southern summer | a week with my Olympus C5050Z

July 15, 2023

Last week we made our annual summer pilgrimage to spend time with my boyfriend's family in Alabama. I haven't been feeling myself lately and I've been neglecting most of my hobbies, but I decided to bring one digicam with me as an afterthought. My Olympus C5050Z happened to be on the coffee table as I made my way out, so I grabbed it and some rechargeable batteries, tossed them in my bag, and headed out. Little did I know that my split-second decision to take that camera would make my week all the more enjoyable. As always, I'm not going to focus on the specs, I just want to talk about my experience with this camera and show off some shots from our trip. 

About the camera

The oldest digicam I own, the Olympus Camedia 5050 Zoom was announced in August 2002 (I was 11 years old!). It houses a 1/1.8" 5MP CCD sensor. It has modes you'd typically find on a DSLR: auto, program, aperture and shutter priorities, manual, my mode, as well as the usual suspects for scene modes: portrait, night scene, sports, landscape, as well as a video option (lol). Over the course of the week, I favored aperture priority, program, and sport mode while on the road. It could be a total placebo effect, but I felt like was getting shots a bit faster when using sport mode from a moving vehicle. 

The C5050Z is equipped with a tilt screen and an optical viewfinder, something I found myself using quite a lot. It has slots for both a compact flash card and an xD picture card with the ability to switch between them with the push of a button. While xD picture cards are a bit uncommon and more expensive nowadays, CF cards are readily available in various capacities and they're reasonably priced.  Although I have larger capacity cards, the camera happened to have a 256MB card loaded when I grabbed it. Because of this, I chose to adjust my shooting quality from my preferred fine + RAW to solely high-quality jpg. With these settings, I was able to get ~160 shots before having to dump my photos. Had I shot only in RAW, the number of frames would have been around 16. Finally, this camera uses four NiMH batteries, and like the D595Z, I was blown away by the battery life. I recharged the batteries only once during our 10-day trip, and only because I knew the following day would be a long one.

The photo quality SOOC is truly wonderful. No grain or texture was added, the 5MP CCD sensor is responsible for all of the character in these photos. Other older cameras that I've used perform well in certain lighting, but I found myself loving the C5050Z's output in most scenarios. The only time I felt the camera was struggling was at nighttime, handheld, without flash. I could certainly benefit from using a tripod at night with it-- I can only imagine how great those photos would look. Even only shooting jpegs, I was impressed at the quality of photos it produced. However, there are a lot of blown-out highlights-- namely when shooting something even remotely backlit-- and I wasn't always able to salvage them in Lightroom. I want to take this camera out again in similar conditions and shoot in RAW to what the sensor can really do. Lastly, I found chromatic aberration to be a prevalent issue with this camera. While I don't always mind CA-- I usually find it adds character to an image-- I did think it was distracting in many of these photos. Most photos in this post have had CA removed in Lightroom.

Using the C5050Z 

I was instantly reminded of what I loved so much about the C5050Z. The camera has a substantial weight and depth and its magnesium alloy construction is a nice departure from the plastic feeling of most of the digicams I own. Its solid construction gives me the assurance I need to use it regularly instead of being afraid to take it out when conditions aren't ideal. Overall, it simply feels really great in the hand. 

One of our bingo hosts helped get Pugsley's attention for this photo and I love how it turned out!

Despite having 5(!!!) bingo cards, we didn't win a single prize.

I honestly just wanted to see how powerful this camera's flash was. Calling it strong is an understatement. 

The other day we were hanging out under the bridge, we found a box of denim, and I'm like, "These look like some good jeans in here!"

I'll never pass up Hattie B's. 

This camera lived in my backpack and I took it with me everywhere. I frequently found myself wandering around the house looking for details to photograph. I was so enamored with it, I ended up purchasing a second card reader as I'd forgotten mine back home. As I said, bringing this camera along was truly a split-second decision! Despite being 21 years old (cheers), this camera performed a lot better than expected. It only took a second to take a photo and write to the memory card, and I never felt like the camera was holding me back from going about my day or forcing me to slow my pace to accommodate it. I memorized its button layout quickly and I was soon adjusting settings without having to look at what I was doing. Shooting really did become second nature. 

I'm going to continue my Digicam Diaries series and bring along a different camera each week, but leaving this one behind will be really difficult. The C5050Z has proven itself to be a great daily driver, so expect to find a lot more shots from this camera on my blog moving forward. 

Let the record reflect that the blueberry lemon pancakes were amazing.

Is there an older camera that you love to carry around with you? Or is there one that you have fond memories of from your childhood or adolescence? Let me know in the comments!