Olympus access software for the C-2500L is now capable
of opening files both in the camera and stored in your
computer, and can generate thumbnails for identification.
Just double click on a thumbnail and full-sized screen
view appears while tools to do simple editing are activated.
Photos © David B. Brooks, 2000
Olympus believes they have
the digital camera for you in the new C-2500L SLR and have invested
heavily in a media blitz on its behalf. The word is out and a lot of
people are interested. So, when I received one for a trial I was as
eager to see if it is in fact the digital camera which will turn the
tide of interest on the part of professionals and serious enthusiasts.
It has a very clean, clear SLR viewfinder; a 2.5 megapixel chip capable
of producing files which will make fine quality 8x10" image prints;
a 3x zoom lens that's an aspheric optical glass design; a powerful
accessory hot shoe dedicated electronic flash in addition to a small
built-in unit. All the qualifications that meet most expectations. But
what those features and specifications actually result in, when applied
to the experience of using the camera and seeing the picture results,
is the question. So without further ado:
The C-2500L In The Field. Shortly after receiving the C-2500L I had
an out-of-town guest, so the first outing with the camera involved visiting
a local tourist attraction. It was an ideal opportunity to get acquainted
with the camera in outdoor and indoor available light shooting situations
and a wide variety of subject characteristics. It also provided an opportunity
to appreciate the camera's lightweight and comfortable handling.
I also greatly appreciated the diopter viewfinder adjustment, which
had sufficient range to allow me to set it so I could view clearly without
using my glasses.
It was quite easy to get good panned shots of the antique
sports cars racing at full speed using the C-2500L.
I didn't know what this
day would bring in picture opportunities, so I wanted to have as much
"digital" film as possible. The C-2500L has two slots for
memory cards, including one for the SmartMedia 32MB card supplied with
the camera, as well as a slot for a Compact Flash memory card and I happened
to have a 16MB card. That total at the high quality JPEG setting provided
the equivalent of three rolls of film. Fortunately, I didn't need
it all. When I got home and downloaded the pictures using the serial to
computer camera connection and the Camedia software, I found this method
of accessing the photo files is tortuously slow. I was on the phone the
next morning to get a USB adapter for my computers (works on Mac and Windows)
to read SmartMedia cards directly. The image files were still on the SmartMedia
card in the camera when I received the USB device, so I put in the USB
connector slot, and the folders popped right up on my desktop so I could
download the files directly to my hard drive--it took only a couple
of seconds per image file.
combination of the C-2500L's SLR viewfinder providing
accurate framing, the great depth of field of its sharp
lens, and the auto white balance compensating for the bluish
overcast skylight, provided a perfect image of this racing
Ferrari from the 1950s.
Once downloaded, the image
files were opened in Photoshop. I first checked the histogram to see how
accurately the camera placed the data (exposure control) and how well
it handled subjects with different brightness ranges. The result was that
the camera AE functioning is quite accurate in a wide range of lighting
situations and with varying subjects. I did also find that the gamut is
about the same as the exposure range of a typical slide film. So essentially,
when working with the C-2500L one should be sure the exposure is adjusted
to capture detail in the highlights, and if the subject is too contrasty,
then only some shadow detail will be lost.
Just a few days later a great opportunity came along: the Santa Barbara
Airport Antique Sports Car Races and Air Show. Providing action and color
with interesting subjects all in one venue. When I arrived at the opening
it was a dull gray, overcast, day but for shooting cars and planes the
light is smooth and even, simply ideal. It only took the morning to use
up all of my digital film, about 75 shots. I even tried taking pictures
of the car races, just as the cars came out of a corner onto the straight
away while doing 50-70mph. My approach to this was to set the zoom for
the framing I wanted, pre-focus on where the car would be when directly
in front of me, hold the shutter down part way and pan with the car then
click the final depression of the shutter release when the car was right
in front. Of a dozen shots taken this way all were quite sharp and well
exposed, I even got the cars in the frame where I expected in all but
one. How did I know I had my shots? I stepped into the shade and turned
the camera control to playback to check each shot on the LCD display on
the back of the camera.
The detail of the grille of this rare Italian Siata V8 race
car was easy to reproduce exactly as it looked with the
C-2500L SR digital camera.
With just a dozen shots used
to get an action shot, the rest of my "digital" film was mostly
used to take pictures of the antiques sports cars in the paddock. Including
Ol' Yeller which raced at the Santa Barbara Airport in the mid-50s
when I tried my hand at sports car racing while a student at Brook's
Institute. I tried all kinds of close, tight, creative angles and some
shots I would'nt dare try even with a 35mm film camera because I'd
never pull the depth of field. This is one of the advantages of dedicated
digital cameras with a small 2/3" CCD. The lens is short, just 9.2mm
focal length at its widest zoom setting, and therefore has incredible
depth of field even with the aperture close to wide open.
My final set of tests were intended to evaluate how the camera captures
natural colors and also to do some close-up shooting. Even in late October
there were still flowers blooming, such as my favorite the tiger lilie.
So I obtained, after much hunting around, some good shots of the tiger
lilies, which were ideal subjects to evaluate color and the C-2500L's
ability to do close-ups. Real close shooting is made practical and it's
easy to get precisely accurate framing because the C-2500L is an SLR.
The viewfinder shows almost all of what the CCD captures, and again the
extreme depth of field of its lens--even at its longest zoom setting--makes
close-ups easy and sure in even moderate light levels. The shutter speeds
also remain reasonably high, avoiding blurs because the flowers are moving
in the breeze, or your hand is a bit unsteady.
This pair of images of a classic Lotus Formula race car
were taken in an open aircraft hangar. They illustrate one
of the great advantages of digital in being able to clean
the damaged paint of the floor of the hangar vastly improving
the presentation of the race car..
