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Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom

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

Review First Posted: 11/21/2003

MSRP $799 US


Five-megapixel sensor, delivering 2,592 x 1,944-pixel images
Super wide angle lens, with 4x optical zoom, equivalent to a 27-110mm lens on a 35mm camera
Enhanced histogram function for better exposures
Bulb shutter setting for long exposures
Accepts xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash memory card formats

Manufacturer Overview
The Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom digital camera is the latest in a long line of Olympus Camedia models stretching back to the earliest days of the consumer digicam industry. Olympus is one of the truly dominant players in the digicam marketplace, with a current product line that ranges from bare-bones entry level models like the D-390 to their "from the ground up" all-digital SLR, the E-1.

With the Camedia C-5060 Wide Zoom, Olympus has improved upon the recent Camedia C-5050 Zoom model just slightly (an outstanding digicam in its own right), by incorporating a 4x, super wide angle lens. The C-5060's tilting LCD monitor offers more angles than the previous C-5050, and the camera's histogram feature has been enhanced for better exposure control as well. The C-5060 Wide Zoom now supports CompactFlash and xD-Picture Card recording media formats. (While the previous C-5050 Zoom also supported SmartMedia on top of these, Olympus dropped SmartMedia in the C-5060 due to its 128 MB capacity limit and reduced usage in the marketplace.) Like the C-5050 Zoom, the C-5060 Wide Zoom also features a RAW data mode, and the ability to extract JPEG images with adjusted image parameters from RAW files in the camera, as well as all of the extensive exposure control that I so enjoyed on the C-5050 model.

The Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom is clearly one of the leaders in the new generation of five-megapixel "prosumer" digital cameras intended for the advanced amateur and professional market. Aggressively priced at just under $700 as of its introduction, the Camedia 5060 delivers uninterpolated images as large as 2,592 x 1,944 pixels, which when combined with Olympus' new noise reduction technology and "optimum image enlargement" function, can produce quality prints as large as 16 x 20 inches.

All in all, the Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom is an impressive package of picture-taking technology, well deserving of serious consideration by anyone looking for a capable "enthusiast" camera in the 5-megapixel category.

High Points

Executive Overview
Olympus' "C-series" digicams have a long, distinguished history, reaching back to the original C-2000. With each generation, Olympus advanced the design a bit further, steadily increasing features and capabilities. The newest addition to the line, the C-5060 Wide Zoom, builds on the successful C-5050 model, but offers a 4x optical zoom lens with a minimum focal length equivalent to a 27mm lens on a 35mm camera, a slightly larger CCD, a Bulb shutter setting, and enhanced histogram and LCD display options. Additionally, the C-5060 sports a slightly different body style, although its looks are still reminiscent of the C-5050's classic rangefinder-style body. Boasting a 5.1-megapixel CCD, the C-5060 captures a maximum resolution of 2,592 x 1,944 pixels, with an Optimum Image Enlargement option that produces interpolated images as large as 3,264 x 2,448 pixels. Measuring 4.6 x 3.4 x 2.6 inches (116 x 87 x 66 millimeters) and weighing 18.1 ounces (512 grams) with battery and CompactFlash card installed, the C-5060 can be stashed in a coat pocket or large purse, but I highly recommend purchasing a soft cover or small camera bag for added protection.

Like its predecessor, the C-5060 Wide Zoom offers many advanced user controls, including a Multi-Spot metering mode that averages up to eight individual spot readings, a one-touch white balance function (with optional manual white balance correction for minor color adjustments), spot autofocus, contrast, saturation, and sharpness adjustments, and a QuickTime movie mode with simultaneous sound recording capabilities. Where the C-5060 Wide Zoom improves on its predecessor is with the markedly wider-angle lens, enhanced histogram display capabilities that really help you determine the best exposure settings, and a handful of other exposure option tweaks.

The C-5060 Zoom features both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.8-inch, wide-view color TFT LCD monitor, with 134,000 pixels. The LCD appears to be a new design for Olympus, as it's unusually usable under bright conditions, up to and including direct sunlight. The tilting LCD monitor lifts out from the back panel, and tilts up about 180 degrees, then swivels around another 180 degrees for better viewing angles when the camera is held above or below eye level. When the LCD monitor is engaged, it automatically displays detailed exposure information, with the current exposure mode, f/stop setting, shutter speed, and exposure compensation listed across the top of the monitor (a nice feature not found on all digicams) and the number of images remaining on the memory card in the current resolution setting (displayed briefly when the monitor is turned on), at the bottom of the monitor. The C-5060 also provides a very helpful distance display with numeric indications when using the manual focus option, as well as a zoom bar (activated when digital zoom is on) that shows both the camera's 4x optical zoom in operation, as well as the digital zoom's progress, when you zoom past the optical telephoto limit. An optional live histogram display shows the tonal values of the subject at your current exposure setting. This is helpful for checking the exposure before capturing an image. A new histogram display option indicates the actual areas of the frame that will be over or underexposed, by highlighting these areas with a series of red and blue outline boxes. The LCD monitor also offers four framing assist guides, with a gridline display and a set of outlines for lining up portraits and center subjects.

The 5.7-22.8mm 4x zoom aspherical glass lens is equivalent to a 27-110mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a f/2.8-f/4.8 (wide angle to telephoto) maximum aperture. In addition to the C-5060's 4x optical zoom, images can be enlarged up to 3.5x with the digital zoom. (Users should be aware that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom, since the digital zoom is merely cropping and enlarging the central portion of the CCD. As a result, digitally enlarged images are always softer and often show higher levels of noise and artifacts than images that haven't been processed in this way.) The C-5060 Zoom also sports an autofocus assist illuminator that may be enabled or not, at the user's discretion, greatly extending the camera's usefulness for low-light shooting, and a range of focus control options.

The C-5060's image file sizes include: 2,592 x 1,944; 2,288 x 1,712; 2,048 x 1,536; 1,600 x 1,200; 1280 x 960; 1024 x 768; and 640 x 480 pixels in normal mode, and 3,264 x 2,448 pixels when using Optimum Image Enlargement. (Optimum Image Enlargement resamples the image to a larger size, working from the raw camera data before it has been JPEG compressed. This gives a slight quality edge as compared to resizing images afterward, in a computer, but the difference is frankly pretty minor.) Image quality options include two JPEG compression ratios, plus uncompressed TIFF and RAW formats. While RAW images usually require processing via imaging software post-capture, the C-5060 Wide Zoom's Playback menu offers a RAW editing function, which lets you adjust color, sharpness, etc. in-camera. The edited file is then saved as a separate JPEG.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom offers a great deal of exposure control, including Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Speed Priority (S), and Manual (M) exposure modes. Program mode controls both aperture and shutter speed, while Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you control over aperture or shutter speed, and the camera chooses the best corresponding settings. When used in A or S modes, apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8.0 and shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to four seconds. (Note though, that shutter speeds higher than 1/2,000 are only available when the lens aperture is set to f/8.) The Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but with shutter times as long as 16 seconds, as well as a Bulb setting that permits exposure times as long as 120 seconds. The C-5060 also has five preset Scene modes, including Portrait, Sports, Landscape-Portrait, Landscape-Scene, and Night modes, for point-and-shoot style shooting. Additionally, in any of the main record modes (P, A, S, M, My, or Movie), the "Scene" option of the Shooting menu lets you apply Night, Portrait, or Landscape characteristics to the shot automatically. Since not all of the Shooting menu options are available in the actual Scene modes, this is a way to let the camera set itself up for a specific kind of exposure without giving up any manual control.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom provides five ISO options (Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400), automatic exposure bracketing, Digital ESP and Spot metering modes, Single and Multi-Spot Metering AE Lock modes, plus exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. An advanced Noise Reduction System uses dark-frame subtraction to minimize background noise (particularly in low-light conditions and long exposures). The C-5060 Wide Zoom's white balance offerings are some of the most extensive I've seen on a prosumer digicam to date, with a total of 11 settings (Auto, Shade, Cloudy, Sunny, Evening Sun, Daylight Fluorescent, Neutral Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, White Fluorescent, Incandescent, or One-Touch, the manual setting). With the manual white balance option, you can save as many as four custom settings, which is useful if you frequently shoot under a specific light source, or if you're in a shooting situation that requires you to move quickly back and forth between two scenes with different lighting. A white balance color adjustment function lets you dial in red or blue color shifts from +7 to -7 steps (arbitrary units) for both the preset white balance options, as well as the Manual settings. This features deserves some added accolades: I've very often found it to be the case that a camera will produce a characteristic color cast under various lighting conditions that would be easy to correct for, if only the control were available to do so. This need applies to Manual white balance settings, as well as preset ones. While Manual white balance options are designed to fully neutralize the color cast of any given light source, more often than not, they instead leave a characteristic color cast of their own behind. Alternatively, you frequently want to remove some of the color cast of the scene lighting, but not all of it, to call to mind the mood of the original setting. Olympus' white balance adjustment option lets you dial-in separate tweaks for each of the camera's white balance modes, including the Manual options. The control offers a very large number (15) of very small steps, letting you make very fine-grained adjustments over a very broad spectrum of available colors.

