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photo:olympusc8080

Olympus C8080WZ camera

Why I loved the Olympus C-8080WZ camera:

  • this document was written in 2004 when the 8080 was released, and this model has now been superseded and thus in 2012 I would go for Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera.

 

  • having the confidence of excellent image quality, with the immediate feedback of digital technology, means this camera revolutionised the way I approach photography!
  • if you don't believe me, check out a photojournalist who uses the 8080: Alex Majoli
  • features I love:
    • great image quality - 8 megapixel matched with an excellent quality lens and ability to capture in raw + jpeg simultaneously
      • it is unlikely this image quality (for low ISO's anyway) can be significantly bettered by any other digital camera outfit with a comparable zoom range for under $A2000 in 2004. 
      • for me, I like creating high quality borderless A4 prints. At 300dpi, this equates to 3508×2480 pixels (8.7 megapixels) so the C8080 is just adequate to achieve this without interpolation.
    • versatility:
      • ability to attach filters and lens converters
      • zoom lens starting at 28mm is an absolute necessity in creating dramatic landscape photos
      • relatively fast lens at f/2.4-3.5 gives reasonable low light performance (though not as good as the lower noise, f/1.8 C5050 but this is only 5 megapixel and doesn't have 28mm wide angle)
      • flash hot shoe allows external flashes, while the slave mode allows slave triggered external flashes
      • ability to do BULB exposures up to 8 min - great for creative effects and needed for astrophotography (although if you really want to do this a Canon EOS350D may be the better option).
      • rapid start up minimises missed opportunities
      • able to do infra-red photography 
      • accessible buttons for rapidly changing settings
      • battery holder allows better handling for portrait mode photos
      • great quality LCD screen allows viewing in sunlight
      • good macro performance
    • nice functions:
      • frame assist to help ensure camera is level
      • live histogram to show you which areas will lose detail due to over or under-exposure
      • spot exposure metering option
      • the multitude of in camera adjustment options and MyMode settings
    • robust while not having the problems of the digital SLR's such as size, weight, sensor dust
    • uses CF memory cards (although won't use my MagicStore Plus 2.2Gb microdrive card)
    • great battery life (~500 photos)
  • my wish list:
    • if Olympus had improved the autofocus, manual focus and the RAW write speed to the level of what is currently available in digital SLR's they would have an absolutely brilliant camera and I would not need to look at buying a digital SLR for these crucial features. As it stands it is brilliant for travel photography but for portrait work it can be a pain due to the focus and RAW write issues and rather than address these issues, Olympus appears to have decided to concentrate on development of their digital SLRs.
    • faster CF read & write - 12-13secs is way too long to write a RAW file while locking the camera and browsing is slow. Why, oh why did Olympus decide to only have write speed of 1Mb/s??? can we PLEASE have a firmware upgrade to fix this?
    • increased buffer size to allow better shot-to-shot frame rates and minimise camera locking after photo is taken
    • better focus:
      • manual focus is not easy despite the magnified image - I do miss the optical SLR viewfinder with focusing screens
      • Olympus needs to fix the manual focus BUG - setting focus manually to infinity at wide angle gives focus at 3m while distant objects out of focus!!!
      • AF does not work on backlit subjects or low contrast subjects such as faces, and the poor manual focus means focus is very difficult if not impossible.
      • poor AF for action photos - this has been partly addressed by the newer Olympus C7070
    • the lens seems to be a touch fragile as it rocks around - I tend to leave the CLA-8 adapter on to protect it - it would be nice if there was an adapter for this that just allowed mounting of a UV filter which would then help to keep the dust and moisture out of the lens itself as well as mechanically protecting the lens from bumps.
    • a night mode option like on Sony which moves the IR-blocking filter out of the way so that better IR photos could be taken instead of the 1-3sec exposures that are now required
    • better RAW development software that allows 16bit files - although Adobe Photoshop CS 8.0 with latest plug-in works well. 
    • software that allows a computer to be used as a LCD screen while taking photos
    • LCD screen swivel that works in portrait orientation and also in self-portraits - addressed by the C7070
    • less dark frame amp noise on long exposures - see Olympus C-8080 dark frame noise
    • less noise at 400ISO, and if possible ability to take photos to 1600ISO with minimal noise, but I'm guessing this will only happen if sensor size is increased as with the digital SLR's.
    • better white balance menu system - it is too confusing to try and set tungsten or daylight rapidly unless you remember what you have assigned to the 2 preset modes.
    • a 2x teleconverter to make it a 280mm f/3.5 lens rather than just 196mm f/3.5 lens with the 1.4x converter
    • a couple of extra millimeters space to allow use of a 58mm filter at full telephoto when using the 1.4x teleconverter, if you do use one, you have to be careful not to go to full telephoto zoom otherwise the filter will hit the teleconverter and the camera will turn off.
    • 12-14bit RAW instead of 10bit, to improve dynamic range even further
    • have to set self-timer mode before each photo, can't this just be set for every photo?
    • 2 second self timer as well as 10 second.
    • bracketed exposures require finger pressed on shutter release button for DURATION of photos, thus cannot do with self-timer or IR remote, surely this could be fixed.

