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Customer Review

206 of 222 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few comments, July 5, 2001
This review is from: Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 170 QD Date 35mm Camera (Electronics)
I've owned several point and shoot cameras, including models by Vivitar, Fuji, Olympus, and Rollei, and have gotten excellent photos from all of them. The Rollei is one of the very high-end cameras in the point and shoot category, and the price reflects that fact. However, it has an extremely sharp lens and has a 1/8000th of a second maximum shutter speed, which is amazing for a point and shoot camera. It's probably fast enough to freeze an airplane propellar, not just a golf swing.
...I did want to mention a couple of things that you should be aware of when you buy a camera with this extreme a zoom lens.
Several makers have recently come out with point and shoot cameras with 5X zoom lenses. I recently saw one from Pentax being sold at a major chain. The first problem with these cameras is that it is very difficult to make a lens that is very sharp and at all focal lengths. With this extreme a telephoto lens it is much more difficult to do this, and you have to sacrifice some sharpness as a result.
It's true that there have been some important advances in camera lens optics that are going into these cameras, such as the use of aspherical, plastic lenses. The new Nikon 125i and the Minolta 125mm Freedom Zoom incorporate these lenses, for example, and they are excellent cameras. If you decide not to buy this one, I would highly recommend either of these, and the Minolta is available also...
However, these cameras don't exceed 3X. My own preference is to stick with point and shoots that don't exceed 2.5X or 3X. This way you will probably get a camera that is pretty sharp at all focal lengths. I don't know if this particular camera has aspherical, plastic components, but if it did, it would be another factor in its favor.
The second issue you should be aware of is that you won't get a very fast F-ratio at the low end with this extreme a telephoto capability. Often the F-ratios at the low end are only 3.4 or 4.2 or so, so they're not very fast. If you do buy one of these cameras you should probably use ASA400 film most of the time, unless you're pretty sure you won't need anything that fast.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that telephoto lenses this long are prone to more mechanical wear. For lightness, these cameras use plastic gears that do wear more quickly over time. I've seen long telephoto lenses on point and shoots that start to droop slightly with age, so that the telescoping sections don't precisely line up anymore. If you stick to a 3X or less lens, you are unlikely to have these problems.
If you're seriously considering this camera, you should test it out and try running a few rolls of film through it and see how it performs. The photo shop where I bought my Fuji Tiara had a 30-day return policy. Try taking photos at different magnifications and compare them. You will probably notice that the photos in the middle of the lens's telephoto range are the sharpest, but the others might be perfectly acceptable. Try it out and see. It may be just fine for you, and in that case, you will get a camera with an amazing telephoto range that can replace a whole bagful of equipment for a typical system camera with interchangeable lenses, and which will weigh only a fraction of that and take up only a fraction of the space, not to mention the cost savings.
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