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Pros

  • Overall excellent image quality (detail, sharp, contrasty and natural colour balance)
  • Very fast lens and good optics (sharp, most shutter speeds are HIGH, better low-light performance)
  • Little need for post-processing
  • Good metering
  • Excellent and powerful built-in flash
  • External flash sync connector
  • Very fast processing, short delays, short lag times
  • Good, bright (even in bright sunlight), very sharp and fast updating LCD
  • Variable sensitivity with little addition of noise
  • Auto ISO sensitivity adjustment (great for low-light response)
  • Manual controls (aperture & shutter priority)
  • Small size
  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent value for money (compared to similarly priced digital cameras)

Cons

  • Colour fringing on high contrast areas (chromatic abberations)
  • Some barrel distortion
  • Poorly designed menu system
  • Some controls should have been accessible through buttons on the camera body (focus mode, flash mode etc.)
  • All settings should be stored after power-off
  • LCD should be optionally on/off at power-on
  • Poorly designed jog dial
  • Badly positioned power button (oops did I just turn off the camera _again_?)
  • Zoom can be a little fast
  • Poor macro performance
  • Occasional bad focus lock impossible to distinguish at the time of taking shot
  • No option to delete an image immediately after taking
  • No AE / AWB lock
  • Serial port (still no USB / IrDA ?)
  • Bad choice of uncompressed TIFF (CCD RAW would have produced much smaller files)

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the C-2000Z:

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 9
Features 8
Image quality 9
Lens / CCD combination 9.5 (0.5 for the FAST lens)
Ease of use 7
Value for money 10

I liked the C-2000Z, it's a well rounded camera with a good quality feel, excellent image quality, fast cycle times and enough manual features to keep you occupied and creative. With the C-2000Z and a good photo printer you'll be able to take great photographs and deliver them in print at a kind of quality that most people wouldn't be able to tell from your average 35mm print.

Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say Nikon or Olympus either way. Here's the way I see it:

Olympus C-2000Z: Bigger, faster lens produces higher shutter speeds than the 950, automatically adjusting ISO means you can shoot in all sorts of conditions without worrying about adjusting settings. Flash is better than the 950, produces less red-eye and is more powerful. Form factor is more traditional than the 950. Better overall low-light performance than 950 (combination of auto ISO and faster lens).

Nikon Coolpix 950: Lots of features, better user-interface, more ergonomic controls. Unique swivel body makes it easier to shoot at different angles. Poor LCD lets the camera down in bright light circumstances. Magnesium case feels stronger than the C-2000Z (I'm afraid of that fragile protruding lens on the C-2000Z).

Image Quality, Operational Speed, Battery Life between the two are all pretty much the same (I know the manufacturers would hate me for saying that, but they're really VERY competitive).

If you can, try both, if you can't read as much as you can about the two cameras, compare as many images as you can, consider other cameras, then make your decision.

You may also wish to read the Nikon Coolpix 950 review:

Nikon Coolpix 950 Review

In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

Enter the Olympus Discussion Forum

Order the Olympus C-2000Z Today!
Olympus C-2000Z
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