The following is some information I have gathered together to help users of the Olympus C8080 digital camera. I have tried to ensure it is accurate but take no responsibility for any problems that may arise from your use of this data.

Some technical aspects:

  • sensor: 
    • Sony 2/3“ 8 megapixel 8.8×6.6mm, 3264x2448pixels at ?7 micron size, 4:3 aspect ratio (same as Sony DSC-828, Nikon 8700, Dimage A2)
    • requires 30.8x magnification to make a 8”x10“ print ⇒ circle of confusion for 250micron dot size on print = 8.1 microns (cw 18micron on EOS10D, and 29.5microns on 35mm film), however, the diffraction limited spot size is 6 microns at f4.5, 8.45 microns at f6.3 and 10.7 microns at f/8
    • relative size to 35mm film = 0.254 (ie. focal length multiplier is reciprocal of this =  3.93x)
      • thus focal length of 14mm equates to 55mm lens on 35mm camera
      • COC / focal length2 = 8.1/(142) = 0.041, thus the relative depth of field to a 35mm camera with 55mm lens is 3.4x (at apertures wider than f/6.3 otherwise need to adjust for diffraction limitations)
  • lens:
    •  f2.4-3.5 7.1-35.6mm = 28-140mm (35mm equiv) with 58mm filter thread (hence WZ = Wide Zoom)
    • NB. When a lens is focused at the hyperfocal distance everything from infinity to 1/2 the hyperfocal distance will lie within the depth of field (i.e. will be “acceptably” sharp”)
    • depth of field tables (these are what I have calculated, I need to validate their accuracy still):
focal length 35mm equiv. f-ratio focus distance (m) hyperfocal distance near point of DOF far point of DOF total DOF Rel.DOF to 35mm equiv
7.1 28 f/2.4 0.8m 2.55 0.61m 1.16m 0.55m 5
7.1 28 f/8   0.8m 0.56m 0.33m infinity
14 55 f/2.8 0.8m 8.8m 0.73 0.88m 0.14m 3.5
14 55 f/8 0.8m 2.23m 0.59m 1.23m 0.64m 5.6
25 90 f/2.8 2m 28m 1.87m 2.15m 0.28m 3.5
35.6 140 f/3.5 0.8m 46m 0.79m 0.81m 0.026m 4.6
35.6 140 f/8 0.8m 14.73m 0.76m 0.84m 0.08m 6.2
  • functions:
    • the available functions are numerous and usually much more than the digital SLRs
    • less obvious functions:
      • set manual focus position using auto-focus:
        • press AF/MF button while half-pressing shutter button and focus is obtained
        • can then use up/down arrows to manually adjust focus but don't rely on distance scale for accuracy and don't move zoom position
      • change position of the spot AF mark:
        • in AF mode, hold down AF/MF button and move the AF marker using the arrow buttons, press OK button to return it to centre
      • display what camera is focused on within the magnified screen:
        • If you press |[ ]| button while pressing the shutter button halfway, the area you are focusing on is enlarged. Pressing  |[ ]|  once more returns the size to normal.
    • some functions though are mutually exclusive - ie. you can only use one at a time, for example:
      • the “frame assist” and “histogram” - even if the histogram is only set to activate with the exposure modify button.
      • frame assist not available in panorama or guideline shooting.
      • many functions not available with digital zoom=on such as the “moving stop exposure target” f or moving the AF marker function
      • sequential or bracket shooting not available if TIFF or noise reduction = on, and in these modes, built-in flash does not work (ext. flash will not fire in bracket mode).
      • movie mode - cannot change optical zoom, or focus or use flash during movie
      • panorama mode is only with Olympus xD cards and only in jpeg mode & requires Camedia Master software to stitch.
      • White balance, white balance compensation, hue and saturation cannot be used in black & white or sepia shooting.

