Product Type: Olympus digital cameras
Newest Review: ... integrated at the top corner, and doesn't pop up in the slightly fragile-feeling way that some other Olympus flash units do. The buttons o... more
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Olympus Camedia C-100
Member Name: davidbuttery
Olympus Camedia C-100
Advantages: Decent photo quality for a 1.3 mp model, quite easy to use, useful sliding cover
Disadvantages: The C-2 does everything this camera does, a bit better, for the same price
** Introduction **
Olympus has a long and respected tradition of photographic manufacture, so it was hardly surprising that they made quite an early and enthusiastic entrance into the digital marketplace. However, some of their compact models were surprisingly lacklustre, and there are few Olympuses (Olympi?) that have really hit the heights. This 1.3-megapixel Camedia C-100 is a fairly good example of why: it's not a bad camera for its vintage, but it's a full decade old now. Even allowing for that, however, there are others from a similar era around with more spark.
** Look and handling **
By 2001 standards, the C-100 is a rather small and compact camera, weighing about 190 grams. By 2011 standards, however, it's rather a different matter. As is the case with a lot of older Olympus digicams, there's a nice sliding cover which completely covers the small lens, and the camera looks quite satisfyingly packaged with it closed. Once open, though, the C-100 does present a noticeably old-fashioned face to the world, and this is certainly not one of those older models which nobody will notice the age of! On the back there's a 1.5-inch LCD, which looks smaller than it is because of the chunky body.
One odd detail is that opening the lens cover also reveals the macro switch, which is bizarrely placed right beneath the lens. I'm not at all keen about this, since it's much too easy when feeling for it to let your finger slip onto the lens itself, never a good idea. On the plus side, the flash is nicely integrated at the top corner, and doesn't pop up in the slightly fragile-feeling way that some other Olympus flash units do. The buttons on the back are standard for the era: four separate direction buttons plus a couple of general-purpose ones.
** Features and optics **
The C-100 is a straightforward snapshot camera, and as such there are not many factors under the user's control. Aside from the aforementioned macro, plus basic exposure compensation and white balance options, almost everything else is automatic. If you're after a camera that will allow you to set the likes of ISO or flash power, then this really is not the model for you. This does make it a very easy camera to use for the period, though: once you're used to the bulk of the unit, you should be able to take decent photos with the Olympus very quickly and with little need to look in the (half-decent) user guide.
There's nothing to excite about the lens in this camera. It's "focus free", which is the standard euphemism for "doesn't have autofocus" and so landscapes are probably the best bet. It's a tiny little thing rated at a pretty poor f/4.0 (making low-light photography very hard) and while there is a 2x digital zoom, there really is absolutely no reason to use it. Ever. Actually, you might want to get a little sticky label and attach it to some of the plastic back, and write on it, "Do not use digital zoom". If you must use it, then don't say I didn't warn you!
** Consumables **
Being a camera aimed at first-time users, it's hardly surprising that the C-100 goes with AA batteries; there are four of them, which gives the usual trade-off over two of making the thing somewhat hefty but also giving a fairly good battery life. With the LCD off, it lasts ages and ages, though leave it on in the modern fashion and you probably can't count on a full day's shooting. Memory is provided by means of SmartMedia cards: capacity isn't a problem with a 1.3 mp camera, but you will need to make sure that you have a card reader that can cope with this obsolete format.
** Photo quality **
You can't expect miracles from a 1.3-megapixel camera, and indeed you don't get them. That's not to say that the picture quality is appalling, and there are plenty of poorer cameras around, but it's not likely to make you exclaim in delight. Colour balance seems to favour light greens, blues and yellows; there's no actual cast, but reds in particular can display a slightly unfortunate brownish tinge. Sharpness is not at all bad for the specification, though quality falls off very quickly when the light levels drop beyond "bright cloudy" conditions.
** Problems? **
One mildly irritating omission from the C-100's feature set is the ability to make filename numbering sequential: with this camera, the sequence begins again with each new format. This can be a pain if you're copying photos from several cards onto a computer, at least unless you're pretty organised with setting up folders and so on. Also, the movie mode is dire: jerky and infuriating, and even my low expectations were not reached.
** Buying and verdict **
Note that this camera is also known by its American model number of D-370; the two are basically identical. It's an extremely cheap camera to buy nowadays, with only a little patience being required on eBay to find a working example for a fiver or so. Do make certain it comes with a memory card, though, as SmartMedia chips are ever more expensive to buy on their own. I feel a bit harsh giving this camera only two stars as, within its limitations, it does a decent job. The problem is that Olympus's own C-2 is just that little bit better all round for about the same money. Buy one of those instead.
Summary: Does a fair job for its age, but others of the same age do a better one
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