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Design

All round view (click for larger image)

Looks very funky doesn't it? Olympus has realized how important the finish and build quality is to retail sales. The C-2020Z was a little too plastic and fragile feeling, the C-3030Z is a vast improvement, now the whole case (apart from the compartment doors) is that magnesium alloy we've seen before. The nice mottled industrial matte look is quite nice too and gives the camera a quality feel.

Here, compared to the C-2020Z you can see very little has changed, the slightly thicker hand grip, repositioned and redesigned neck strap clips and body material changes.

In Hand

Weight balance is good, the camera tends most of its weight into the palm of your hand, it's noticeably lighter than the 990 and thus becomes more portable because of it (it's also smaller). The camera does feel good in your hand most of the controls are easily within reach.

One thing I'd like to reiterate at this point is I wish digital camera manufacturers would realize that these cameras are hand cameras, not neck cameras.. A decent hand strap on the side of the camera would be perfect for carrying the camera (I find myself looping the neck strap around my wrist and holding it that way).


Rear LCD Display

The Rear LCD on the C-3030Z is the same as found on the C-2020Z, it has good brightness and very good viewing angles (though I'd really like to have seen Olympus break the mould here and let it flip-out Pro70 style)...

There's a good range of brightness adjustment and the protective cover is very thick.. Would have been nice to have a non-reflective coating here, it suffers from the same trouble as the 990 LCD cover, in bright light all you can see is your own face...

One slight disappointment with the camera I had for review were two stuck pixels (both green).


Top Information LCD

The top information LCD (or "Control Panel" as it's referred) is almost identical to that found on the C-2020Z, there is additional information this time, and some of the feature icons have been shuffled around.

Something I would like to have seen on this LCD is camera mode (P/A/S/M), aperture and shutter speed.

Below is a diagram shamelessly scanned (and edited) from the supplied manual.


Viewfinder

The viewfinder on the C-3030Z is identical to that of the C-2020Z, and still too small to be used seriously. There's a easily accessible dioptric adjustment on the side of the viewfinder.

Frame coverage through the viewfinder is about 85% which means that using the viewfinder you're only looking at 85% of what will be captured.

The view through the viewfinder gives you a targeted AF area, unfortunately there aren't any parallax error lines which means if you take shots less than a 1m from the camera you're likely to misalign the frame.

Rear light indicator shows the status of:

Green & Orange Blinking Flash Charging
Orange Steady Flash charged and will fire
Orange Blinking Slow shot, blur likely due to shake
Green Steady AF: focus lock, ready to shoot
Green Blinking AF: Unable to focus lock


Battery Compartment

The battery compartment on the C-3030Z is a vast improvement over the one found on the C-2020Z. Now it's easy to load and unload batteries with one hand, a small latch locks the door closed. The orientation of the batteries has changed which makes the hand grip thicker (deeper?) and facilitates the use of Olympus's proprietary Lithium CR-V3 batteries...

I'm still slightly curious to the reasoning behind this, they certainly last longer than standard AA Alkaline's, but they're non-rechargeable, proprietary and (haven't confirmed this) probably quite expensive.

I suppose they'd be useful as backup power but I think it's a pity that Olympus are no longer bundling their excellent 1450mAh NiMH rechargables...

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