Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

By Eric

I saw the Jankuary posts and I wanted in.

Backstory.

A while ago I found out about an Antique Store not far from me.

Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art

The signage is on the nose.

I was told by two friends (Guillermo and Wilson) that they had film cameras for sale. I sat on this information for a while but while playing chauffeur to one of my offspring I had a few moments and decided to take a quick look. Partly thinking a limited timetable might limit the damage I could do. I was kind of right, but my wallet did not escape unscathed.

Deviation:

Before I get to that I must say that I was a bit overwhelmed soon after I walked in. Was thinking I could sort out where the cameras were by browsing around. Nope. A tactical miscalculation. In swift order everywhere I looked there were things that I either had no idea existed, no idea I wanted, or both. I.e. I was immediately overwhelmed and already had a NY State (My home state.) license plate in my hand.

Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art

Barely remember picking it up. Funny that the NY plate was on top… Was it reasonably priced? I have no idea, but it was inexpensive enough for it not to be a concern. As was nearly everything I saw, which makes this place even more dangerous. After wandering about a good portion of the store, but still covering only a fraction of the two acre space…

Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art

…I yielded and asked where the cameras were. That is when I was led to the center aisle of many things.

Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art

I immediately knew I needed to make this quick because this could go sideways on me fast. As Guillermo and Wilson advised they had some very nice items.

Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art

Given more time this one may have gotten me. But when a clearer head prevailed later, I recalled that I need another SLR like a hole in the head.

Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art Sony A7RV - MC11 - SIGMA 30mm f/1.4 Art

On to the task at hand.

Then I saw it.

Olympus Camedia C2020Z

It rang all the bells.

Olympus? Ding. $20? Ding.

Might actually work? Ding.

Comes with box? If accessories come with it also then ding, ding, ding.

Asked if it worked and the answer was that “That guy is pretty good. It should or it would have been marked as broken.”

Good enough for me. So here is the quick “In the box” run down.

  • All original individual plastic bags were included and items were wrapped. From 1999? And I thought I obsessed over keeping old packaging.
  • Included chords for ports that no longer exist on modern PCs.
  • Brought two Smart Memory cards I never knew existed until the moment I saw them.
  • No batteries were included but it takes 4 regular old AAs.

About the batteries. Found some old rechargeable batteries around the house and at first they did not work. Put them back in the charger to top them off, but I soon realized that these years old batteries were well beyond their prime and could not power the camera for long. This was confirmed by Chris at the local camera shop who mentioned that these types of cameras were known power hogs and would plow through regular alkaline batteries also. We tested this theory with some rechargeable batteries the shop has and he was exactly right. So I picked up some Panasonic (eneloop) rechargeable batteries he recommended

So does the camera work? To my surprise yes. Had a bit of a fight with the battery door to close it, but I was warned of this in a YouTube review of the prior model C2000Z. But once the appropriate brute force was applied the door closed, the camera powered up (Make sure to remove the lens cap or the lens will not extend.), and I was taking pictures. First surprises/impressions:

  • This thing focuses more quickly than I expected. Not blazing fast by any means but serviceable.
  • Viewfinder brought me back to the early days of “Sure you have kind of framed the scene but who knows if it has focused properly?”
  • Not sure why I was surprised but I did not expect it to have Live View. Perhaps because it has a CCD sensor and that is why the Pentax 645D I had did not have Live View or video. While we are on that topic…
  • Has video. I have no plans to use it.
  • Plastics are hard and shiny, some bits feel like I could break them off on accident, but otherwise, it does not feel that bad in hand. Not offensive to look at either.
Olympus Camedia C2020Z
  • In addition to the back color menu/review/live view screen there is a top LCD so there is that.
  • Smaller than I expected. Had seen pictures of cameras like this before and I had always thought they were larger for some reason. Very compact.
  • Flash works well.
  • While many settings and menus are convoluted, largely because I refused to crack open the included manual, I did manage to figure out how to adjust everything.
  • Once you sort it out you can have full manual control of the camera… Me? P or Aperture priority please and thank you. Maybe Shutter priority someday. I do not see myself messing with full Manual.
  • Your file formats are JPEG or TIFF only. No big at 2MP.
  • Oddly there are lower quality file options. I guess when 2MP is just way too much detail.
  • It zooms so there is that.
  • Given it zooms I was surprised by the f/2 to f/2.8 aperture range. But given the 1/2 inch sensor size that is not something to get excited about as I used the smallest sensor available on mmcalc.com and f/2 worked out to more than f/11. But I am not complaining. Was not expecting to take portraits with this and that is exactly why this thing has a healthy flash.
Sony A7RV - G Master 50mm f/1.2

But there was one more thing to address. After reviewing the old timey connectors supplied I needed to find a way to get these files on my computer. I did find it amusing that the box excitedly advertised the availability of a Smart Card to floppy disk adapter. Great. Now I just need a floppy disk adapter. Actually thought of taking that route for giggles until I realized I was raising the bill on this adventure even higher. The local shop did not have a suitable card reader, no surprise but worth a shot, so I secured one online. Here is the part that is funny to me. The batteries and the reader cost more than what I paid for the camera. That left me to take some shots over the last couple of days, not 100% sure if I could import the images. So the card reader arrived and it worked just fine thank you very much. After reviewing the images here are my first thoughts.