Image contrast, sharpness, and saturation adjustments are available through the Mode Setup menu, and a Function menu option allows you to capture images in black and white or sepia tone (with additional White Board and Black Board settings for capturing text). As with the white balance adjustment mentioned above, the contrast, sharpness, and saturation controls offer fairly fine-grained adjustments, meaning you can use them to really customize the camera's response to your needs and preferences, rather than using them only as special effects. An adjustable Automatic Exposure Lock (AEL) function locks an exposure reading independently of the autofocus system, without having to hold down the Shutter button halfway while you reframe the image. This lets you set the exposure using the Spot Metering option, without forcing you to also focus on the particular object you based your exposure on. AEL optionally takes a single exposure reading or up to eight averaged spot readings for more accurate exposures. (Another handy and very powerful feature.) There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits, and an infrared (IR) remote controller with a three-second shutter delay. (The C-5060 ships with the new RM-2 IR remote that offers only shutter control. The camera itself is compatible with the original RM-1 remote though, which provides control of the zoom lens and several other camera functions as well. The RM-1 is still available as an optional accessory.)

The C-5060 Wide Zoom's Movie mode records QuickTime movies with or without sound, at either 160 x 120; 320 x 240; or 640 x 480 pixels. When sound is enabled in movie mode, only digital zoom is available while actively recording, to prevent the noise from the lens motor from interfering with the movie audio. When sound is turned off, the full range of optical plus digital zoom is available during recording. Four-second sound clips can also be recorded to accompany still images, either at the time of capture, or later during image playback. A Sequence mode is available for capturing multiple images at up to three frames per second, and a Panorama mode allows you to take up to 10 sequential shots, formatted for merging with Camedia's Panorama Stitch software in the computer. A 2-in-1 capture mode snaps two vertically-oriented images in succession, and saves them side-by-side as a single image. (The effect is like a split-screen view.)

The camera's internal flash offers five operating modes (Flash Off, Auto-Flash, Forced Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, and Slow Synchro), with a range that extends to approximately 13 feet (3.7 meters) in wide-angle mode and to about 8 feet (2.2 meters) with the lens set to its telephoto position. A standard hot shoe allows you to connect an external flash unit when additional flash power is needed, and the shoe's contact support either generic "dumb" flash units, or Olympus' own dedicated strobes. You can also increase or decrease the internal flash power from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments through the Shooting menu.

The Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom ships with a 32MB xD-Picture Card for image storage (larger capacity cards are available separately, in sizes up to 512MB as of this writing in November, 2003), but the camera also accommodates CompactFlash type I or II cards, including MicroDrives. You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and if you want a larger viewfinder (or image playback) display, Olympus provides a video output cable for connection to a television set (which works nicely with the optional RM-1 remote control, for adjusting framing while shooting, or for running a slide show in playback mode). Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master utility package, which provides minor organization and editing tools, as well as the panorama "stitching" application mentioned above. Apple QuickTime and USB drivers for Macintosh and Windows are also supplied.

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.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom offers both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.8-inch, 134,000 pixel, TFT color LCD screen. The optical viewfinder accommodates eyeglass wearers with a diopter correction adjustment and a modestly high eyepoint, although I'd really like to have seen just a little more space between the eyepiece and my own eyeglass lenses. I don't have any way of measuring the range of dioptric adjustments, but can say that the one on the 5060's eyepiece seems pretty balanced in its coverage of both "farsighted" and "nearsighted" needs - It actually came surprisingly close to being able to cope with my own 20/180 vision.

In my testing, the C-5060 Wide Zoom's optical viewfinder was rather tight, showing only 77 percent of the final frame area at wide angle, and 81 percent at telephoto. By contrast, the LCD viewfinder is very accurate, showing 97 percent of the final frame at both wide and telephoto lens settings.

While the optical viewfinder zooms along with the lens, it naturally does not show the operation of the digital zoom, which can only be enabled when the LCD monitor is on. A central autofocus target helps to center your subjects, and two LED indicators (one orange and one green) are adjacent to the viewfinder window, indicating camera status with either glowing or blinking lights. A blinking, green LED indicates trouble with either the memory card or the autofocus. A solid green LED indicates that focus is set and the camera is ready to snap the picture. A flashing orange LED means that the flash is still charging or that there is a potential of camera shake, while a solid orange LED shows that the flash is fully charged and ready to fire.

As described earlier, the C-5060 Zoom's LCD monitor tilts upward 180 degrees. It can also swivel laterally 270 degrees. The LCD on the C-5060 deserves special commendation for its usability in bright lighting. Whereas most digicam LCD screens wash out and become unusable in bright daylight, the one on the 5060 is usable even in direct sunlight. Very nice, a display I wish more digicam manufacturers would adopt!

A detailed information overlay reports a number of exposure settings, including the currently selected f/stop, shutter speed, and exposure compensation adjustments across the top of the LCD screen. When first entering a record mode, a more detailed information display appears for a few seconds, showing the image attributes (contrast, sharpness, and saturation), flash exposure compensation, ISO, flash mode, drive mode, and focus mode settings. In Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, the chosen aperture or shutter speed appears as a constant, while the second, automatically determined exposure value changes whenever the Shutter button is half pressed (based on exposure compensation and changing light levels). The Manual mode displays both the selected f/stop and shutter speed values (adjustable with the left / right and up / down Arrow buttons, respectively), while the exposure compensation value is reported in the upper right corner, showing the amount of over- or underexposure. The exposure values flash red when the camera disagrees with the setting. In Manual Focus mode, a distance display scale appears on the LCD monitor, which helps to adjust focus in low-light situations.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom's LCD monitor also offers a live histogram display with a couple of unusual options in record mode, which is helpful in determining any over- or underexposure, and for analyzing the tonal distribution in your images. Histogram displays are generally very useful for determining whether your overall exposure is over or under, but are less helpful in telling when you have small parts of the image that are outside the acceptable exposure range. - This is be because a small portion of the image represents relatively few pixels, and so won't produce a large (or even visible) spike on the histogram graph. To counter this, Olympus has added two innovative options to the C-5060's histogram function. The first of these introduces a small rectangle that you can scroll around the frame, to take histogram readings from a limited local area. This box is activated whenever you hit one of the arrow keys with the histogram active. A separate histogram of just the area covered by the rectangle appears in the display, highlighted in green. This amounts to the histogram equivalent of spot metering, and is very useful for examining exposure values in detail.

The second innovative display Olympus has built into the 5060's histogram function is a little more unusual. Called "Direct" mode, it overlays a red or blue grid on the LCD viewfinder image, showing areas that are in deep shadow (blue) or overexposed highlight (red). The resulting display (see inset above right) is unique, to say the least. It does do a pretty good job of giving you a heads-up as to where you might have exposure problems, without obscuring subject detail. I'd need to spend more time with it to know how I ultimately feel about it, but my initial reaction is that it's clever, but I really prefer the blinking highlight/shadow method of warning about exposure extremes.

