Olympus FE-110 Overview
By: Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 04/19/06
Simplicity is what the Olympus FE-110 is all about. Featuring a 5.0-megapixel CCD, 2.8x lens, and compact size, the FE-110 provides bare-bones digital photography for novice consumers. The FE-110's automatic exposure control and point-and-shoot design leave limited choices for the user to worry over. Combine that with the Olympus FE-110's very low price point, and you have an entry-level digital camera capable enough for most average shooting conditions. Performance is slow, but the pictures are decent. Read on for the details.
Olympus FE-110 User Report
The Olympus FE-110 is small and compact, though a little chunky; still, it's great for travel. Its pocket-friendly size is well-suited for small coat pockets and purses (not shirt or pants pockets), though it has a substantial enough handgrip for most hands to grasp well. Featuring a 5.0-megapixel CCD, the FE-110 captures high resolution images with good detail, suitable for printing to 11x17 or 8x10. There's also a low resolution setting perfect for emails.
Built into the Olympus FE-110 is a 2.8x, 6.2-17.4mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-106mm lens on a 35mm camera). Maximum aperture ranges from f/3.0 to f/5.0, depending on the zoom setting. Focus ranges from 1.6 feet (50 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode. A Macro setting focuses as close as 0.7 feet (20 centimeters). There's also a Super Macro option that gets even closer, but with much softer results as a tradeoff. In addition to its 2.8x optical zoom, the FE-110 also offers 4x Digital Zoom. Keep in mind though, that digital zoom simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD and thus results in lower image quality. For composing images, the Olympus FE-110 offers only a 1.5-inch TFT color LCD monitor, which features a very bright and clear display. The LCD monitor provides a limited exposure-information display (shutter speed and aperture aren't reported) so you can quickly check the flash or exposure compensation setting. In Playback mode, the LCD monitor provides image enlargement and an index display.
Exposure control on the FE-110 is straightforward, as the camera operates under automatic exposure control at all times. A large Mode dial on the rear panel offers Program Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Self-Portrait, and Movie mode options, all accessing the same basic LCD menu. The camera automatically determines aperture and shutter speed (from 1/2,000 to one second in most modes, and a maximum of two seconds in Night Scene mode), but Exposure Compensation (to lighten or darken the image) and Flash modes are both user-adjustable. The camera uses a Center-weighted metering system, which bases the exposure on a fairly broad area at the center of the frame. When needed, the Olympus FE-110's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill, and Off modes.
Other camera features include a Self-Timer mode, which provides a 12-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the image is actually captured. The Olympus FE-110's Movie mode captures moving images without sound, at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels. Maximum recording time depends on the resolution and available memory space.
The Olympus FE-110 stores images on xD-Picture Cards, and ships with a 16MB card in the box. It does have 28MB of internal memory though, which is useful in a pinch, but you'll want to get a larger card along with the camera so you don't miss any important shots. Large capacity xD Picture cards are available up to 1GB, and I suggest buying at least a 128MB xD-Picture Card. A CD-ROM loaded with Olympus' Camedia Master software accompanies the camera, compatible with both Windows and Macintosh platforms (including Windows XP and Mac OS X). Camedia Master provides minor image editing tools, and utilities for organizing images. A second CD-ROM holds the FE-110's more advanced instruction manual, which is more detailed than the basic manual that's included in book form. For power, the camera uses two AA-type batteries, and comes with a set of single-use alkalines. I strongly recommend picking up a set of rechargeable batteries and a charger, and keeping a set freshly charged and on-hand on longer outings. Read my NiMH battery shootout page to see which batteries currently on the market are the best, and see my review of the Maha C-204W NiMH battery charger, my current favorite. The optional AC adapter is recommended for time-consuming tasks such as transferring images to a computer. Also included with the Olympus FE-110 is an video cable for connecting to a television set, and a USB cable for connecting the camera to your computer to transfer images.
Aiming at the novice consumer market, Olympus introduces the FE-110, a very simple, easy-to-use point-and-shoot digital camera. Small and very compact, the FE-110 features a 5.0-megapixel CCD, 2.8x optical zoom lens, and straightforward, automatic operation. With very little user control, you only have a few options to fiddle with. The FE-110 handles all the work for you, with decent results in bright lighting, and is a good match for newbies just getting their feet wet before shelling out big bucks on a fancier model. While the FE-110 isn't really responsive enough for fast-paced action, it makes a good sight-seeing camera, something you can easily stash in a pocket on a "three hour tour." While the Olympus FE-110 is definitely more expensive than the cardboard throw-away film cameras, it serves just about the same purpose: An inexpensive option for travel, that you won't fret too much about if gets lost or stolen.
- 5.0-megapixel CCD
- 1.5-inch color LCD display
- 2.8x, 6.2-17.4mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-106mm lens on a 35mm camera)
- 4x Digital zoom
- Automatic exposure control, with four preset Scene modes
- Built-in flash with four operating modes
- xD-Picture Card storage
- 28MB internal memory
- Power supplied by two AA-type batteries or optional AC adapter
- Olympus Camedia Master software for both Mac and Windows
- Macro and Super Macro lens adjustment
- Center-Weighted exposure metering
- QuickTime movies (without sound)
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility
- PRINT Image Matching III compatibility
- DCF (Design rule for Camera File system) compatibility
- Exif 2.2 compatibility
- PictBridge compatibility
- USB cable for connection to a computer
- Video cable for connection to a television set
In the Box
The Olympus FE-110 Digital ships with the following items in the box:
- FE-110 Digital camera
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- Video cable
- Two AA alkaline batteries
- 16MB xD-Picture Card
- CD-ROMs loaded with Olympus Master software, drivers, and instruction manuals.
- Basic Manual, Quick Start guide and registration kit
- A large capacity xD-Picture Card (at least 128MB)
- AC Adapter
- Rechargeable batteries and charger (Read my NiMH battery shootout page to see which batteries currently on the market are the best, and see my review of the Maha C-204W NiMH battery charger, my current favorite.)
- Small camera case for protection
The 5.0-megapixel Olympus FE-110 is a bare-bones, entry-level digital camera well-suited for travel snapshots. Its body design is relatively compact, with very few external controls. Offering automatic exposure control and only a couple of exposure options, the FE-110 handles average bright shooting conditions well, though its Night Scene mode should be fine for standard nighttime photography in urban environments. Color is a little too saturated and warm for my taste, and the camera tends toward high contrast, with limited shadow detail. But if you're looking for an inexpensive digital camera to throw in a backpack and record a trip, the FE-110 may be up your alley. Its price point is low enough that you won't lose too much sleep if it falls over the side of a boat or your two-year-old covers it in peanut butter. While it's not a Dave's Pick, the FE-110 may be of interest to novice users uninterested in learning too much about digital photography.