Lens converters:

  • ideally need at least 360lines/mm resolution to match the Olympus C8080 8mpixel sensor.
  • Olympus TCON-14D 1.4x ~$A600 with adapter
    • bayonet mount & needs Olympus CLA-8 conversion lens adapter $US40 
    • compatible only with the C8080, giving it a max. telephoto of 200mm; 430g;
    • no filter thread
  • Olympus WCON-08D 0.8x
    • bayonet mount & needs Olympus CLA-8 conversion lens adapter $US40 
    • compatible only with the C8080, giving it a wide angle of 22mm; 410g.
    • no filter thread
  • 3rd party via Soligor adapter (38euro) which has a 62mm thread for lenses, examples are:
    • Soligor's 1.5x (which has a 86mm filter thread) & 0.75x converters (105mm filter) at ~215euro each.
    • Phoenix 2x, 0.65x & super wide fish-eye but quality is a big problem
  • Raynox lenses to attach to the C8080 via their RT5267CT lens holder or their RT6267CW for fish eye - both of which have 67mm threads at the distal ends:
    • DCR 2020PRO 2.2x:
    • DCR 1540PRO 1.54x
      • 340line/mm at center; 67mm front filter; 240g; mild vignetting
    • DCR 1850PRO 1.85x:
      • 200line/mm at centre; 265g; mild vignetting;
    • DCR FE180PRO fisheye
      • 480lines/mm at centre;
    • DCR 150 macro 1.2x
    • DCR 250 super macro 1.5x
    • MSN 200 super macro 4.5x

Flash photography using the in-built flash unit:

  • the in-built flash unit has a modest output with GN of approx. 9m at 100 ISO
  • flash sync is at shutter speeds up to 1/300th sec - it still works at faster shutter speeds but the flash intensity will be less.
  • whichever exposure mode you are in, you can modify the intensity of the flash +/- 2 f-stops by holding down the flash & +/- buttons simultaneously while rotating the control dial  
  • the in-built flash does not fire in movie mode or in sequential shooting modes or in bracket mode, but an external flash unit may fire in sequential shooting modes if it has sufficient recycle time.
  • flash flipped up in exposure modes of either: P, night, action, landscape, portrait or A:
    • these modes will result in a fixed shutter speed of 1/30th sec if wide angle and 1/125th sec if telephoto (unless Slow Sync in which case a slower shutter speed will be used if low light).
      • WARNING: these slow default shutter speeds may result in blurred photos if available light is bright enough to register and subject is moving or camera is not held still, consider using tripod or S or M exposure mode at faster shutter speed of 1/250th sec. This is a major pitfall with new users!
    • quoted working range of 0.8-5.8m at wide angle and 0.2-4.0m at telephoto when in Programmed exposure mode
    • flash modes:
      • Auto: flash fires automatically in low light or backlight conditions
      • Red Eye Reduction: fires a pre-flashes to make pupil smaller followed by main flash 1 sec later - so keep camera still
      • Fill-in: flash fires regardless of available light
      • Slow sync: allows for slower shutter speeds up to 4 sec (15sec in Aperture mode) with flash firing either at start of exposure (Slow Sync 1) or at end of exposure (Slow Sync 2) tip: use a tripod!!!
      • Red Eye Reduction Slow sync: combines Red Eye Reduction with Slow Sync 1
  • flash flipped up in Manual exposure mode:
    • cannot use the following in-built flash modes: Auto, Red Eye reduction, Fill-in, Red Eye Reduction Slow Sync
    • Slow Sync can be used with shutter speeds up to 15sec
    • if use the Slave mode, can adjust the intensity of the flash from 1 to 10 as below and use trial and error or the GN's as given below as a guide to the exposure setting.

