Olympus FE-230 review: Olympus FE-230

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Excellent indoor white balance; simple to use

The Bad Sluggish performance; soft images

The Bottom Line If you really want a camera that does the thinking for you, this is a good choice. Otherwise, look for faster, more reliable models.

6.4 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Image quality 6.0
  • Performance 6.0

Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies. Better yet, ask me no questions, and I won't have to think too much about how to take pictures. That's the philosophy behind Olympus' FE-series of cameras. Rather than offering manual settings and complicated exposure options, the FE-cameras almost completely automate their shots, making them literal point-and-shoot cameras. Square in the middle of these cameras is the FE-230, a nondescript camera with a tiny form and few options.

The compact FE-230 weighs a mere 4.3 ounces with card and battery, making it the lightest member of the FE-series. Its slim, metal body fits easily in most pockets and feels comfortable in your hand. Despite its small form, the camera's controls are quite large and responsive; even large thumbs can easily manipulate its mode dial and control pad.

The camera's small size is its biggest attribute; unlike the high-resolution FE-250 or the 5x optical zoom-equipped FE-240, the FE-230 is a more cookie-cutter point-and-shoot with a 7-megapixel resolution, a 38mm to 114mm-equivalent 3x zoom lens, and a 2.5-inch LCD screen. Besides its automatic mode, the FE-230 has 18 shooting modes, including a 30 frames per second (fps) VGA movie mode. It also comes with 20MB of built-in memory so you can take a small handful of shots without using an xD memory card. Of course, 20MB isn't a lot of space, so we recommend getting a memory card anyway.

As with all Olympus FE-series cameras, the FE-240 almost completely lacks any manual settings. Besides flash and macro shooting, preset scene modes, and exposure compensation, users can't make any image adjustments. The camera completely automates white balance, ISO sensitivity, and other settings, giving a very literal sense to the phrase "point and shoot." This isn't necessarily a bad thing; automation can be beneficial as long as the images look good in the end.

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