The one test I would have hoped
for, but wasn't possible, involved my missing photographing a bevy
of show girls in Las Vegas. The way the manual shutter/aperture control
is set up on the C-2500L, and in consideration of the camera's dedicated-only
flash exposure control arrangement, even through the hot shoe, using studio
electronic flash is not practical. And, unfortunately the one dedicated
multiple flash system I have is proprietary and will only work with the
camera brand for which it was made. I had the incentive, so I made some
trials with both of my studio systems, and with the dedicated multiple
flash system, and nothing worked. I was told when the camera was announced
that some kind of hot shoe to PC adapter would be coming, but unless it
can lock the camera into a discrete set of aperture settings that are
consistent at all zoom lens settings, I would wonder how it would work.
Impressions Of The Olympus C-2500L Features. The obvious digital advantages
of no film or processing, as well as automatic white balance, and selectable
color temperature settings, three film speeds--all of which can be
changed between shots--are also features shared by some other digital
cameras. However, the advantages of digital are made more significant
by the unique features of the C-2500L. These include true SLR viewing
seeing 95 percent of the image, as well as a built-in flash. A more powerful
accessory dedicated flash, and both wide angle and telephoto conversion
lenses extending the effective range of the camera's 3x zoom lens
to a 35mm equivalent of 29-160mm.
Other advantages are selectable preset, manual focus modes, in addition
to programmed autoexposure, and aperture priority as well as manual exposure
settings, combined with exposure compensation that is ideally accessible.
In addition, action shooting is easily accomplished and augmented by three
frame per second bursts of five frames each supported by an internal 16MB
memory buffer. All of these advantages are made highly valuable by the
size and quality of the 1712x1368 pixel images the camera captures, that
easily makes a very fine quality and accurately colored 8x10 print.
I was dubious that I could get a good photo of this most
famous of early American racing aircraft with its Plexiglas
cockpit barely distinguished from the overcast sky. But
the Olympus C-2500L came through delivering clear if subtle
separation of those hard to distinguish tones.
Is The Olympus C-2500L The
Camera You've Been Waiting For? From my experience using it and
from the results obtained, for what many photographers will expect of
it, I think this camera will be a good choice for those who have been
waiting to get off the fence and into digital shooting. At an estimated
$1499 retail price some will say the price is still high, but really if
you just deduct a year's film and processing, it's in the
range of any good quality 35mm SLR. And then, compared to the several
times as costly professional press digital/35mm hybrids, there's
little the Olympus can't do and the results are just as good if
not better in some cases. Yes, if this camera doesn't move you off
the fence, you may as well call that uncomfortable position your permanent
The extreme close focusing was easily accessed by pressing
a button on the top of the C-2500L, combined with its accurate
SLR viewfinder framing, makes capturing precisely colored
flower close-ups a delight.
2,500,000 pixel 2/3" progressive scan RGB CCD
Recorded Image: 1712x1368 pixels (SHQ-Tiff no compression);
1712x1368 pixels (SHQ-JPEG 2.3:1 compression); 1712x1368 pixels (HQ-JPEG
8:1 standard compression); 1280x1024 pixel (SQ-JPEG 8:1 compression);
640x512 pixel (SQ-JPEG 8:1 compression)
Image Types: DCF/Exif 2.1 JPEG or Tiff
Erasing: One-frame erase/all-frame erase
White Balance: Full auto TTL white balance six-step preset
Memory: Dual slot design
SmartMedia Compatibility: Compatible with 2, 4, 8, 16,
32, and 64MB
Lens: 3x Olympus aspherical zoom
Focal Length: 9.2-28mm (equivalent to 36-110 on a 35mm
Aperture: Wide f/2.8 to f/5.6, Tele f/3.9 to f/7.8
Construction: Seven elements in seven groups (one aspherical
Focus Range: 0.8 - 24" Super Macro (wide autofocus);
12 - 24" Macro (autofocus); 24" - infinity (autofocus); 12"
-infinity (manual focus)
Autofocus: TTL system autofocus with low-light illuminator
Shutter: 1/2-1/10,000 sec autoexposure 8 sec to 1/10,000
Exposure Control: Programmed auto, aperture priority,
+/- 2 EV in 1/3 EV increments
Sensitivity: Equivalent ISO 100, 200, 400
Electronic Flash--Working Range: 12" to 12'
Flash Modes: Auto flash (low light and backlight), "redeye"
reducing flash, fill-in flash, first curtain slow-syncro flash, second
curtain slow-syncro flash, and flash off
External Flash: Standard hot shoe design, accepts optional
FL-40 dedicated flash
Viewfinder: SLR TTL viewfinder with 95 percent coverage,
with diopter adjustment
LCD Monitor: High-resolution 122,000 pixel 1.8"/4.5cm
color TFT(HAST) LCD display
On-Screen Display: One frame, slide show mode, index
display mode (four or nine frames), and 4x-image inspection close-up mode
Other Connectors: Serial computer/printer connector,
AC adapter connector, and NTSC video out connector.
Date And Time: Recorded with picture
Automatic Calendar: Up to year 2030
Direct Print: (P-330) or DPOF printer single print, index
print, multi-prints, mirror prints, date stamp prints, 16-up prints, selected
Operating Environment: Temperature, 22-104ÞF/0-40ÞC
(operation), -4-140ÞF/-20-60ÞC (storage); Humidity 20-90 percent
(operation), 10-90 percent (storage)
Dimensions: 5x2.6x2.1"; 109x79.5x128.2mm
Weight: 16.5 oz. without batteries or SmartMedia card
Software: Enroute QuickStitch (Mac/Win), Olympus Camedia
Master (Mac/Win) 2