The Olympus VG-170 is a simple, budget priced digital camera. It has a similar set of features to most cameras available at this price point. The VG-170 is small enough to slip into most pockets. It has 14 megapixels and a 5x zoom lens.
As well as being small and lightweight the big attraction of this camera is how easy it is to use.
Compared with other pocket digital cameras at this price point the VG-170 has the following:
If you are looking for a cheaper, no fuss camera that can produce sharp snapshots the VG-170 is worth considering.
Megapixels and Zoom
This camera has 14 megapixels. That is plenty of megapixels to make very large sized prints. It has a 5x zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 26 - 130mm in 35mm format.
For storing images you can use SD and SDHC cards. To record High Definition Movies you will need to use SDHC cards of class 6 or higher.
Olympus have also made the VG-170 compatible with Eye-Fi cards. These allow you to transfer images to other devices using Wi-Fi.
Power is supplied by a lithium ion battery. The battery is rechargeable. Both the battery and cables for recharging are supplied with the camera.
There is also an option for charging the battery by connecting the camera to a computer using a USB port.
You can record 720p High Definition Movie clips.
The LCD screen is 3 inches in size. That compares well with a lot of digital cameras in this price bracket.
Olympus have added the following scene modes: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Pet and 3D.
For close in photography the VG-170 is able to focus from 5cm away from your subject.
If you would like to give your photos a somewhat different look, Olympus have included some fun filters. These are Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fisheye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Water Colour and Reflection.
Olympus have added a flash unit that is larger in size than you typically find on this type of camera. They claim it is around twice as powerful as the flash unit found on similar models.
Picture Quality Summary
Picture quality is quite good for a camera at this price point. The photos it produces are sharp. A further plus point is that they remain sharp towards the edges of the shot. Colours could be bolder.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
Looking at the first test shot you can see the image is sharp. This is especially true of the brickwork on the building in the centre of the photo. One minor point is that compared to other digital cameras this camera shows a little less detail in the darkest areas of the shot.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
Overall the sharpness of the shot is impressive, especially for a cheaper compact model. There are very small amounts of purple fringing. This is where a thin purple line is added to the edges of objects. It is not to a level that you are likely to notice unless you make extra large prints.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
One thing this camera finds difficult is when you have an area with little contrast in colour. For example in this shot that are some small trees where the leaves are a very similar shade of green. There are also roofs where each tile is a more or less the same colour. When presented with this lack of contrast the VG-170 finds it hard to produce much definition in those areas. So the small trees can end up looking blob like.
Comparing this camera with some from other brands sharpness levels are good. Focusing also remains sharp as you move out towards the edges of the shot.
Although this is the most straightforward test shot not every camera gets it right. In this case focusing is sharp, but the skin colours have a slight pink tinge.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
With a bit more flash power available your subject can be further away from the camera and still be well lit with this camera. Although plenty of power is available the VG-170 does not overpower the subject. The amount of light used is just right to light up the tricky areas such as the hair.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
Lighting levels need to be very good to be able to use this camera indoors without needing flash. Although the lighting for this shot was bright the shot could be crisper.
If you are looking for a camera that can cope with the occasional close in shot then the VG-170 does a pretty good job. If you are looking for a lot more quality than this camera offers you will need to pay a fair bit more.
The colours produced tended to be a bit dull and flat. This is especially true of subject with a lot of green such as bushes, flowers and grass. If you like your pictures to have a bit of extra punch it is best to look elsewhere.
Like most digital cameras noise is not an issue. You will see some noise creep in in shady areas and if you are taking photos in poor light, but it is no better or no worse than other similarly priced compact cameras.
Canon Powershot A4000 IS Rating 84/100
You get quite a lot for your money with the Canon Powershot A4000 IS. If you only plan to make small sized prints or share your photos on the Internet you may not see a great deal of difference between the photos taken with this camera and those taken with other models available at around the same price. What you might notice is that the pictures have a touch more clarity. This is likely to become more evident if you make larger prints. To sum up, if you are looking for a handy compact camera, at a reasonable price, that can cope very well with most photo opportunities this camera is hard to beat.
Read Review: Canon Powershot A4000 IS Review
Panasonic DMC S5 Rating 84/100
If you are looking for a cheap pocket sized digital camera it is difficult to find one offering better picture quality than the Panasonic Lumix DMC S5. It is such a small camera and very easy to use. It is almost the ideal snapshot camera if you do not want to spend a great deal of money.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC S5 Review
Panasonic DMC S3 Rating 84/100
The Panasonic Lumix DMC S3 is an excellent value for money pocket camera. It is very hard to beat when compared alongside its direct rivals. Picture quality and features have an edge over many of its competitors while the rapid response times are also a big plus point. If you are looking for a cheaper compact digital camera then you can’t go far wrong with the Lumix DMC S3.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC S3 Review
Review Date: August 2012
When writing reviews it is not always easy to come up with a long list of reasons to buy a camera. That is true of the Olympus VG-170. It does a lot of things well without standing out from the competition. It takes sharp looking photos and you should find this camera very easy to use. Apart from the photos lacking vivid colours there is not a lot to dislike.
Ease of Use:
Value for Money:
103.7 x 62.5 x 22.2 mm
SD / SDHC
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:
This camera will slip easily enough into the pocket of a pair of jeans or into a small handbag. Olympus have added two textured areas to the camera. This makes it easier to take a firm hold of the camera. Despite its small size it feels like there is plenty of room for fingers and thumbs.
The flash unit is in the top right hand corner of the camera as you look at it. With the unit being so close to the top of the camera you will need to take care that a finger does not slide over the unit and block out some of the light.
LCD Screen Quality
On the whole the screen is easy to view. As with any digital camera if the screen is in line with direct sunlight viewing becomes harder, but in other circumstances it is easy enough to compose your photos and to see the menu system.
Turn on Time and Shutter Delay
The VG-170 recorded a set of standard times.
Design and Build Quality
The VG-170 has a very lightweight feel to it. The flash unit helps to make it look a bit different to other digital cameras. In terms of build quality the VG-170 appears to be of similar quality to most low budget cameras.
On the top of the camera is the on / off button, a shutter button and zoom ring. On the back are buttons to shoot a movie, review images, access the menu system, confirm a setting, change the information displayed on the LCD screen and delete an image.