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Olympus FE-4050 Digital Camera Review

Olympus FE-4050 Digital Camera Review - Daniel Bell takes a look at the Olympus FE-4050, a budget compact camera with a 4x optical zoom and 12Mp sensor.

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Olympus FE-4050: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-4050

The FE-4050 is the cheapest of the three cameras added to the FE range of Olympus digital compact cameras back in August 2010. Priced at £99.99 RRP, it is available in silver, black, red and white and has a 4x optical zoom and 12Mp sensor. Another camera to consider at this price is the Canon PowerShot A3100 IS, priced at £99.00 it also has a 12Mp sensor and a 4x optical zoom.

Olympus FE-4050: Features
  • 4x wide optical zoom, 27-108mm (35mm equiv.) lens
  • Digital Image Stabilisation for less blur
  • 12 Megapixel sensor
  • Intelligent Auto Mode
  • Advanced Face Detection
  • 2.7in LCD screen
  • AF tracking
  • Magic Filters
  • 14 scene modes
  • Movie recording with sound
  • Battery charging via USB cable
  • 1/4 - 1/2000 second shutter speed
  • ISO64 - 1600
Olympus FE-4050 features: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-4050 front and lens   Olympus FE-4050 back
The 4x optical zoom lens does not extend far out of the camera.   On the rear is a 2.7in LCD screen.
Olympus FE-4050 battery compartment   Olympus FE-4050 top
Power is provided by the LI-42B lithium-ion battery.   On the top of the camera is simply the on/off button and shutter release.

Olympus FE-4050: Handling
If you are looking for a small and light weight compact camera then the FE-4050 ticks the box. It's no bigger than the size of your average mobile phone and is perfect for tucking in your pocket when heading out with friends. All the buttons are responsive and easy to use regardless of the size of your fingers and the 2.7in screen is clear in low-light conditions. The menu is easy to navigate and making changes to settings isn't complicated even if you're a photography beginner.

Olympus FE-4050: Performance
When the lens is extended to its full 4x optical zoom performance is good and the trees and building in the distance in the image below have retained a fair amount of detail, with more detail lost when the lens is at its widest. Colours a reproduced well but when the images are viewed at full size there is some detail missing throughout so it's unlikely you'd want to use the FE-4050 for large prints, but if you enjoy sharing your pictures with friends via Facebook and Flickr then this camera is likely to suit.

Olympus FE-4050 lens performance: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-4050 wide angle   Olympus FE-4050 telephoto
Wide-angle   Telephoto.

ISO and noise performance
The ISO and noise performance of the Olympus FE-5050 is quite poor. Even at ISO64, noise is evident although not too bad, but certainly is more evident at ISO100 and it continues to worsen. It is unlikely that you would want to use this camera at ISO800 and ISO1600, infact it would be best to use this camera at ISO64 as much as possible.

Olympus FE-4050 ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-4050 ISO 64
Olympus FE-4050 ISO64
Olympus FE-4050 ISO100 Olympus FE-4050 ISO200
ISO64 ISO100 ISO200
Olympus FE-4050 ISO400 Olympus FE-4050 ISO800 Olympus FE-4050 ISO1600
ISO400 ISO800 ISO1600

Using the auto white-balance under tungsten lights gives a warm green colour cast but does a fairly good job when using the tungsten preset, where the white-balance is almost perfect. The camera struggled under the fluorescent lights in our studio, both the auto white-balance and fluorescent presets give a warm green colour, the fluorescent preset being marginally better.

Olympus FE-4050 white-balance: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-4050 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Olympus FE-4050 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting.   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Olympus FE-4050 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Olympus FE-4050 Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting.   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

Magic filters and scene modes
There are quite a range of scene modes available. They are portrait, landscape, night, sport, indoor, candle-light, self-portrait, sunset, fireworks, cuisine, documents, beach and snow and pet. There is also six magic filters including pop-art, pin-hole, fisheye, drawing, soft focus and punk. The magic filters didn't produce anything special, the best one being drawing. The scene modes will give the novice user a better chance of taking a good picture, although some seemed a touch pointless.

Olympus FE-4050 magic filters & scene modes: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-4050 Portrait mode   Olympus FE-4050 self portrait
Portrait mode.   Self portrait mode.
Olympus FE-4050 landscape   Olympus FE-4050 pinhole
Landscape mode.   Pinhole filter.

Olympus FE-4050: Verdict
For a first digital compact camera the FE-4050 performs well for its price. The FE-4050 is a good looking, light weight camera and is easy to use. Noise is evident throughout the ISO range, the AWB struggles at times and the images produced aren't fantastic, but if you're the type of person that shares small images on the web then the Olympus FE-4050 is worth some consideration if you are on a budget.

Olympus FE-4050: Pros
Easy to use
Small and light
4x optical zoom

Olympus FE-4050: Cons
Poor auto white-balance performance
Noise evident through the ISO range


Olympus FE-4050: Specification
Price £88.54 (Amazon 23/11/2010)
What comes in the box Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery, AC Adapter, USB Cable, AV cable, Handstrap, Warranty Card, Instruction Manual, Image Management Software.
Contact www.olympus.co.uk
Lens 4x optical zoom, 4.9 - 19.6mm, (27 - 108mm 35mm equiv.)
Resolution 12 Megapixels
Max. Image size 3968 x 2976
Aspect ratio 4:3
LCD monitor size 2.7in
Focusing system TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection
Focusing modes iESP, Face Detection AF, Spot, AF Tracking
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO 64 - 1600
Metering system ESP light metering
Metering modes Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, Pet
White-balance Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten, Flourescent 1, Flourescent 2, Flourescent 3
Exposure compensation +/- 2 EV
Shutter speed range 1/4 - 1/2000 s / < 4 s (Night scene)
Anti-shake mode Digital Image Stabilisation
Movie mode 640 x 480 / 30 fps Recording time: no limit
Media type SD / SDHC
Interface A/V & USB
Power LI-42B Lithium-Ion Battery
Size (wxdxl) 91.7 x 56.0 x 19.9mm
Weight (with battery) 112g
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