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Olympus X-880 review: Olympus X-880

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The Good Inexpensive; well made; speedy zoom and autofocus.

The Bad Difficult to find the face-detection mode; some control glitches; memory-format support.

The Bottom Line The Olympus X-880 is a decent camera that produces crisp, colourful pictures. But, while the 5x optical zoom is good, the control interface becomes cumbersome when you dig below the surface, and we can't understand why you have to activate the face-detection mode manually. Overall, the X-880 is good on the surface, but rather odd and clunky beneath it

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The £99 Olympus X-880 digital camera is exclusive to Jessops, but it's essentially the same as the FE-370, available elsewhere. Olympus FE-series cameras are designed to offer ease of use and 'precision automation'. Highlights include a 5x optical zoom, although the reliance on the xD Picture Card and microSD memory-card formats leaves Olympus out of step with other makers.

For a sub-£100 camera, the X-880 feels really good. It's slim enough to slide into your pocket and the metal finish looks smart and feels durable. The LCD screen is clear and the autofocus is snappy. It slows down slightly at the long end of the zoom range but not by much, and the zoom action itself is fast for a lens with this range.

The X-880 might have only 8 million pixels, which isn't much by today's standards, but, given the tiny size of the sensors in compact cameras, it doesn't make much difference. Its pictures look bright, clear and crisp, although it does generate some pretty wild barrel distortion at the wideangle end of its zoom range. Hardware image stabilisation is built in, which isn't bad at this price.

That barrel distortion at the wideangle end of the zoom range is a worry, but the definition and colours are pretty decent (click image to enlarge)

Although the X-880 is aimed at beginners and photographers who want fuss-free snapping, it has all the usual manual overrides. The 'OK/Func' button on the back pops up a menu at the side of the display, allowing you to change white balance, ISO, picture size and quality. That's about all you need really -- any more-advanced settings can be accessed through the main menu system.

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