Olympus 8080 user reviews

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8080 review by Drew Hanson

June 29, 2004

Hello fellow Olympus users. I am impressed with the scope of knowledge this group possess and will be looking forward to participating in upcoming photo contests. Any ways, I received an C8080WZ for a graduation present almost three months ago and have kept it quite busy. I am happy with a majority of its features, but I have concerns with some. I have included a few comments (some have been addressed previously) about the camera and some questions below in a semi-review form.

Possible Cons:

My main concern is the lack of long range focus. I often use my camera for storm photography (lots of cloud shots) and I am left with mostly blurry photos. I use manual focus set to infinity, a sturdy tripod, and the remote control to eliminate shaking. Could it be something else I am doing/not doing or are all cameras like this?

I also do a lot of night photography, which requires the use of the bulb mode. I am disappointed that I have to hold the shutter for sometimes minutes to expose a shot. Has anyone figured out any hacks to fix this? Is Olympus going to add additional shutter speeds with the firmware update? I may try to replace the momentary switch on the remote with a switch that will allow me to leave it on for extended periods of time. Would this void any warranties on the camera itself?

Another thing I would like to see is a little larger zoom range. 5x is a little small for what I need and the telephoto lens and adapter are probably out of my price range. Otherwise the lens is very precise and I get very clear macro photos. I have only encountered three photos (of ~3000) that had major lens defects, all being chromatic abbreviation and that was probably somewhat my fault.

When I am doing storm photography I am not as concerned with the slow write speed as when I am working with fast moving objects. It is frustrating waiting for files to record while the action is still happening. I have discovered that by using the slower burst mode (non AF) I can take about nine photos in SHQ mode instead of five. As a side note, has anyone heard if Olympus is trying to increase the write speed of this camera (I remember reading someone's comments about this in an earlier message)?


A strong point of this camera is that it is robust. It took a tumble into the mud a few weeks ago while I was shooting in high winds with a tripod. I was using the lens hood and a UV filter which probably ended up saving the lens. After the camera fell, the camera locked up and the EV was displaying a white screen. It required me to remove the battery to shut it down and after that everything seemed fine (I also had to clean it).

Another positive is the set of features this camera has. It is so much nicer to be able to control the way a photograph looks (my previous digital camera was a Sony MVC-FD-75).

The customizable button and shortcuts are extremely handy.

The remote control has probably been my largest asset when using the camera.

8080 review by Jan Erik Stokke

May 10th, 2004

Just had my first weekend shooting with the 8080. Here´s my impressions:

1. Handling is very good, the bulkiness of the camera makes it good to hold steady. Also the lens barrel is a very good place to put your left hand - no buttons to interfere with.
2. Focus usually is quick, but sometimes enters slow-motion.

3. Using controllers and buttons are very straightforward - and I have never used an Olympus before. Easy to accidentally touch the quick-review or lcd/evf-button when pulling out the screen.
4. Menus are not that intuitive - takes some time to get used to.
5. Exposure and white balance - works great at automatic setting.
6. Possible to get a very shallow depth of field/blurred background.
7. Large files. At shq the files are between 2.5 and 3.5 Mb.
8. Manual focus is quite usable with enlargement of the center of the picture.
9. Battery life is very good - shot a lot and it still doesn´t need recharging.

10. IMAGE QUALITY: Looking at the pictures on my monitor I can only say wow, what image quality! Virtually no purple fringing, very low noise (haven´t tried higher ISOs) and resolution is fantastic.
The only reasons to get a dslrs over this camera, are:

1. The possibility of changing lenses (if you can afford them and want to carry them).
2. Lower noise at higher ISOs
3. Faster shooting/action photography.

Jan Erik

John Purcell's review of the 8080

Apr. 26th, 2004

I had tried all sorts of tricks to get decent photos with my previous camera, a Sony DSC-P72; photographing things outside in various weather conditions (a lot of hassle!), tungsten floodlights, various white-balance settings. But nothing really did the trick. So after some months, by which time I was in a state of near-despair, I finally decided to spend some serious cash on a more professional camera. The Olympus C8080WZ attracted my attention because its predecessor, the C5050 consistently got good reviews and was said by many to the the "king of low light conditions", with superb colour reproduction. So I spent £600 on the latest incarnation of the camera, from Amazon.