Fortunately, the C-5060 offers a blinking highlight/shadow exposure warning display in playback mode. - Selecting the "Direct" option from the histogram menu item in playback mode produces the familiar animated display. Actually, while a number of prosumer digicams offer a blinking overexposure warning for lost highlight detail, I'm not offhand aware of any that offer an underexposure warning for the shadows as the C-5060 does.

Besides the histogram and exposure warning displays, the C-5060 also has a gridline function that divides the image area into thirds horizontally and vertically, as well as a set of framing assist options. Two of the Frame Assist modes outline the shape of a person's head in the center of the LCD monitor, one for vertical alignment and the other for horizontal alignment. A third looks like a black outline bullseye, in the center of the LCD monitor.

Pressing the Monitor button on the rear panel turns the LCD viewfinder on and off, as well as the information display. This button also optionally cycles through a position in which a detailed list of camera settings is shown in lieu of the viewfinder display. This display is very reminiscent of the back-panel display of Olympus' original E-10 and E-20 SLRs, and provides a wealth of information about the camera's settings and status. (This display is enabled by turning on the "Dual Control Panel" option in the camera's setup menu.)

When using the LCD monitor to review captured images, you can zoom in on displayed images up to 4x, and then scroll around the enlarged image using the Arrow buttons. This is extremely handy for checking focus, small details, or precise framing. There's also an Index display option, which shows either four, nine, or 16 thumbnail images at a time, as determined by a menu setting. A Playback histogram display shows the tonal distribution of the exposed image, with a list of basic exposure settings off to the right. The same histogram options are available in this mode, as well as the Frame Assist guides. A very handy "Quick View" function lets you check the last picture taken in Shooting mode by pressing the Quick View button on the camera's rear panel. The image will remain displayed on the LCD monitor until you revert back to Shooting mode by pressing the Quick View button again, or by half-pressing the shutter button.

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The Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom has an all-glass, aspheric lens design. The 4x, 5.7-22.8mm lens provides a focal range equivalent to that of a 27-110mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. This about the widest-angle zoom lens available in the prosumer market (if only by a millimeter of equivalent focal length), great for capturing interior shots, landscapes, and other wide-angle subjects. Maximum aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/4.8, depending on the zoom setting.

Focusing distances range from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in Normal mode, and 8.0 inches to 2.6 feet (0.2 to 0.8 meters) in Macro mode. A Super Macro mode lets you get even closer to your subject, as close as one inch (3.0 centimeters), an impressive performance. In my tests, minimum capture area was 3.04 x 2.28 inches (77 x 58 millimeters) in normal macro, and a very small 1.32 x 0.99 inches (33 x 25 millimeters) in super macro mode. The autofocus system works through the lens, apparently using a combination of contrast detection and phase detection. (Phase detection is a more advanced autofocus method than contrast detection, as the camera can tell not only whether the subject is in or out of focus, but in which direction the focus needs to be adjusted, and by approximately how much. The result can be faster autofocus, so this may explain some of the C-5060 Wide Zoom's improved autofocus speed.) Given that autofocus is based on image data extracted from the main sensor, the autofocus will work properly with auxiliary lenses, such as the excellent wide- and telephoto adapters offered by Olympus themselves. The green LED next to the optical viewfinder glows solid as soon as the subject is in focus (flashing means there's a problem focusing and you may need to switch to Manual Focus or Macro mode). Although the C-5060 Wide Zoom doesn't feature an independent focus lock, you can manually lock it by centering the target portion of the subject in the frame, pressing the Shutter button halfway, and then recomposing the image while continuing to hold the Shutter button halfway down. (Note that there is a separate Auto Exposure Lock button though, which does separate the focus and exposure-lock functions.) An AF assist lamp helps the camera focus in dark shooting conditions, a very welcome if recent addition to the Olympus camera lineup.

The Focus button on the top panel of the camera accesses the normal AF mode, as well as both macro modes and the manual focus settings. As with the rest of the 5060's user interface, the focus mode setting uses a "virtual dial. Pressing the button and turning the Command dial rotates the available focus options across the LCD screen as if they were on a dial projected in a semi-3D perspective view onto the LCD screen. The screen shot above right shows the individual settings in sequence, but doesn't portray the animation that mimics a rotating dial.)

In manual focus mode, a distance scale appears on the LCD monitor, showing distances in meters or feet. Pressing the up and down arrow buttons adjusts focus when manual focus is enabled. As you focus, the image is automatically enlarged in the LCD monitor to better see small details. The manual focus option includes two modes, a normal one, with the focus range extending from infinity down to eight inches, and a super-macro manual focus mode, which extends the focusing range down to one inch, while still permitting focusing all the way out to infinity. Once the focus is set manually, you can save the focus setting by pressing the Menu / OK button.

A Full-Time AF mode, selected through the Shooting menu, keeps the autofocus constantly engaged as you move the camera from subject to subject, instead of waiting for the Shutter button to be depressed halfway. This might be useful for photography involving moving subjects, but it is an additional drain on the battery because the focusing mechanism is constantly at work. Like the continuous-AF modes on essentially every other prosumer digicam I've tested, this mode on the 5060 offers absolutely no advantage in terms of reduced shutter lag when shooting stationary subjects. Also, practically speaking, the C-5060's AF speed isn't sufficient to track any rapidly-moving object, leading me to question the actual utility of the Full-Time AF option in the first place.

Besides the manual focus and full-time AF modes, the C-5060 also lets you designate whether the camera determines focus from a small, local area of the image (Spot) or the entire image area (iESP), by choosing the appropriate AF Mode option in the Shooting menu. Once in Spot AF mode, you can move the AF target by holding down the Focus button and using the arrow keys to move the target around on the LCD monitor. (To reset the AF mark to center, press the Menu / OK and Focus buttons simultaneously.)

The C-5060 Wide Zoom's exterior lens barrel has a set of fairly large accessory threads that couple to Olympus' lens adapter tube, the CLA-7. An Accessory option in the LCD menu system (under the "camera" tab) sets up the camera for working with auxiliary lenses, and features an Underwater setting as well. The optional CLA-7 adapter provides a bayonet mount that projects out from the camera body far enough for any auxiliary optics to clear the telescoping lens assembly. Unlike Olympus lens adapters though, it bears noting that the CLA-7 offers only a proprietary Olympus bayonet mount, not conventional filter threads. This means that you'll be forced to rely upon Olympus-branded auxiliary lenses, at least until some third-party manufacturer comes out with an adapter barrel to mate with the C-5060. (Suppliers like CKC Power should be good bets for an adapter in fairly short order though, I'd think.) The CLA-7's price hadn't been set at the time of this writing in mid-November, 2003, but is estimated at being on the order of $30. Two auxiliary lenses are being planned for the 5060, the 1.7x teleconverter TCON-17C, which extends the maximum telephoto focal length to the equivalent of a 187mm lens on a 35mm camera, and the 0.7x wide converter TCON-07C, which extends the maximum wide-angle coverage to the equivalent of a 19mm lens on a 35mm camera. Both lenses are slated to carry a retail price of $199.95. (Late-breaking note: Olympus has told me that they will have 40.5 mm protective, UV, and polarizing filters that will attach directly to the camera's body threads, so you'll at least have the option of using those types of filters with the 5060. - But there will be no thread to accommodate non-Olympus lenses or filters, barring a third-party solution of the sort I mentioned above.) An Accessory option in the LCD menu system (under the "camera" tab) sets up the camera for working with auxiliary lenses, and features an Underwater setting as well.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom also provides as much as 3.5x digital zoom, which can be enabled via the Shooting menu. Once activated, the Zoom scale on the right side of the monitor changes to accommodate the expanded range for the digital zoom. The bottom half of the scale (colored white) indicates the optical zoom range, while the top half (colored red) specifies the digital zoom. The digital zoom is only accessible when the LCD monitor is engaged; when the LCD is turned off, the digital zoom returns to the 1x setting. It also cannot be used with the uncompressed TIFF or RAW modes.

