Olympus Infinity Zoom 80
A Review of a Pocketable, Zoomable, and Affordable Point-and-Shoot Camera5 min read by
Olympus Infinity Zoom 80 is a light, pocketable point-and-shoot camera with motorized film transport, auto exposure, and autofocus. Remarkably, due to its relatively recent release, you can still find this camera brand new for over $200.
☝︎ Further reading: “Compact Full-Frame 35mm Film Cameras Under $200.”
Olympus Infinity Zoom 80 features, usability, and ergonomics.
The camera sports a 38-80mm zoom lens with an 𝑓4.5-8.9 aperture. It takes ISO 100-3200 DX-coded 35mm film, uses a built-in flash and can flip the shutter anywhere between 2-1/600s. It also comes with a built-in flash, red-eye reduction, self-timer, and a date stamp option.
Other than the buttons for motorized zoom and shutter, the controls aren’t that useful or comfortable. Disabling flash takes a couple of fiddly rubber button pokes on a cramped interface. The camera’s self-timer and date stamp found no use in my hands.
The zoom viewfinder is the most intriguing feature. Olympus has designed a separate set of optics that imitates the lens magnification as the motorized extension tube adjusts the focal length. This contraption might have taken at least two dozen extra components, just for the extra comfort while shooting.
Ergonomically, the camera fits very nicely in hand and on a person. It’s great to be able to quickly slide the protective cover and immediately have the device ready. It’s fairly light and as sturdy as a plastic body could allow; the Zoom may appear cheap, but it’s well-built.
In capable hands, the camera can produce images good enough for a decent print. The lens is definitely sharp enough for web scans. The challenge is a slow maximum aperture, over-zealous flash, and the lack of manual controls for focus and exposure. The advantages: quick-focusing electronics, great exposure automation and the form factor that makes chucking it into a bag a no-brainer. Should a scene worth photographing materialize, it shouldn’t take more than three seconds to grab the camera and snap.
Better film will yield better results. After all, it’s a full-frame camera, and it can give some digital point-and-shoots and entry-level DSLRs a run for their money.
The flash will enable itself every time in dusk lighting, ready to make your photos flat, with bleached colours that we used to loathe in the ‘90s. Today it’s a different world; it may be your thing, and it could be done well. Or you can use monochrome film for that classic contrasty look.
Zoom lenses come with inherent optical complexities, which make them bulky, adding hard-to-correct distortions; I find their design a nuisance. I prefer a “normal” 50mm focal length, which simulates an average human viewing angle. Still, many will find it helpful to have a choice of framing/zeroing in onto details with this Olympus.
Olympus Zoom is an easy camera to love if you have your expectations set right. It’s comfy and easy to use, for the most part. It’s relatively versatile and could be bought cheaply on the aftermarket. It can and will do more than the likes of plastic toy cameras. It will not give you full creative control, however, so you can forget about bokeh and long exposure shots. Not that it won’t be possible to make the little brick do most of what you need.
The camera is comparatively young, likely last produced this decade, on a modern assembly line. It should last another twenty or more years with no issues, provided that it’s handled with care and the batteries are replaced on time.
Where to buy your Olympus Infinity Zoom camera.
Though your local camera store may have one in stock, they must specialize in film cameras to carry something like this. I found a few copies of the Olympus Infinity Zoom cameras here.
As with any other camera bought online, you should take your time examining photos and ask questions about the camera’s overall functionality. Keep in mind that if the batteries have been left in one for a long time, they may oxidize and ruin the compartment — make sure to check that. Best copies are sold as “tested with film,” though that may be rare.
All of the colour photos taken with Olympus Zoom, above, are shot on Fuji Industrial 100 — a similar stock to Fuji C200. All monochrome shots are made with Rollei RPX 400.
❤ By the way: Please consider making your Olympus Infinity Zoom 80 camera purchase using this link so that this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!