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"Picky Details" for the Olympus C-5500 Zoom digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)



When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time or delay before the shutter actually fires. This corresponds to the time required for 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 rarely reported on (and even more rarely reported accurately), and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure both shutter delay and shot to shot cycle times for all cameras I test, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Olympus 5500 Zoom:

Olympus C-5500 Zoom Timings
Power On -> First shot
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Pretty fast for a camera with a telescoping lens.
1.6 - 19
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Pretty fast, worst-case clearing times corresponds to 64 small/basic files clearing in continuous shooting mode. Worst case for large/fine single shot mode is 4 seconds.
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. About average.
Record to play
5.9 / 2.4
First time is that required to display a large/fine file immediately after capture, second time is that needed to display a large/fine file that has already been processed and stored on the memory card. A little slow.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.95 / 0.97
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. A little slow by current standards.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

4.28 / 2.46

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. All shots are at this speed. (Seemingly no buffer memory.) Not too impressive by current standards. (We don't have a timing figure for it, but shooting in "HQ" mode does speed things up a little bit.)
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.85
(1.18 fps)
Times are averages. Large/Fine resolution is not available in continuous mode. In large/normal mode, shoots 5 frames this fast, then slows to about 2.9 seconds per frame. In TV mode, shoots 65 frames this fast before slowing a little. Buffer clears in 7 seconds for large/fine images, 18 seconds for lowest resolution. Average speed.

Average performance in most areas. "Average" seems to describe most aspects of the Olympus C-5500's timing performance. It's not bad in any respect (although shot to shot speed is rather sluggish), it's just not on a par with the best of the market. Startup is pretty quick at 1.7 seconds to the first shot, but shutter lag is on the long side of average at 0.95-0.97 second for a full autofocus cycle. (As is commonly the case though, "prefocusing" by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself greatly reduces the shutter delay, in this case to 0.18 second.) The most disappointing area of performance though, is its shot to shot speed, requiring over four seconds for each large/fine shot. For whatever reason, the Olympus 5500 doesn't seem to use its internal memory to buffer large/fine images, as all shots take this long, regardless of how many photos you've taken in rapid succession. (So, the good news is that at least the camera doesn't slow any more than this, even if you shoot a lot of photos quickly, one after the other.) In continuous shooting mode, the C-5500 can manage 1.18 frames/second, but only in its "HQ" quality mode.



The Olympus C-5500 Zoom uses a four AA batteries for power, and ordinary alkaline batteries are included with the camera. The table below shows the power drain I measured in various operating modes, and the corresponding run times to be expected from a standard set of 1600 mAh NiMH cells.

Operating Mode
(@6.5 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
(four 1600 mA cells)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
251 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
206 mA
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
259 mA
Half-pressed w/o LCD
216 mA
Memory Write (transient)
291 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
708 mA
Image Playback
123 mA


Really excellent battery life. Camera makers have generally made great progress at trimming the power requirements of digital cameras, but the Olympus C-5500 still does a lot better than most, with a worst-case run time of over six hours with a set of "standard" 1600 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. (Modern cells with true capacities higher than 2000 mAh would of course do proportionately better.) In playback mode, run time stretches to an incredible 12.5 hours.


Storage Capacity

The Olympus C-5500 Zoom stores its photos on xD memory cards, and a 16 MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 128 MB card, preferably a 256 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 16 MB card at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
16 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
2592 x 1944
(Avg size)
3.7 MB
1.3 MB
4:1 12:1
2288 x 1712
(Avg size)
2.6 MB
981 KB
5:1 15:1
2048 x 1536
(Avg size)
2.3 MB
785 KB
4:1 12:1
1600 x 1200 Images
(Avg size)
1.4 MB
497 KB
4:1 12:1
1280 x 960
(Avg size)
914 KB
320 KB
4:1 11:1
1024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
594 KB
208 KB
4:1 10:1
640 x 480
(Avg size)
240 KB
96 KB
4:1 10:1

Download Speed

The Olympus C-5500 Zoom connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony desktop running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), I clocked it at 718 KBytes/second, a pretty good rate, but not up to the speeds of some cameras with high-speed USB v2.0 connections. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast v1.1 interfaces run as high as 600 KB/s. Cameras with USB v2.0 interfaces run as fast as several megabytes/second.) Still, most users of the C-5500 shouldn't find any need for a separate card reader.

C5500 Review
C5500 Test Images
C5500 Specifications
C5500 "Picky Details"
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