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Olympus FE-20 Digital Camera Review

Olympus FE-20 Digital Camera Review - 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. David Tymon from Cameras.co.uk has reviewed.

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Olympus FE-20 in Compact Cameras

Olympus FE-20 FrontWhy 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.

Image Quality

Olympus FE-20 Outdoors 1
Olympus FE-20 Outdoors 2
Outdoor 1 (Medium Zoom)
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.

Outdoor 2 (No Zoom)
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.
Olympus FE-20 Outdoors 3
Olympus FE-20 Building
Outdoor 3 (Maximum Zoom)
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.
Outdoor 4 (Building)
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.

Olympus FE-20 Outdoor Portrait
Olympus FE-20 Indoor Portrait
Outdoor Portrait
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.
Indoor Portrait with Flash
The burst of light from the flash is quite b. In this test it has caused a ber shadow than I would have liked. The face is well lit though and the camera is also able to retain colour in the shot.

Olympus FE-20 Indoor Portrait
Olympus FE-20 Colours
Indoor Portrait without Flash
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.
Personally I like the colours produced by the FE-20. They don't overpower, but they are still vivid enough to create attractive photos.

Olympus FE-20 Macro
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.

ISO 400 and ISO 1000: 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.

Overall: 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.

Shutter Lag and Recycling Times: This is an area where the camera struggled. 5.37 seconds to turn on the camera and take a picture is well below par. Likewise the 1.09 seconds to take a single picture is slow. Five photos also took a long time at 23.39 seconds. With flash turned on similar times were recorded: 1.99 seconds for a single photo and 25.09 seconds for five photos. Slow response times are something I have noticed with other Olympus digital cameras.

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.

Olympus FE-20 TopDimensions: 95.9 x 57.2 x 21.5mm

Weight: 103g

Batteries: Lithium ion. Both a battery and charger are supplied.

Memory Cards: Olympus have built 20.5mb of memory into the camera. I was able to take 9 photos before the built in memory was full. The camera is compatible with xD and Micro SD cards.

Ease of Use Rating: Very good. You should have no problems using this camera.

Olympus FE-20 BackPoints I Like: Ease of use - design is good for a cheaper camera

Where it Could Improve: Slow to turn on - slow to take photos

Alternatives: If you are looking for a similar camera there are now quite a few to choose from. The next camera in the Olympus range offering similar features and a little extra quality is the Olympus FE-360.

David Tymon's 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.

David Tymon works with Cameras.co.uk

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Photographs taken using the Olympus FE-20

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