Taking pictures

The C-2500L feels like a "real camera", something all traditional SLR upgraders will appreciate. That said I wasn't that impressed with the viewfinder, I had expected something more from a camera whose only method of framing a scene is through the viewfinder. But overall the camera is good to shoot with, all controls are at hand, the camera is solidly built and never feels as though it'll let you down.

My main niggles were the white-balance shift in display directly after shooting, the lack of anything more than a straight viewfinder.

Timings & File Sizes

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 1712 x 1368 JPEG image @ HQ compression.

File Size Notes: All file sizes as an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary wildly depending on the content of the image (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.

The estimated number of images per 8 MB SmartMediah card is given as a guide to beginners (as an 8 MB Compact Flash card is supplied with the camera).

Action Time taken
OFF to RECORD 3.7 (Camera ready to take first shot)
OFF to PLAY 3.9 (LCD lights up, still loading image)
PLAY (display 1st image) 1.6 JPEG @ HQ
RECORD to PLAY 1.7 (LCD lights up, still loading image)
PLAY to RECORD 1.7 (Camera ready to take first shot)
PLAY: Image to Image HQ 2.1 JPEG @ HQ
PLAY: Image to Image SHQ 3.2 JPEG @ SHQ
PLAY: Image to Image SHQ
TIFF @ SHQ (first value is time to display rough image, second is time to complete load)
PLAY: INDEX thumbnail view 1.8
2 x 2 view
3 x 3 view
PLAY: Zoom-in <1.0 Almost instant
Auto Focus LAG ~1.0  
Shutter Release LAG 0.1 VERY fast
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to "flush" the image out to the CF card. They in no way affect the ability of the camera to "recycle" and shoot again, the C-2500L has a large internal buffer (~8 MB) which means you can shoot even in SHQ and be ready to shoot the next image within about 1.5 seconds.
Action Time taken
File size Compression ratio Images on an
8 MB SM card
Store 1712 x 1368 SHQ TIFF 32.8
= 6,883 KB   1
Store 1712 x 1368 SHQ JPEG 10.8
~ 1,773 KB   4
Store 1712 x 1368 HQ JPEG 6.5
~ 560 KB   14
Store 1280 x 1024 SQ JPEG 8.4
~ 420 KB   18
Store 640 x 512 SQ JPEG 6.4
~ 130 KB   60

Results in CYAN represent a 48MB SanDisk CompactFlash card
Results in YELLOW represent a 16MB Kingston SmartMedia card

(Note: some later release C-2500L are now shipped
with 32MB SM card - US region only)

What's interesting here is how much better the SmartMedia performs over the CompactFlash, a complete shock and the opposite of what I'd would have assumed. My only conclusion is that the because SmartMedia doesn't have a controller chip on the memory the controller built into the C-2500L is faster at writing than the controller built into the SanDisk CF card...

Battery life

The C-2500L is excellent on batteries, a real refreshing change from those LCD monsters.. Because it's an SLR and there's no use of the LCD until after you take the shot (also there's no battery sapping continual focus either) battery life is very good. You can extend it even further by disabling REC INFO view and/or REC VIEW (so you don't get to review the image after taking it)... I shot well over 150 images on one charge of the supplied batteries.

Kudos to Olympus for supplying a neat charger and sensible set of high power rechargeable batteries.