While the big buzz is on digital SLRs today, and for good reason, it's possible to get a top-quality, full-featured, high-megapixel digital camera with truly professional capabilities for around $1,000 (including lenses that will match pro SLR lenses). A perfect example is the new 8-megapixel Olympus C-8080.
I found the C-8080 to be extremely well designed for the photographer, with all the controls, manual to automatic, you'd expect on a digital SLR. Turn the camera on and be prepared for nearly instant-on capability. This fast startup means the camera is ready to shoot at all times. Plus, the controls are designed to allow easy access to features without going through a lot of menus, also adding to the camera's usability.
The C-8080 includes an outstanding lens designed to support the high 8-megapixel sensor, with ED glass for optimum sharpness throughout its 28-140mm (35mm equivalent) range. Of course, lens hype is only proved if the results support it. I made 16x20-inch prints with this camera that rivaled anything possible from a 35mm SLR—strong evidence of an excellent lens.
The flip-out back LCD monitor is a superb feature for landscape and close-up photographers (the camera focuses to two inches without accessories). It makes it easy to hold the camera at ground level for new macro compositions to above eye-level when the tripod holds the camera high, yet you still see exactly what the lens sees and the sensor will record. Another tremendous tool for the serious photographer is a live histogram—this should be a feature on all digital cameras that have live displays—making it possible to quickly get precise, yet automated exposures that will match anyone's traditional exposure techniques. Price: MSRP—$1,149; Street Approximately—$999.
Contact: Olympus America, (888) 553-4448, www.olympusamerica.com.
Resolution: 8 megapixels (3264 x 2448 pixels)
Lens (35mm Equivalent): 28-140mm ƒ/2.4-3.5
LCD Size: 1.8 inches
Media Type: CF and xD cards
Shooting Modes: Program, Shutter and Aperture Priority, Manual, plus Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Night Scene and
a customizable MyMode
Exposure Compensation: ±2 stops in 1/2- or 1/3-EV steps
Metering System: Digital ESP, spot, center-weighted
Focus Modes: AF—normal, macro; Super Macro
Shutter Speeds: 16-1/4000 sec., plus B
Apertures: 2.4 to 8
ISO Equivalency: 50 to 400
Power Source: Proprietary Li-Ion
Size: 4.9x3.3x3.9 - inches
Weight: 23.3 ounces
[ Primary Features ]
1 8-megapixel compact camera with nearly instant-on startup
2 Fast wide-angle zoom designed specifically for its sensor
3 Flip-out LCD monitor is a useful tool for landscape and close-up shooters
4 Highly accessible controls mean less menu scrolling