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Olympus' C-5050Z digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus Europe, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Olympus Europe announces C-5050ZOOM (UPDATED)
(Monday, August 19, 2002 - 10:48 EDT)

In the run-up to next month's Photokina show in Germany, the latest in Olympus' line of high-spec compact digital cameras has today been unveiled in Europe - the Camedia C-5050 Zoom.

Featuring a shape very similar to that of past models such as the C-4040Z and just-announced C-4000Z, the C-5050Z continues the search for higher megapixel ratings with 5.0 effective megapixels from a new 1/1.8" 5.26 megapixel imager. (We'd expect to see a ramp of new models from other manufacturers using the same imager, since many existing designs use the exact same imager dimensions...)

One other significant change is the use of a tilting LCD monitor, a first for the series - although not completely unfamiliar to Olympus fans. The Camedia E-10 and E-20 cameras use a similar display, which can be tilted vertically to allow for shooting 'from the hip' or with the camera near the ground - but can't be swivelled to allow viewing from in front of the camera for self-portraits, or to allow the LCD display to be closed against the camera for protection.

Interestingly, the camera hedges its bets in the flash-card wars, being compatible with SmartMedia, CompactFlash Type-I and Type-II (including the IBM Microdrive), and of course the recently-unveiled xD-Picture Card. We'd presume there's actually two slots for SmartMedia and CompactFlash respectively, and the xD-Picture Card is supported courtesy of a CompactFlash adapter (see update below; this speculation seems to have been incorrect); a 32MB xD card comes bundled with the camera.

Courtesy of Olympus Europe, we have the following (very brief) specifications highlights:
  • 5.0 million pixels for image processing
  • 5,260,000 pixel 1/1.8 inch CCD
  • 3x optical zoom, equivalent to 35 - 105 mm
  • 3.3x digital zoom
  • Ultra-bright zoom lens f1.8 - f2.6
  • Tilting LCD monitor - 114,000 pixels, 1,8" display
  • ESP (Electro Selective Pattern) light metering
  • Adjustable aperture and shutter speed
  • Versatile automatic & manual functions for exposure, focus, white balance
  • Auto bracketing function
  • QuickTime Motion JPEG
  • Compatible with xD-Picture Card, SmartMedia, Compact Flash and Microdrive (1GB)
  • USB AutoConnect
  • Audio / Video interface

Olympus' C-5050Z digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus Europe, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Olympus' C-5050Z digital camera, front...

Olympus' C-5050Z digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus Europe, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

...and rear views...

Olympus' C-5050Z digital camera. Courtesy of Olympus Europe, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

...along with the tilting LCD screen.

UPDATED 2002-08-19 14:10ET: An email from Laurent Katz (who readers may remember from the sadly disappeared French website Objectif Numerique) provides further info on the C-5050Z. First of all, we now have several new photos of the camera, at much higher resolution than previously. Laurent also gave us what he's heard will be approximate pricing info for France - €1,099 (US$1072, ignoring exchange rate fluctuations, taxes and duties, etc.) We also now believe that the camera shares a combined slot for SmartMedia and xD cards, with a separate slot for CompactFlash cards, based on the new photos and info from Olympus France. (Note the 'CF / xD-SM' button on the rear of the camera). Another interesting point is that flash exposure compensation is now available without accessing the camera's menus. Thanks, Laurent!
Source: Olympus Europe

Original Source Press Release:

Professional camera in the compact zoom class

With the CAMEDIA C-5050ZOOM, Olympus introduces a new professional standard within the compact digital camera class. As well as an exceptionally bright, high-quality 3x zoom optical system and 5 megapixel resolution, this model includes a full complement of many other high-end features. Complete manual control over aperture, shutter speed and focus is available to ensure photographers encounter virtually no bounds in terms of flexibility. Sophisticated exposure options plus the integrated high-power flash and hot shoe connector team with a histogram function to make certain photos are perfectly exposed. What's more, the camera's tilting LCD monitor means that users can capture shots at awkward angels. With this high-performance model's additional diverse automatic functions, the astonishingly affordable C-5050ZOOM is also suited for taking spontaneous snapshots.

Equipped with a 5 million pixel CCD and an ultra-bright f1.8-f2.6, 3x zoom lens, the Olympus CAMEDIA C-5050ZOOM delivers superbly detailed image results to convince even the most critical photographers.

Digital ESP (Electro Selective Pattern), spot and multi-spot light metering are available to regulate exposure and the histogram function can be used to check the brightness distribution during shooting. In addition to its powerful built-in flash with numerous modes including first and second curtain synchronisation, the C-5050ZOOM also incorporates a hot shoe for connecting an external flash unit (such as the FL-40), and works with slave strobe lights.

The versatility of manually adjustable aperture settings and shutter speed will be appreciated by serious photographers, as will the manual focus. Sharpness control can of course also be left to the camera's automatic TTL iESP (intelligent Electro Selective Pattern) contrast detection focusing system.

White balance is able to be fine-tuned via nine pre-set options including four fluorescent settings, and may also be regulated manually or automatically with the TTL iESP II system. Five pre-set scene program modes, such as sport, landscape and portrait, provide users with settings that reflect the typically optimal photographic parameters for a range of common situations.

Incorporating a very powerful new image processing engine, two impressive continuous shooting speeds are attainable: either 11 images at 1.7 frames per second, or 4 shots at a fast 3.3 frames per second.

An ergonomic design and intuitively located controls further enhance this model. Besides the optical real-image viewfinder, professional photo-graphers will find the tilting LCD monitor located on the rear of the camera particularly helpful when shooting from difficult angles.

This model is compatible with the new digital image storage standard xD-Picture Card (ships with a 32 MB card), as well as SmartMedia, Compact Flash and Microdrive (1GB).

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