Olympus CAMEDIA C-2020 Zoom 2.1 MP Digital Camera - Black & Metallic silver

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Epinions Product Rating: Excellent
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Best 2.1Mpixel Camera, But Could Be Better

Aug 29, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent image quality, great versatility, wireless remote, movie mode, full control camera

Cons:No USB, flimsy exposed lens barrel, bad software, lack of ergonmic thinking, design thinking in spots

The Oly C-2020 was my choice as my second digital camera, as a replacement for my old, venerable, but terribly dated Epson PhotoPC600. My purchase choice was the result of 2 months of off and on again research, checking out models on the market at the time, such as the Nikon 950, the Toshiba PD5, The Epson PhotoPC 800 and 850, the Canon A10, and the Fuji FinePix Line. It boiled down to this - the Oly had all the features I wanted, save one - USB.

I must have viewed hundreds and hundreds of photo samples online from the above listed cameras, and time and time again the Oly examples (real world examples, not just the companys' sample pics) were the ones that stood out. As an amateur phototyro, the Oly had all the features I wanted and then some, beating out all the other cameras on the market at the time (November 1999), including the highly rated Nikon 950.

These features included:

Complete Manual Controls - Love this on a digicam - full aperture priority, shutter priority modes, manual modes, good light meter built in, great f stop range (f2.0 - f11), up to a 16 second exposure, time lapse exposure with the camera plugged into the computer, incremental manual focus, different white balance settings (though I found auto to do a great job), and much much more.

Versatility - My new digicam had to have the ability to accept lenses and filters via a threaded manner, which limited me to only a few cameras on the market. I have a telephoto lens for my Oly, along with several filters and make great use of them. I also like the Oly's wireless remote option, and use it all the time for still life work. The ability to also save uncompressed images, or a super low ratio jpg compression with very few artefacts is very cool. The movie function is something I've used many times, doing little 30 second or 1 minute movies for a few of the hobby websites I have (you can see them at <a href= http://www.coffeekid.com/ TARGET= _blank >CoffeeKid dot Com</a>. Also at that site are many, many still lifes I've done with the Oly camera.

Image Quality - What can I say - the Oly has the best image quality in the 2.1mpixel class, bar none. I haven't seen one do better. Nice, crisp images, good lighting tonal ranges, good amount of versatility in the image choices you can make. They print amazing with my HP 882C printer.

Other Features - Having 4 AA batteries was a perk for me, because I means I can buy third party NiMH batteries and not be forced to pay some $70 (typical) charge for a second set of proprietary batteries like the new Oly C3030 demands of you. I love the flash sync option, and use it during my studio work. The camera is a bit on the small side in my big hands, but has a good weight to it, which is important to me. The diopter adjustment is just barely within the range of my poor eyesight, which is good. The manual is first rate, and I like that it uses Smart Media cards - I swap them with my mp3 player (Rio500). Most controls on the camera are smartly laid out, with a few exceptions (noted below).

There are some things I don't like about the camera - most I can live with, some I don't like at all. I guess the worst ommision is the lack of USB, which in this day and age is almost criminal on a digicam. I had to buy a Lexar USB media reader, which added another $50 to my purchase cost. Also, an 8 meg smart media card is on the tiny side with this kind of resolution - a 16 or 32 would have been more adequate.

Other small nigglies I have with the camera include:

Ergonomics not quite there - I don't like where the strap holders are positioned - they make the camera sit on a 45 away from my body, instead of flat. Also, the grip isn't beefy enough, and the extended barrel lens mechanism is flimsy and the natural thing for you to do is to put one hand under it, supporting for a short - a no no with this camera because of the lens barrel's flimsiness. Buy Olympus' barrel extender option which in itself is imperfect - even with this barrel extender, you still have to add another step up mount to clear the end of the lens!! Stupid Olympus.... stupid.

Menus and Options not always smart - I don't like the fact that you have to go 3 menus deep to change your resolution. On my old Epson, one external button cycled thru them. Not smart Olympus. I also don't like how some of the other options are buried way deep in the menu system, nor do I like the fact that you have to both dial on the top AND pick within the soft menu to move from (P)rogram to (A)perture Priority, (S)hutter Priority, or (M)anual priority. There's more than enough empty space on that powerdial on top to put all these options via single clicks. Again, Oly cut corners here, salvaging parts from the old Oly C2000, and thus causing this menu cludge.

Slight Angle Shooting - I have discovered that the Oly C2020 takes pictures at an ever so slight angle. Something I've long learned to compensate for when compositing (via the eye viewfinder; If you use the LCD, you don't need to compensate). Bad design faux pas.


Poor Software - The enclosed Camedia software is slow, cludgy, slow, and not very useful. It reads the enhanced JPG information from your pictures (frame speed, aperture, time, exposure settings, etc), but its a tricky wick to get to it. It's poorly coded software, showing this company doesn't really care too much about it - and it is s.l.o.w. I never use it any longer - what with the Lexar Reader. I use Thumbs Plus for cataloging my images.

Overall, I'm really happy with this camera. Trust me, the pluses outweigh the minuses, though the negatives do exist. I have it kitted out in a LowePro Nova Compact bag, which is the perfect size for the Oly along with spare batteries, spare Smart Media cards, my spare lenses and accessories, remote, etc. The picture quality is outstanding, allowing a lot of detailed photoshop work if necessary, with vivid colors, little or no artefacting (artefacts or lack thereof are very important to me - hence my decision to avoid the Sony 505 digicam like the plague with its high compression level for its "best" picture settings).

I use this camera in my work, for my hobbies, and for personal use, and it has proved to be extremely versatile. Definitely a great buy in the $600 or less category. I was one of the first people in Canada to own one (I bought it from the US before the Canadian distributor even received their first shipments), so I paid a bit of a premium for it, but it was worth every penny. I highly recommend it.


Recommend this product? Yes


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