Having bought this bridge camera in May 2008, potential buyers may be interested in my comments after a year of use. I was attracted by a combination of good reviews, the huge zoom range, and the quality of Olympus lenses. After many years of using slr cameras with interchangeable lenses, this seemed to be all things in one handy package. I will review in the time-honoured tradition of pros and cons.
- Lightweight body that does not feel flimsy.
- Multiple programs to suit any user from basic operation to full manual control.
- Zoom range from a useful wide angle to a whopping 520mm (35mm equivalent) that should satisfy any photographer.
- Uses AA batteries available almost anywhere in the World.
- Price. It has a lot of features for a camera costing well below £300.
- Despite image stabilization, images at full zoom are difficult to capture without a tripod or good support.
- Viewfinder image is poor and leaves you having to 'trust' the results on what you can see with your eye.
- Menus can be complex and some controls are not logical, or well-placed on the camera.
- The user manual is only supplied on a CD. A very bad thing in my book.
- The only memory available is the XD card. This tends to be more expensive and less widely available. More importantly, it is notoriously slow to write images, leaving a long 'dark screen' between shots.
- The minimum aperture available is only f8. This restricts depth of field in landscapes, contradicting the useable 26mm wide angle setting of the lens.
- The manual zoom has an anti-clockwise action that remains annoying even after a year of use. It is also not a 'true' zoom, moving the lens in electronic steps.
In very good light, the lens can produce some stunning results. The metering is reliable, and only fooled by excessive backlighting. Best results are obtained by using aperture priority and taking more control of the picture. For a hobbyist moving up from a smaller compact, there is the zoom range available but little more. for the enthusiast trading down to an all in one option, there is little to recommend. The annoyances far outweigh any benefits of features and zoom range.
If you already have a high spec compact camera, keep it and enjoy it. If you are looking for more, get a modern DSLR, with a good lens and a system back up to buy into later. Nice try Olympus, better luck next time.
This review was submitted by Pete Johnson