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Olympus Camedia C-2100 Digital Camera Review

| Olympus Camedia C-2100 in Compact Cameras
BUY NOW OLYMPUS C-2100 Ultra Zoom

Olympus Camedia C-2100 Digital Camera Review: Olympus Camedia C-2100

The C-2100 Ultra Zoom is similar in size to Fuji's 4900 in every respect except for the lens. The zoom of the Olympus stretches a couple of inches further towards the subject - giving it a 10x zoom magnification. Given this monster lens, the camera is extremely manageable as your right hand has a well-moulded grip to hang onto, while your left hand has plenty of room on the lens to grab hold of.

Like the Fuji and the much-bigger Sony, the C-2100 has an electronic eye-level finder - in addition to its 1.8inch colour display. The smaller LCD is well laid-out and gives enough detail and information so that you will only need to activate the larger display when reviewing the shots that you have already taken. This design not only minimises power use - it also means that there is no problem when using this camera in bright light.

Surprisingly for a camera costing 900, the batteries supplied are not rechargeable. Instead you get two CR-V3 lithium packs. These provide plenty of juice, but are difficult to buy, and are only really used by Olympus. Fortunately, the camera also accepts four AA batteries which are not only omnipresent, but can be bought as rechargeables at a reasonable cost.

It also seems stingy that Olympus only provide an 8Mb SmartMedia card with the camera. With a CCD with 2.1-million pixels, the camera is only capable of storing five images at its best JPEG resolution (file sizes are up to 1.4Mb) and at best TIFF resolution t only stores one image. In short, you are forced to buy an additional storage card immediately - or use lower resolution file settings. The camera can also be used to record movies with sound; sound files can also be recorded using the in-built microphone to accompany still images; a socket is also provided for an accessory microphone.

Small niggles aside, you do get a fantastic zoom that's complemented by a very useful, and some would say essential, optical image stabiliser - which allows you to use the longer telephoto settings without the worry of camera shake every time the sun goes in.

The autofocus system is also one of the most advanced seen on a digital camera to date. For starters there's a built-in illuminator - a red beam that's designed to enable the camera to focus in lowlight (or even complete darkness). This is a great partner for the camera's built-in flash. The camera also offers a variety of AF modes. There is an intelligent setting, that guesses, pretty accurately, which subject in the frame you want to focus on; and there is a more traditional spot mode that takes a reading from the centre of the frame. More impressively is the full-time AF setting - where the focus continuously adjusts as you compose the picture - rather than locking as soon as you half-press the trigger. This mode comes into its own when you're trying to capture moving subjects.

A full range of exposure modes are provided for the user to take full control over shutter speed and depth-of-field - including shutter-priority, aperture priority and manual. For those who want it all done for them there's a standard program mode, plus special program exposure settings for tackling portraits, action, landscapes and nightscape subjects.

Exposure compensation is very easy to input - with one third stop steps to help ensure perfect image brightness. If you prefer, there's also an autobracketing mode and an independent control for flash power output, which again can be set in one third stop steps. This helps ensure you can set the exposure for background and foreground in you picture separately. The talents of the flash unit do not stop here - the camera also allows you to choose between first and second-curtain synchronisation. This has been a feature of top-of-the-range 35mm SLRs for years, and is designed for using the flash with slow shutter speeds and moving subjects. With the normal first-curtain setting, the flash goes off at the beginning of the exposure - which creates a ghost image in front of the subject. With rear-curtain sync the flash goes off at the end of the exposure, and the ghost image, caused by ambient light exposure, is behind the subject and creates a more natural impression of movement, while freezing the subject.

The camera does not have a hot-shoe or accessory shoe but it does still provide a socket for linking the camera to Olympus' own FL-40 accessory gun.

The camera produces an excellent set of pictures - with particularly impressive colour and sharpness. The resolution is also good - although individual pixels show up quicker during enlargement than they do with Fuji's Finepix 4900.

The camera does not have a separate manual focusing ring, instead you have to use the onscreen display to set the distance required. Although this is not as easy to use as the lens rings on cameras from Sony, Minolta and Fuji, the system is extremely well implemented and gives you plenty of different focus steps to choose from.

Test images

Olympus Camedia C-2100 Digital Camera Review: Sample Images

Olympus Camedia C-2100 Digital Camera Review: Sample Images


  • 10x zoom
  • Optical image stabiliser
  • Lowlight autofocus
  • Excellent exposure controls


  • Expensive
  • Non-rechargeable batteries
  • Only 8Mb card supplied

Test by Chris George



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Photographs taken using the Olympus Camedia C-2100

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