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Design

All-round-view (click for larger image)

With angular features the C-2500L lends a lot of its styling to traditional SLR's and Olympus's previous digital SLR the D-620L. The lens barrel is slightly bulged at the front by the addition of a focus assist light, at the back the viewfinder is offset to the left (remember the viewfinder on the C-2500L gets its image from the lens through a prism arrangement), on the top we find a detailed informational LCD display and three multipurpose control buttons. In keeping with the C-2000Z the C-2500L's zoom controls are to be found as rotating rocker surrounding the shutter release button, all other controls are to be found on the back including the main mode dial.

First impressions are that although this isn't a compact camera it's not as heavy as you'd expect, it fits comfortably into your hands, the main hand-grip having a rubber strip down the front and being just the right size to fill the average hand. The lens barrel acts as a perfect hold for your left hand and makes the C-2500L an easy camera to hold steadily. Weight balance is good, the batteries in the hand grip balancing the weight of the lens. The zoom control on the front of the handgrip becomes second nature and overall it's an easy camera to get used to.


Rear LCD

The rear LCD display is good an bright, because the C-2500L is an SLR it's not active when framing the shot and is only used (during shooting) to display exposure information a review image after taking the shot. Unfortunately there's a couple of problems with the review image, firstly colours just aren't representative of what you get, often images look as though the white balance is incorrect (washed blue, cyan or green), when first using the camera this caused me to curse it's white balance and try to over-correct� However if you switch over to playback mode you'll see that in fact there's no problem with the white balance or colour balance and it's indeed a problem with the display of the review image. The second problem with the review image is that it's often TOO contrasty, that is shots look over or under exposed on the review (and even in playback) that are in fact well exposed and detailed.

These problems, although small cause the initial impressions of the camera (at least until your review the images on your computer) to be less than encouraging. Simple adjustments to the LCD brightness and contrast through the setup menu would have fixed the second problem, the first is slightly more curious, is the camera displaying the un-corrected (for white balance) image in review?? I didn't reach a conclusion.


Top information LCD

The top LCD display is a good example of "how it should be done" it's full of information which is relevant to every exposure, both before, during and after the shot. Information displayed in the LCD:


(diagram shamlessly ripped from the excellent C-2500L manual)


Viewfinder


(image right deliberately focused through the viewfinder
to show the auto-focus circle)

Now, on most digicams the viewfinder is treated with little respect, both from the designer and the photographers because once used to it you'll find yourself framing the shot using the LCD (mostly). However, you don't have this option on the C-2500L because it's an SLR, the light path can go one of two ways, through the viewfinder into your eye or onto the CCD, but not both at the same time. All in all the viewfinder on the C-2500L is fairly good, not as big as you'd find on a good traditional SLR, nor does it have a ground glass focusing screen or prism as found on good SLR's, it's there to compose the shot, not to be overly accurate. A dioptric adjustment is found on the left side of the viewfinder, the two lights to the right of the finder indicate:

Rear light indicators show status of:

Yellow flashing Slow shutter speed (blur warning) / Flash charging
Green flashing No auto-focus lock or bad focus
Green steady Good focus, ready to shoot

A thought: wouldn't it have been good if Olympus could have put a pressure/light sensor on the viewfinder so that it would switch between the viewfinder and CCD automatically when your eye met with the viewfinder, this way you COULD have a live preview of the scene using the LCD� just a thought.

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