Flash photography using external slave units:

  • basic set up:
    • external flash unit must have or be attached to a slave trigger device that detects the camera flash
      • this also means you don't have to worry about the flash unit's trigger voltage being too high as it is not directly connected to the camera.
    • set exposure mode to manual
    • pop-up internal flash
    • set camera flash to SLAVE then set output to desired amount from 1 to 9 according to amount of fill-in light you need
      • set it to 1 if you only want it to fire the slave unit and not contribute much light to the subject or background
      • exposure according to my flash meter :
        • Camera slave setting (est. GN at 100 ISO) Exposure reading at 2m,  ISO 50 Exposure reading at 1m,  ISO 400 1 (4.2)   f/8 + 1/3rd stop 2 (4.6)   f/8 + 1/3rd stop 3 (4.8)   f/8 + 1/3rd stop 4 (5.2)   f/8 + 2/3rd stop 5 (5.6)   f/11 (at 2m = f/5.6 + 1/3rd) 6 (7.2)   f/11 + 2/3rds  (at 2m = f/5.6 + 2/3rd) 7 (8) f/2.8 f/16 (at 2m = f/8) 8 (8.3) f/2.8 at 2m = f/8 + 1/3rd 9 (8.7) f/2.8 +1/3rds stop at 2m = f/8 + 1/3rd 10 (9) f/2.8 +2/3rds stop at 2m = f/8 + 2/3rd
    • set shutter speed up to 1/300th sec
    • set ISO & aperture according to external flash exposure readings
    • consider setting remote control on and use remote to fire the camera
    • consider using manual focus
  • getting a black background while still firing the in-built flash to trigger a slave flash:
    • with camera 2m from black mesh background, the background appears black with ISO 50, lens at f/5.6-8 and camera flash set on power=1 as long as no reflective highlights
  • how dark can one get the background blue sky when using fill-in flash as the main light source on the subject?
    • camera needs to be set to 50ISO, f/8, 1/300th sec on manual mode
    • this equates in flash exposure to f/11 at 100ISO, so for inbuilt flash to fully exposure subject, subject must be at 1m when set to power = 10.
    • sky will appear royal blue ie. a mid-tone
    • sky can be made darker still by either:
      • shorten shutter speed but then rapidly lose flash output, so need very powerful external flash or close subject distance, or both.
      • using a filter, but don't forget to factor this in when calculating fill-in flash exposure if using manual flash
        • polarising filter as long as background sky is 90deg to the sun
        • neutral density filter
        • using B&W and a red filter (or post-processing with only the red channel)
        • using an infrared filter.
    • blue sky can be made white by increasing this exposure setting by 3 or more f-stops, then recalculating fill-in flash
      • quick and easy way would be in auto mode with built-in flash up & set to fill-in, camera will automatically determine correct exposure and set shutter speed to 1/30th sec if wide angle or 1/125th sec if telephoto.
  • using a Metz flash systems 45CL-4 flash as an external slave main flash:
    • connect a slave trigger device to the Metz PC-cord and ensure it faces the camera's flash
    • set the Metz to either auto or manual settings
    • use a flash meter, calculator or trial & error to determine correct exposure to set in the camera
    • optionally set up reflector sheets to bounce the flash light to opposite side of subject
    • optionally connect other slave flash units
    • Metz 45CL-4 guide numbers with diffuser on:
      • M/4 = 22m at 100 ISO
      • M/2 = ~29m
      • M = ~36m (45m without diffuser)
    • when the Metz fill in flash is used as well, 85% of output is via main flash & 15% via fill-in flash (also the light reducing filter reduces its output by 60%)
      • when bouncing main flash off a white board with minimal increase in total distance to subject compared with the fill-in, the fill-in will be ~ 2stops less than the main light.

