Most people are critical of digital cameras’ ability to reproduce colors accurately. It is always unfortunate when someone uses a cheap digital camera for a cousin’s wedding and gets nothing but horribly discolored photographs as a result. Discoloration can be attributed to improper white balance or an imperfect imaging processor. Of course, the same problem arises with different brands of film, but the problem seems more pronounced in digital cameras.
To test how accurately the Olympus C-5500 reproduces colors, we recorded several exposures of the GretagMacbeth industry standard color chart, with careful consideration for proper color calibration. We uploaded the images into Imatest Imaging Software and analyzed the camera’s results against the original chart. The chart below is modified to show the contrast between the two; the camera’s reproduced colors are on the outer square, compared with the ideal color, represented in the inner vertical rectangle. The middle square is the color corrected version, replicating alterations from an external computer application.The graph below shows the same information in a more concrete manner. The circles represent the camera’s produced color; the squares represent the ideal colors. The shapes that are right on top of each other are best; the farther apart the shapes are, the less accurate the reproduction of that particular color. The Olympus C-5500 received an overall color score of 9.2, which is quite good. Most colors were slightly off of the ideal, but did not stray very far. The only tones that are considerably off are the warm, reddish hues (#15, #9, #17). So perhaps this might not be the ideal camera to capture gorgeous sunset landscapes in the Grand Canyon, but it does quite well otherwise. The over-saturation of warm tones will translate favorably when shooting portraits, embellishing skin tones and minimizing minor blemishes and imperfections. The mean saturation score for the C-5500 is about 105 percent, which is average for digital cameras. **Still Life Scene** Below is an image of our overly stimulating still life scene recorded with the Olympus Camedia C-5500. [
Click on the above image to view a full resolution version (CAUTION: The linked image is very large!)](../viewer.php?picture=OlympusC-5500-StillLifeLG.jpg)
Resolution / Sharpness ***(3.16)*
**The Olympus C-5500 advertises 5.3 total and 5.1 effective megapixels on its 1/1.8-inch CCD, coupled with a TruePic Turbo Image Processor. To test a camera’s resolution, we take several images of an industry standard resolution chart and analyze them in Imatest Imaging Software. Most digital cameras don’t reach their advertised megapixel counts. In fact, when a camera comes within 70 percent, it is considered "good." When it comes within 80 percent, it is designated as "very good." Above 90 percent is "excellent." Unfortunately, the Olympus C-5500 recorded only 3.16 of the advertised 5.1 effective megapixels, giving it a below-average percentage of 63 percent. While this will not have a dramatic effect on small 4 x 6 prints, even casual consumers will notice the difference when images are cropped and enlarged.
Click on chart to view full res image](../viewer.php?picture=OlympusC-5500-ResCH-LG.jpg)
Noise Auto ISO ***(3.83)***
The Olympus Camedia C-5500 performed respectably in our noise testing. When the camera was set to the automatic ISO option, the C-5500 received a noise score of 3.83. This is decent for the automatic function, as most point-and-shoot cameras function within a restricted ISO range when using the automatic setting, which produces substantial noise in most settings other then direct sunlight.
**Noise Manual ISO ***(5.65)*
We test noise levels at each ISO rating, and then insert the results into a regression analysis to determine an overall score to compare with other digital cameras. The graph below shows the amount of noise apparent at each ISO setting. The C-5500’s manual ISO ratings of 80, 100, 200, and 400 are places on the horizontal axis, while the resulting noise on the vertical axis.
The Olympus C-5500 received an overall manual noise score of 5.65, which is actually strong for a sub-$400 compact digital camera.
We test each imager at decreasing light values to determine how the camera will perform in minimal illumination without the assistance of a flash or additional accessory light source. We record four exposures of our GretagMacbeth color chart at 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. These levels attempt to replicate typical low light situations; 60 Lux appears as a soft bedroom would with two bedside lamps; 30 Lux is about a single 40 watt bulb; 15 and 5 Lux test the imager’s sensitivity to light as the scene approaches darkness.
The Olympus C-5500 performed effectively in darkness. The camera was capable of recording images in 5 Lux and even more impressively, the camera did not struggle to achieve proper focus in minimal light levels (as many imagers seem to). The camera’s performance at 60 and 30 Lux was nearly parallel. When the available light dropped down to 15 Lux, there was significant discoloration that was not visible before, as well as a steep jump in noise. Decreasing from 15 Lux to 5, there is again a drop in color accuracy and an increase in noise, though the camera still captured recognizable images with accurate, near perfect focusing. Impressive!
