Olympus FE-120

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Olympus FE-120
  • Olympus FE-120
  • Olympus FE-120

Pros

  • LCD is small, at 1.8 inches, buttons are well placed

Cons

  • Lacks manual focus, startup is slow, around 4.5 seconds

Bottom Line

Bland styling and a small LCD display detract for an otherwise impressive package.

Would you buy this?

The FE-120's case resembles a bar of soap, with rounded edges and recessed buttons. At just over 1.4 inches thick, it's slim enough to fit into a coat pocket or handbag, and at just over 5 ounces, it won't weigh you down. Its 3X zoom lens telescopes out of the front when you turn it on, and the controls sit nicely under your fingers when you hold the camera. Two buttons to the right of the screen allow you to flick quickly between playback and recording mode, and the mode dial is just below the zoom control; all are within easy reach of the thumb.

But in order to keep the price down, Olympus has cut some corners. For one thing, the FE-120's 1.8-inch LCD screen is rather weak: It's small, low in resolution (85,000 pixels), and hard to see in daylight- even indirect sunlight makes the display look pale and washed out. There is also no microphone for capturing sound to accompany the video the camera can record.

And photographers who want manual controls won't like this camera, as all of its controls are automatic. You can't set the ISO manually, and you get no shutter or aperture priority modes and no manual focus. White balance is fully automatic, as well; you can neither set it manually nor use presets. The FE-120 also omits a video output for viewing images on a TV.

Though all of these issues are fairly small, in the end this camera will appeal mostly to people who are happy with automatic modes. Experienced photographers would likely find the lack of manual controls frustrating.

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