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Olympus FE-5050 Digital Camera Review

The Olympus FE-5050 has a 5x optical zoom and 14Mp sensor and is put to the test by Daniel Bell.

|  Olympus FE-5050 in Compact Cameras
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Olympus FE-5050: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-5050 front

Olympus added the FE-5050 to their range of easy to use, affordable digital compact cameras back in August 2010. Without breaking the bank you get a 14Mp sensor with a 5x optical zoom as well as a range of magic filters and various scene modes. The camera is available in silver, black, gold and pink and is available for £124.99. At this price you might also be considering the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS11 which also boasts HD movie capabilities as well as a 14Mp sensor and 5x optical zoom and is priced at £124.00.

Olympus FE-5050: Features
  • 5x wide optical zoom, 26-130mm (35mm equiv.) lens
  • Digital Image Stabilisation
  • 14 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-5050 features: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-5050 front and lens   Olympus FE-5050 back
The camera boasts a 5x optical zoom, 26-130mm (35mm equiv.) lens.   On the rear there is a 2.7in LCD screen.
Olympus FE-5050 battery compartment   Olympus FE-5050 top
The camera is powered by a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery.   At just 18.8mm deep the camera will suit those looking for a camera that can fit in their pocket.

Olympus FE-5050: Handling
The first thing to note is the size and weight of the camera. It is certainly the type of camera you can tuck into your pocket if you are going out with friends as it is little more than the size of a mobile phone. 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-5050: Performance
Colours are reproduced well by the camera, but a little dull throughout the images. At both ends of the lens the detail isn't great and worsens the further away an object is from the camera. At the telephoto length, the detail in the nearest lock and the red building is OK, but the rest of the image does not look sharp at all. Overall, the images produced by the Olympus FE-5050 are more likely to be suitable for websites such as Facebook and Flickr than being reproduced as large prints.

Olympus FE-5050 lens performance: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-5050 wide angle   Olympus FE-5050 telephoto
The details in the trees at wide-angle length is fairly poor.   At the telephoto length, most detail is kept in the building.

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-5050 ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-5050 ISO 64
Olympus FE-5050 ISO64 Olympus FE-5050 ISO100 Olympus FE-5050 ISO200
ISO64 ISO100 ISO200
Olympus FE-5050 ISO400 Olympus FE-5050 ISO800 Olympus FE-5050 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-5050 white-balance: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-5050 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Olympus FE-5050 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting.   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Olympus FE-5050 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Olympus FE-5050 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 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-5050 magic filters & scene modes: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Olympus FE-5050 Portrait scene mode   Olympus FE-5050 Self-portrait scene mode
Portrait scene mode.   Self-portrait scene mode.
Olympus FE-5050 Drawing magic filter   Olympus FE-5050 Landscape scene mode
Drawing magic filter.   Landscape scene mode.

Olympus FE-5050: Verdict
For the low price of this camera you can't complain at a 5x optical zoom and 14Mp sensor. The camera is easy to use and will certainly appeal to those who are new to photography and buying their first camera. On the downside, the images produced aren't fantastic and the noise and auto white-balance performance isn't great either.

Olympus FE-5050: Pros
Olympus FE-5050 Easy to use
Olympus FE-5050 Small and light
Olympus FE-5050 5x optical zoom

Olympus FE-5050: Cons
Olympus FE-5050 Poor auto white-balance performance
Olympus FE-5050 Noise evident through the ISO range

FEATURES Olympus FE-5050
HANDLING Olympus FE-5050
OVERALL Olympus FE-5050

Olympus FE-5050: Specification
Price £124.99
What comes in the box Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery, AC Adapter, USB Cable, AV cable, Handstrap, Warranty Card, Instruction Manual, Image Management Software.
Lens 5x optical zoom, 4.7 - 23.5mm, (26 - 130mm 35mm equiv.)
Resolution 14 Megapixels
Max. Image size 4288 x 3216
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
320 x 240 / 30 fps Recording time: no limit
Media type SD / SDHC
Interface A/V & USB
Power LI-42B Lithium-Ion Battery
Size (wxdxl) 92.0 x 55.0 x 18.8mm
Weight (with battery) 114g

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