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Olympus C-2100 Zoom

Wow! A superb 10X, optically stabilized zoom lens on a high-quality 2 megapixel camera!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 10/18/2000

Executive Overview
By far the most exciting feature of the Olympus Camedia C-2100 is its integrated 10X optical zoom lens, which provides an impressive 7-70mm zoom range (equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm film camera), and features an electronic image stabilization function to compensate for camera shake during long handheld exposures. When set in Full-Time Auto Focus (AF) mode, the camera automatically keeps the image in focus at all times, whatever focal length you choose to use. By activating the Manual Focus mode, you can bring up a focal distance scale on the camera's LCD monitor which allows you to manually select the optimum focal point in your scene.

While the body is slightly smaller than a standard 35mm SLR (approximately 4.5 x 3 x 2.5 inches without the lens), the 3.5-inch lens adds more bulk than is the typical with other consumer/prosumer digital cameras. Olympus has compensated for this by counterbalancing the weight of the lens with a large, rubberized hand-grip on the right side of the body. In spite of it large size, however, the C-2100 is surprisingly lightweight and comfortable to carry.

The Camedia's 2.7X digital telephoto feature is activated through the Record menu, thus preventing accidental slippage into the digital zoom range while shooting. The C-2100 offers both optical viewfinder and LCD monitor displays for composing images; each of which provides live video preview and camera setting indicators such as lens aperture, shutter speed, frame count, flash mode, and various menu selections when activated. A control panel on top of the camera displays a total of 23 function indicators - everything from flash intensity control to the number of seconds remaining in a movie recording.

The C-2100 provides a great deal of control over its many features. While some are selected from within the Record menu system (activated by the bottom button adjacent to the back panel monitor), you can also set some of the more basic options using buttons and dials located on the top and back sides of the camera. Flash, Macro setting, Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed, Aperture settings, Manual focus, Autofocus, and Metering modes can all be set without accessing the Record menu. Likewise, in Playback mode, functions like Delete, Write Protect, and Print can also be controlled by the external buttons.

The Camedia C-2100 provides as much or as little exposure control as you want via the Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Special Program exposure modes. These exposure settings, along with the Movie and Playback modes, are selected using the Mode dial on the top right side of the camera. Shutter speeds range from 1/800 to 1/2 second in Shutter Priority mode, and 1/800 second to 16 seconds in Manual mode. Lens apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8.0. In all modes except Program, the camera indicates whether an exposure is going to be too dark or too light, giving you a chance to alter the exposure settings before you take the picture. The on-screen display of the automatic aperture and shutter speed settings is also quite valuable.

The camera's metering system offers a choice of Center-Weighted, Spot, and Standard (digital ESP metering) exposure settings. These are selected using the center button on top of the camera and to the left of the Control Panel. The White Balance (WB) setting, which determines how the camera's CCD will respond to changes in light temperature, is selected in the Record menu. WB options include Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Incandescent, and Fluorescent.

The built-in flash provides all of the standard flash modes: Auto, Redeye Reduction, Fill-in, and Off (when the pop-up flash unit is closed). These first three flash modes can be used in combination with slow shutter speeds to achieve low-light exposures in Slow-Sync mode (selected from the Record menu). In Slow Sync mode, the flash may be synchronized with either the opening (Slow 1) or closing (Slow 2) of the lens shutter to achieve different effects. There's a five-pin sync socket for connecting the optional FL-40 external flash, which can be used alone or in combination with the camera's built-in flash. External flash units made by other manufacturers can also be used with the C-2100, with an optional adapter cable.

You can override automatic flash exposures by adjusting the Flash Intensity setting in the Record menu. Intensity adjustments range from -2 to +2 Exposure Equivalents (EV), in 1/3 EV increments. Combine this feature with the variable ISO options (100, 200, or 400) and you get an excellent range of exposure control options, especially in low-light situations.

The C-2100 provides a nice range of capture options–Single-Picture Shooting, Sequential Shooting, AF Sequential Shooting, Self-Timer /Remote Control, and Auto Bracket (BKT) modes–which cater to a number of shooting situations. These are accessed with the button marked "Drive" on top of the camera.

Special Effects or "Function" options are available in the Record menu to enhance a variety of shooting scenarios. The effects include Black and White, Sepia, White Board, and Black Board. Another bonus is the C-2100's ability to record sound, both with movie recordings and still images. While this feature can add interest to your QuickTime movies, or help annotate your still images, don't expect optimum sound quality from the Wave format recording device. The C-2100 has no internal speaker, so you'll have to wait until your movies are downloaded to a computer before you can hear the audio track.(The lack of sound recording was a frequent complaint heard from owners of the earlier Camedia C-2020.)

The C-2100 offers a range of image resolutions—from 1,600 x 1,200 pixels to 640 x 480 pixels (four sizes in all)—with a variety of quality settings. Files are saved as JPEGs with an option for uncompressed TIFF format at all image sizes. Images are stored on SmartMedia cards. The C-2100 supports both USB and standard serial interfaces, accommodating either PC or Macintosh users (only the USB cable comes standard with the camera). Additionally, an NTSC video cable enables you to play back movies and captured images on your television set. You can even use the TV as an expanded viewfinder for image composition. (European models come equipped for the PAL video standard.)

Camera accessories include a spring-lock lens cap and 1-inch-wide neck strap, as well as four NiMH rechargeable batteries, an Olympus Camedia battery charger, USB computer connection cable, audio/video connection cable, 8MB SmartMedia card, and an RM-1 remote shutter control.

Overall, the C-2100 Ultra Zoom is an impressive addition to the Olympus digital camera line. Its 10X zoom lens, wide array of resolution choices, great image quality, and excellent exposure controls make it extremely flexible and user-friendly. The C-2100's features will appeal to many levels of users, from beginners to experienced professionals.


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