**Speed / Timing
***Startup to First Shot (7.85)*
The Olympus C-5500 takes a relatively quick 2.15 seconds to start up and take its first shot. Most compact digital cameras take about 3 seconds, so this model will fare well for unprepared users.
Shot to Shot (9.24)
Olympus advertises a 2.7-frame-per-second burst rate; however, our tests couldn’t replicate this. For our testing, we used the LCD screen to frame the shot and set the camera to the Continuous shooting mode. The C-5500 took a picture every 0.76 seconds at best. The camera took four frames in 3.24 seconds, then rested for about 5 seconds before shooting again.
Shutter to Shot (8.28)
This Camedia takes about 0.36 seconds to take a picture from the time the shutter release button is pressed. Much of this time is attributed to the slow focus which seems to focus in and out before deciding on its target.
The front of the Olympus C-5500 has a two-tone brushed silver casing. The right hand grip is dark silver with a dark gray vertical strip of rubber on it that acts as a finger grip. On the right side of the camera is the attractive lens, composed of polished silver lines. It protrudes slightly when turned off, but when powered on, two more segments extend out of the camera. Around the circular lens are the words, "Olympus Zoom Lens AF Zoom 7.9-39.5mm 1:2.8-4.8." The lens has a cover that snaps shut electronically when the camera is turned off. Above the lens to the right is the built-in microphone, which is a triangular series of 10 holes. Above the microphone is the brand name: "Olympus." Above the lens and a bit to the left is a flash and self-timer indicator LED light. To the right of the hand grip and the left of the indicator light is the small, square optical viewfinder. Below the viewfinder are the words, "Camedia Digital Camera C-5500 Zoom." Below those words, all the way at the bottom, it says "5.1 Megapixels." When the flash is manually opened, it protrudes from the top right of the camera, above the microphone and lens.
The Olympus C-5500's back control panel has a pleasing look, which is difficult to achieve with so many control buttons. On the left is the 2-inch LCD screen with the word "Olympus" at the bottom. To the right of the LCD are four rectangular buttons, laid out vertically. At the top is the self-labeled Quick View button. The second button is labeled "AEL." The third button down has the common Flash symbol on it to select flash modes. The bottom button has a picture of a flower on it, the common symbol for Macro mode. This button also doubles as a Delete button in Playback, indicated by the trashcan icon beside it. To the right of these buttons is the four-way navigational dial with an OK / Menu button in the center. Unlike most dials, this one has four separate buttons, one for each direction. This is a nice feature; sometimes the dials get the directions confused if the user’s finger accidentally hits middle ground. With these buttons, there shouldn't be much confusion.
At the far right is a tab to open the battery door. Above the LCD on the top left of the camera is the Flash button; this Flash button manually opens and engages the flash on top of the camera. To the right of the Flash button is the optical viewfinder with two LED indicator lights, vertically oriented. All the way to the right on the back is the Mode Dial, which has the following options: Auto, Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, Manual, Scene, Movie, Playback and a "My" Mode customized option.
**Left Side ***(7.5)*
There is a speaker on the left side of the Olympus C-5500. Below the speaker is a rubber port door that houses USB and A/V out jacks. At the bottom left is another rubber port cover with a DC in jack below. There are tabs on the rubber doors, so users won't have to pry them open with sharpened fingernails.
**Right Side ***(7.5)*
There is a plastic door on this side with a hinge on the right. Within the hinge, there is an exposed skinny bar for stringing the wrist strap (stringing this is like threading a needle--tedious). Inside the door is a slot for an xD-Picture Card.
On the top of the right-hand grip is the shutter release button with surrounding zoom toggle controls. The power button is located in the center of the top of the C-5500; it is clearly labeled "Power," but recessed slightly. To the left of this button are the words, "5x Optical Zoom." All the way to the left of the top is the pop-up flash, which can only be opened manually.
There is a real image optical viewfinder on the Olympus C-5500. It is incredibly small and somewhat inaccurate; it is above and to the side of the lens, and doesn't see the same picture. The LCD is the better viewfinder on this camera for sure, but it's nice to have the option when the battery is running low.
