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Olympus FE-250 review: Olympus FE-250

The Olympus FE-250 is a little slow and has few manual settings, but at least it takes good pictures.

Will Greenwald
3 min read
Olympus FE-250

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.


Olympus FE-250

The Good

Good image quality; great indoor white balance.

The Bad

Sluggish performance; few manual settings.

The Bottom Line

The Olympus FE-250 is a little slow and has few manual settings, but at least it takes good pictures.

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.

Though its performance was lackluster, the FE-250 can produce some great images with adequate lighting. Colors were accurate and neutral even indoors, a tricky thing to accomplish with a camera's automatic white balance. Fine details came through clearly, and we saw very little lens distortion. Even at high ISO settings, we didn't see much noise in our test photos. An antinoise algorithm kicks in at ISO 1600, so noise was actually lower at that setting than at ISO 800. Unfortunately, that algorithm seriously softens details, so you should stick to ISO 800 or lower when shooting.

Despite the Olympus FE-250's sluggish performance and almost complete lack of manual settings, it's still a great camera for new users. If you simply want to take decent photos and don't want to fiddle around with a lot of menus and buttons, it's a decent choice. Its price may seem a bit high for such a simple camera, but its photos look good, it's easy to use, and it's small enough to take almost anywhere.

Want to learn more about our camera reviews? Find out how we test digital cameras.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot SD1000
Kodak EasyShare V705
Olympus Stylus 760
Olympus FE-250
Olympus FE-200


Olympus FE-250

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 6Image quality 8