sharpness are directly proportional. I personally think the noise is too much at default sharpness (the 5050Z was the same way), so I'd shoot at -2 or -3. But that's just me. The nice thing about all the manual controls on the C-5060WZ is that you can tweak the settings until you find the noise, color, and sharpness levels that you find acceptable. Purple fringing (chromatic aberrations) levels are quite low, thanks to the extra-low dispersion lens.
As always, let your own eyes be the final judge of photo quality -- so visit the photo gallery!
Olympus 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!
Two 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.
As you'd expect, you cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
Here's an sample movie for you. Be warned, it's large.
Click to play movie (7.4MB, 640 x 480, QuickTime format)
Can't play it? Download QuickTime.
The 5060 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 zoom and scroll feature (my term) allows you to zoom in as much as 4X 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.
The 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 format.
You can copy images from an xD card to a CompactFlash card -- and vice versa -- by using the copy function.
Normally, you don't get much information about your photos in playback mode (top left). When you want more info, you can turn on "info" in the menu (top right). If that's still not enough, turn on the histogram to get the screen on the bottom.
The camera moves between images at an average clip. It takes just less than two seconds to display the next photo on the LCD.
How Does it Compare?
The C-5060 Wide Zoom is one of the best Olympus cameras in recent memory, and it should be high on your shopping list if a full-featured 5 Megapixel camera is what you're after. My main complaints about the camera are the above average noise levels at default settings (turning down the sharpness helps) and its intimidating user interface (buttons and menus). Everything else is good.
That includes the photo quality (aside from the noise), performance, controls, and expandability. The new 4X "wide zoom" lens is great for both indoor and outdoor shooting. The flip-up, rotating LCD is very nice as well, and far more useful than on the C-5050Z. And how about that super-powerful battery?
I've knocked Olympus in the past for leaving off AF-assist lamps, and they've made up for that by including both a passive AF system and an AF-assist lamp on the 5060! That helps the camera focus quickly, even in low light. If you like manual controls, you'll like this camera -- it can do just about everything. The RAW data edit mode is especially nice, letting you correct images saved in RAW format without any loss of quality. Do note that shooting in RAW mode takes about 3X longer than a regular JPEG.
The C-5060WZ is also very expandable. Conversion lens? Check. External flash? Take your pick. Heck, there's even an underwater case that supports a wide conversion lens and a flash!
The 5060 is a strong competitor to the other big names out there, and it's well worth a look.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Some other cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot G5, Fuji FinePix S7000, Minolta DiMAGE A1, Nikon Coolpix 5400 and 5700, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717 and DSC-F828.
As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the C-5060WZ and its competitors before you buy!
Check out the photo gallery for this camera!
Want a second opinion?
Jeff welcomes your comments or questions about this review. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to my limited resources, please do not write asking for personal recommendations, missing software/manuals, or technical support.
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