The C-5060 is the perfect example price and feature, with the former plummeting and the latter going stratospheric. It's the latest in the Olympus 1000 series, and is set to replace the ever-popular C-5050. The new model boasts 5.10 megapixels. For only £599.99 you can see the professional market approaching the amateur user with increasing speed.

Users' complaints about reaction speeds slower than Grandpa after Christmas lunch have been taken to heart. From power-on to being ready to shoot times have been reduced to a staggering three seconds with the shutter release down to 0.4sec. With size not being at a premium in the larger bodies, durability and longevity are the overriding features. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides the power large enough to look at home in a camcorder rather than a digital camera. The battery size may explain the overall 430g weight, but for 600 shots per single charge the performance-to-weight ratio is more than justified. For extended photoshoots, an additional grip can be purchased that not only increases the hold-area, but boosts battery-life up to 1000 shots.

Olympus had to think of storage for heavy users and have given the camera both an xD slot and a space for a Compact Flash Type I/II or a microdrive as well, with a single button stroke toggling between the two memory formats to accommodate the 1000-shot upper limit. The C-5050 also had a space for Smartmedia as well but it would appear the storage formats are being consolidated from now on so buyers must consider the sustainability of their chosen medium.

The wide-angle lens, with 4 x optical and 3.5 digital magnification, gives a focal range of 27mm-110mm and even has a special adaptor will allow it to go down to 19mm. The lens aperture is rated between f2.8 and f4.8 depending on focal extension and in super macro mode the focus distance goes down to an amazing 3cm. Olympus have concentrated their technologies in maintaining a sharp image right the way to the lens periphery and the multiple lens elements are so arranged to maximise telecentric light transmission.

Pre-set shooting modes will be familiar to all veteran Olympus users and the camera includes all the necessities to get the job done on fully automatic settings. For example portrait, landscape and action settings are stored in the chipset. For the more demanding and adventurous there is an aperture priority, shutter priority and fully manual modes. Exposure, auto-focus and colour balance setting can be altered depending on conditions. The jog-wheel, that features so prominently on top end SLR's and making its debut appearance under the main programme selector dial on the C-5050, is back. Combined with a number of hot-key style buttons on the cameras body allow key setting to be changed very quickly.

Picking up a neat feature from Nikon, the C-5060 now includes a 270º rotation to the 1.8” LCD viewing screen on the rear of the body. It can not only be reversed to prevent scratching when transporting the C-5060 but it can also be moved into a number of positions to gain a new level of flexibility while shooting. Clever electronics will also rotate the in-screen image so it's always the right way around. Combine this with the free remote shutter release and you can see the screen while taking your own self-portrait, ideal for the narcissist.

Verdict

Minor niggles would be the unnecessary additional click in the edit feature, that means Olympus operating system veterans will end up going around the menus in circles until you unlearn your former ways. The flash system once again seems to be overridden by altering the drive speed from single shot to multiple, but the multitude of settings may mean the option to preserve your chosen flash settings is hidden in a submenu not found on test.

Additional lens, converters, flashes and filter kits can be attached and there is even a bayonet conversion lens kit, offering a camera that is the core of a system rather than a standalone product. And a very good system it is too.