The Olympus FE-240 is a pocket sized digital camera with something different. It has a longer than standard 5x zoom lens as opposed to the more standard 3x. It is a slimline digital camera with a metal body. In terms of features the FE-240 is a standard point and shoot digital camera with perhaps one or two less controls than is normal.
93.5 x 56.0 x 20.0mm
There is nothing I like more than a good, sharp photographs. Unfortunately the level of sharpness in my outdoor scenic photos is well below par. There is nothing particularly different or difficult about the three outdoor photos I take. The first one zooms in, but not to the full extent of the zoom, the second one uses no zoom and the third one full zoom. Therefore I expect better levels of sharpness than I can see with the FE-240.
Looking at the first outdoor shot focusing slides quite quickly as you move away from the centre. This is something that can be seen in each of the shots. The skies in these photos also look pixilated. This leads to a loss of quality. I can also see a loss of detail on the boats in photo one and the floats on the side of the boats in photo three. In fact I am struggling to find anything really positive to say.
The colours produced by the FE-240 look a bit weak to me. Whether or not you like the depth of colours in a photo is a matter of personal taste, but I like to see stronger colours than I can see here.
Next up is the outdoor portrait. Sadly I find this photo lacking in life. It is not exactly bursting with vitality. The features of the FE-240 do not allow you to change the white balance settings. This means that I cannot adjust them to try to liven up the colours in the shot.
My lowlight tests produced a very good indoor portrait and a credible attempt in my extreme lowlight test. The indoor portrait is bright and there is plenty of detail in the shot as well. There is a hint of red eye, but no more. This does not mean you will never produce a photo with red eye, but it does suggest this camera is able to control red eye at least to some degree.
As shown in the beer bottles test, once light gets very low the FE-240 struggles with focusing. It is a shame that this camera does not have an auto focus illuminator as this would help to take the camera to the next level.
Unfortunately the FE-240 struggles once again with sharpness in my macro test.
There is no facility to adjust ISO settings. These are controlled automatically by the camera. Therefore I cannot test for higher ISO settings.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
Shutter lag is another area where the camera struggled. Without the flash it took 0.58 seconds to take a single photo. This is roughly twice as long as many cameras take. It took 14.68 seconds to take five photos. Turning the flash unit on slows the camera down further. It took 1.68 seconds to take a single photo and 19.99 seconds to take five photos. These are all slow times.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The 5x optical zoom lens has a focal length of 38 - 190mm in 35mm format. The maximum aperture of the lens is f3.3 - f5. There is also a 4x digital zoom feature available. In super macro mode the closest focusing distance is 3cm.
For composing images there is a 2.5" LCD screen. This is made up of around 115,000 pixels.
To help take the best possible shots I counted ten preset scene modes. These are Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Behind Glass, Cuisine, Documents and Auction.
The built in flash unit has a maximum range of 3.8m, falling to 2.1m when the zoom is in use. You can turn the flash on or off, allow the camera to control it automatically and use red eye reduction.
There are very few controls available to you. Features such as white balance, ISO and shutter speeds (1/2 - 1/2000 seconds) are all controlled automatically by the FE-240. You do have access to exposure compensation though (+/- 2 EV / 1/3 steps). There is also a mode allowing you to stitch together shots in panoramic mode. You need to use an Olympus brand memory card in order to use this feature. There is also a self timer with a delay of around 12 seconds.
You will find cables and software in the box to connect the FE-240 to a computer, television and PictBridge compatible printer.
Movies can be recorded at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480. The top recording speed is 30 frames per second. The duration of a movie is only limited by the capacity of the memory card. Sound can be recorded and you can also zoom in and out while the movie is being recorded.
Ease of Use
As you can see from the feature list above the FE-240 is one of the more basic digital cameras. This helps to make it easy to use. I like the fact there is control dial on the camera. This helps to put controls where you can see them. The menu system is straightforward enough too. There is also a built in photography guide. This gives you a few helpful tips on how to improve your photos.
You can pick up the Olympus FE-240 for around £150. With it's longer than standard lens it is not easy to find cameras to compare directly against. Here are a few: Casio Exilim High Zoom EX-V7 £225 Kodak Easyshare V610 £160 and Kodak Easyshare V603 £145.
This camera is small and compact enough to fit into most pockets. It has a metal body and is available in black and silver. It has a pretty standard shape and design and there isn't really anything I can see to mark it out as being different to so many other digital cameras. That is not to say it is unattractive in any way. It has dimensions of 93.5 x 56 x 23mm. It weighs 115g.
A lithium ion battery provides power to the camera. Both a battery and charger are supplied as standard.
With 20mb of memory built in I was able to take 17 photos before the internal memory was full. That's enough to get you started, but I would suggest picking up a memory card to go with the camera. It is compatible with xD memory cards.
Click here to save money on xD cards..
Points I like:
Longer zoom on a pocket sized camera
Guide to picture taking
Where it is not so hot:
A longer zoom lens and a pocket sized design are great ideas. However I was very disappointed with the Olympus FE-240. Looking back over my tests I cannot remember being less impressed by any other camera for a while. Sorry Olympus, but this camera just does not work for me.
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