Olympus C-8080 - This Camera Was Ahead Of Its Time!

Olympus C-8080 was launched almost 20 years ago, but this camera shows that Olympus clearly knew what they were doing, it has some futuristic features that are commonplace in today's modern digital cameras. For example, the C-8080 features electronic viewfinder with live exposure simulation, basically the same what you see is what you get preview in modern EVF, and they already implemented this in 2004! The camera also has tilt LCD screen, which is convenient for low and high angle shooting, something a lot of modern cameras today also replicated. I explored these features and more during my recent shutter therapy session with the Olympus C-8080, it was such a fun camera to use! I did a video of course; you can find it here (click). 

While the C-8080 features a small image sensor, 2/3" in size, that lens in front of it was massive! The zoom lens has an equivalent coverage of 28-140mm F2.8-3.5, quite a versatile range with respectably bright apertures. Bear in mind that almost 20 years ago there was no software correction, and the larger lens construction allowed for actual mitigation of lens flaws, and it was effectively done as I did not notice any corner softness, distortion or chromatic aberration! The lens flaw management was quite impressive. The lens also resolves plenty of fine details and contrast, rendering very pleasing and true to life looking images. Olympus made the right decision to overcompensate the camera with superior optics, it does show in the results!

A few other things that I do like about the camera - it has plenty of buttons and shortcuts, which avoided the need to dive into the menu at all. The camera has a substantial, beefy grip, which was comfortable to hold, and handling on this camera was excellent. The built quality is perhaps better than most high-grade cameras even from today's modern releases! The C-8080 has magnesium alloy body and feels like tank! I also appreciate the super-fast power on time, something even some of the newer cameras fail to do. A lot of modern cameras can take some notes from this C-8080!

Of course, this is an old camera, and it does come with some flaws. The camera is unnecessarily large, for a small-ish sensor, and it was also heavy. For a 2/3" sensor I expect the camera to be half the size or smaller, and more compact build would allow the camera to be carried around easier. For the same size, I'd rather just get a mirrorless interchangeable camera, or a small DSLR, with the benefits of larger image sensor and the ability to change lens. Also, the autofocus was quite a nightmare to work with, it was slow, and definitely not good enough for quick action shots. If you shoot in RAW, the camera will take about 10 seconds or more to write to the card, and it locks up, meaning you cannot shoot until the image is fully written to the card. Reviewing a RAW image also takes similarly long time, so processing power was lacking. This is recipe to miss moments, as you cannot use the camera for 10 seconds or more after each click. 

Overall, I think the C-8080 was indeed ahead of its time, it got a lot of things right, and some even better than modern cameras. 

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing, Robin. The colors and tones of those images you shared has bring me back to those time where I think Photoshops is a useless photo editing application and raw files is ugly monster who eat my CF card! I had a plan to buy the C8080WZ back then, but later decided to go with the E-520 instead.

    My first Olympus camera was the Camedia 5060WZ, I do like the colors it produced (most likely because of it's CCD sensor). Then in 2005 my uncle showed me his new C8080WZ, and I was immediately stunned by it look. The C8080WZ looks more beautiful and 'serious' compared to my C5060WZ. But the images it produced were not too different between the two cameras,.

    So, I decided to wait until the new model come up while hoping that my uncle would get bored with the camera soon (and hand it over to me). Both were never happen.