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Olympus C-3000 Zoom

Olympus develops a slightly slower, but lot cheaper version of the C-3030 Zoom. (Looks like a great bargain!)

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Page 2:What's Different With the C-3000 Zoom?

Review First Posted: 5/30/2000

What's Different with the C-3000 Zoom?
This review is going to be almost identical to our review of the C-3030 Zoom, since the two units are really the same camera, minus only the larger buffer memory that the C-3030 had. For those readers who may already be familiar with the C-3030, or those who are trying to decide between the two cameras, we thought it would be useful to include the following summary of "what's different" in the C-3000 Zoom vs the C-3030 Zoom. Here's a short list:

Smaller RAM buffer, slower cycle times
Most digital cameras have a high-speed "RAM buffer" memory that the camera's processor uses to store image data temporarily, until it can process it and copy the finished images to the (much slower) memory card for long-term storage. This lets the camera be ready for the next shot before it's finished processing the previous one. The C-3030 Zoom has an unusually large (32 megabyte) RAM buffer memory, which lets it capture up to five full-resolution images at intervals of only 1.75 seconds before having to wait to process and store the photos to the memory card. The C-3000 Zoom by contrast has a much smaller buffer memory, and doesn't let you proceed to the next image until it's finished processing the current one. This slows its minimum cycle time to 5.52 seconds at maximum resolution. Still not bad for a 3 megapixel digital camera, but clearly not as fast as the C-3030 Zoom.

Shorter maximum movie durations
This is another consequence of the smaller RAM buffer in the C-3000 Zoom. Given a large enough memory card (32 MB or larger), the C-3030 Zoom could capture movies with sound as long as 300 seconds in SQ mode, or 75 seconds in HQ mode. The corresponding numbers for the C-3000 Zoom are 60 and 15 seconds respectively.

8MB vs 16MB memory card included in the box
For high-resolution cameras like the C-3030 and C-3000, you really need fairly good-sized memory cards: 16 megabytes is really about a minimum, for serious picture-taking, you'll almost certainly want a 32 megabyte card or two. As part of their cost-saving strategy for the C-3000 Zoom, Olympus dropped the size of the included memory card to only 8 megabytes. Enough to get you started to be sure, but not nearly as useful as the 16 megabyte card included with the C-3030.

No Photoshop LE in the software bundle
If you already own Photoshop (or some other highly capable image-editing program), this deletion won't matter to you. On the other hand, if you don't yet own a really solid image editor, the loss of Photoshop LE when moving from the C-3030 to the C-3000 is something to consider: Photoshop LE sells separately for $99, and is a good deal at that price, IOHO. On the other hand, you may end up with Photoshop LE from some other source, or prefer one of the other excellent image editors on the market instead.

(Slightly) Lower power consumption
There's at least one way in which the C-3000 Zoom is actually superior to the C-3030 Zoom, if only slightly: Power consumption. Since the C-3000 Zoom has less circuitry in it (no 32 megabyte RAM buffer), its power consumption is lower than that of the C-3030, if only slightly. We measured power drain on the C-3000 as being anywhere from 7 to 14% lower than that of the C-3030, depending on operating mode.

Lower Price(!)
At the end of the day, we think this is going to be the really dominant factor for most prospective 3030/3000 buyers: Unless people really need the extra speed of the C-3030, or a copy of Photoshop LE, we think the C-3000 will be the hands-down winner at the cash register. Relative to cameras from other manufacturers, few are as fast from shot to shot as the C-3030 anyway, so we suspect the real competition will be between the C-3000 Zoom and models from other makers. The C-3000's extremely aggressive price will make it a fierce contender on that playing field...

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