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Design

The C-50 Zoom has a clean design, the entire body is made from a magnesium alloy material, indeed the only plastic components are compartment doors, buttons and a strip along the base of the camera. This gives the C-50 Zoom and expensive look and feel, cool to the touch and well engineered. Like several other Olympus compact (digital) cameras the C-50 Zoom has a sliding front cover which also acts as the power switch. When closed the lens and viewfinder window are protected, slide it open and the lens extends and camera powers up. The C-50 Zoom's design is close enough to a compact film camera that it would be intuitive to use for someone new to digital cameras.

One slight annoyance I had was that the sliding front cover's open position didn't have a stiff enough spring holding it in place. On a couple of occasions I managed to knock the door to the left and began to power off the camera (you then have to go through a full power off, power on sequence).

Side by side

Below you can see the size of the C-50 Zoom compared to Pentax's Optio 550. The dimensions of these two five megapixel compact digital cameras are actually very similar, the primary design difference being the C-50 Zoom's sliding front cover and the Optio 550's five times optical zoom lens (compared to the C-50 Zoom's three times). Both cameras have a brushed metal front, although the Optio 550's aluminium gives it a lighter appearance.

In your hand

At the rear of the C-50 Zoom is a nicely sculpted ridge which gives your thumb something to grip onto, you can grip the front fairly easily by hooking your middle finger onto edge of the sliding front cover. Overall hold is good, weight balance is neutral and the camera actually feels quite light.


LCD Monitor

The C-50 Zoom has a very bright 1.5" TFT LCD monitor, indeed it's quite a bit brighter than on other cameras with this same 1.5" LCD monitor. The screen itself has 134,000 pixels which makes for detailed and sharp looking images with good color response and tonal range. There is an anti-reflective coating on the screen surface although I would say it's not quite as good as some others.

The LCD monitor provides 98% frame coverage in shooting mode.


Viewfinder

As with most compact digital cameras the C-50 Zoom has an 'optical tunnel' viewfinder. There are no parallax correction lines nor is there any dioptre adjustment for those who wear corrective glasses. There is however a center of frame cross which matches the center AF area. The viewfinder provides just 87% frame coverage.

The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:

Orange Steady Flash is charged, will be used for next shot
Orange Flashing Use of flash recommended (slow shutter) / Flash charging
Green Steady Good AF Lock
Green Flashing Can not AF Lock / Camera busy (card writing)


Battery & Storage Compartment

The base of the C-50 Zoom is a shared battery and storage compartment. Open the door by simply sliding it to the right (metal hinge), inside you will find the battery slot (battery held in place by a small catch) and the xD-Picture Card slot. The xD-Picture Card is inserted by pushing into the slot, it 'clicks' into place, press the card again to eject (spring loaded). The C-50 Zoom uses Olympus's first Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery pack, the LI-10B has a capacity of 1090 mAh at 3.7V.


Battery Charger

Supplied is the LI-10C battery charger, a battery slot in the top of the unit and an AC power cord connector on the back. The indicator on the top of the unit glows red during charging and turns green once the battery is charged. A full charge takes approximately two hours (thus a 500 mA charge rate).

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