Olympus C-5000 Zoom
At a Glance
Olympus's silver C-5000 straddles the line between a high-end point-and-shoot and a low-end advanced camera. It has a full-automatic mode that's best for quick shots or casual photographers. But it also comes with higher-end features, such as a hot shoe for an external flash, and a full set of manual and semiautomatic exposure modes (aperture- and shutter-priority, and manual). And it supports the noncompressed TIFF image format.
The C-5000 also accepts optional wide-angle and telephoto converter lenses--all of which place it in our advanced camera category. And at $450, the C-5000 is one of the least-expensive 5-megapixel cameras we've seen, a bargain given the range of creative controls you get with it.
Based on our tests, this model is capable of fine photographs. It earned above-average scores overall (except for average battery life) and received its highest marks for image sharpness. Our flash shot produced skin tones that were a touch cold, but overall, the exposure was spot-on and the reds and blues were vibrant. Our photo of a complex still life had bright whites and pleasing colors.
Like other Olympus cameras we've seen recently, the C-5000 has well-designed controls and menus and a solid feel. And its optical zoom is quiet and silky. You can quickly choose one of six scene settings from the mode dial on top of the camera. Shortcut buttons control the flash, macro, and exposure-value options. The white balance selections are better than most cameras' we see in this price category. The C-5000 has the usual presets and white balance calibration, plus another option that lets you tweak the color temperature toward either red or blue.
The C-5000 feels relatively light, but it's not a pocket camera by any means. It's also not an especially quick camera to use. The focus seemed a bit slow, and the camera's boot time is 4 to 5 seconds. It does not have a focus-assist beam, so focusing in very low light was especially sluggish. When you want to lock in custom settings, you often have to go into the menus--switching between aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual exposure modes, for example. Still, the menus are easy to work through, and getting up to speed on the camera's many options should take little time.
Fine imaging and a bargain price make the C-5000 a good choice for photographers who want creative control over their camera but have a tight budget.