LCD Screen ***(6.0)*
The 2-inch TFT LCD screen contains about 110,000 pixels. The LCD screen takes up a large portion of the back of the camera and seems to be adequately sized, though the displayed image is sub-par and will take a bit to adapt to.
**Flash ***(6.5)***** The built-in flash must be manually opened. It is easy to open, but tricky to close. The joints seem a bit rickety; it feels fragile. The flash can reach from 7.2 to 12.5 feet. The C-5500 has only three flash settings available on the designated Flash Mode button: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, and Fill-in. Within the camera’s recording menu, users can also turn a slow sync option on and off. It is unclear why these options are grouped separately. Overall, the flash on this camera is sufficient. But if it breaks, it's no good to anyone, so be careful. Also of note: this flash does not work in macro mode, which is common for digital cameras. **Zoom Lens ***(7.0)***** The Olympus 5x optical zoom lens measures 7.9-39.5mm, which is equivalent to 38-190mm in 35mm photography. The lens protrudes slightly from the camera, but sticks out even more when turned on. Two more segments extend from the camera body. The lens has apertures from f/2.8-f/4.8. It also has 4x digital zoom; however, the 5x optical zoom should be sufficient for most users. The digital zoom can be turned on and off in the camera’s recording menu, and it’s available as a shaky version in the movie mode. **Model Design / Appearance***(7.5)* The body of the Olympus C-5500 is a brushed silver color with polished silver highlights around the lens and the buttons on the top. The right-hand grip is a darker silver tone with a dark gray rubber grip for the fingers. The rubber is a great functional design feature. The C-5500 is an attractive digital camera with a logical and ergonomic design. The lens looks especially sexy with its polished highlights and clean edges. **Size / Portability***(6.0)* The C-5500 is not a slim card-sized camera, but it is still compact. It is too bulky for a pocket, but could easily be transported without a camera bag. The C-5500 measures 4.9 x 3.3 x 3.9 inches. The camera weighs 8.6 ounces without the battery and memory card. The lens protrudes from the camera when turned on, adding more bulk. The weight seems evenly distributed though, so it doesn't tip forward or backward much. **Handling Ability***(8.0)* The camera is easy to navigate and comfortable to hold and control. The right-hand grip makes handling feel natural; the slope of the grip nicely fit my fingers and didn’t make them feel cramped at all. The rubber on the right-hand grip provides a nice padded feel and good gripping texture for the fingers. The buttons on the back of the C-5500 are clearly laid out, enabling quick adjustments to shooting settings without straining the fingers. **Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size ***(7.5)***** As with most digital cameras, the Olympus C-5500's control buttons are located on the back of the camera. They are adequate in size and placement on the pleasing and logical layout. All of the buttons are clearly labeled with either words or commonly known icons like the Flash symbol. The Mode Dial is located on a slope between the back and the top of the camera where the thumb rests, so quick mode changes can be made without seriously impairing shooting. **Menu ***(7.0)* The menus have not changed much from previous Olympus models. When the Menu button is pressed, the matrix-type menu system pops up with four options. The options vary from mode to mode. In the Auto mode, these options are available: Image Size/Quality, Self Timer, Monitor, and Setup. The self-timer and image quality are represented by icons throughout the menus. The other two options are text. In the more manual modes, the setup menu option is replaced by a more general Mode Menu selection. Navigating through the matrix-style menus is simple with the four-way navigational dial to the right of the LCD screen. Each menu option displays an arrow pointing the direction the users should press to make the selection. Unfortunately, some options are more buried than they should be, which impedes this model’s user-friendliness. The Setup menu includes the following options: Format, All Reset, Language (person icon with talk bubble coming out of the mouth), LCD Brightness (LCD icon), Clock Set (clock icon), and Video Out. As indicated, some of these options are represented by icons, which can be vague for a first-time user. English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are the only languages available on the Olympus C-5500. This setup menu is included within the Mode Menu that appears in other modes. When the Mode Menu is selected from the four-option matrix, four filing folder-type menus appear with tabs on the left side. Users must scroll vertically to get to the correct folder, which includes Camera, Picture, Card, and Set (from top to bottom). The Camera menu houses most of the manual options, including the following: AE/AF, Drive, ISO, Self Timer (icon), Flash Exposure Compensation (icon), Flash Mode, Noise Reduction, Digital Zoom, Full-time