The Olympus VR-310 is a slim high-zoom compact camera, launched in January 2011 with an RRP of £129.99, available in silver, black, red and purple. With the price now having fallen to £107.99, Daniel Bell investigates whether the camera is quite the bargain it seems...
Olympus VR-310: Features
The VR-310 has a wide 10x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 24 - 240mm. Along with its 14 megapixel sensor, it is armed with Dual Image Stabilisation to guard against camera shake to eliminate blur.
Intelligent Auto Mode sets the camera settings automatically, selecting from the 5 most commonly used scenes. The scene modes available include: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Text, Beach & Snow and Pet. For added creativity there are also a range of Magic Filters. There are: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish Eye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk and Sparkle.
The Olympus VR-310 shoots videos in 720p HD, with a maximum file size of 2Gb.
10x optical zoom (35mm equiv: 24-240mm)
Dual Image Stabilisation
720p HD Movies
14 megapixel sensor
3.0 inch 230,400 dot colour LCD screen
ISO80 - 1600
Intelligent Auto Mode
Advanced Face Detection
Olympus VR-310: Handling
The camera feels solid and although made of plastic, doesn't feel cheap and is remarkably small considering it has a 10x optical zoom lens. The buttons are well laid out and very easy to press, with the cameras menus clear and simple to navigate. There is a dedicated button which takes you straight to video recording and a help button which can be held down when accessing the menus to aid you if there is anything you don't understand. On the rear of the camera is a 3 inch LCD which is easily viewed in all lighting conditions.
Using continuous mode, the camera shots at 0.6fps. The camera also has two more continuous shooting modes - High Speed 1 and High Speed 2. High Speed 2 yields the highest rate, in testing it was capable of 7.5fps, but at a maximum of 3 megapixels and shoots at a higher ISO than High Speed 1, which managed 2.9fps, also at 3 megapixels.
Olympus VR-310: Performance
Pictures taken by the VR-310 are generally well exposed with good colour reproduction. At its widest, images retained more detail towards the centre of the images, with the corners looking very blurred. In the wide-angle image below there is a hint of purple fringing, but nothing too drastic. When using the full optical zoom, detail appears to be consistent throughout. With a minimum focus distance of just 1cm, the camera takes excellent macro images when in Super Macro mode.
Full optical zoom, ISO80, 1/250, f/5.7, 42mm (35mm equiv: 240mm)
Digital zoom, ISO80, 1/200, f/5.7, 42mm (35mm equiv: 240mm)
Macro, ISO80, 1/40, f/3.9, 7mm (35mm equiv: 37mm)
Sadly noise is evident in images even at ISO80 and is clearly worse at ISO100. Noise continues to increase quite aggressively through ISO200 and ISO400. ISO800 and ISO1600 produces images which are going to best for small size prints or for sharing on the web.
ISO80, 1/3, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO100, 1/5, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO200, 1/10, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO400, 1/15, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO800, 1/30, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
ISO1600, 1/60, f/5.8, 24mm (35mm equiv: 138mm)
Below are examples using some of the scene modes available.
Under our incandescent studio lights, auto white-balance has struggled a touch, with the incandescent preset giving a much more pleasant picture. When switching to the fluorescent lights, auto white-balance takes the better shot, rather than using the fluorescent preset.
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/10, f/4.5, 10mm (35mm equiv: 57mm)
The VR-310 records videos at 720p HD and 640 x 480, both at 30fps with no time limit, although file size is limited to 2Gb. You can use optical zoom when shooting videos, but without sound, although digital zoom can be used with sound.
Value For Money
The Olympus VR-310 is available for £107.99. If you are looking for a 10x optical zoom camera there are plenty of options dependent on your budget. Cheaper than the VR-310, the Pentax Optio RZ10, also with a 14 megapixel sensor, costs £93.99. If you have a bigger budget to spend, the Samsung PL210 is available for around £148 and Fuji FinePix T200 cost £124.99, all with 14 megapixel sensors.
The VR-310 is a compact 10x zoom optical camera, capable of taking pictures which are perfectly acceptable when considering the price it is available for. If you are on a budget and would like a point and shoot with more zoom than you normally find on a camera at this price then you can't go wrong with the VR-310.
Olympus VR-310: Pros
Extremely cheap for 10x optical zoom
Focus distance of just 1cm allows for great macro images
Good range of Scene Modes and Magic Filters
Olympus VR-310: Cons
Noise levels even at lowest ISO
No optical zoom with sound on videos