Olympus Camedia C-5060 Zoom
Review Date: 28th August 2004
Ease of Use
The Olympus C-5060 Zoom is heavily based upon its successor, the Olympus C-5050 Zoom, in terms of overall design and handling. Therefore a lot of comments that I made about the C-5050 Zoom last year apply equally to the Olympus C-5060 Zoom.
The Olympus C-5060 Zoom at first glance has quite a strange design; it looks as if extra bits and pieces were added to it over a prolonged period of time. There aren't too many flowing lines in this camera, and when you first pick it up the Olympus C-5060 Zoom feels quite bulky, cluttered and confusing. After I had used it for a couple of hours, read the manual and worked out what all of the external controls did, I felt a lot more at home with the camera.
All the external controls, which are initially quite confusing, actually make the Olympus C-5060 Zoom one of the most accessible digital cameras that I've reviewed. As with the C-5050 Zoom, instead of having to browse through endless submenus via the LCD screen, virtually all of the important photographic controls are accessed externally by some kind of button, switch or dial. This ultimately makes it much faster and easier to operate, as a button press is always a lot quicker than remembering which menus to open. The initially awkward and ugly design of the Olympus C-5060 Zoom makes sense once you have used it for a while.
When you do have to resort to the menu system to select something, it is quick and easy to access. Simply press the OK button that is positioned on the back of the camera at the centre of the four arrow buttons, then use those arrow buttons to navigate through the menu interface. The Olympus C-5060 Zoom uses a very similar menu system to other Olympus digital cameras and will be instantly familiar if you have used one before.
The main difference between the Olympus C-5060 Zoom and the older C-5050 Zoom model is the wide-angle 27-110mm lens. Film users will be thinking "What's so great about a 27mm lens?", but most digital users will think that it is a definite bonus and probably one of the main reasons for considering this camera. Having access to even a moderate wide-angle focal length like 27mm is a real joy when you have been used to the 35mm+ settings on most digital cameras. If wide-angle is on your wish-list of digicam features, then you should definitely take a look at the Olympus C-5060 Zoom.
The large and bright LCD monitor on the Olympus C-5060 Zoom is excellent and a joy to use, even in bright sunlight, which is an improvement on the C-5050 Zoom's screen. The monitor gives 100% coverage of the subject that you are framing and the different tilting angles mean that you can use the camera in awkward positions or for candid photography. It's a good thing that the LCD monitor is so good because Olympus haven't really improved the optical viewfinder - it is still small, dim and uncomfortable to use, without any markings or information. I exclusively used the LCD monitor instead throughout the review period.
The other thing that I didn't like too much about the C-5050 Zoom was its slow start-up time of approximately 3-4 seconds from turning the camera on to being ready to take a photo. Thankfully Olympus have speeded up the operation of the camera, although it still takes a couple of seconds before its ready to take a shot. The Olympus engineers have also obviously been hard at work making the zoom less noisy than it was on the C-5050 Zoom - you won't attract the unwanted attention of your subject with this camera.
Unfortunately RAW and TIFF mode are still virtually unusable as the Olympus C-5060 Zoom takes so long to write the file to the memory card. It takes 10 seconds to write a RAW file and 16 seconds to write a TIFF file, during which time you can't take a picture or do anything else with the camera. This makes those file types only suitable for situations where you can take your time, like landscape or building photography. Otherwise you will have to use the JPEG settings.
Other than those small negative aspects, the Olympus C-5060 Zoom is a joy to use. It feels sturdy and well-made and as if it will withstand nearly anything that you subject to it. More importantly it feels as if it was designed for a photographer who wants to take complete control of the picture-making process. The camera sits comfortably in one hand with all the important controls available externally on the body. The Olympus C-5060 Zoom may not be the prettiest compact digital cameras available in the shops, but it is certainly one of the easiest to use.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Olympus C-5060 Zoom have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.