  • What the heck? I mean seriously. Was expecting a giggle. A “Look how far we have come from the dark ages of digital photography.” moment. But nope. The images did not look bad at all. I would call them sharp low resolution photos. Anti-pixel peeping photos. Looks sharp? Good. No, you cannot zoom in. Just look at it as is.
Olympus Camedia C2020Z
  • Good colors.
  • Sharp.
  • I do not see too many glaring faults like chromatic aberrations.
  • Some shots lack contrast and can look a bit hazy, but who knows. At this age maybe there is something in the lens? Either way simply slide Clarity and Dehaze to the right and keep it moving.
  • AWB balance actually does a decent job automatically choosing the right white balance.
  • Auto ISO seems pretty spot on. This is funny since Olympus themselves state that you choose between an “equivalent ISO of approximately 100, approximately 200 or approximately 400”.
  • The first time I have seen ISOs stated as approximate. In any event, it does just fine.
  • With a full-frame equivalent aperture as this narrow and only as high as “approximately 400” ISO available, according to Olympus, flash is your friend indoors. Unless you just like blurry images. More of a fun quirk than a downside in my book. House mascots may be startled though.
Olympus Camedia C2020Z
  • Image styles are available. Was testing black and white above. I do not see myself using this but it is there.

But the main takeaway for me is that the image quality is not that bad. Looking at it alongside images taken with other cameras on my Flickr feed these images do not stand out as inferior as I thought they might. Not bad for a camera older than my adult children. Here are the first sample images followed by some closing thoughts.

Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z Olympus Camedia C2020Z

Closing thoughts.

Rationale check. Will this camera stand up to modern options? Of course not. This is a digital camera well beyond the legal drinking age. While it is common that film cameras even older often work fine I count it a minor miracle that this digital camera is still fully functional. So if it is not a reasonable alternative to more current cameras what is it? Well, I am glad I imagined that you asked.

  • Cheap.
  • Fun.

For this and other cameras of similar vintage that is all I need to hear. Sign me up.

Is it fragile? Will it be short-lived? Perhaps. But at $20 a clip, I would just get another if I felt so inclined. In all honesty early on when I thought this camera might not work I was not going to bring it back. It would have just been relegated to shelf trophy status. Have spent a little more on ancient film cameras that serve that purpose currently.

Do I recommend something like this to others? Depends. Do you like cheap fun?

If your answer is no then my answer is also no.

If yes there are worse ways to burn $20 or so in my opinion. And batteries and card reader aside that is the end of your expenses. I would rather that than get a single use film camera, and unlike cheap old film cameras, or even a favorite half frame plastic fantastic I reviewed (My first 35mmc post.) it does not require follow up expenses like film and development. Unless. like me, you just like visiting your local camera shop or developing your own color and black and white film. And I am also fairly certain this camera will create images that I would prefer over many of those older, cheap, film, and fixed focus plastic lens cameras.

For the record, I do not see this as replacing anything else for me. Just another way to have some fun capturing images. A little vintage digital therapy.

Well, that about wraps it up.

Eric L. Woods

I shoot a variety of new and old digital and film cameras. Industrial Engineer by education, IT is my vocation, and I really enjoy using, testing, and writing about cameras. All three of the latter are very therapeutic exercises for me. If you are so inclined my blog address is ewoodsphoto.com and I can be found on Threads and Instagram. All the best to you.

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About The Author

By Eric
I shoot a variety of new and old digital and film cameras. Industrial Engineer by education, IT is my vocation, and I really enjoy using, testing, and writing about cameras. All three of the latter are very therapeutic exercises for me.
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Comments

Scott Gitlin on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 31/01/2024

Greatly enjoyed your presentation and writing style. Twice the megapixels of my Kodak DC3200.
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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 31/01/2024

Scott, Much appreciated. Thank you for your kind words. Eric

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Ibraar Hussain on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 28/01/2024

Enjoyed the write up! It’s great fun I think using old digicams ! You’ve got some fantastic results - really love the colour Much better than what I’ve been trying to use lately - an 8 MP Konica Minolta Dimage X1 which is so bad that it out me off trying to photography anything
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Tony Warren on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 27/01/2024

