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Olympus VG-120 Overview

Posted: 01/05/2011

The VG-120 features a the combination of a 1/2.3"-type, 14 effective megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 5x optical zoom lens, which offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a useful 26mm wide-angle to a moderate 130mm telephoto. Sadly, the Olympus VG-120 lacks true mechanical image stabilization, instead opting only for what Olympus calls "Digital Image Stabilization", which increases the ISO sensitivity (and along with it, both the shutter speed and image noise levels) to try and freeze motion. ISO sensitivity ranges from a low of ISO 80 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent. A 3.0-inch HyperCrystal III LCD display with 230,400 dot resolution offers the Olympus VG-120's only option for framing and reviewing images, as there's no optical viewfinder on this model.

The Olympus VG-120 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera's image sensor, and the VG-120 also includes face detection capability, able to detect up to 16 faces in a scene simultaneously. Olympus' Face Detection function is linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subjects' faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. AF tracking technology continually adjusts focus and exposure to keep fast-moving subjects in focus.

As well as still image shooting, the Olympus VG-120 offers 720p high definition movie capture, although there's no high-definition video output on this model, so you'll have to transfer cards or use the USB connection to offload your data, if you want to see the result on a high-def display. A rechargeable LI-70B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the VG-120, and has a CIPA rating of 160 shots per charge. Images are stored in a reasonably useful 49MB of available internal memory, as well as on Secure Digital memory cards, including the newer SDHC types, but not the latest generation SDXC cards. Images and videos can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, and there's also a standard-definition video output.

The VG-120 includes a variety of what the company terms Magic Filters, which are similar to the in-camera Art Filters first introduced in Olympus digital SLRs in 2009. Three new Magic Filters -- Sparkle, and Punk -- are included, in addition to the Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish-Eye, Soft Focus, and Drawing filters seen in previous models. A generous 14 scene modes are offered in the Olympus VG-120, plus a Program Auto mode, allowing users some degree of control over their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. There's also an Intelligent Auto mode which can automatically select from a subset of scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Night + Portrait, Macro or Sports).

The Olympus VG-120 ships in the USA from January 2011, with pricing of about US$140. Available body colors include black, silver, and red.