AF, Panorama, Function, Info, Histogram (represented by a very vague icon), Microphone (icon), Frame Assist, and Time Lapse. Within the Picture tab, the following options are available: White Balance, White Balance Adjustment (icon), Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation. The Card menu only offers a Format option. The Set option offers the same setup options as in the auto mode, and adds the following: PW on Setup, PW Off Setup, Recording View, Volume (speaker icon), Beep, Shutter Sound, My Mode Setup, File Name, Pixel Mapping, M/FT, AF Illuminator, and Short Cut. Some of these options are represented by icons; the only one that bothered me was the histogram option. Most of the options are in text and easy. The Short Cut feature does allow users to slightly enhance the user-friendliness. Users can choose from the following to replace one of the four options on the initial menu matrix: AE/AF, Drive, ISO, Self Timer (icon), Flash Exposure Compensation (icon), Flash Mode, Noise Reduction, Digital Zoom, Full-time AF, Panorama, Function, Info, Histogram (vague icon), Microphone (icon), Frame Assist, Time Lapse, White Balance, White Balance Adjustment, Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation. The Playback menu has a Slide Show option on the top of the matrix, represented by a burst mode-type icon with a playback symbol. On the right side is the Mode Menu; to the left is the Info option; the strangely depicted Histogram icon is on the bottom. Within the mode menu, there are four playback options that are set up in the same file folder style. Play, Edit, Card, and Set each have limited options. Play offers a microphone and print options, both represented by icons. The Edit menu includes Resize (icon), Crop (icon), and Red-Eye Fix. The Card menu includes All Erase and Format options. In the scene modes, there is a Scene Selection option at the top of the matrix. Perhaps the coolest function in this entire menu system is the scene selection menu. When users scroll through the different scenes, they can see the text title and a sample photo on the LCD screen. The Movie mode menu includes the following options in its matrix: Anti-Shake (hand icon at top), Mode Menu at right, Monitor Off on bottom, and Image Size at right. In My Mode, users can custom-design their own modes using the following options: Aperture, Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation, Monitor on or off, Zoom, Flash Mode, Self Timer, AE/AF, Macro, Drive, ISO, Flash Compensation, Noise Reduction, Digital Zoom, Full-time AF, Panorama, Function, Info, Histogram, Microphone, Frame Assist, Image Size, White Balance, White Balance Adjust, Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation. I wish the options were spread more evenly throughout the menus. It seems like 95 percent of the manual options are buried within the Mode Menu, while the other three options on the "matrix" offer only one setting (which isn’t always the most useful either). **Ease of Use ***(7.0)***** The Olympus C-5500 is comfortable to hold and easy to operate. The buttons are logically placed and properly sized for easy access. The casing is ergonomically designed with recessed areas and protruding buttons to enhance comfort while shooting for long periods of time. This camera is still considered a point-and-shoot, but has far more options than most digital cameras in this price range. There are, however, a few drawbacks affecting the C-5500’s ease of use. These include vague icons in a menu that buries its options. Olympus alleviates this problem a little by offering a Short Cut feature that replaces one of the matrix menu options with something more useful to the shooter. **Auto Mode ***(7.5)* The Auto mode is clearly labeled and easily accessible on the main mode dial, which is located on the back of the C-5500. In the full automatic modes, the camera will meter, focus, and expose the image without any necessary user control. This is designed to accommodate true point-and-shooters and allow for instantaneous capture, rendering all necessary adjustments to shooting settings automatic. The only changes that can be made in Auto mode are Image Size, Self Timer, Monitor (you can turn it on or off), and Setup. The Macro mode is also available. The flash will not automatically open when needed; users must manually open the flash for it to operate. **Movie Mode***(7.0)* The Olympus C-5500 has a movie mode that has image stabilization, which is almost unheard of in this price range. It shoots at 320 x 240 resolution, which is not the greatest, but no digital still camera will parallel camcorder-quality movies. The clips can be recorded and will play back with or without sound. The microphone and speaker are not camcorder quality, but they work well nonetheless. Within the movie mode menu, users can turn the digital zoom on, switch ISO ratings, and access color modes. Optical zoom is not available, but the digital zoom does work — albeit not very well. When users digitally zoom in on a subject while in movie mode, not only does the image look grainy, but the actual zoom function shakes in a seizure-like burst. This is ironic because this camera features