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The C-5060 Wide Zoom offers a lot of exposure control, including Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes, as well as five preset Scene modes. All capture modes are set by rotating the Mode dial on the top panel, which also accesses the My Mode and Movie mode. (My Mode lets you create a custom setup for the camera, including virtually every exposure and operating parameter, which can then be selected simply by rotating the Mode Dial to the "My" position.) Additional exposure options include five ISO settings (Auto, 80, 100, 200 and 400); exposure compensation, auto bracketing, internal and external flash adjustment, three metering modes: Spot, Multi Spot, and ESP multi-pattern, and more.

In Program mode, the camera selects both the aperture and shutter speed, while you control the remaining exposure options such as ISO, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and metering mode selection. Aperture Priority lets you set the aperture from f/2.8 to f/8.0 while the camera chooses the best corresponding shutter speed. In Shutter Priority, you can select shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to four seconds, and the camera selects the best corresponding aperture setting. (See the note in the second paragraph below about maximum shutter speed though.)

In Manual mode, you control both aperture and shutter speed with the addition of much longer shutter times (as long as 16 seconds), plus a Bulb shutter setting for manually-timed exposures as long as 120 seconds(!). A helpful feature of the Manual mode is that, as you scroll through the various exposure combinations, the camera indicates whether or not the current setting will produce a correct exposure. It does this by showing the f/stop and shutter speed in green, and the exposure differential (the difference between your settings and what the camera meters as correct) in white, in exposure values (EV) within a range of +3 to -3 EV. If you exceed a +/- 3 EV deviation from the camera's metered exposure, the exposure variables flash red in the display. Additionally, you can activate the live histogram display, which graphically shows the under- or overexposure, or the Direct histogram display, which points out the under or overexposed areas on the LCD monitor directly. (Overall, the 5060 one of the more helpful cameras when shooting in manual mode.)

In common with a number of other digicams, the C-5060 Wide Zoom's maximum shutter speed is somewhat dependent on lens aperture, in that its very highest shutter speed (1/4,000) is only available when the smallest lens aperture (f/8) has been selected. Shutter speeds of 1/2,500 to 1/4,000 are thus only available when under automatic exposure control in either Program or Aperture Priority exposure modes, or in Manual mode when an aperture of f/8 has been specified.

For point-and-shoot convenience in what might otherwise be tricky shooting conditions, the C-5060 also features five Scene modes. Portrait mode keeps the subject in sharp focus but the background slightly blurred, by using a larger aperture to reduce depth of field. Two landscape modes (Landscape Portrait and Landscape Scene) instead use a smaller aperture, to capture sharp detail in the foreground and background. A Sports mode biases the exposure system toward higher shutter speeds, so you can "freeze" fast-paced action. Finally, a Night mode optimizes the camera for night shots and portraits, using slower shutter speeds to increase the contribution of ambient light to the exposure. The C-5060 Zoom also allows you to apply specific Scenes to the Program, Aperture, Shutter, Manual, My, and Movie modes. Through the Shooting menu, the Scene option applies Portrait, Landscape, or Night presets to the current image, giving you the benefit of a preset shooting mode while maintaining full exposure control.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom provides a fairly typical range of ISO settings, the default ISO 80 extending the range a bit lower than the more common minimum value of 100. (Although I hasten to point out that several competing camera models reach as low as ISO 50.) The lower default ISO is welcome, as it will result in lower image noise when shooting under bright conditions. (Higher ISO settings are often useful for working in limited light conditions, but they result in noisier images.) In addition, the available lower ISO is helpful when trying for motion-blur effects in more brightly list surroundings. (Note: When ISO is set to Auto in Program exposure mode, it automatically resets to 80 when you switch to Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual exposure modes. A specific ISO setting can be combined with any of the exposure modes via the "MyCamera" option.) To combat the higher image noise that results from longer shutter times when shooting in dark conditions, the C-5060 Wide Zoom also offers a Noise Reduction mode, which uses dark-frame subtraction to minimize image noise on long exposures. That said, the 5060 produced some of the cleanest low-light exposures I've seen to date from a prosumer camera, even with the Noise Reduction system disabled.

Three metering patterns are available on the C-5060 Wide Zoom: Spot, Multi, and ESP multi-patterned metering. All three are accessed by pressing the Metering button on the top panel and turning the Command dial. Under the default ESP multi-patterned setting, the camera takes readings from a number of areas in the viewfinder, evaluating both brightness and contrast to arrive at the optimum exposure. Spot metering reads the exposure from the very center of the image, so you can pinpoint the specific area of the photograph you want properly exposed and lock in on that exposure by depressing the Shutter button halfway and holding it down until you recompose the scene. The unusual Multi Meter function lets you take up to eight individual spot-meter readings from the center of the LCD monitor (inside the exposure brackets) by repeatedly pressing the AE Lock (AEL) button. Each reading is marked on a relative exposure scale across the bottom of the LCD panel, and then averaged to produce the overall reading. You lock the Multi-Spot reading by holding the AE Lock button down for one second (the word "Memo" appears in the LCD display), and can cancel it by pressing and holding the AEL button one last time. This is a very useful exposure option for advanced photographers. The screen shot above right is "borrowed" from my review of the previous C-5050 model, the feature works the same on the 5060.)

Enabled through the Shooting menu (Setup sub-menu), a Record View function displays the most recently captured image on the LCD screen while the image is being recorded to the memory card. It's a great way to check your images without wasting time switching back and forth between Playback and Shooting modes. The camera's Quick View function also allows you to check previously captured images in Shooting mode, by pressing the Quick View button. You can review the most recent image or scroll back through other stored files until you return to the Shooting mode (by pressing the Quick View button a second time).

In situations where exposure compensation is necessary, pressing the +/- button on the left side of the camera and turning the Command dial increases or decreases the exposure values (EV) in either one-third or one-half-step increments (selected via a setup menu option), up to +/- 2 EV. If exposure compensation is currently activated, the amount of adjustment appears in the LCD information display, except in Manual mode, where there's no automatic exposure to be adjusted.

The C-5060's Auto Bracketing (BKT) function is selected through the Shooting Mode Menu (Drive submenu), setting the camera to automatically bracket each exposure by as much as +/- 2 EV in either three- or five-step increments (0.3, 0.7, or 1.0 EV units each). The bracketing function centers its efforts around whatever exposure you've chosen as the starting point, including any exposure compensation adjustments you've made. This is a nice implementation of a useful exposure feature. The five-step option is particularly welcome, as the three-step exposure bracketing offered by many cameras often forces you to choose between a too-narrow bracketing range or too-large exposure steps.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom's white balance menu offers a broader range of options than I've seen on other high-end consumer digicams. No fewer than 11 options are available, including Auto, Shade, Cloudy, Sunny, Evening Sun, Daylight Fluorescent, Neutral Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, White Fluorescent, Incandescent, and One-Touch / Custom. One-Touch is the manual setting, where white balance is calculated by placing a white card in front of the lens and pressing the Menu / OK button. The Custom mode lets you pick from four previously-saved white balances, set manually in similar fashion to the One-Touch option. (I really like this ability to save up to four separate custom settings. This lets you switch back and forth rapidly, without having to re-shoot a fresh white card test each time.) You can also fine-tune the white balance setting with the "WB+/-" setting under the Picture submenu. An adjustment bar appears on the LCD screen, with options to shift the color toward either the red or blue ends of the spectrum. I've always appreciated the ability to fine-tune white balance like this. Most digicams tend to have slight biases in their white balance systems under various lighting conditions. Once you get used to how a particular camera shoots, it's very helpful to have this sort of tweaking adjustment available to modify the color balance. The 5060's large number of adjustment steps provide very fine-grained control over a surprisingly broad range of color adjustment.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom has a 12-second Self-Timer (which can be used with the optional infrared remote) for self-portraits or on those occasions when you don't want to risk camera shake by pressing the Shutter button to make the exposure. You can also use the included IR remote control to trigger the shutter without the Self-Timer, which gives you a three-second delay after pressing the remote's Shutter button, before the shutter is fired. As useful as the 5060's remote is, this is one of the few areas where I had a complaint about the 5060's performance: The mandatory three-second shutter delay when using the remote can be frustrating when you're trying to capture a specific moment. I'd really like to see an option to turn off the delay when using the remote. The remote control is rated to work as far as 16.4 feet directly in front of the camera, or as far as 9.8 feet when at a 15-degree angle from the sensor window. My own usage indicated that these ratings are conservative, although high ambient light levels can reduce the remote's range.

