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Olympus C-21 first impressions
(Apologies for any slight inaccuracies from the original)
Convenient lightness for carrying
The camera is surprisingly small and light which makes it perfect for carrying almost anywhere, in fact this is the lightest 2 megapixel camera on the market. Even though it's light it doesn't feel unstable in the hand because of the cleverly designed handgrip (and small rubber finger node on the front of the case).
Noticeably different design from Olympus's more tradtional curvey lines (as seen in the Olympus C900-Z (D400Z). The exterior has the feel of a high-quality compact camera with an aluminium finish.
Conservation of energy through white LED, lithium battery and LCD
Noticeably the camera can not be used with Alkaline batteries but instead must be used with the supplied Lithium or optional NiMH battery.
The LCD is the newre Poly-Si TFT type which uses white LED's as back light to conserve energy.
Start time is about two seconds, each picture is recorded in two seconds or less. The "Quick View" function which displays the last image for around a second after it has been taken is extremely useful. The LCD is switched off by default on the Olympus.
The AUTO ISO sensitivity function is especially useful as the camera automatically increases gain when required (in dark circumstances) to ensure as little as possible "shake blur".
The only niggles where slightly small buttons which were sometimes difficult for fat fingers to press and an odd square shutter release button. The Japanese reporter amusingly notes that the market share of these cameras in the US and Europe is considerable and that larger fingers there may find it even more difficult to use :)
The picture quality is "quite excellent" even though this is a beta camera, very sharp and overall balanced "colour tone". Noticeably the flash is a little weak and most flash photographs come out looking a little "dark".
The storage medium is SmartMedia, the reporter also notes that he feels SmartMedia limited in only supporting up to 32MB and considers that Olympus should seriously look at the adoption of CF cards on future models.
This is a good camera in a very competitive market, it has the possibility of a street price under 70,000 YEN (US$574) which would make it very good value for money against the current 2 megapixel fixed lens competition.