Olympus FE-20 Review

Simple and Easy

Picture
Olympus FE-20 Ease of Use 9
Features 7
Movie Mode 8
Build Quality8
Colours 8
Photo Quality 8
Style 8
Lowlight 8
Macro 8
Value for Money 9
8 Megapixels
3x Zoom
2.5 inch LCD Screen
95.9 x 57.2 x 21.5mm
103g

Overview

The Olympus FE-20 is an inexpensive, pocket camera. In terms of features it is a more basic model, but this helps to make it easy to operate. It has 8 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom lens.

Why Buy The Olympus FE-20

If you are looking for a digital camera to slip into a pocket and is easy to use then the FE-20 is one to consider. It is a fair bit cheaper than most pocket cameras too.

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:

8
3x
2.5 inches
95.9 x 57.2 x 21.5mm
103g

Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

5cm
No
No
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
xD Micro SD

Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

The colours and lighting are impressive. As these are key components for good looking photos the FE-20 gets off to an encouraging start. Focusing is sharp in the centre of the shot, but it does get noticeably softer as you move towards the edges. This is not a great problem for smaller prints, but may well show up on larger ones.

This is another bright, colourful photo. Here the FE-20 finds it difficult to bring out a lot of the detail in the trees and at this distance they tend to look a bit blobby instead of being able to make out much detail. This is especially true where the trees are darker in colour. General focusing is satisfactory considering the distance parts of the scene are from the camera.

There are similar features in this photo when comparing to the first two test shots. Again the overall impression when looking at the photo is positive. It is only when you start to enlarge the photo above 7 x 5 inches in size that you begin to notice focusing slides away from the centre of the shot. There is also a small amount of purple fringing in places, but you would have to make a very large print before this becomes an issue.

Taking all four outdoor photos into account focusing is at about the level I would expect from a cheaper digital camera. As long as you are not looking to make large prints focusing should be good enough. If you are looking for a big increase in photo quality you will need to consider a big increase in price as well.

Portraits

When you photograph subjects that are much closer to the camera it is much harder to spot the difference between cheaper compacts like the FE-20 and more expensive models. This camera does a good job here. It produces a sharp photo and the colours and lighting are about right too.

The burst of light from the flash is quite strong. In this test it has caused a stronger shadow than I would have liked. The face is well lit though and the camera is also able to retain colour in the shot.

Although this picture was taken indoors the lighting was still bright. Even so the FE-20 is unable to produce a sharply focused photo. This camera is not alone with this problem and it can be surprising just how much light a digital camera needs before it is able to produce pin sharp photos.

Macro, Colours and Noise

The macro shot is good enough. It is a fairly standard effort. The super macro mode allows you to focus from 5cm away and that should be close enough for most subjects.

Personally I like the colours produced by the FE-20. They don't overpower, but they are still vivid enough to create attractive photos.

All cameras struggle when ISO is pushed up, but the FE-20 struggles more than most. The maximum ISO setting is 1000, but picture quality is struggling long before getting there.

Summary

As a group my test shots are in line with expectations. The FE-20 most handles snapshot situations and as long as you are not looking to make large prints picture quality is good for such a cheap camera.

See sample images link arrow

Style

Small, neat and tidy. A basic rectangular shape with a couple of rounded corners and a rounded edge. The camera looks similar to many point and shoot cameras. The FE-20 is available in black and silver.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Slow

Single Shot
Five Shots
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash

1.09 seconds
23.39 seconds
1.99 seconds
25.09 seconds


Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Easy Very good. You should have no problems using this camera.

Points I Like

Ease of use - design is good for a cheaper camera

Where it Could Improve

Slow to turn on - slow to take photos

Verdict

Slimline, entry level cameras like the Olympus FE-20 have come down in price giving you the chance to pick up a relatively inexpensive pocket camera. Despite the small optics picture quality is surprisingly good in most snapshot situations, especially when the subject is not too far away from the camera.

Product Shots

Front View

Olympus FE-20 Front View

Back View

Olympus FE-20 Back View

Top View

Olympus FE-20 Top View

Sample Menus

camera menu menu

setup iso

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Canon Powershot A2400 IS Rating 83/100

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Related Pages

Olympus FE-20 Review Olympus FE-20 Specification Olympus FE-20 Sample Images Olympus FE-20 Features Olympus Digital Cameras

Review Date

October 2008

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