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Design

At first glance it's clear to see that the C-5050 Zoom carries a good deal of its design from the previous 'Cx0x0' models. The entire body is made from a magnesium alloy (apart from the compartment doors, inner lens barrel and LCD frame). Compared to the C-4040 Zoom the C-5050 Zoom's lens is offset more towards the hand grip with more of the right side of the body visible. This gives the camera a slightly more film-like look and does make the camera look wider (which it is but only by 5 mm). The front of the hand grip and surround of the lens barrel are soft rubber which is good for both grip and looks. At the back is a tilt-out LCD monitor, to its right a set of controls and then a moulded area for your thumb and pad of your hand. Overall the C-5050 Zoom is a functional and even semi-professional looking digital camera, although there's no getting away from the Cx0x0 look.

Side by side

Here beside Canon's four megapixel four times zoom PowerShot G3 you can see that the C-5050 Zoom is not as wide but is taller than the G3. To me at least the G3 looks more 'balanced' that's probably because of its more centrally mounted lens and shorter profile. Weight wise these two cameras are virtually identical.

In your hand

In your hand the camera feels solid, the soft hand grip instils a good deal of confidence and one handed photography is certainly possible thanks to sensible control layout. The rubberized lens barrel is the natural place to grip the camera with your left hand for both landscape and portrait orientation photos. The camera is cool to the touch (thanks to the metal body) and weighty (but not heavy) which again adds to the professional feel.


Status Panel

On the top of the camera is the status panel which provides a multitude of information on the current photographic and digital settings such as available frames, exposure adjustment, white balance etc. The status panel is not illuminated. You can get even more information on the LCD monitor when set to control panel mode.

A detailed breakdown of displayed information can be found on the diagrams below.



Diagram reproduced from Olympus C-5050 Zoom manual with permission.


LCD Monitor

The C-5050 Zoom features a 1.8" 114,000 pixel LCD monitor (probably identical to that found on the C-4040 Zoom) mounted in a tilting frame. It can be pulled away from the rear of the camera and tilted downwards 20 degrees or upwards 20, 60 or 90 degrees (these are 'click locking' positions). This improves the usefulness of the screen for overhead, macro, studio and waist level photography. There is unfortunately not anti-reflective coating on the screen so you will get some reflection back in bright light. In live view mode the LCD monitor provides 99% frame coverage.

LCD Monitor in control panel mode

Via the SETUP menu you can enable the unique 'Dual Control Panel' mode, when enabled the LCD monitor has two display modes of control panel and live view (rather than off and live view). The control panel display provides a full overview of current camera settings, exposure information as well as image parameters and storage status (as shown above). Settings changes happen live on the screen and for those who like to use the viewfinder instead of the LCD monitor for framing this feature will be very welcome. Below you can see a representation of all information provided in control panel mode, place your mouse over the diagram to see a numeric legend.

1. Battery check 13. Sound record
2. Shooting mode 14. Record mode / number of pixels
3. Shutter speed 15. Frames remaining / seconds
4. Aperture 16. Memory gauge
5. Exposure compensation 17. Spot / multi- metering bar
6. Noise reduction 18. ISO sensitivity
7. AE lock / AE memory 19. White balance compensation
8. Focus mode 20. White balance
9. Flash mode 21. Saturation / sharpness / contrast
10. Flash intensity control 22. Scene modes
11. Drive mode 23. Folder number
12. Self-timer / remote control 24. Card selected

Diagram reproduced from Olympus C-5050 Zoom manual with permission.


Viewfinder

The C-5050 Zoom has a standard 'optical tunnel' viewfinder, good for occasional low light situations but not a replacement for a TTL viewfinder or a good EVF. Looking through the viewfinder you'll find a central cross indicating the center of the frame and center AF point, there are no parallax correction lines. The viewfinder provides 89% frame coverage.

The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:

Green Steady Good AF Lock, sufficient light
Green Flashing AF could not lock, too close or no lock
Orange Steady Flash charged and will fire with next shot
Orange Flashing Shot may suffer from shake blur / Flash charging
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