The Function menu option enables you to capture images in Black & White or Sepia modes, or to use the White and Black Board settings for capturing text on white or black backgrounds respectively. (These modes appear to adjust image contrast and default exposure levels to maximize contrast and force the background toward the appropriate tonal value.) The C-5060 Wide Zoom also features sharpness, saturation, and contrast adjustments.


The C-5060 Wide Zoom has a fairly standard built-in flash unit, with five basic operating modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Flash Off, and Slow Synchro modes. Flash range is rated to extend to approximately 13 feet (3.7 meters) in wide-angle mode and to about 8.0 feet (2.2 meters) at the telephoto setting. The Slow Synchro mode combines a slow shutter speed with the flash to let more ambient light into the background, producing more natural lighting behind a flash-illuminated subject. When photographing moving subjects, Slow Synchro will record some motion blur because of the longer exposure time, with the initial or final image frozen by the flash exposure. Through the Shooting menu, three Slow Synchro modes are available. Slow 1 fires the flash at the beginning of the exposure (producing a blur in front of the subject), and Slow 2 fires the flash at the end of the exposure (producing a blur behind the subject). You can also opt to fire the Red-Eye Reduction pre-flash in conjunction with a Slow Synchro exposure.

An Olympus-configured hot shoe on top of the camera allows you to connect an external flash for more powerful flash needs. Olympus offers the FL-50 and FL-20 external flash units as accessories, which couple with the camera to allow flash exposure compensation when using it. (The FL-50 is a fairly advanced unit with a power-zoom head that tracks the zoom setting of the camera lens, while the FL-20 is a very compact, less expensive unit of more modest capabilities.) The internal and external flash units can be used together or separately. Third-party flash units can also be used, although some units may not be able to synchronize with the camera, and Olympus warns that some flash units can damage the camera's circuitry. (Be sure to check the trigger voltage on your flash unit's hot shoe contacts, to insure that it doesn't present more than a few volts to the camera's flash contacts. If you measure more than 10 volts or so on the flash units contacts, don't risk connecting it to the 5060. Use a device like a Wein Safe-Sync(tm) to protect the 5060 against high trigger voltages in external flash units.) Assuming that they use a low trigger voltage, most third-party flash units should work fine with the 5060. The main limitation will be that the camera will have no control over the flash power, reducing you to manual flash exposure control via the camera's lens aperture setting and any power adjustment that might be available on the flash unit itself.

Another nice feature of the C-5060 Wide Zoom's internal flash system is its Flash Brightness adjustment, which allows you to change the flash brightness from +2 to -2 EV in one-third-step increments. When using the built-in flash with an external unit, you can use this feature to adjust the balance of light between the two, by dialing-down the intensity of the internal flash while controlling the power of the external unit manually.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom's flash also has good support for external "slave" flash units, letting it work with conventional slave trigger units. Like most digicams, the C-5060 normally uses a small metering pre-flash prior to the main exposure to set the flash power level. This pre-flash will falsely trigger conventional slave units, causing them to fire before the 5060 actually opens its shutter. Several third-party "smart" slave triggers are available that ignore the pre-flash, firing the slave strobe on the second pop of the camera's flash. The 5060 avoids the need for such special "smart" triggers though, by offering a special "slave" flash mode that causes its internal flash to fire only once per exposure. Olympus showed some welcome forethought in designing this flash mode, in that they give you a choice of ten different power levels for the internal flash when firing in single-pop mode. This lets you balance the amount of light coming from the 5060's internal flash with that coming from the slave unit(s). Very nice! (By the way, if you want no light to come from the camera's internal flash, you can tape a piece of exposed slide film over the camera's flash window, which will filter out most of the visible light, but let enough infrared pass to trigger a sensitive slave unit. - Be careful not to cycle the 5060's internal flash too quickly when doing this though, as it could overheat and possibly melt the slide film, making a mess.) The 5060's slave-flash option is only available when the camera is set to manual exposure mode. As an added bonus though, if you set the flash intensity in "slave" mode to a low value, you can actually use the on-camera flash during continuous shooting, although the maximum frame rate is limited to about 1 frame/second.

Special Exposure Modes

Movie Mode
The C-5060 Wide Zoom's Movie mode is accessed via the Mode dial on top of the camera (marked with a small movie camera symbol). Movies can be recorded at either 640 x 480; 320 x 240; or 160 x 120 pixels. Each records at approximately 15 frames per second. Sound recording can be turned On or Off in the Movie menu. Thanks to the C-5060 Wide Zoom's huge buffer memory and fast internal processing, the maximum recording time appears to be limited only by memory card capacity, regardless of the movie resolution being recorded. (Although I suspect you'll need a fairly fast card to keep up with the camera's data rate.) The available seconds of recording time appear in the status display panel (and on the LCD monitor if activated), based on the quality mode selected and space remaining on the card.

Sound recording with movies presents something of a dilemma for camera manufacturers. The problem with sound recording is that any camera-generated noises will be faithfully recorded along with the ambient sound, generally dominating since they're so close to the microphone. To avoid this problem, most cameras that offer sound recording in movie mode generally don't permit zooming of the lens while recording is in progress, since the sound of the lens motor would be so obtrusive.

With the C-5060's movie mode, Olympus has taken a very intelligent approach, enabling or disabling lens zoom (as well as continuous autofocus) based on whether or not sound recording is enabled. In all circumstances though, digital zoom is available, and the lens zoom can always be adjusted to any position prior to the start of recording. Olympus' movie mode implementation makes a lot of sense, offering as many camera functions as possible, governed by whether or not sound is being recorded. Beyond the sound/zoom tradeoff, a wide range of recording options apply to Movie mode as well, including spot metering, exposure compensation, focus lock, self-timer, ISO, and white balance, all of which are also unusual features to find available in a digicam Movie option.

First seen in the Camedia C-3030 (February 2000), the C-5060 Wide Zoom again offers in-camera "editing" of movies in Playback mode. This capability is accessed via the Playback menu, Movie Play submenu, and Edit option. Here, you can scroll forward and backward frame-by-frame through the movie, and set cut points at the beginning and end of the segment you're interested in. Movie content between the two cut points will be preserved, the rest discarded. In a nice touch though, Olympus allows you to choose whether to modify the original movie file, or just save the selected portion in a separate file - a feature that makes the Movie mode much more useful.

Audio Record Mode
The C-5060 Wide Zoom's Audio Record mode records up to four seconds of sound to accompany an image. Activated through the Shooting Menu (Camera sub-menu), the audio recording takes place immediately after you make an exposure. A status bar appears on the LCD monitor with the word "Busy" displayed. Green dots light up along the status bar to indicate how much time you have left until the recording is finished. You can also add audio clips after the image is recorded by selecting the Audio option in the Playback menu (Play sub-menu).

Panorama Mode
The C-5060 Wide Zoom offers a Panorama exposure mode when using an Olympus brand panorama-enabled xD-Picture Card. (The function is unavailable when using a CompactFlash memory card, or any other brand xD-Picture Card.) In this mode, the exposure and white balance for a series of shots are determined by the first exposure. The Panorama function is accessed in the Shooting menu through the Camera submenu. When activated, it provides light blue guide lines at the edges of the pictures to help you align successive shots, leaving enough overlap between them for the stitching software to do its job. Up to 10 shots can be taken in a panoramic series. Images are saved individually and then assembled on a computer after they've been downloaded.

"2-in-1" Mode
Accessed through the Record menu, "2 in 1" photography mode records two vertically-oriented, half-sized images. After capture, the images are saved side-by-side as one full resolution image, giving a split-screen effect. As with Panorama mode, a set of guidelines appear in the LCD display, to help you line up shots.

