Sometimes you just don't want to agonize over whether you should choose the soup or the salad, the Coke or the Pepsi, the PC or the Mac. Olympus realizes just how hard choices can be, which is why it's made the FE series of digital cameras. They're simple, direct, and require almost no choices besides when to press the shutter button. The Olympus FE-250 is one such camera.
The attractive, compact FE-250 measures 0.8 inch thick and weighs less than five ounces. Its small metal body fits comfortably in most pockets. Despite its small size, the camera's various controls are easy to manipulate, with buttons large enough for those of us with big thumbs to use.
The FE-250's most notable feature is its pixel count. At 8 megapixels, the FE-250 is the highest-resolution FE series camera so far. Besides the increased resolution, the FE-250 sports fairly mundane features, like a 35-to-105mm-equivalent 3x optical zoom lens and a 2.5-inch LCD screen.
Like all Olympus FE series cameras, the FE-250 is almost completely devoid of manual settings. Besides flash and macro shooting, preset scene modes, exposure compensation, and ISO sensitivity, users can't make any image adjustments. White balance and other factors are completely automated by the camera, giving a very literal sense to the phrase "point and shoot." However, you can choose the ISO sensitivity, making the FE-250 one of the most customizable FE series cameras, though it still lacks many common image settings.
In our CNET Labs tests, the FE-250's performance was mediocre at best. After the camera took 2.5 seconds to start up and capture its first image, we could only fire off a shot every 4.8 seconds; that painful wait increased to 5.3 seconds with the onboard flash enabled. While five seconds is far too long to wait between shots, it's not too surprising; the previous-generation FE-200 had shot-to-shot times of more than seven seconds. The FE-250's shutter was a bit more responsive, lagging 0.7 second on our high-contrast target and 1.6 seconds on our low-contrast target.