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Olympus C-4000 Zoom

Olympus introduces a top-of-the-line four-megapixel model with superb *configurability* great image quality, and an impressively low price.

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 8/27/2002

Design

Continuing the familiar Olympus Camedia C-Series design, the C-4000 Zoom's outward appearance is very similar to previous "C" models. Size and shape are somewhere between a traditional 35mm film point & shoot and a compact SLR, measuring 4.3 x 3.0 x 2.6 inches (109.5 x 76.5 x 66.5 millimeters). The C-4000 is just slightly lighter than the previous C-4040 Zoom model, at 10.1 ounces (290 grams), with a body design that combines structural plastic and aluminum decorative panels. A two-toned silver camera body sets the C-4000 Zoom apart from other members of the C series, though control layout is much the same.

Just like previous C-Series digicams, the C-4000 Zoom looks and feels very much like a small film-based SLR camera, substantial enough for a good hold (due to the large hand grip on the right side of the camera), but small enough to slide into a large purse or coat pocket when you're done shooting. A comfortably wide neck strap comes with the camera, enabling you to keep the C-4000 out and ready to shoot on a moment's notice.

The telescoping lens extends approximately 1.75 inches beyond the front of the camera body when powered on in either Still Shooting (Record) or Movie capture modes. A body flange projects about 3/4 of an inch from the camera's front panel, just slightly further than does the hand grip. When the camera is powered on, the lens telescopes out an additional inch beyond the body flange , retracting again when the camera is switched off. The lens is protected by a spring-lock, removable plastic lens cap that can be tethered to the camera with an included strap.

From the front of the camera, the edge of the zoom lever (upper left corner) is visible, as well as the flash, self-timer alert light, and viewfinder window. The inside lip of the exterior lens barrel has a set of 41mm filter threads that accepts a lens adapter tube for attaching auxiliary lenses to the camera. (It doesn't seem to be mentioned in the manual, but these threads accept Olympus' standard CLA-1 filter thread adapter, which has been available since the inception of the C-series.)

Featuring a similar control layout to other C-Series digicams, the C-4000 Zoom's back panel has all of the control buttons positioned above or to the right of the 1.8-inch LCD color monitor. The four-way Arrow Pad serves multiple functions, and is located above the upper right corner of the display. Just to the left of the Arrow Pad are the Flash / Erase and Spot / Macro buttons, with the latter also playing a role in the C-4000's DPOF print feature. Below the Arrow pad are the OK / Menu, Monitor / Quick View, and Custom buttons, the last of which also serves as the Protect / Rotation button in playback mode. The optical viewfinder in the upper left corner of the camera zooms in and out with the lens, and a pair of LED lamps next to the eyepiece report the camera's status. The SmartMedia memory card slot door is also partially visible on the righthand side of the back panel. A third LED lamp to the left of the compartment door lights whenever the camera accesses the memory card.

The large hand grip, housing both the battery and SmartMedia compartments, makes up the right side of the camera. The grip is sculpted to fit comfortably in your hand, with a subtly recessed finger hold on the front and a dimpled plastic thumb grip on the back. The SmartMedia compartment is covered by a hinged plastic door which opens from the back. Just above the SmartMedia compartment door is a neck strap eyelet, a second one of which is located on the left side of the camera. (I like that the neck strap eyelets are positioned such that the camera hangs level when suspended from them. This makes carrying the camera around your neck much more comfortable.)

Adjacent to the left side neck strap eyelet is the connector compartment cover, a second hinged plastic door that covers the DC-In, Video Out, and USB connector ports. A proprietary five-pin external flash sync connector is set in the lower left corner of the side panel, concealed by a small (and easily lost!) black plastic cover. (Olympus sells an optional accessory cable that adapts this flash connection to a standard PC-sync connector for use with generic flash units.) Diagonally from that is a diopter adjustment control for the optical viewfinder.

The top of the camera holds only the Zoom Lever, Shutter button (surrounded by the Zoom Lever) and Mode dial.

The bottom of the camera holds the battery compartment cover and a plastic screw-mount tripod socket, which is just a little too close to the battery compartment to make battery changes easy when mounted on a tripod. (One way around this is to use the optional AC adapter, or an external battery pack like the Maha NiMH PowerBank when working in the studio or downloading lots of images to your computer.) The tripod socket is also a bit off-center from the lens, making panorama shots with foreground objects more difficult. - The socket is pretty close to the camera's center of gravity though, which makes for less stress on the threads.

 

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