Sequence Modes
Taking advantage of its large memory buffer, the C-5060 Wide Zoom offers several Sequence modes that mimic the motor drive on a film camera, continually recording images for as long as the Shutter button is held down, or until the memory runs out (this varies with the image quality and subject, as well as available card space).

The 5060 has a total of three sequence modes, varying in the time between shots, and the maximum number of shots that can be recorded without pausing. High-speed sequence mode captures four frames (regardless of resolution/quality setting) at a rate of approximately three frames per second. "Normal" sequence mode slows to about 1.4 frames/second, but permits much longer sequences to be captured. Depending somewhat on the speed of the memory card you're using, normal sequence mode can capture 10 full-resolution "HQ" images. In AF sequence mode, the camera pauses to focus between shots, further slowing the frame rate, but insuring that moving subjects will remain in focus as they approach or recede from the camera. The slowest shutter speed available in all sequence modes is 1/30 second, and the TIFF and RAW file formats aren't available. A notable limitation of the Sequence mode is that the camera's internal flash cannot be used, at least not in an automatic-metering mode. However, if you have an external flash capable of recycling at three frames per second, and you shoot in Aperture Priority mode, the external flash may work just fine. Likewise, using the 5060's "slave flash" option (available only in manual exposure mode), you can set the flash to fire at a lower, non-metered power level when shooting in sequence mode. The maximum frame rate is limited to about one frame/second, but most consumer digicams don't allow any combination of flash and continuous shooting at all.

My Mode
Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the "My" position, this mode lets you save customized settings and then access them simply by turning the Mode dial. For example, if you consistently shoot in the same environment, you could save the exposure settings for those specific shooting conditions, so that they can be instantly recalled. (I can imagine this option being very handy for situations where you might have to switch quickly between two different settings. Think of a wedding reception, for instance: Standard "program" mode for outside shots on the lawn, etc, but a custom setup in My Mode to shoot the indoor scenes under incandescent lighting.) My Mode even lets you edit the Shortcut menu items, which appear when the Menu button is pressed, to reflect often-changed settings. The My Mode is very flexible, letting you preset the nearly all of the camera's parameters.


Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time is to allow the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is only rarely reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure it using a test setup I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled timing, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) The results are listed in the following chart.

NOTE: My qualitative characterizations of camera performance below (that is, "reasonably fast," "about average," etc.) are meant to be relative to other cameras of similar price and general capabilities. Thus, the same shutter lag that's "very fast" for a low-end consumer camera might be characterized as "quite slow" if I encountered it on a professional model. The comments are also intended as only a quick reference: If performance specs are critical for you, rely on the absolute numbers to compare cameras, rather than my purely qualitative comments.

Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom Timings
Power On -> First shot
Lens extends. Rather slow.
Lens retracts. About average.
Play to Record, first shot
Fairly fast.
Record to play
Top set of numbers are for large/fine files, bottom set for small/basic. First number in each pair is for immediate switch to playback after capturing an image, second number is for switch to playback mode after camera has finished processing last shot captured. About average.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
First number is for wide-angle, second is for telephoto. Quite fast, noticeably better than average in its class.
Shutter lag, manual focus 0.50  On the slow side.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding Shutter button. Also a little slow for this class of camera.
Cycle Time, max/min JPEG resolution
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. (Oddly, large/fine images are processed slightly more quickly.) Both numbers are quite fast. The buffer memory holds a minimum of about four large/fine shots before the camera slows to roughly 2.9 seconds per frame (with a range of variation from 1.6-4.0 seconds). In small/basic mode with a fast card, the camera can keep up with the shooting, regardless of the sequence length. In large/fine mode, the buffer clears in about 5.3 seconds, although it would likely take longer with a slower memory card. (Tests were performed with a 24x Lexar CF card.)
Cycle Time, RAW mode 9.25 No buffer memory in single-shot RAW mode, each shot takes this long, controls are locked until camera is done writing to the card. Moderately fast for a 5MP camera, although likely slower with a slower card.
Cycle Time, TIFF mode 16.21 No buffer memory in single-shot TIFF mode, each shot takes this long, controls are locked until camera is done writing to the card. Moderately fast for a 5MP camera, although likely slower with a slower card.
Cycle Time, normal continuous mode, max/min JPEG resolution
First numbers are for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Interval between first two shots is longer, 0.95 seconds for large/fine, 0.67 for small/basic. 7 shot buffer in large/fine, essentially unlimited in small/basic. Buffer clears in 10.5 seconds in large/fine mode, camera stops writing in ~27 seconds in small/basic. (Card-write times likely longer with slower memory card.)
Cycle Time, AF continuous mode, max/min JPEG resolution 1.34/1.21 (Continuous mode with Autofocus before each shot.) First numbers are for large/fine files, second number is time for small/basic images. Interval between first two shots is longer, 1.57 seconds for large/fine, 1.30 for small/basic. 7 shot buffer in large/fine, essentially unlimited in small/basic. Buffer clears in 10.5 seconds in large/fine mode, camera stops writing in ~27 seconds in small/basic. (Card-write times likely longer with slower memory card.)
Cycle Time, high-speed continuous mode, max/min JPEG resolution 0.33
(3 fps) 
High-speed continuous mode is much faster, but limited to four shots. After four shots, cycle time stretches to 3-7 seconds (highly variable).
Cycle Time, high-speed continuous mode, RAW files 0.33
(3 fps)
Same speed for high-speed continuous mode with RAW files. After four shots, camera waits to completely empty buffer (33-35 seconds with a fast card) before it lets you capture the next series of 4.

Overall, the C-5060 Wide Zoom is a pretty fast camera. It starts up and shuts down a little slowly, but its full-autofocus shutter lag is better than average relative to other cameras in its class, and shot to shot cycle times are quite good as well, at about 1.5 seconds per frame, with a buffer that holds a minimum of four shots in single-shot mode, and seven shots in low-speed continuous. Continuous shooting speed is a little mixed, merely average at 1.3 seconds/frame in normal continuous mode (buffer size of 7 large/fine frames), but very fast at 3 frames/second in high-speed continuous mode (buffer size of 4 frames, regardless of resolution). All in all though, a fairly impressive performance, a good if not exceptional choice for sports and other action shooting. (A few cameras have higher-speed continuous modes, as well as modes that capture images continuously before you release the shutter button. That's a handy feature that the 5060 lacks, but its performance otherwise is very good indeed, particularly its autofocus speed.)


Operation and User Interface
The C-5060 Wide Zoom has a similar interface design to the previous C-5050, but with a few minor differences. Most obviously, two separate buttons control the Quick View and LCD Display options, but most of the other controls are placed similarly to those on the C-5050, with the same familiar icons. As with the C-5050, the C-5060's Mode dial quickly sets the exposure mode, and the Command dial lets you change a variety of settings without delving into the LCD menu. The LCD menu system itself is about the same as the C-5050, and the C-5060's external control buttons access the same virtual dial that proved so useful previously. Several of the C-5060 Wide Zoom's external controls can be combined in pairs to adjust a third camera setting. For example, holding down the Flash and +/- buttons adjusts the flash exposure compensation. This is excellent in terms of limiting LCD menu usage, but does make the camera's interface slightly more complicated. I'd say it will probably take a couple of hours for the average user to get fully acquainted with the 5060's control layout. The full instruction manual is included on the CD-ROM that accompanies the camera, but a smaller Basic Manual will get you up and running quickly. (Though it may be somewhat archaic, I'd much prefer to have a paper version of the full manual as well, for reference when a computer isn't readily available. If you're paying $700 or so for a camera, a hardcopy manual doesn't seem like too much to ask for!)

Control Enumeration

Mode Dial
: On top of the camera, the Mode dial selects the camera's operating mode. Choices are Playback, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Manual, My Mode, Movie, Night, Landscape Scene, Landscape Portrait, Sports, and Portrait modes.

