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Olympus CAMEDIA C-2500L - digital camera review:

Olympus CAMEDIA C-2500L - digital camera

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The Good Lots of manual controls; no wait between shots.

The Bad Pricey; slow serial connection.

The Bottom Line Experienced photographers should check out this old favorite, now available at increasingly low prices.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.3 Overall

There are plenty of mediocre, midrange digital cameras targeted at folks who just want to email pictures or to post photos on Web sites. Olympus's high-end, professional-level C-2500L digital camera goes well beyond that, both in price and features. This camera offers versatility for the experienced photographer who needs superb digital photos and manual control but doesn't mind buying several generations back in order to save money. There are plenty of mediocre, midrange digital cameras targeted at folks who just want to email pictures or to post photos on Web sites. Olympus's high-end, professional-level C-2500L digital camera goes well beyond that, both in price and features. This camera offers versatility for the experienced photographer who needs superb digital photos and manual control but doesn't mind buying several generations back in order to save money.

Features galore
There's a lot going on inside the C-2500L. We appreciated the built-in 16MB buffer and dual processor, which cut down the delay between shots to 1 second. If that's not fast enough for you, there's always burst mode, which snaps five shots in 3 seconds. And don't forget the pro features: the lens is a 3X optical zoom (equivalent to 36 mm to 110 mm with a 35-mm film camera), and unlike most other cameras, the C-2500L handles additional digital lenses.

There are manual adjustments galore: shutter speed, exposure, white balance, and even focus. Because these controls are located in very comprehensive menus, adjusting them can be time-consuming. But experienced photographers will really appreciate the configurability.

Slow transport
One loud complaint: Olympus offers only a serial port connection for downloading shots from the camera to the PC, which makes the process very, very slow. We recommend buying the $99 FlashPath Floppy Disk adapter to get around this speed bump, although considering the Olympus's $1,499 price tag, the adapter really should have been included in the package. The software is a light bundle, with Olympus's Camedia and Enroute QuickStitch panorama-stitching software. The rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride batteries shot 485 pics before dying, which is pretty decent, though other cameras can take 1,000 pictures before fading out.

Stunning images
The C-2500L's image quality is impeccable, in the same top tier as the Kodak DC280's, according to CNET Labs' jury tests. Colors in the photos from the Olympus possess the warmth and realism normally associated with snapshots from traditional film cameras. Contrast and gradation are also excellent, both indoors and outside. With an impressive 2.5-million-pixel CCD (the optical hardware that actually captures the images), the C-2500L manages 1,712 by 1,368 resolution in high-quality mode, down to 640 by 512 in the lower-quality modes. In addition, you can choose between five compression ratios, from zero-compression files that won't lose a single pixel of detail to tiny, email-friendly graphics. The camera's 32MB SmartMedia card stores up to 332 compressed images, and there's a second slot for an additional CompactFlash card.

The Olympus C-2500L offers the most manual controls of any digital camera we've seen. For overall image quality, our jury ranked it with the Kodak models.

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