The Olympus VR-340 is small enough to fit into a large pocket. Its big attractions are its 10x zoom and its low price. It is also extremely easy to use.
One area where the VR-340 differs from the majority of other digital cameras in this price bracket is it has a metal body rather than the more common plastic one. Another plus point is the fact you can charge the battery by connecting it to a computer.
Compared with other pocket digital cameras at this price point the VR-340 has the following:
Based on its features this camera offers very good value for money. It is a good choice if you are looking for something simple, has some extra zoom power and a low price.
Megapixels and Zoom
The VR-340 has 16 megapixels and a 10x zoom lens. The lens has a focal length equivalent to 24 - 240mm in 35mm format. That gives you the flexibility to squeeze in wide scenes as well as being able to zoom in on more distant subjects.
Images can be recorded on SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. The camera is also compatible with Eye-Fi memory cards. These cards have Wi-Fi capabilities.
Power is supplied by a lithium ion battery. A battery and charging equipment is supplied with the camera by Olympus. The battery can also be charged via a USB computer terminal.
You can shoot 720p High Definition Movies. To record High Definition Movies you need to use memory cards of class 6 or higher.
The LCD screen is 3 inches in size.
There are 14 preset shooting modes. These are Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow and Pet.
For close up work the camera can focus from 1cm away from your subject.
Picture Quality Summary
On the whole the VR-340 performs well for a camera in this price bracket. When it comes to sharpness the camera outperforms a lot of its main competitors. Some of the test shots could do with a bit more colour.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
If you compare the first test shot with the same scene taken with different cameras you may notice that it can be difficult to control zoom as well as you might like. This makes it hard to zoom in as precisely as you might want to.
Other than that the picture is sharp, although some detail is lost in the lightest areas of the shot. This is a common occurrence, especially with cheaper digital cameras.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
When no zoom is used digital cameras can struggle to produce a sharply focused shot. The VR-340 does a fair job, but there is a clear loss of sharpness away from the centre. This is unlikely to be much of any issue as long as you are not planning to make large prints. Sharpness should be fine for sharing photos across the Internet.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
Considering the lower price of this camera picture quality is very impressive when the lens is fully zoomed in. Any focusing that is lost towards the edges of the shot is minimal.
This shot is taken with less than half of the zoom power being used. When the lens is not pushed to its extremes it performs very well. A small amount of sharpness is lost as you move towards the edges, but this is less noticeable than with a slot of similarly priced digital camera.
There are no problems with focusing when closer in. The picture could do with some extra life and a bit more colourful. I used a white balance setting of cloudy in an attempt to add some warmth to the shot, but it has not really worked and there is not a great deal of difference from white balance being left as automatic.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
The lighting is fairly subtle. There is enough brightness to light the face, but the hair is a little dark and therefore loses some detail. Getting the balance of the lighting right can be a tough job for a digital camera, but the light could be spread a little wider here.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
With flash turned off the VR-340 can still cope as long as the light available is reasonable. As with the photo taken with flash the photo would look better if there was that bit more brightness available.
Although you may not be able to take fantastic macro shots with this level of digital camera you should still be able to produce decent quality, macro snapshots with the VR-340.
At times some extra pep in the colours would help. This is especially true of photos that have been taken in shady or dull conditions.
Taking into account the price tag noise levels are controlled well. You are unlikely to see any issues at all when using the camera in daylight apart from in shady areas of a scene.
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: July 2012
The Olympus VR-340 may not be the most advanced digital camera, but you get a lot of zoom for your money. Picture quality is good for a camera in this price bracket and the longer lens gives you scope to cover most standard photo opportunities. It also has a couple of features that you do not expect to find at this price level. These include a metal body and the ability to recharge the battery via a USB computer connection. So if you are looking for a simple point and shoot camera offering good value for money this camera is worth careful consideration.
Ease of Use:
Value for Money:
104.3 x 60.2 x 28.3mm
SD / SDHC / SDXC
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:
With plenty of room on the back of the camera to place your thumb, plus a small grip on the front you can take a good hold of the VR-340. Although this is not a large camera Olympus have laid it out in a way where it appears to be bigger than it actually is.
The flash is positioned well away from any stray fingers. It is towards the top of the camera, on the left as you look at it.
LCD Screen Quality
Screen quality is about average for a camera in this price bracket. The fact that it is 3 inches in size gives it a slightly larger screen than many cheaper digital cameras. This is useful when composing and reviewing your photos.
Turn on Time and Shutter Delay
Again, taking into account the price of the camera it performs well. The figures are not as good as the very best cameras available, but the times compare well against most rival models.
Design and Build Quality
The metal body helps to give the feel of a more expensive model. There is not a lot in the design that marks this camera out as being different to all the other point and shoot digital cameras.
On the top of the camera is the on / off button, the shutter button and the zoom ring. On the back there are buttons for shooting a movie, reviewing images, changing the information displayed on the LCD screen, confirming a menu selection, deleting an image, accessing the menu and getting some help.