Resolution:

Focusing:

  • auto-focus issues:
    • auto-focus depends on vertical lines and contrast in the subject, absence of these or a very bright area in the centre or fast moving subjects will make focus difficult - it may select a different focus or default to ~3m if AF fails.
    • camera tends to choose the closest object in the centre region to focus on, so consider locking focus on subject (eg. a person's eyebrows oriented vertically in the central AF markers) by keeping shutter half-pressed and recomposing.
    • I have found the BEST way to reliably get accurate focus in studio headshots (ie. at 100mm focal length or more) in low light such as the modeling light of a softbox, is to set the camera to MF and manually focus on the bright catchlight in an eye until they are as sharp as possible. All other methods of AF in this situation are unreliable, more often than not you will get a blurred image!
    • CCD sensor contrast detection - this is always in use
    • P-AF: phase detection via AF sensor:
      • this is additionally used unless either:
        • focus < 80cm
        • spot mode or movie mode is selected
        • P-AF is turned off in the menu system
      • this may not work well if teleconverter adapter is in place, thus consider turning it off
    • iESP mode: camera chooses the subject on which to focus - the focus marks move to indicate what has been chosen
    • spot mode: 
      • camera attempts to focus on whatever is between the centrally placed focus marks & P-AF is turned off
      • spot focus region can be moved by holding down the focus button while moving the arrow buttons (but not possible in digital zoom mode)
      • turning camera off or changing shooting mode returns the focus region to the centre
    • fulltime AF: you do not have to half-press shutter to focus, but drains battery quicker.
    • cannot use auto-focus with AF illuminator when either:
      • teleconverter adapter is attached ⇒ turn off P-AF to avoid incorrect focusing
      • focus < 80cm
      • AF illuminator is set to off - NB. this setting is not on the normal menu - you must set the camera mode to “Settings”
    • normal auto-focus: min. focus 20cm at wide angle
    • macro focus: speeds up focusing for distances of 20-80cm
    • super macro focus: focus at 5cm allows horizontal image of ~43mm; cannot use zoom or in-built flash
  • manual focus issues:
    • accurate manual focus is difficult if using the LCD or viewfinder to focus and watch the magnified image as you move the focus in or out by pressing on the up/down buttons adjacent to the LCD screen
      • if using this method, look at the moire pattern and get it as sharp as possible
      • to view the magnified image, half press shutter and press monitor button, magnified view remains while shutter half pressed.
    • zooming in on the subject, focusing then zooming out does not work with this lens. Manual focus must be set for the zoom setting and reset if the zoom is changed.
    • a good tip is to use auto-focus to focus then press manual focus button to set the focus at that point - as long as your camera-subject distance or zoom does not change this can then be left for subsequent photos, particularly good in studio, action or low light photography.
    • there is a BUG with the 8080 in that when the manual focus is set to infinity at wide - medium focal lengths, distance objects are not in focus but need a -0.25 diopter lens attachment to make them in focus. Maximum focus seems to be at 3m. This is not a problem at telephoto. - this is perhaps a firmware issue that needs to be resolved.
      • a work-around for this bug discovered by g.paviglianiti:
        • let the camera go to sleep mode, then, when you restore by pressing a button, the manual focus is working better, and you may be able to focus on infinity at wide angle by moving the manual focus marker to infinity.
        • ie. MODE-DIAL=SETUP > SETUP > BATTERY SAVE=ON
          or MODE-DIAL=SETUP > SETUP > SLEEP = 30 secs.
        • Turn off the camera and turn on again, zoom to wide angle, set MF on, let go to sleep
        • in addition, the manual distance scale more accurately reflects true focused distance!
    • super macro focus: focus at 5cm allows horizontal image of ~43mm; cannot use zoom or in-built flash

Exposure:

