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Retro Review: Testing the 2.1MP Olympus C-2000 Z compact camera from 1999

Gordon Laing, founder of Camera Labs, has published another one of his popular Retro Reviews. The focus this time is on the Olympus CAMEDIA C-2000 Zoom compact digital camera. It’s a compact all-in-one digital camera released in 1999 for a cool $799, which is over $1,300 today after adjusting for inflation. Laing was able to procure one from an antique shop in his native Brighton, England, for a mere £15 (around $20).

The C-2000 Z’s specs may not jump out at you today, of course, but at the time of its release, the camera was pretty impressive. The 2.1MP camera includes a 3x optical zoom with a 35-105mm equivalent focal length range and a maximum aperture of F2-2.8. The camera was built upon an existing legacy of Olympus digital cameras, including the C-800L and C-1400L. As Laing points out, the C-2000 Z was one of the first digital cameras to adopt a boxier design, a design aesthetic that later became popular. While comfortable in the hands, the rubber grip on the C-2000 Z, like with many other vintage cameras, hasn’t aged very well.

Relative to its contemporaries, the C-2000 Z offered users precise control over exposure parameters. Laing writes, ‘What made the C-2000 Z stand out at the time though was the degree of control over exposure. Forget the handful of aperture steps on lesser models – set the C-2000 Z to Aperture Priority with the lens zoomed-wide and you’d enjoy 16 steps from f2 to f11 in one third increments. Set the camera to Shutter Priority and you could choose speeds from 1/800 down to half a second, again in fine one third increments, while pushing the OK button unlocked even slower shutter speeds down to 16 seconds.’ That all sounds blasé today, perhaps, but it was impressive in 1999 and set the C-2000 Z apart from its peers.

Read DPReview’s C-2000 Z review from 1999As you captured photos to SmartMedia memory cards, you viewed them on the rear 1.8-inch display. When shooting in Aperture or Shutter Priority modes, you needed to use the display to adjust modes, although you could shoot without the display in Program mode, which helped preserve battery life. Despite the 2.1MP resolution, processing power was lacking back in the day, so viewing a recently captured image takes a few seconds on the C-2000 Z. The camera could also be power hungry, especially when using the rear LCD. The C-2000 Z is powered by four AA batteries. Below is a collection of sample images, kindly provided by Gordon:

Ultimately, perhaps the C-2000 Z stands as a reminder of a changing digital camera landscape in 1999 more than it stands out for its overall performance. Laing writes, ‘Shooting with the C-2000 Z today reminded me how similar a lot of cameras became around this time, gradually shifting from the innovative experimental designs of the mid to late Nineties.’

There’s much more to read about the C-2000 Z in Gordon’s full review, so be sure to check it out. If you enjoyed the video review above, visit Gordon’s YouTube channel, Dino Bytes by Gordon Laing.

This article comes from DP Review and can be read on the original site.

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