The Olympus C-55 Zoom is, above all, a good compact camera for the money. Its 5-megapixel resolution, 5x optical zoom, solid build, impressive array of features and very good image quality add up to a strong all-purpose option for the advanced snapshot photographer. That said, some of its features are compromised. For example, you can't shoot in burst mode at the highest-quality JPEG setting. That drawback, in addition to some inconsistent shutter lag and focus-time performance, makes this camera less suited for shooting action than the marketing might lead you to believe.
The brushed-metallic Olympus C-55 Zoom feels solid and comfortable in the hand. At about 370g with batteries and media, it's bulkier and heavier than an ultracompact camera, and it certainly won't fit in the average pocket. But if you prefer a camera you can get a grip on, the C-55 should please you. Its pop-up flash is awkwardly placed, however, and might easily be covered by wayward left-hand fingers. On the other hand, the shutter release is well placed on a raised nubbin on top of the moulded grip and a rubberised strip provides comfortable leverage for your other right-hand fingers.
A small mode dial provides easy access to most shooting modes: the standard automatic and manual exposure options, movie mode, a My Mode for which you can enter four different groups of saved settings, and Scene, through which, using the LCD menu, you can select one of ten common automated modes.
You can easily access and trigger the navigational and select buttons, although menu-surfing can be tedious on the C-55. The initial menu screen displays a compass of setting selections, corresponding to the navigational buttons. Select Mode Menu on the right side and you're taken to a familiar tabbed menu of camera, picture, card and setup options. The other directions are user-adjustable shortcut settings, the default options being self-timer, image quality and monitor on/off.