I didn't quite realise how new the C8080 was and I've had to wait a couple of weeks for the manufacturer to release it. When it arrived, the first thing I noticed was the weight. This is almost the only bad thing I have to say about it; it is not a camera that I would take hiking or that you could carry around in your pocket, but then if you're buying something as serious as this you wouldn't expect it to be. It feels, looks and weighs like most people's idea of a professional camera.

The camera comes with a 32 MB memory card, and a rechargeable battery which seems to take about 5 hours to charge and lasts pretty well.

When you press the 'on' switch, the camera starts up almost instantaneously - less than a second. Start-up is MUCH faster than with my cheap and cheerful Sony DSC-P72, or at least I have that impression, although I haven't ever timed it with a stopwatch. My Sony had a habit of deciding it was no longer in-use and powering down, following which I'd have to wait for it to start up again. No such trouble with the Olympus; it doesn't power-down completely unless you switch the power-saving mode on, and when you switch it on there's no waiting about.

I was very anxious to see if the C8080 reproduces the colour gradients in my paintings which the Sony had failed to do. So I tried it immediately in the subdued daylight in my living room, in point-and-click mode. The initial results with so little preparation and understanding were pretty good; far better than with my Sony, in fact. Red looks like red, orange looks like orange, and the colours in-between are pretty accurate too, as were all the other colours. Having said that, the photo looked a little washed out, but considering I had just switched the thing on and pointed it in the right direction, I wasn't too worried.

The camera comes with the usual USB software, so I had no trouble connecting it to my Windows 98 laptop. Software is provided, but I prefer to just install the USB driver so that when I connect the camera, I can navigate to the photos as though they were on my computer hard-drive. I found that with my old camera, how the images look on the LCD screen really bore little relation to how they looked on my computer. No such trouble with the Olympus C8080WZ; the LCD screen appears to be a fairly accurate reflection of how the image will actually look when you transfer it to a computer. An additional important benefit is that you can store the image on the camera in a variety of formats; the compressed jpeg formats look pretty good but I opted to use an uncompressed TIF format, which produces massive files if you use the default image size, but reasonably-sized images if you change to 640 x 480 pixels which is perfect for me. The camera will store about 32 images on the included 32 MB card at this setting but of course you could store a lot more if you were happy with a compressed format.

There is also a "quick-view" button, so that you can view the photo you have just taken without switching to "playback" mode. This is a real time-saver. When you take a photo with the Olympus, the actual photo you have taken appears briefly on the LCD so that you can see if something's obviously wrong with it. If you want to check it further or compare it to previous photos, you can press the quick-view button to see it. You can also scroll through previous photos.

The really great thing about the Olympus is that you can opt to have varying degrees of control over all its settings - all the way from point-and-click mode, which is pretty impressive itself, to setting the aperture and shutter speed values yourself. Something else that I find very useful is the "one-click" white balance adjustment. If you are taking photos under something other than daylight, you can compensate for the off-white colour of the lighting in a variety of ways. You can use various presets, or you can set the white-balance yourself all the way from bluish to reddish, or you can point the camera at a white surface and have it automatically determine the white balance setting on the basis of that. The LCD fairly accurately represents the setting you have chosen.

The camera has the usual automatic digital modes; landscape, portrait, night-time, etc, and also has a "shutter priority" mode where you set the shutter speed and the camera adjusts the aperture value automatically. There is also a "aperture priority" mode; same thing but the other way round. But I found manual mode the most useful for my purposes. I can place the camera on a tripod in my dimly-lit art studio and play around with the shutter speed while leaving the aperture value and other settings as they are. That allows me to take photos of my work which look like they were taken in bright sunlight!! Absolutely fantastic.

Here's an example of a red-orange painting (and remember that I am not a professional photographer and haven't owned this camera for very long) www.mistgallery.co.uk/art/main/sunlight.jpg and here's an example of a blue painting, also taken with no additional lighting and no flash, in fairly dim daylight; www.mistgallery.co.uk/art/main/moonlight.jpg

You can even set the contrast, saturation, hue and sharpness of your images. Overall, I have to say that I'm very impressed by the camera and expect to make my money back on it pretty quickly, since I can now take quality images of my work under the poor light conditions in my studio.

I can't yet report on how the camera is under other conditions, but my brief experiments of photographing my friends outdoors or snapping things indoors under both natural and artificial light, seem to indicate that it's pretty hot stuff. I will try to post some sample photos soon.

John Purcell