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cobra

purchase decision oly 5050, 4000, 4040

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okay, i'm looking at purchasing one of these cameras with their related oly housing and am looking for some feedback. i already have a sony p1 w/housing for underwater with a YX DS90, and a sony F707 for land and a lot of slr experience. i know at some point, i'll be exchanging the f707 for a DSLR, and so am leary of investing another 1000$ in a housing i can't use afterwards.

 

my questions are:

 

how useful/necessary are the 'my modes' settings for underwater? eg does the fact that the 4040 doesn't have them constitue a major disadvantage?

 

how does the new placement of controls in the 5050 change the ease of use compared to previous models?

 

how accessible are the manual controls on the 5050? how does one focus manually?

 

other than pixel size, f stop and depth possibilities of the housings, what points would you feel the most important in deciding for or against one of these configurations and why?

 

and are replacement o-rings available for the housings?

 

thanks in advance for any feedback

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Hi Cobra,

 

From what I gather, the 5050 is a HUGE advancement over the 4040. The fact that you can turn off the preflash on the 5050 means that you can use many different strobes, not just "special" ones. The super macro is also excellent on the 5050.

 

Perhaps Laz can jump in and sing the praises of the My Mode - which also seems to be a big advantage.

 

Cheers

James

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Wow, this looks like a consumer feedback questionaire...

 

how useful/necessary are the 'my modes' settings for underwater? eg does the fact that the 4040 doesn't have them constitue a major disadvantage?

 

You can save upto 8 My Mode settings on the 5050 with info like modes (P, M etc.), Macro, Super Macro, Manual focus, shutter speed & aperture (mode allowing), picture quality, flash settings, etc. So it's very powerful - only problem is remembering which mode contains which settings (wish Olympus would have a naming function). You can also program My Mode as a shortcut or into the 'Custom Button' and thus access the modes with the touch of a button. It's a 'nice to have' feature but I wouldn't consider it a major advantage.

 

how does the new placement of controls in the 5050 change the ease of use compared to previous models?

 

I haven't used a 4040 extensively but the 5050 controls are very straight forward and easy to use. My biggest quibble underwater is with the aperture control in M mode - holding a button down on the left of the housing and turning the knob. Tough with a large-ish housing, strobe hanging off the end of it, elusive subject and a strong current thrown in for good measure. But you get used to it...

 

how accessible are the manual controls on the 5050? how does one focus manually?

 

In M mode the shutter speed is changed by turning the dial and aperture as mentioned above. Manual focus is done by pressing the up and down buttons and an enlarged view is shown in the centre of the viewfinder with the distance scale on the left.

 

I don't use it much UW but find it very handy topside, especially shooting in macro and super macro. Having said that the AF is generally very good. It also has an AF assist lamp for low light situations. A good tip is to get the camera to give you a close AF then switch to MF and fine tune.

 

other than pixel size, f stop and depth possibilities of the housings, what points would you feel the most important in deciding for or against one of these configurations and why?

 

I was about to purchase the C4040 but decided to wait (9 months) for the 5MP version as at that time I was very sure they were going to release one soon. And I'm glad I did.

 

The biggest factors were the higher pixel count(obviously), newer and faster technology xD picture card (support to 8GB proposed), accepts 4 different types of media in 2 slots, ability to copy from one media slot to the other, Super Macro (3cm), ability to disable pre-flash in A and M mode, larger internal buffer and standard external flash hot shoe. What came as a bonus was the ability to fire the flash in Super Macro mode. Other bonuses - ability to save in RAW format, histogram, improved menu access with the ability to set 6 functions by holding down the direct buttons and turning the jog dial (flash modes; flash intensity; shooting modes macro/super macro/AF/MF; aperture for manual mode which doubles as an exposure compensation in P, A and S modes; metering method and remote/self timer functions), tiltable (topside, up and down only) viewfinder.

 

To me the higher pixel count now seems to be negated by the high noise ratio even at ISO 64 because it uses the same lens and the same size CCD as the 3040 and 4040. Mind you the fast lens was one of the reasons I bought the Olympus. Having said that I've found noise reducing software that does a brilliant job.

 

and are replacement o-rings available for the housings?

 

Yes. The PT015 uses 2 servicable o-rings and having 2 between your camera and disaster is a very comforting feeling.

 

Opinion: Definitely get the C5050 over it's predecessors. Or, if you're willing to wait, get the C4040 and wait for the next one - pretty sure the next one from Olympus will be a 'next generation' as I think they've pushed the lens and CCD size to the max.

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Clearly the 5050 is a great camera for underwater imaging.

 

But don't throw out the 4000. Even though it is a lower-end model than the 4040, it is much newer and has features that the 4040 doesn't have. Like four MyModes, real-time histogram, super macro, etc.

 

And it is much cheaper in case of a flooded housing.

 

I think that it is a great camera for scuba, especially for beginners.

 

I will move to the 5050 (or 6060) at some point, but at the moment I am having great fun with my 4000.

 

I just hope that the next model after the 5050 uses the same housing!

 

Oh, and one can get replacement O-rings for all the Oly housings. At a price, and not available everywhere. Try www.oceanbrite.com and www.marscuba.com

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Unfortunately, the 4000 shuts off the flash in the Macro mode, so the camera is almost useless underwater. There is no way to connect a strobe via sync cord and there is not way to fire a slave strobe...:-(

 

James

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Wow, this looks like a consumer feedback questionaire...

