Review posted for Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom|
(Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 19:54 EDT)
My first take on the Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom was "nice enough camera, but nothing special." As I learned its capabilities and studied its photos however, I found myself warming to it quite a bit.
When I finally got around to checking its "street" prices though, I was very pleasantly surprised: widely available online for well under $250 (under $215 from some merchants), the Olympus 5500 is a real bargain for a 5x zoom, 5-megapixel digital camera.
In terms of image quality, it produced very nice-looking color in all our test shots. A bit less saturated than a lot of the current crop of digital cameras, and thus perhaps more appealing to those who prefer more accurate color to the over-bright look that many consumers seem drawn to. Image noise levels were lower than I'm accustomed to seeing from 5-megapixel consumer cameras these days, and it did a great job shooting in low light.
It focuses and exposes well to very low light levels, and its LCD viewfinder "gains up" nicely when the lights go down, letting you see what you're shooting at, even in quite dim surroundings. It also has an unusually rich set of features and controls, including auto, program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual exposure modes.
My biggest hangup with it was its rather sluggish performance, with both shutter lag and cycle time numbers on the slow side of average. (Despite the reference to "Sport" in its name.) Bottom line though, if your subjects are either largely static, or amenable to "prefocusing" (by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself), the Olympus 5500 is a really fine little camera at a real bargain price. I do wish it were faster, but its combination of features, image quality, and low price were enough for me to award it a "Dave's Pick." Read our Olympus C-5500 review for all the details!