image stabilization technology. The Anti-Shake system works well when the digital zoom is turned off and users have normal hand shake patterns. However, whatever the digital zoom does that shakes the picture cannot be fixed with the image stabilization feature. Users must press the shutter release button once to begin recording, then again to stop. On the screen, users can see how much time is left available on the memory card. **Drive / Burst Mode ***(5.5)***** The C-5500 advertises a rapid burst mode that supposedly captures images at 2.7 frames per second. However, that proved too good to be true (see the Speed/ Timing section). After putting new batteries in the camera and setting the Drive mode to Continuous and *still *getting a shot every 0.76 seconds, I was quite disappointed. **** **Playback Mode ***(7.5)***** Images can be played back in single frames or thumbnails of 4, 9, or 16. Pictures can be recalled chronologically with the Calendar function, which can be accessed by pushing the zoom lever toward the "W" twice. Images can be enlarged up to 5x with the zoom also. Slide shows can be played with fades and other inserted transitions. Histograms and file information can be viewed and rotations made; what more could one want? Movie clips can be played back with audio at normal speed, fast-forwarded, or frame-by-frame. **** **Custom Image Presets ***(7.0)***** There are 11 scene settings, found in the "Scene" section of the C-5500’s main Mode Dial. Users must push the Menu button and scroll upwards to the Scene Selection portion of the matrix. The following scenes are available: Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Night Scene, Picture for Keepsake, Beach & Snow, Fireworks, Sunset, Candle, Available Light Portrait, and Landscape Portrait settings. When scrolling through presets, users can see a sample photo with each setting. **Manual Control Options **The C-5500 Zoom includes Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes as well as a full Manual mode on the camera’s main Mode Dial. This allows the user to set and control various aspects of the exposure, using aperture, shutter speed, and ISO ratings to create the desired image. The My Mode setting also lets users customize four combinations of manual functions from the following options: Aperture, Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation, Monitor on or off, Zoom, Flash Mode, Self Timer, AE/AF, Macro, Drive, ISO, Flash Compensation, Noise Reduction, Digital Zoom, Full-time AF, Panorama, Function, Info, Histogram, Microphone, Frame Assist, Image Size, White Balance, White Balance Adjust, Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation. My Mode creates another four manual modes, which the user can toy with and save for later selection. **Auto Focus ***(7.0)***** The auto focus uses a contrast detection system and can focus as close as 1.9 feet in normal shooting mode. In the Macro mode, the C-5500 can focus from 3 inches to 3.9 feet. In Super Macro mode, the camera can focus from .07 to 3 inches. This camera has an extremely impressive Macro mode; .07 inches is nearly unheard of in this price range. When shooting at normal distances with the C-5500, I noticed that the lens had trouble focusing in low light and was slow to focus even in adequate lighting. **** **Manual Focus ***(0.0)***** There is no manual focus available on the Olympus Camedia C-5500. **Metering ***(6.5)***** The Olympus C-5500 has both Digital ESP and Spot metering modes. The Digital ESP mode meters the center of the subject and surrounding area separately. Spot metering only meters within the targeted focus area. There is also a Multi-metering function that meters from eight different points in view and is recommended with high contrast subjects. Perhaps the metering modes save energy on this camera; most digital cameras’ multi-metering modes use many more points to measure from. For example, Nikons meter from 256 points. **Exposure ***(6.5)***** Like many digital cameras, the exposure compensation settings lay within the standard -2 to +2 range in 1/3 steps. To change the exposure compensation, users must press the right and left arrows of the navigational dial. But users must know this intuitively because the arrows are not labeled with that function at all. **White Balance***(8.0) *The Olympus C-5500 uses a through-the-lens multi-pattern system to determine its automatic white balance. If that is not sufficient, users can access the following preset modes: Daylight, Overcast, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, and a White Balance Compensation mode. When users scroll through the preset options, they can see live views of the lighting, so they can make educated choices about which white balance mode is best. The manual white balance is represented by a vague icon, but the actual function is very easy to use. A Set window lets users capture a picture of a white object, which "tells" the camera what is truly white beneath the lighting. Once captured, users enter the manual white balance mode to use their latest setting. **** **ISO***(7.0)* When scrolling through ISO options in the menu, users cannot see live views like