Olympus Camedia C-2100

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Results will look different depending on your gamma and resolution. Artifacts from compression are present in these images, not from the camera.


Olympus Camedia C-2100 Ultra Zoom

2.1 megapixel digital SLR still camera

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Your first thought about the Olympus Camedia C-2100 might be that $999 is pretty pricey for a 2.1 megapixel digital camera. And you'd be right, if you compared it with cameras that have no extra features and optics that would make you cringe. But the C-2100 is in a different league.

First and foremost, this camera can capture beautiful images. I can't really do justice to captured images on the Web, what with variations in gamma and screen resolution on your end and compression on mine. But, if you click on the images on the left, you can get some idea of what's going on. Each was captured at 1,600 x 1,200 in JPEG format at f2.8. (This is not the camera's highest-quality setting.)

The lens responsible for for the quality images this camera produces is a Precision 10x 7 mm to 70 mm f2.8/3.5 optical zoom lens (the 35 mm equivalent of a 38 mm to 380 mm range). Olympus says the lens is custom-designed for the particular CCD used in the C-2100, producing optimal images. Good thing because it can't be removed, the theory being that a 10x zoom, coupled with an additional 2.7x digital zoom, ought to be good enough for digital photography. This theory cuts out the pro crowd, few of whom, if they're anything like me, will cotton to the notion of not being to able to use the thousands of dollars worth of lenses they've accumulated over the years. That said, the camera will allow the use of the 1.7x B-300 tele-converter lens and 0.8x B-28 wide-angle lens for more photographic flexibility, as well as 49 mm filters.

Nevertheless, Olympus is right about at least one thing: This lens is a sweet combo with the guts of the C-2100.

And speaking of guts, let's tear into them. Inside the silverish-beige plastic exterior of the C-2100 is a 2.11 million sensor charged coupling device, 16 MB of onboard SDRAM and some pretty speedy electronics. The 16 MB of SDRAM allows for bursts of up to three shots per second. In SHQ mode, I got about one shot every 0.8 seconds.

The camera can function in 12 quality modes, from the highest 1,600 x 1,200 TIFF mode (one shot on the supplied 8 MB SmartMedia card) to 640 x 480 JPEGs (82 shots on the same card). The TIFF mode is brilliant, but the SHQ JPEG mode at 1,600 x 1,200 also produces fine results, with 15 images per 8 MB SmartMedia card.

It can also capture motion JPEG at 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 at 15 frames per second in QuickTime mode. At 160 x 120, it can capture 135 seconds on the supplied card.

The good, the bad and the miscellaneous stuff
I like a lot of things about this camera. Aside for the obvious benefit of excellent picture quality, the camera is also quite easy to use. Onscreen controls offer degree upon degree of functional flexibility. The camera, if a bit on the light side, feels comfortable in the hand. The 1.8" TFT display is crisp. Switches and buttons are all located in comfortable positions. And the status display on the top of the camera is quite handy.

Battery life is excellent. I got about 70 shots with and without a flash over the course of a wek and a half before I had to swap sets. It ships with four rechargeable AA batteries AND a charger that can get you all powered up again in a couple hours (for completely dead batteries) or, as advertized, mere seconds for nearly full batteries.

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