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Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom

Olympus makes a strong update to the top of their prosumer lineup

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 11/21/2003

Though it has a slightly larger body and different contours, the Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom maintains a similar look to the previous C-5050 Zoom, with a compact shape and style (something of a combination between a traditional SLR body and that of a rangefinder camera). The C-5060 is noticeably taller than the 5050 though, measuring 4.6 x 3.4 x 2.6 inches (116 x 87 x 66 millimeters) and weighing a hefty 18.2 ounces (516 grams) with battery and CF card loaded, the C-5060 Wide Zoom has the same all-black exterior, just with a modified shape. The external control layout varies slightly, but offers the same functions.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom looks and feels very much like a small film-based SLR camera, substantial enough for a good hold (thanks to a large right hand grip), but small enough to slide into a large purse or coat pocket when you're done shooting. It also has a very pleasing heft, not too heavy, but conveying an impression of solidity and ruggedness. A comfortably wide neck strap is provided for those times when you want the C-5060 to be out and ready to shoot on a moment's notice.

The telescoping lens extends about an inch beyond the lens barrel when powered on in either Still Shooting (Record) or Movie capture modes. When fully retracted, the lens disappears into a lens barrel that extends about half an inch from the body of the camera projecting just slightly beyond the front edge of the right hand grip. The lens is protected by a plastic lens cap that gently press-fits onto the body flange, and attaches to the camera with the supplied tether 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, viewfinder window, IR sensor window (used for the IR remote control), microphone, and AF assist light window. The inside lip of the exterior lens barrel has a set of filter threads that accepts an optional lens adapter tube for attaching auxiliary lenses to the camera. (Wide angle, telephoto, and macro auxiliary lenses are available.)

The camera's rear panel layout is logically designed, with most of the control buttons positioned above or to the right of the 1.8-inch LCD color monitor. The LCD monitor lifts out from rear panel and can tilt upward 180 degrees, and from there swivels another 180 degrees. The end result is that you can flip the LCD monitor around to face the back panel and close it, thus protecting it from scratches when the camera is not in use. The four-way Arrow Pad is adjacent to the right side of the display, with the OK button in the center. Below it is the CF / xD button, for selecting the memory card being used, and above it are the Display and Quick View buttons which control the LCD display modes. In the top right corner is a small Command dial, for making changes in conjunction with the external control buttons, and the edge of the Power and Mode dials. The AE Lock button is to the right of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, and also accesses an Erase menu in Playback mode. On the left side of the LCD monitor, on a beveled body facet, are the Exposure Compensation and Flash buttons. (Pressing both buttons simultaneously adjusts the flash exposure.) A red LED adjacent to the memory card door lets you know when the camera is writing to one of the memory cards. A diopter adjustment for the optical viewfinder is on the right side of the eyepiece, and a set of status LEDs is on the left.

The shots above show the LCD tilted out from the body, angled up and down the maximum amount allowed, and swiveled.

The large black hand grip, which houses both the battery and memory card compartments, makes up the right side of the camera. It is sculpted to fit comfortably in your hand, with a slightly concave finger hold on the front and a dimpled plastic thumb grip on the back. The hinged, plastic door of the memory card compartment opens from the back. Inside the compartment, are two slots, one that accommodates Compact Flash type I and II cards, and another that holds xD-Picture Cards. Right above the compartment door is one of two neck strap eyelets, with the second one counterbalancing it on the left side of the camera. (Kudos to Olympus for positioning the neckstrap eyelets to let the camera hang level.)

Just under the left side neckstrap eyelet are the cable connector compartments, two plastic doors that cover the A/V Out, USB, and DC In connector ports. The connector port covers are flexible and rubbery, and hinge to the camera. I'm not crazy about flexible hinges like these, as I'm concerned that they might fatigue and split over time, but manufacturers keep on using them, so maybe I should just relax and stop worrying. ;-) On the left side of the connector compartments is the camera's speaker.

The top of the camera is packed with controls and features. At the far left are the Focus and Metering / Protect buttons, followed by the external flash hot shoe and small LCD display panel. On the right side are the Shutter button (surrounded by the Zoom Lever), Self-Timer / Remote / Rotate, and Custom / DPOF buttons, a Mode dial, and a Power control. The Power control is barely visible when viewed from directly above like this - It's the small tab projecting to the right, from underneath the Mode dial. I like this implementation of the power switch, as you don't have to perturb the Mode dial setting to turn the camera on and off, and I like having the power control right under my thumb, rather than having to fiddle with a back- or top-panel pushbutton.

The bottom of the camera holds the battery compartment cover and a metal screw-mount tripod socket, that's 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, handy for time-consuming projects, such as working in the studio or downloading images to the computer. The good news about the tripod socket is that it's metal, and also located almost exactly under the camera's center of gravity. Both factors make for long life. The downside of the tripod socket location is that it's not particularly close to the optical center of the lens, as needed when shooting multiple images to be assembled into a panorama. (This probably isn't too big an issue though, as the optical center of the lens is actually near the end of the body-mounted lens barrel anyway. This means you'd need to use a panorama head with the camera even if the tripod socket were directly centered under the lens cylinder.)

The infrared remote control included with the camera is the new RM-2 model, which only allows you to trip the shutter. The camera itself is compatible with the older (and still available as an optional accessory) RM-1 remote, which lets you control the optical zoom and scroll through captured images remotely. I've always enjoyed this feature on past Olympus digicams, as it comes in quite handy in the studio. It's also great any time you're using a really long exposure time and want to prop the camera on something to avoid jiggling it by pressing the shutter button. A nice thing about this remote is the distance from which it will control the camera - In my experience, out to 15 feet or more, depending on the ambient lighting. I'm less crazy though, about the fact that the camera always waits a few seconds, counting down before firing the shutter in response to the remote. - An option to set the shutter delay to zero when using the remote would be very welcome. The shot above shows the remote control posed in front of the 5060, with a CF memory card included for scale.

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