they can in the white balance menu. The following options are available: Auto, 80, 100, 200, and 400. However, the auto setting cannot be selected in the Manual mode; users must make some judgment of the lighting and do it themselves! **** **Shutter Speed ***(7.0) *The C-5500 can shoot as fast as 1/1500th of a second and as slow as 15 seconds. This is a decent range for the versatile shooter and is manually accessible in Shutter Priority and Full Manual modes. To change shutter speeds, users do not need to enter any menus. The speed shows onscreen with arrows pointing up and down. When scrolling through the options, there are no live views. **Aperture***(4.0) *The Olympus zoom lens has an aperture range from f/2.8 to f/4.8 in 1/3 steps. While this appears to be a somewhat restricted range, users can control the diaphragm in both Manual and Aperture Priority modes. Aperture control is accessed through the on-screen display with arrows showing users to scroll left and right. Unfortunately, there are no live views of aperture settings, so effects will only be seen in finished products. **** **Picture Quality****/ Size Options ***(7.0)* There are plenty of resolution options to choose from: 2592 x 1944 (SHQ), 2592 x 1728 (SHQ 3:2), 2288 x 1712 (SQ1), 2048 x 1536 (SQ1), 1600 x 1200 (SQ1), 1280 x 960 (SQ2), 1024 x 768 (SQ2), and 640 x 480 (SQ2). Images can be taken at High or Normal compression and in JPEG or TIFF format. **Picture Effects Mode ***(6.0)* The sharpness, contrast, and color phase can all be adjusted in the camera before and after shooting. Images can also be tinted to either Black & White or Sepia tones when desired. Black & White and Sepia are available as color modes in the ambiguously labeled Function option in the camera’s recording menu. The bad news: the Sepia mode looks moldy and Black & White looks more like grayscale. The good news: there are live views in the menus. In the Picture menu tab, the following options are available for adjustment without live views: Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation. **** **Connectivity** *Software (6.0) *The C-5500 comes with Olympus Master Software version 1.1, which is compatible with Macintosh and most Windows interfaces (it does not work with Windows 98). The program took about eight minutes to load; it does require the serial number on the software packaging to load properly. The program opens with a simple non-flashy welcome window that includes the following options: Online Print, Print At Home, Create, Browse Images, Transfer Images, Backup Images, and Upgrade. All of the options are available from each choice; for example, you can still print in the Browse Images section. The software program has user-friendly features such as a Help menu, Find function, Online Lesson link, and direct access to online upgrades to software and cameras (if you have the Internet). The program has an Olympus Ofoto link for printing photos online. Sound a little strange? Well, once I entered the page, the banner said, "Olympus Introduces Digital Photo Services by Kodak EasyShare Gallery." So yeah, that’s strange. Anyway the software has simple editing functions such as Rotate, Crop, Instant Fix, Red-Eye Removal, Color Balance, Cutouts, and a very primitive Clone feature. Once your photos are gorgeous enough to share, the program has a built-in email system. *Jacks, ports, plugs (7.0)* There are several port doors that hide various jacks. Under one, the USB and A/V out jacks can be found. Under another is the DC in jack. A plastic door covers the slot to the xD-Picture Card. On the bottom of the camera is a separate plastic door for the 4 AA batteries. They all seem to be unusually scattered about, but when would all these doors and jacks be used at once anyway? Within the Setup menu, users can choose between NTSC and PAL formats for the A/V out cable. *Direct Print Options (4.0) *To print, users must connect their camera to the printer with the USB cable. Users must then enter the Playback menu and the Play tab. The second icon down represents the Print mode. Users can print one photo or all of them in the memory *Memory**(4.0)***** The Olympus C-5500 has a slot for an xD-Picture Card and comes with a 16 MB card. This camera can accept cards up to 1GB. **Other features ***(8.0)* *Included accessories *— The C-5500 digital camera comes with a wrist strap (which is incredibly difficult to string into the tiny loop on the side), xD-Picture Card, four AA batteries, USB cable, A/V cable, Olympus Master CD-ROM, warranty card, owner’s manual, advanced CD-ROM manual, and a product registration card. *Self-timer* — This self-timer takes 3 or 12 seconds before capturing the photograph. *Live Histograms — *The live histogram feature can be viewed as a regular chart or in a "display" mode, which fills the LCD viewing screen with small red and blue boxes. The red boxes indicate mainly white areas; the blue boxes indicate mainly black areas. In theory, a perfectly composed and exposed image would have a nice balance of these boxes. The coolest part about this feature is that when the camera moves, the boxes move and change color. This is not available in the panorama