Power Switch
: Directly underneath the Mode dial is the Power dial, which simply turns the camera on and off. The settings are marked on the side of the dial, making it easy to read when holding the camera in front of you. (I really like this location for the power switch. It was very convenient, yet I never had a problem with it being turned on inadvertently. It's much easier to use than the typical rear- or top-panel pushbutton.)

Shutter Button
: Located in the center of the Zoom lever, the Shutter button sets focus and exposure settings when depressed halfway and triggers the shutter when fully depressed.

Zoom Lever: On top of the camera, in front of the Mode dial, the Zoom lever controls the optical zoom in all exposure modes, and the digital zoom when enabled through the Shooting menu. In Playback mode, the lever switches between Index view, normal image display, and zoomed playback.

Self-Timer / Remote / Rotate Button
: Behind the Shutter button and Zoom lever on the camera's top panel, this button accesses the Self-Timer and Remote Control modes when pressed while turning the Command dial. Pressing this button in Playback mode rotates the captured image 90 degrees clockwise. Pressing and holding this button in conjunction with the Custom / DPOF button directly beside it resets all of the camera's settings to their defaults.

Custom / DPOF Button
: Directly to the right of the Self-Timer / Remote / Rotate button, this button can be programmed to access a variety of camera settings while in Shooting mode.

In Playback mode, this button calls up the DPOF settings menu, where you can select images for printing, the number of copies of each, etc.

When pressed and held down in conjunction with the Self-Timer / Remote / Rotate button, this button resets the camera's settings to their defaults.

Focus Button
: Located on the left side of the camera's top panel, this button controls the focus mode. Pressing the button displays a "virtual dial" containing focus options on the LCD. Turning the Command dial cycles between Macro, Manual Focus, Super Macro, Super Macro Manual Focus, and Auto Focus modes.

Metering / Protect Button
: Located behind the Focus button on the top panel, this button sets the camera's metering mode to Spot, Multi, or ESP when pressed while turning the Command dial. In Playback mode, this button marks the current image for write-protection.

+/- Button
: Angled toward the front of the camera on the left side of the rear panel, this button adjusts the exposure compensation when pressed while turning the Command dial. Exposure can be increased or decreased from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. In Manual exposure mode, this button accesses the lens aperture setting rather than exposure compensation. Pressing this button and the Flash button below it accesses the flash exposure compensation adjustment (likewise set by turning the Command dial).

Flash Button
: Directly below the +/- button, this button controls the flash operating mode. Turning the Command dial cycles between Auto, Forced, Suppressed, Red-Eye Reduction, and Slow Synchro modes. When held down in conjunction with the +/- button, this button accesses the flash exposure compensation setting.

Diopter Adjustment Dial
: Snug against the right side of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, this dial adjusts the optical viewfinder to accommodate eyeglass wearers.

AE Lock / Erase Button
: To the right of the optical viewfinder eyepiece on the rear panel, this button locks the exposure in any Shooting mode (a second press cancels the exposure lock). In Playback mode, this button calls up the Single Erase menu, for deleting the currently-displayed image.

Command Dial
: In the top right corner of the camera's rear panel, just below the Mode and Power dials, this dial adjusts a variety of camera settings when turned while pressing one of the control buttons. In Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, this dial adjusts the available exposure variable (lens aperture or shutter speed, respectively). In Manual exposure mode, it adjusts the shutter speed when no button is pressed, or aperture in conjunction with the +/- button. In Playback mode, this dial scrolls back and forth between captured images.

Quick View Button
: Below the AEL button, this button activates the Quick View function, which calls up the previously captured image on the screen.

Monitor Button
: Just above the four-way Arrow pad, this button turns the LCD monitor on or off, and controls the information display. If the Dual Control Panel option has been enabled through the Setup menu, this button also accesses a more detailed information display, without the image display.

Four-Way Arrow Pad
: The largest control on the back panel, the Arrow Pad features four arrow keys surrounding the central, OK / Menu button. In any settings menu, the arrow buttons navigate through available options and make selections. In Playback mode, the left and right Arrows move forward or backward through the pictures stored on the card, or scroll around portions of the expanded image in Zoom Playback mode.

OK / Menu Button: Located in the center of the four-way Arrow pad, this button activates the menu system on the rear panel LCD monitor and confirms selected menu settings in the various LCD menu screens. If the LCD monitor is turned on when you press the Display button, it will call up the menu options and display them over the viewfinder image. If the LCD monitor is off when you press Display, it brings up the camera's menu system with no viewfinder image in the background.

CF / xD Button
: Below the four-way Arrow pad, this button switches between the two memory card slots (CompactFlash and xD-Picture Card), if you happen to have cards of both types loaded into the camera.

Camera Modes

Portrait Mode: The first still recording mode on the Mode dial, this mode sets up the camera for capturing portraits. By using a larger aperture setting, the camera captures the subject in sharp focus in front of a slightly blurred background.

Sports Mode: Next in line on the Mode dial, this mode biases the exposure system toward fast shutter speeds to "freeze" action, good for sporting events or any fast-moving subject.

Landscape Portrait Mode: This mode is intended for portraits in front of scenery, where you want both the foreground and background in focus. The camera uses a smaller aperture setting to increase the depth of field.

Landscape Scene Mode: Just like Landscape Portrait mode, this mode also uses a small aperture to keep the foreground and background in focus. However, it also enhances blue and green tones for more vibrant nature shots.

Night Mode: This mode is best for capturing night portraits or night scenery, such as cityscapes. A slower shutter speed lets more ambient light into the image, but the exposure compensation and image contrast are dialed down somewhat, preserving color in neon signs or sunsets.

Movie Mode: Accessed by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera symbol, Movie mode allows you to capture movies with or without sound for as long as the memory card allows. Shutter speed is automatically set depending on light levels, although Olympus doesn't specify the range of shutter speeds the camera uses in movie mode.

My Mode: Sets up the camera according to a set of user-defined camera settings, specific to shooting conditions. A huge range of exposure variables such as aperture, shutter speed, white balance, etc. can all be saved. You can even save the lens zoom position. My Mode settings are made through the Setup menu.

Manual Mode: Allows the user to select both the desired aperture (f/2.8 to f/8.0) and shutter speed (1/4,000 to 16 seconds, with a Bulb setting, speeds higher than 1/2,000 only available at f/8.0) settings independently. The camera meters the scene, and indicates how over or underexposed it thinks the shot will be by displaying the number of EV units over or under in green numerals. If the settings are beyond the camera's metering capabilities or would result in more than a +/- 3EV exposure error, the display is fixed at plus or minus 3 EV, and the numerals turn red.

Shutter Priority: Allows the user to select the desired shutter speed (in varying increments, from 1/2,000 to four seconds at ISO 64 and 100, two seconds at ISO 200 and one second at ISO 400), while the camera adjusts the aperture to achieve the correct exposure. If the required aperture is beyond the camera's capabilities, the shutter speed / aperture status numbers in the LCD will flash red.

Aperture Priority: Allows the user to select the desired lens aperture (in varying increments, from f/2.8 to f/8.0), while the camera adjusts the shutter speed to achieve the correct exposure. If the required shutter speed is beyond the camera's capabilities, the shutter speed / aperture status numbers in the LCD will flash red.

Programmed Exposure: The camera selects both shutter speed and lens aperture, based on existing light conditions and certain camera functions. For example, it uses a faster shutter speed when the lens is in the telephoto position and a slower shutter speed when the lens is in the wide-angle position.

Playback Mode: This mode allows the user to view previously captured images using the Arrow Pad to scroll through frames stored in memory. The Zoom lever switches the image display to Index mode when moved in the wide-angle direction, and enlarges a single image when moved in the telephoto direction, zooming in to a maximum of 4x magnification. While zoomed in on an image, the Arrow buttons can be used to move the enlarged view around the full image area, allowing you to inspect all parts of it.


Camera Menus
(Note that in the following, the menus shown will normally appear over the top of the live LCD viewfinder display, if the LCD is enabled. In the screen shots here, I've shown the menus with no viewfinder image, for the sake of clarity.)

