Although the Verve makes most of the decisions for you, there are scene modes to accommodate most common shooting situations. These include Portrait, Landscape, Landcape/Portrait, Night, Cuisine, Beach & Snow, Self-Portrait (with and without self-timer), and Display Window for shooting through glass. Add in Sunset and Fireworks modes, plus special indoors and candle settings that lock the camera at 1,280x960 or lower resolution, and you're ready for just about any shooting environment. Shutter speeds are set automatically between 1/2 and 1/1,000 second, although the night scene mode can extend exposures to as long as 4 seconds. After you've taken your best shot, you can apply several special effects, including soft focus, fish-eye, sepia, and black-and-white. The Verve retains the original, unprocessed shot, too, in case you change your mind. Motion-picture capture is limited to 320x240 pixels at 15fps, with sound. You can also annotate stills with 4-second audio clips.
This Olympus's verve screeched to a halt in the performance department. Time to first shot wasn't bad at roughly 3 seconds, but the 3-second pauses between shots--nearly 5 seconds with flash--were strictly middle-of-the-road. A mere 5 shots in 4.2 seconds in burst mode at full resolution wasn't anything to write home about, either, although the ability to shoot 104 consecutive shots at 640x480 resolution in about 81 seconds might be useful for some applications.
Shutter lag was acceptable at 0.8 second under high-contrast lighting conditions, but the non-light-assisted autofocus delayed shooting for 1.5 seconds under more demanding low-contrast lighting. We got 302 shots from a single charge of the lithium-ion LI-30B battery, half with flash. The LCD was generally easy to use for picture composition when we held the Verve still, but it exhibited prodigious ghosting when we moved the camera. The view is bright and clear under normal lighting conditions and in dim light, where the brightness is boosted to compensate, but the screen easily washed out in bright daylight.
Image quality was acceptable, with detail a bit softer than you'd expect from a 4-megapixel camera and colors that tended to be muted. Flesh tones tended to be a little yellow, and blown-out highlights and moderate purple fringing plagued many images. The red-eye-reduction feature didn't work particularly well, and flash pictures beyond the rated 9 feet were usually badly underexposed. In these situations, the Verve automatically boosted ISO to compensate, but this produced underexposed, noisy photos.
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