Olympus C-60 Zoom
At a Glance
A digital camera conundrum: Many advanced models have all the controls you could want but are so large that they require big, hefty straps so they can hang around your neck--and then you feel as if you're dragging a boat anchor. Most pocket-size cameras, on the other hand, are no sweat to carry but have few manual controls. So how do you get a camera that's easy to bring along but still gives you the features you need?
Two cameras that attempt to combine the best of both worlds are the Olympus C-60 Zoom and the Canon PowerShot S60 (the latter of which we are currently testing and will report on in an upcoming review). Each is compact enough to fit in a pocket, and each has high megapixel imaging (6 megapixels for the Olympus and 5 for the Canon) and advanced creative controls that will appeal to experienced photographers.
In the C-60 these advanced controls include aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full-manual exposure control, plus exposure bracketing and flash output adjustment. You also get a My Mode setting, not commonly found in point-and-shoot cameras, that allows you to save your favorite settings. You can use the camera's noise-reduction feature to make night shots look better (or you can use the night-shot scene mode, which turns it on automatically).
The C-60 comes with a small, wireless remote control whose sole function is to trip the shutter release, but first you have to dig into the menus to get the camera to recognize the remote (it shares a menu command with the self-timer). The camera has no low-light illuminator; seeing your subject can be a problem in low light, but in our tests the camera seemed to focus just fine. A glaring omission is white-balance calibration, which you typically find in cameras with manual exposure controls.
Offering 6.1 megapixels of resolution, the C-60 ties the Kodak EasyShare DX7630 for the highest resolution among point-and-shoot cameras we've tested. In our image-quality tests, the C-60 scored high for exposure accuracy and led the field of point-and-shoots for sharpness. It earned average scores for color accuracy--one shot of a colorfully clad mannequin looked a tad cool, but we couldn't see any major faults with the camera's test shots (for which we used the automatic settings).
We got 225 shots, or nearly 2 hours of life, from the rechargeable battery--average for the point-and-shoots we've tested. The camera comes with an external battery charger, but it requires a clunky external power cord.
Olympus hypes the camera's TruePic Turbo processor, saying it makes the camera start up faster and reduces shutter lag, but we didn't think the camera was especially fast (it may be faster than its predecessor, the C-50, but we don't have that model around anymore for comparison). If you want fast, look at a Kyocera model, such as the Finecam SL400R, which fires off shots faster than you can snap your fingers.
The C-60 has no power button, instead relying on a sliding cover that turns the camera on and off and protects the lens when the camera is off. We expect some small controls on a small camera, but the C-60's zoom button is about the smallest zoom control we've ever seen--about the size of a medium grain of rice--making it a bit awkward to use. The camera has few dedicated control buttons, even for a point-and-shoot model, instead putting its many functions in menus. A well-organized menu with shortcuts helps speed up the process of adjusting settings, but changing common functions can still take many button presses of the four-way thumb button. For example, to delete one image you press the trash can button above the LCD, but to delete multiple images you have to make eight or nine button presses (and you can't selectively delete images). Another button above the LCD puts the camera in macro mode (for shots as close as 12 inches), but a supermacro mode that will allow you to shoot as close as 1.6 inches away requires as many as 15 button presses--and the function isn't even available in full-auto mode.
Likewise, two spots on the mode dial select portrait shooting and night shooting, respectively. Another spot on the dial (called Scene) lets you access the landscape/scene, landscape/portrait, self-portrait, and sports shooting modes; but to select a specific mode from these, you must dig into the menus. Maybe the two scene modes on the dial truly merit being there, but in any case you have to stop and study the icons (both on the dial and in the menus) to determine where the mode you want is.
Like most Olympus models, the C-60 comes with tons of paper documentation, separate booklets for everything from the battery charger to the XD-Picture Card. The basic manual has four languages, so it really doesn't cover much. To find information on the camera's more advanced features, you must resort to a CD-ROM-based PDF manual.
If you're mostly a snapshooter who uses a camera's advanced features only occasionally, the C-60's menus might not be a big issue, and it does take great pictures.