Shooting Mode Menus
When the camera is in any of the shooting modes, pressing the Menu / OK button brings up the Shooting Top Menu. Three of the top-level menu items are Short Cuts to menu options controlling White Balance, Image Size/Quality, and Drive control. (In Movie mode, the Sound option takes the place of Drive.) The fourth option takes you to the main Mode Menu itself. Since the destinations of the short cut options are simply sub-levels inside the main mode menu, I'll only show the main Mode Menu screens here.

Mode Menu
The shooting mode menu has four sub-menus associated with it, accessed via tabs on the left side of the display.




Set Up:




Playback Mode
Playback Mode is available by turning to the green Playback symbol on the camera's Mode dial, or by depressing the Quick View button in any Shooting mode. The top level of the Playback Menu has three options, which differ slightly between Shooting (Record) playback and Movie playback:

Still Playback:

Movie Playback:

Image Storage and Interface
The C-5060 Wide Zoom saves images on either CompactFlash Type I or II cards, or xD-Picture Cards. The memory card compartment offers slots accommodating both card types. A 32MB xD-Picture Card comes with the camera, and upgrades are currently (November, 2003) available as large as 512MB size. The CF / xD button on the camera's rear panel selects which memory card to use, and an option on the camera's playback menu lets you copy images between cards. The C-5060 Wide Zoom does offer individual image protection via the Metering / Protect button, but as usual this doesn't protect against erasure due to card reformatting. It must also be noted that the camera's Panorama function is only available when an Olympus-brand xD-Picture Card is in use, a policy that I've long questioned the wisdom of.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom can store images in RAW, uncompressed TIFF, and compressed JPEG file formats. The TIFF setting can be assigned to any one of seven resolutions through the camera's Mode Setup menu. JPEG compression levels include Super High Quality (SHQ), High Quality (HQ), and Standard Quality (SQ1 & SQ2). The myriad size options can be assigned to the camera's TIFF, SHQ, HQ, SQ1, and SQ2 quality levels via the Shooting menu, as shown in the table below. (Green table cells indicate image size options that can be assigned to each named quality setting.) Whatever image size/quality options are assigned to the five named quality settings can be quickly selected either by the "shortcut button" (see the earlier description of the user interface) or via the record setup menu. RAW format is only available for full-resolution images.

3,264 x 2,448
2,592 x 1,944
2,288 x 1,712
2,048 x 1,536
1,600 x 1,200
1,280 x 960
1,024 x 768
640 x 480

The table below shows all the available size/quality options (there ought to be enough here to satisfy anyone), the number of each that can be stored on the included 32MB memory card, and the amount of image compression employed for each.

Image Capacity vs
32MB Memory Card
Enlarge Size
3,264 x 2,448
(Avg size)
- - 7
- - 5:1 12:1
2,592 x 1,944
(Avg size)
2:1 1:1 4:1 12:1
2,288 x 1,712
(Avg size)
- 2
- 1:1 2:1 6:1
2,048 x 1,536
(Avg size)
- 3
- 1:1 4:1 9:1
1,600 x 1,200
(Avg size)
- 5
- 1:1 2.5:1 7:1
1,280 x 960
(Avg size)
1,024 x 768
(Avg size)
(Avg size)

The C-5060 Wide Zoom comes with interface software and cables for both Macintosh and Windows computers. It employs a USB Auto-Connect interface for high-speed computer connection. Like all of Olympus' recent digicams, the C-5060 is a USB "storage class" device. This means it can connect directly to Mac OS Version 9.0 or later (including OS 10.1 - also OS8.6, if it includes factory-installed USB Mass Storage support 1.3.5), or Windows ME, 2000, or XP computers, without separate driver software. For Windows 98 or 98SE, you'll need to load driver software to make the connection. Storage-class ("Auto-Connect" in Olympus' parlance) connections are generally faster than device-class ones, and the 5060 Wide Zoom is among the fastest cameras I've yet tested. I clocked it at 626 KBytes/second on my 15" Mac PowerBook G4 (2003 model), running Mac OS 10.2.6, and at 704 KB/s on my 2.4 GHz Sony VAIO desktop, running Windows XP. This is about as fast as v1.1 USB cameras get, but the very large files the 5060 can produce might lead you to purchase a USB 2.0 or Firewire-connected card reader.

RAW data files can be edited in-camera and saved as JPEGs. This is convenient for quick processing, but the small size and uncertain tonal and color characteristics of the 5060's LCD screen make it difficult to judge the impact of any image adjustments you might make. Still, you can adjust white balance, sharpness, saturation, etc. in-camera, without having to download the file first, which makes it easier to print RAW files from the camera to a DPOF device.

Video Out
The C-5060 Wide Zoom has a Video Out port for connecting the camera directly to a television set. Through the Setup menu, you can select either NTSC or PAL formats. The video output can be used for reviewing previously captured images and movies, or running slide shows from the camera. It also shows all of the LCD menu screens, as well as the preview display from the LCD viewfinder. Combined with the optional infrared remote control device, the C-5060 Wide Zoom's video capabilities make the camera a unique presentation device.

The C-5060 Wide Zoom is powered by a single BLM-1 lithium-ion battery pack (7.2v, 1500mAh), or by an optional AC adapter that can significantly extend battery life if you're doing a lot of downloads on the computer or working in a studio environment. The camera comes with a battery and a charger, and I highly recommend picking up a second battery and keeping it freshly charged at all times. The table below shows the power consumption in various operating modes, and the projected run times you could expect based on the stated capacity of the provided battery pack.

Operating Mode
(@6.5 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(One 1500 mAh Li-ion cell, true capacity)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
423 mA
3.9 hours
Capture Mode, no LCD
15.4 mA
108 hours (!)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
417 mA
4 hours
Half-pressed w/o LCD
302 mA
5.5 hours
Memory Write (transient)
465 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
927 mA
Image Playback
267 mA
6.2 hours

The C-5060 shows really excellent battery life, among the best in its class. In particular, it consumes almost no power when its LCD is off in capture mode, meaning you can leave it on and ready all day long without significantly affecting your battery life. As noted above, I always advise readers to purchase a second battery along with their camera, so they'll always have a spare ready to go, but the C-5060's excellent battery life means that some people will probably be able to get away with just the battery that comes with the camera. (Personally, I'd still purchase a second battery, but you may prefer to save the expense and put the money into a larger memory card instead.)

Included Software
The C-5060 Wide Zoom comes with a nice complement of software on the supplied CD. Direct camera control and image downloading are provided by Olympus' Camedia Master software package for both Mac and Windows platforms (Macintosh OS 8.6 - 10.1, Windows 98/98SE/Me/2000/XP). USB drivers for both platforms and an Apple QuickTime reader are also included.

Camedia Master allows you to download and organize images, as well as perform minor image correction and enhancement functions (such as adjusting contrast, sharpness, and color balance). For panoramic images, Camedia Master supplies a "stitching" utility to piece together shots vertically or horizontally. A complete printing utility works with the DPOF settings and allows you to print images directly to Olympus or other photo printers.

In the Box
The following items are included in the box:

Test Results
In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the C-5060 Wide Zoom's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how C-5060's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.


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The C-5050 Zoom was an impressive addition to Olympus' excellent and perennially popular Camedia digital camera line, yet the updated C-5060 Wide Zoom manages to offer a number of useful upgrades. With a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27mm, its wide-angle capability is as good as it gets among prosumer digicams without auxiliary lenses, and the Olympus-brand wide adapter goes quite a bit further yet. The lens is also quite sharp from corner to corner, and chromatic aberration is relatively low as well. Color is accurate and appropriately saturated, if not a little less vibrant than that of the previous 5050. (Easily boosted with the fine-grained saturation adjustment though, if you prefer brighter-looking color.) The fine adjustments possible for contrast and saturation make it possible to customize the camera to meet your specific shooting preferences, and the ability to dial-in separate "tweaks" for each of its white balance settings is an unusual and highly welcome feature. All in all, it's hard to find much to fault on the camera, a fact made more remarkable by its $699 estimated retail price as of its introduction in late fall, 2003. Highly recommended, and definitely a "Dave's Pick."


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Olympus C-5060 review

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