Thanks for an interesting article Eric. I bought the previous model to this one new, in 1990, when the C2000Z burst onto the scene. It is virtually identical to the 2020 with the main difference being the location of the power switch. This was in the center of the mode selector dial and I cannot count the number of missed shots I had through switching the camera off instead of releasing the shutter! It was commented on in many of the current reviews, prompting Olympus to make the modification no doubt. As to durability, I can only say that mine is still firing away, even after a spell of not too careful use by my grandson when he started photography at school, leaving a few dents and a wobbly zoom lever as a result. Despite this it is still useable. My recent article on the Klito mentions the 2000Z in relation to the progress of digital technology, yet the results are more than respectable on screen and will produce a decent 8x10 print at 150dpi. And my final thank you is the shot of your camera on the store shelf. I noticed the line saying it is sensitive to infra red. And yes it is! So my 200Z will come back into use with the lens adapter and filter with which I have taken some trial IR shots which look pretty good. I am now waiting for the card reader I had to buy like you. Although I still have my original one, it will not work with any of my Mac computers coming from the days when drivers were a necessity. Cheers, Tony.
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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 27/01/2024

Tony, Thank you very much. I am glad to hear your C2000Z is still running strong. I plan on trying IR photography with it at some point. All the best to you. Eric

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Gabriele on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 24/01/2024

Dear Eric, I recently had the pleasure of reading your article about the Olympus Camedia C2020Z on 35mmc.com, and I felt compelled to express my gratitude. Your piece not only provided an insightful look into this vintage digital camera but also sparked a journey down memory lane for me. The article vividly reminded me of my first digital camera, a Kodak from the early 2000s. The way you captured the essence of those early digital photography days brought back a flood of memories. It was a time of exploration and excitement in the world of photography, a sentiment you've encapsulated perfectly. Moreover, as a new father, my life is currently a whirlwind of responsibilities, leaving little time for hobbies like photography. Your article, however, reminded me of the joy and importance of capturing life's fleeting moments. It's a poignant reminder that, hopefully, one day, I'll find the time to rekindle my passion for photography. Thank you for this wonderful piece. It's more than just an article about a camera – it's a reminder of personal journeys and the ever-evolving story of photography. Grazie Gabriele
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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 24/01/2024

Gabriele, Your kind words are greatly appreciated. Congratulations on being a new Father. What an amazing time. Takes me back to my early digital days many years ago as my first born was my motivation for picking up my first digital camera. All the best to you. Eric

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Srinivas on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 24/01/2024

Hi Eric. "Oddly there are lower quality file options. I guess when 2MP is just way too much detail." In my usage, the problem was that storage was scarce and expensive in those days, both in camera and on the desktop. Lower quality files meant you could shoot longer and store more without deleting pictures.
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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 24/01/2024

Hello. You are 100% right. That makes perfectly good sense. I also recall those days and it seems like so long ago now.

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DAVID BOND on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

The Olympus Camedia 2020Z has hidden depths, in black and white mode with an R72 filter (there is a filter mount for these that fits over the lens mount allowing the zoom to operate) it's capable of producing good infra red images.
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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 16/01/2024

David, That is a good to know. Thank you. I currently use my sd Quattro for infrared and I am glad that I have another option. Eric

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mike brooks on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 15/01/2024

Totally agree with pretty much al of this. Recently got a Maciva that records to mini-cds! The advice about finding one with included accessories needs to be read twice :)
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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 15/01/2024

Mike, I lucked up honestly. Mine came with what looks like an SD card predecessor that I had not ever seen before. Was surprised there was an adapter for it. All the best. Eric

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Colin on Olympus Camedia C2020Z – Vintage Digital/Antique Shop “Jankuary’ Find – 2MP from 1999.

Comment posted: 15/01/2024

"Was expecting a giggle. A “Look how far we have come from the dark ages of digital photography.” moment. But nope. The images did not look bad at all. I would call them sharp low resolution photos." This is not surprising to me at all. Camera marketing departments are geniuses at making us think that the latest model is light-years ahead of what came before it - and we do our own part too in convincing ourselves that our latest camera is capable of so much better than what we had before. Now, I'm not suggesting that advances haven't been made over the past 25 years! But in the early 2000s when digital cameras were really gaining pace, there were some genuinely impressive sample images taken on these things. So why _shouldn't_ such a camera still be able to take some satisfactory images to the modern eye?
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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 15/01/2024

Colin, Fair point. Agreed. Eric

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Graham Orbell replied:

Comment posted: 15/01/2024

Nice story Eric. I love junk shops. But fast forward another 25 years and junk shops will still be around and their shelves will be stocked with obsolete mirrorless wonder cameras and other obsolete technology from today. The more wonderful and complicated the technology the more likely it is to become junk in not many years. I would have certainly snapped up those 2 Nikon Fs and the Linhof purely out of nostalgia for what I used to own and had always regretted selling. But wait a moment just last week I did buy a Nikon F with almost the same serial number as one I sold 40 years ago. It’ll keep on chugging along as long as film is still made.

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Eric replied:

Comment posted: 15/01/2024

Graham, Agreed on all points. Same for me regarding film cameras. I was tempted but my analog situation had gotten out of hand a few years ago which required my culling of the herd. The numbers are starting to creep up again so I try to restrain myself. I am not always successful. Same as you I plan on using film as long as they make it. All the best to you. Eric

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