mode. *Panorama Mode — *This mode can only be accessed within the following modes: Program, My Mode, and the Scene modes. To use this option at all, users must have an Olympus-brand xD-Picture Card and the Olympus Master software, both of which are included with the C-5500. This mode can stitch up to 10 frames together. *Time Lapse* — This feature can be found in the Camera recording menu. Users can choose how many pictures are taken and the length of intervals between them. *Pixel Mapping* - This feature scans the image sensor to detect the hot or inactive pixels across the CCD. Rather than bringing the camera in for repair (which needs to be done to a digital camera every few years), the C-5500 user can utilize the Pixel Mapping option to rearrange the pixels and maximize the sensor’s sensitivity. **Value***(7.5)***** This camera is packed with many more options than most cameras priced around $349.99, and the few cameras in this price range that do have similar functions do not have the 5x optical zoom lens to boot. With lots of manual and automatic settings, the Olympus C-5500 will satisfy beginning and intermediate users--even if they are tight with their money. **Comparisons** *[*Olympus** C-7000 Zoom*](../specs/Olympus/C-7000.htm)*— This model comes with the same 1/1.8-inch CCD with TruePic Turbo Image Processor, but with 7.1 megapixels. This aluminum-bodied digital camera has a similar 5x optical zoom lens and the same range of automatic to manual modes and controls. With a 2-inch LCD screen, the C-7000 sounds very similar to the C-5500. The biggest differences are the resolution and the RAW image format option available on the C-7000. The C-7000 comes with a larger price tag at $599.99. *[*Kodak EasyShare LS753*](../specs/Olympus/C-7000.htm)*— This EasyShare packs a similar 5 megapixels, but onto a smaller 1/2.5-inch CCD. This camera has a similar rectangular and compact body design, but comes with a smaller 2.8x optical zoom lens. This $349.99 model has a 1.8-inch LCD screen, 32 MB of internal memory, and 13 scene modes. When we tested this camera’s color reproduction, it performed well but overdid the red tones. The LS753 has similar manual functions, but does not have a manual white balance option. This model has a faster burst mode that takes 4 pictures at a 0.36-second clip before resting and is known for its ease of use. *[*
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W5*](../specs/Sony/Cyber-shot%20DSC-W5.htm)*— This camera has a smaller 3x optical zoom lens, but it is a Carl Zeiss. This is coupled with a more compact body that is pretty sleek and stylish. With 5.1 effective megapixels on its 1/1.8-inch CCD, the W5 offers a 30-frame-per-second movie mode with 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 resolutions. This Sony is outfitted with manual functions and six scene modes, as well as a large 2.5-inch LCD and 32 MB of internal memory. **
**Who It’s For
***Point-and-Shooters — *Usually, this category of users is searching for a compact model with purely automatic features. While the Olympus C-5500 does have an automatic mode and several scene presets, it doesn’t meet the pocket-sized criteria. Plus the flash must be manually opened; it doesn’t open even in automatic mode.
Budget Consumers — This combination of longer optical zoom, 5 megapixels, image stabilization, and manual functionality cannot be found at a cheaper price.
Gadget Freaks — The pixel mapping option is the most technologically advanced feature on this digital camera, and the display histogram feature could keep gadget freaks busy for a few minutes. Other than that, this isn’t the best option for gadget freaks.
Manual Control Freaks — Depends on how freakish we’re talking. This camera has manual control over shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and ISO, among other things. However, if you’re looking for a manual ISO 800 setting, keep looking. If you want basic control over the exposure, this is a good buy.
Pros/Serious Hobbyists — Even with all the manual options, this camera wouldn’t be good for a serious hobbyist. The slow burst mode and unprofessional look, among other things, are enough to keep these people away.
**The Olympus C-5500 has a full automatic mode, both Shutter and Aperture Priority modes, 11 scene modes, and a manual mode. These provide a versatile range of shooting options for both beginning and intermediate users. Beginners who purchase this camera can expect to keep it for several years as it’s easy to grow with and the pixel mapping function can fix dead pixels when activated. The 5x optical zoom lens offers a longer range than most digital cameras in its price range. The image stabilization function complements the C-5500’s optical zoom and movie modes. The 5.1-megapixel Olympus camera does disappoint users with a burst mode that is slower than the advertised frame rate and some vague icons in the menus which impede ease of use. However, for the retail price of $349.99, consumers will have a hard time finding another combination of manual functionality, long zoom, 5 effective megapixels, and an image stabilization feature.
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