Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom
At a Glance
The first time we saw the Olympus C-5060, we thought it a rather odd-looking camera--big and blocky, with lots of odd angles. But the design grew on us the more we used the camera. This model seems bigger and heavier than the C-5050 it's derived from, but it has about the same overall dimensions and weighs only about a half-ounce more (17.9 ounces with its battery). Overall, the C-5060 gives you both a little more and a little less than the C-5050. Both models offer nearly all of the imaging controls an advanced photographer is likely to look for.
Olympus gave the C-5060 a 4X optical zoom (up from 3X) that covers a 35mm-equivalent range of 27mm to 110mm--especially nice if you love wide-angle shots. An optional wide-angle converter lens takes you down to 19mm ($200 for the lens, plus another $40 for the screw-on lens adapter). Olympus also offers a $200 1.7X telephoto lens converter.
A more obvious change is the C-5060's fully articulated LCD panel. The older model's panel simply hinged up 90 degrees from the body of the camera. The updated version swivels upward 180 degrees and also rotates, so you can use it at many angles--say, for a macro shot with the camera in portrait mode.
Working with the C-5060's plethora of controls is faster and more intuitive than operating the C-5050's. The control buttons are nicely placed and work in concert with the control wheel and menus. For example, when setting the flash mode, you press a button and spin the control wheel; the current setting shows up in the small status panel on top of the camera, in the LCD as part of a carousel of options, and in a new virtual status panel that displays on the LCD.
This last feature is one of the color LCD's display options. In place of an image of your scene, the virtual status panel shows a comprehensive list of camera stats, including the current settings for exposure value, white balance, resolution, focus mode, ISO, and shutter and aperture exposure mode.
A few of the C-5060's features take a step backwards, however. The f2.8 lens is slower than the C-5050's f1.8, and the camera has one fewer media slots: In addition to the XD-Picture Card and CompactFlash media that both cameras support, the older model has a SmartMedia slot. No great loss there, though.
We were extremely impressed with the C-5060's test images. Shooting in automatic (default) mode, this model outscored higher-end digital SLRs, such as the Canon EOS Digital Rebel and Pentax's ist D. Against 11 other advanced digital cameras, the C-5050 ranked number one in color accuracy and sharpness, and number two in exposure accuracy. The flash shot of our mannequin model had pleasing colors, correct skin tones, and even lighting; our outdoor photo had fine contrast range--from bright blue sky to dark street shadows. Our only knock on the outdoor shot was its somewhat flat colors.
The C-5060 uses a long-lasting lithium ion rechargeable battery: It still had life when we stopped testing at 500 shots. But the C-5060 doesn't have the same range of battery options as the C-5050, which uses either two disposable CR-3V batteries or four AAs. One other minor criticism of the C-5060: If you use the wide-angle converter lens, you'll have to switch to an external flash when shooting indoors--the lens is so wide it casts a huge shadow in your flash shots.
It's not an especially light or compact camera, but the C-5060's imaging power, zoom range, and advanced features should put it high on any advanced photographer's shopping list.