On September 29th 2003 Olympus announced the five megapixel C-5060 Wide Zoom, as the name implies that camera was a step up from the C-5050 Zoom in no small measure because of its wide angle zoom lens. And now on the opening day of PMA 2004 Olympus raises the stakes higher, with their first eight megapixel prosumer level digital camera, the C-8080 Wide Zoom.

But the differences between the C-5060 WZ and the C-8080 WZ are even more significant, Olympus hasn't just reused an old body and lens and bolted in the new Sony 2/3" eight megapixel CCD, instead they have completely redesigned the body and approached the most important part of any digital camera, the lens, with an eye to quality. Indeed when I asked Olympus about the new lens they stated that it was as of the same quality as the Zuiko lenses made for the E System (the E-1 digital SLR), and to support that it's made in the same factory.

The C-8080's lens provides an equivalent 28 to 140 mm equiv. 5x optical zoom with a maximum aperture of F2.4 at wide angle (28 mm equiv.) and F3.5 at telephoto (140 mm equiv.) The lens is made up of 15 elements in 13 groups, 2 of which are aspherical and 3 ED.

Startup, sub-one second

One other item of big news with this camera is speed, despite having a telescoping lens system we have timed startup as just 0.9 seconds if the lens was left at wide angle at power off and around 1.9 seconds if at telephoto. That makes the C-8080 Wide Zoom startup faster than the Sony DSC-F828 (at least if started up at wide angle).