It's big. It's chonky. It came out in 2001. And it's shockingly good. Which, perversely, is bad if you're into vintage digicams for the sake of nostalgia.
Unlike the camera in my previous vintage digi review, I can't tell any cool stories about this camera — or any Camedia camera. I wasn't aware that this product line even existed at the time.
And that's too damn bad! Because in 2001, the Camedia C-4040 Z would've made me very, very happy.
It's a CCD, of course!
Measuring at a tiny 1/1.8" size and weighing in at a whopping 4 megapixels. Jpegs weight about 600kb, TIFFs about 8mb.
It offers ISOs 100, 200, and 400 only — and boy is it sharp.
Color is really nice and true to life. Noise is very low. It handles bright scenes with high contrast remarkably well. The jpegs seem to offer an unusual amount of latitude for brightening.
In poorly lit scenes, though… it's like a different camera, muddy and grainy. Lowlight performance is often the downfall of vintage CCDs, especially the early ones. This Camedia is no exception.
The jpegs from this camera are beautiful, if you shoot in the right conditions. All of the photos except the last and third to last are straight out of camera!
It can even shoot TIFF — about 8 megs a pop — but the menu system sucks so it's exceedingly painful to switch between that and jpeg shooting.
The Olympus Camedia C-4040 Z is a truly mixed bag. On the one hand, it puts out beautiful images. On the other, it's got a lot of annoyances.
- feels good in the hand, well balanced, good grip
- optical viewfinder! (not coupled)
- bright and crisp LCD screen, which you can turn off for battery life
- autofocus is generally quite accurate!
- the LCD always tells you how many photos you have left (or how many seconds of video)
- 3x zoom
- lens is very sharp throughout the zoom range
- you can even get bokeh if you're shooting close subjects, thanks to the max f1.8 aperture
- truly great image quality in the right conditions
- good skin tones
- shockingly good video, considering
- it can autofocus close enough (and reliably enough) to take selfies!
- takes AA batteries so no need for a special charger
- heavy and chonky, needs a a bag
- autofocus seeks (loudly)
- frequent lag between hitting the button and the shutter firing… often long, but not always the same length, extra annoying
- no good for fast-moving subjects even in perfect light
- flash sync produces ghosting and blurring even on slowly moving subjects, and even causes issues for static subjects if your hand isn't rock steady
- the menu system sucks; everything is buried deep in circular menus which require use of all four d-pad directions plus extra confirmation buttons
- the mode dial doesn't offer quick access to, e.g, aperture priority or video
- takes SmartMedia cards, hard to find and small in terms of storage; if you can only get a 16mb card, that's 30-36 jpeg images (maybe a pro if you like that constraint!)
- it beeps incessantly and it was difficult to find the setting to turn it off
- it freaks out if you accidentally turn it on without removing the lens cap — first the lens grinds loud and long, then it beeps 10+ times in anger
- it starts its image file naming scheme from 001 every time you wipe the card so if you want to keep all your images in the same folder, you'll have to rename the new ones first
It's big. It's heavy. It's almost but not quite champagne. I think it's an attractive package! Photos are from an old review, not my model.
The grip holds the batteries and it's nicely sized. There's quick access to the SmartMedia card and ports, under snappy solid plastic doors (no rubber gaskets here). The rear of the grip has a nice thumb rest with little divots to give extra purchase. Weight aside, it's really comfy in the hand.
You navigate the menus and set settings with all four buttons on the d-pad… which seems like a good idea except that mine doesn't work properly, or the software is buggy, because the buttons only work some of the time. It's not entirely broken, but it's broken just enough to be extremely annoying.
It frankly doesn't have enough buttons.
The mode dial is nice and firm but could have more options for, e.g. video and aperture priority, rather than burying them under menus.
The zoom is controlled with that classic circular toggle wrapped around the shutter button… is there a word for this kind of control? It's good.
If you're looking for a vintage digicam to get a vintage look, keep walking! The Camedia C-4040 Z is just too good.
Well-lit images are crisp, sharp, and beautifully toned, and it can even deliver some bokeh. Poorly lit images are too muddy to be fun. The flash sync isn't good enough for the kinds of thing you'd want a retro camera for — nostalgic party shots and that kinda thing. (Unless you love ghosting.)
But if you want high-quality images… I also can't really particularly recommend it because there are so many downsides from size to speed to SmartMedia. There are better "good" cameras out there.
The fun factor just isn't there.
Properly listed, this camera can be had on eBay for $20-30 shipped. That's simply too much in my opinion.
If you're dead set on buying it, I recommend digging around for badly labeled auctions and listings on other sites with less-savvy sellers, like Mercari. The C-4040 Z doesn't require special batteries or a charger so you've got a lot less to lose from buying a bargain.