5MP triple card format Olympus revealed
By Ian Burley
Click here for official Olympus press release
UPDATE: 20th August - There is a small amendment to the original storyCC regarding manual focus - click here. Unfortunately, the detailed spec. sheet page has been withdrawn at the request of Olympus and we expect a revised sheet to be issued at Photokina next month.
We’ve had a look at the new 5MP £699 Olympus set for later this year...
The 5050 won’t be shipping until the autumn and we were only able to handle a non-operational prototype, but this was enough to get a basic feel for the 5050. It retains the compact and lightweight, yet robust feel of the 3040/4040 and is instantly recognisable as a member of that line of cameras, which is centred around the same fast f/1.8 7.1-21.3mm (35-108 equivalent) lens.
We quickly noticed some differences, though. The right side of the base, viewed from front, has an angled profile for the first time. The 1.8 inch colour TFT screen now pops out for angled viewing and there is a new settings control dial plus a flash hot shoe that is compatible with the Olympus FL-40 unit.
The four-way navigation control has been moved down, the settings dial includes scene mode options and there is a button for manual focus control. The memory card door opens to reveal two physical slots, which look like they are for only conventional SmartMedia and Compact Flash media, but the SmartMedia slot doubles as a home for one of the new xD micro cards recently announced by Olympus and Fuji. A 32MB xD card will be bundled with the camera.
Internally, the 1/1.8 inch 5MP sensor is not the same as that found in the Olympus E-20, which is a larger 2/3rd inch chip. Up to 11 HQ image quality frames can be shot in a single sequence at a rate of 1.7 frames per second. A higher speed mode lets you shoot up to four frames in just over a second (3.3fps).
The 5050 offers more than the usual set of in-camera manipulation modes. You can crop and re-size your image while retaining the original. Extra white balance modes have been included, with no less than four for fluorescent lighting. A My Mode shortcut to up to eight preferred camera settings combinations is now available. Meanwhile, the AF point can now be manually relocated to an off-centre position. The new manual focus option is a bit of a mystery as the camera we saw did not have this implemented, but we understand there will be an on-screen distance gauge and will be operated via a ring on the lens barrel, not the thumb-wheel under the main top-plate dial, as we had originally guessed. An exposure histogram is now featured as well.
The flip-out 110,000 pixel view screen is very reminiscent of the Olympus E-10/E-20, but unlike the Canon G1/G2 and the Nikon CP5000 and CP5700, which have a universal joint allowing maximum tilt-ability, the 5050, like its bigger siblings, is limited to up and down positions.
At a suggested retail price of £699 in the UK (about €1100 or US$1075 - likely to be lower in US), the Olympus C-5050Z is targetting the Canon G2 and Nikon CP5000. A lot of interesting features have been packed into the 5050, so it will be interesting to see if this blend of new and old features will prove to be a potent combination. The 5050 will make its public debut at the Photokina exhibition in Cologne, Germany, at the end of next month.