 

umm, yeah, well, i guess i'm showing what the french call 'professional deformation' -- all that user interface design and testing

 

in any case, thanks for the great and detailed info

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Also I would like to say that the new housing for the 5050 (PT-015) has a deeper working depth....40m in stead of 30m ( that's about 30ft I guess)...

 

A future 5050, PT15 owner....

 

Steve :)

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The nice thing about the 5050 is that it has a hotshoe to connect an external flash - and from what I have read online - underwater strobes can be used in manual mode this way.

 

The PT-015 housing does not provide a way to "hard-wire" a strobe to the camera - which I see as a disadvantage. The housing has one thing going for it though - it's <$300 Add a tray and handle and it's ~$400.

 

Cheers

James

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The PT-015 housing does not provide a way to "hard-wire" a strobe to the camera - which I see as a disadvantage.

 

I wouldn't personally feel comfortable with someone drilling holes in the Olympus housing :) but see http://www.oceanbrite.com/olympus.htm - option B. They seem to have done it to the PT-10. From what I can understand in the blurb I don't think they've decoded the Olympus's TTL signal - so it's unlikely to work in TTL mode.

 

It would be interesting if someone made a housing for the Olympus FL40 and hardwired it like that! Then you could use one flash topside and UW.... if only life was that simple...sigh.

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Jamesw

 

I have a 4000 (replaced an older 3040) that I was planning on using for scuba. But I see that you are right, the flash gets disabled in macro mode. I wasn't aware of this, I don't take many macro shots on the surface.

 

Does anyone know of a solution to this? Such as a firmware upgrade,etc. If I can't solve this I may have to dump the camera and go back to a 3040 (I have a PT-005, these are the best models that fit into this housing).

 

Late Edit: I have done some tests, certainly flash works in macro mode when camera is set to P, A, S or M. But on one of my mymodes, where I have full manual and macro, the flash does not work. So this is not a total negative, I just have to find out exactly what is going on. I will report back once I have solved this in case someone is interested. Maybe it is a bug in the MyModes, or maybe some other setting. Anyone know?

 

Later Edit: I just had the mymode set to fast shooting, then the flash gets disabled. So flash works with macro in all modes, just not for fast shooting. I use max resolution with SHQ, I don't now if this plays a role at all.

 

I don't know whether this issue is related to a small buffer on the 4000, or whether it is just a flash recharge issue.

 

The flash does not work at all in supermacro, but this is understandable, it is just too close (4cm).

 

What is the case with the 5050, does the flash work when in fast shooting mode, and does it work when in supermacro mode?

 

Anyway, I am now happy that the 4000 can do everything that I require. Am diving tomorrow, will provide feedback on how the 4000 performs.

 

My only problem with the 4000 is the shutter lag. But considering that you need at least USD6000 (good dSLR & housing, etc) to solve this problem, I guess that I have to live with it.

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I have done some tests, certainly flash works in macro mode when camera is set to P, A, S or M.

That's good. Didn't think Olympus would be stupid :) enough to disable flash in macro mode. Faith restored :) .

I don't know whether this issue is related to a small buffer on the 4000, or whether it is just a flash recharge issue.

In sequential mode the flash will not fire because the flash cannot recharge fast enough.

What is the case with the 5050, does the flash work when in fast shooting mode, and does it work when in supermacro mode?

No, the flash will not fire in sequential mode with the 5050 as well.

Yes, the 5050 has a 'slave' flash mode in A and M shooting modes that will fire the flash in the Super Macro setting. You can set 10 slave flash levels. As the name suggests it lets you trigger an external slave flash in manual (not TTL) mode.

My only problem with the 4000 is the shutter lag.

You'll find that with all consumer/prosumer digicams. You probably know this already but you can reduce 'fish butt' photos by keeping the shutter half pressed and firing when the moment is right.

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Sorry, I meant to say "super" macro mode!!!???? :angryfire: :angryfire:

 

The macro mode on the 4000 won't focus close enough to get really stunning macro shots. The super macro mode WILL do that, but then, you can't use flash so what good is it?

 

Cheers

James

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OK, back from my Indian Ocean coral reef weekend at Sodwana Bay. Great weather and great diving! Surge was just a bit strong, couldn't keep still long enough for many nice pictures.

 

In any event, I am very happy with the 4000. I can understand Jamesw's point with respect to the supermacro mode, but that still makes the 4000 better than any other Olympus in the x0x0 class except for the 5050. The 4040 doesn't even have supermacro or mymodes, which I found invaluable on the 4000.

 

I will probably move to to 5050 (or 6060) later, but for the moment am having fun with the 4000. The shutter lag, however, just kills me. I am fed up with fishtails.

 

Part of the problem is that I still have the original PT-005 housing, and it doesn't have the leveraged shutter release, with the result that it is difficult to do a half depress of the release. One just can't do such a sensitive depress of the button.

 

Maybe I should just sell the PT-005/C-4000Z as a package and upgrade to the PT015/C-5050Z. But it would be very difficult for me to get hold of a PT-015 where I live.

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