Olympus Superzoom 80S Review : Poundland Challenge Camera 2

This late Olympus camera was actually the first bought as part of the Poundland challenge but the Halina Speedy 33 arrived first. This was one of the last film cameras made by Olympus, a company with an excellent history of making P&S such as the Trip 35 and the XA2. But how does this late autofocus, zoom compact measure up ?

Olympus Superzoom 80S
Olympus Superzoom 80S closed and open with lens fully extended

Launched in 2005 this was not only one of the last in the Superzoom series but one of the last Olympus film cameras ever made. The Superzoom series is known  as Accura in the US and in other areas as the OZ series but the numbering isn’t the same so the Accura 80S is actually the Superzoom 800S).  The Superzoom series was marketed at the same time as Olympus’s flagship ultra compact Mju/Stylus series and can thought of more bulky, robust, cheaper versions.

Memorial Chair
Moffat 2015. Olympus Superzoom 80S with Kodak BW400CN

Olympus Superzoom 80S  Specs

  • Lens:  Olympus 38-80mm
  • Focus : Active Autofocus
  • Exposure: Programmed Auto
  • Aperture: Unknown
  • Shutter: 2sec-1/125sec
  • Batteries : 2AA
  • DX : 100 & 400asa only
  • Filter-Thread:N/A

The 80S  remind me of my first digital camera a Camedia C-120 and share the same sliding lens cover and blocky design. Little info still exists and mines came without a manual but German site photoscala.de has some specs.In essence it is a stripped down version of the much higher spec’d Superzoom 80G which looks identical bar an extra button. The 80S only offers DX code reading of 100 or 400 asa (everything else will set to 100ASA) and much worse near focus (for wide 1.2m & Tele 1.1m). At least the 80S uses  AA batteries and also has a 4 element 38-80mm zoom lens (hardly ‘super’ zoom though).

Dog Tired
OLympus Superzoom 80S with Lomography 100CN

The camera is turned on by sliding the cover open (pushing it back cause the lens to retract and camera to shut down). A small LCD on the top shows the film count and mode. A button beside it allows you to cycle through the usually flash modes  and timer. The camera will always return to the default autoflash mode when you open it up. Like most cameras of this era, I find  the flash kicks in too readily (about EV10-11) but as we’ll see is actually a good point. The only other user controls are the shutter, zoom toggle and a recessed rewind button.

Ticketed II
Palmerston 2015. Olympus Superzoom 80S with Kodak BW400CN

The cheaper feel continues with the shutter. The camera doesn’t seem to offer any feedback. Start to press the shutter and a green light comes on. What this does I dunno, but the autofocus system has yet to engage and it’ll come in whether in bright light or in the dark with the flash turned off. Any further depression causes autofocus to engage and the shot is taken, there doesn’t appear no chance to stop or lock focus. The active auto focus system is quick enough in good light.  The viewfinder moves with the zoom feature and judders when focusing. There are no guidelines other than a circle in the centre which I assume is the focus spot. Loading is easy put your roll in and gently pull film leader out until it sits over the take up drum and shut the back. Irritatingly when the roll finishes and the camera starts to rewind you can’t retract and cover the lens

Olympus Superzoom 80S  Test shot
Olympus Superzoom 80S with Lomography 100CN

In terms of shooting the auto exposure seems pretty accurate and almost all shots on the 2 rolls I shot were properly exposed.  I probably stressed the camera more in low light but suspect the spectre of over exposure will be an issue with 400asa films in bright conditions (hard to do in Scotland in February) given the 1/125 fastest shutter speed. The camera is probably best left to its own devices regarding triggering flash. I tried to use it with the Kids at Dumfries ice bowl with flash forced off and the results were poor as the camera suffered from marked camera shake  although the shots were okay exposed (I’m guessing given the limitations that the camera was attempting to shoot at 1/4 sec with about f/5.6 for 100asa film).  flash shots were okay with 400asa film but with 100asa tended to overexpose (I used a roll of Lomography 100CN which I don’t really rate that highly except in sunny conditions)

Easterbrook 80S test shots
Shot taken on Olympus 80S with Kodak BW400CN. Zoom shot much softer on bottom

The AF was pretty good with near and mid distance but some of my longer shots were a bit soft when at full zoom.  400 asa shooting proved better not surprisingly due to the fact the camera was shooting with smaller apertures but as you can see from test shots not great at distance with zoom. The zoom is pretty quick and quiet however. It also didn’t suffer from the light leak I and lots of others have had with Olympus mju series camera.

Why Buy

  • It’s an Olympus
  • Quiet & quick zoom
  • Uses AA batteries

Why not

  • Rubbish exposure range
  • Not exactly a Superzoom
  • The 80G is much better spec wise

What I paid, got & sold for

  • 99p plus £2.80 postage
  • Came with Olympus Camedia case and fresh batteries
  • Failed to sell first time around at £2.99 +P&P

This is a pretty limited camera and a sad low point for Olympus to be leaving the film market. It takes alright shots but I’d suggest if the spec appeals hold out for a 80G. However it looks and feels similar to any other low/mid range late zoom camera I’ve seen. It was outclassed by a Canon Sureshot 60 and a Pentax Espio that arrived a few days later despite them being  10 years older. Back to eBay for this one, I’m afraid

Alternatives

  • Canon Sure shot 60 – More able zoom shooter from 1995
  • Pentax Espio AF Zoom- The first Espio is a stylish high end beast

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