  • one of the most powerful features of the 8080 is its live histogram display
  • for most situations, set histogram to +/- ON:
    • in general use, the LCD displays an optimised view for viewing (not how it will look) and number of f-stops under/over exposed according to the selected settings
    • esp. when in manual mode, press the +/- button to see how the image will actually be as well as to see a live histogram
      • you can move the histogram target with the arrow buttons - the area inside this target will display as green in the histogram. Press OK to return it to the centre.
      • NB. with the histogram turned on in manual exposure mode, the viewfinder may appear black if you have set exposure to be very under-exposed for the ambient light - as you may well do when using flash, this will make it impossible to compose, so just turn the histogram setting off.
  • alternatively, set histogram to DIRECT and this will display image how it will actually be plus show which blocks of the image will lose detail due to either under-exposure (marked as blue) or over-exposure (marked as red).
  • don't forget, in auto modes, you can set the exposure on a given target by pressing the AEL button on the front, pressing it again will cancel it.
  • some links on how to use the histogram:

Default image processing settings:

  • as I shoot mainly in RAW mode if time allows, the in-camera image processing is not an issue, however, when shooting in non-RAW modes, adjusting these settings may improve your images.
  • the usual setting for the Olympus C5050 that seems to give the best results according to Alfred Molon are:
    • Sharpness: -3 (because default sharpness is high, resulting in noise)
    • Contrast: -2
    • Saturation: +2 (the 5050 tends to under-saturate a bit)
  • I am still not sure what the best settings for the O8080 are.

RAW image software:

  • RAW image files (.ORF for Olympus) must be “developed” in software before they can be viewed as images
  • various software have various capabilities in this development mode such as ability to alter white balance, exposure, sharpness, etc all of which are better done on RAW files than on a jpeg file where you have already lost some of the dynamic range of the raw data.

Battery:

  • the 8080 uses a long lasting battery (~500 shots), but the charger takes 5hrs to recharge it
  • always turn camera off before changing battery
  • have a 2nd battery so that you can allow each battery to go flat prior to charging as this will give you the most usage from the batteries as each battery lasts about 500 recharge cycles irrespective of how flat the battery is prior to recharging.
  • uses the SAME BATTERY as most of the E-series dSLRs except the compact E400/E410.
  • to minimise battery usage:
    • turn full time AF off
    • avoid repeated zooming in & out
    • avoid pressing shutter half-down to focus
    • turn LCD off or at least lower its brightness
    • disconnect camera from PC or printer
    • avoid using microdrive CF cards
    • turn powersave mode on, this:
      • does not allow LCD to go on
      • sets sleep mode on & viewfinder turns off after 10secs of non-use
      • fastest shutter speed is 1/2000thsec
    • turn off the AF illuminator

Memory cards:

  • when changing cards always make sure camera is turned off, the viewfinder is off & the lens retracted.
  • xD - mainly used only for panoramic photo stitch mode
  • CF:
    • don't use PC to delete or move photos, always use the camera for best compatibility & use format regularly, esp. if you want to delete all photos as otherwise manually deleting the photos is time consuming.
    • Olympus C8080 is not compatible with 340Mb microdrive but should be compatible with other CF plus Type II microdrives, although I can't get my MagicStore Plus 2.2Gb card to work with it.
    • if get Card Error, try using Scandisk on the PC
    • general CF microdrive issues:
      • uses more power
      • may not function if battery low, esp. if xD card is there as well (consider removing it)
      • subject to vibration-induced damage thus avoid on knocking camera, bumpy roads, construction sites, etc
      • avoid areas of strong magnetism
      • be gentle with the card
    • seems CF cards sometimes get trashed, consider buying Sandisk who give a 5yr warranty!

Image aspect ratio:

  • the default ratio on the 8080 is 4:3 ie. 3264×2448 pixels (ratio 1.33)
  • it can be changed to 3:2 (ie. 3264×2176) to assist with some photo lab printing (ratio 1.5)
  • but to print an 8“x10” print you need either cropped to ratio of 1.25 or use variable width white borders
  • 5“x7” is ratio 1.4
  • A4 borderless paper print (eg. Canon printers) is 297x210mm = ratio of 1.41
  • a computer monitor screen resolution is usual 4:3 such as 1024×768 or 800×600 has ratio of 1.33
photo/olympusc8080.txt · Last modified: 2012/03/09 11:50 by gary1