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Olympus VG-160 Overview

Posted: 01/11/2012

The Olympus VG-160 features the combination of a 1/2.3"-type, 14 effective megapixel RGB CCD 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-160 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 LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution offers the Olympus VG-160's only option for framing and reviewing images, as there's no optical viewfinder on this model.

Maximum image dimensions in the VG-160's native 4:3 aspect ratio are 4,288 x 3,216 pixels, and the camera also includes a 16:9 aspect ratio mode, with 4,288 x 2,416 pixel resolution. The Olympus VG-160 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera's image sensor, and the VG-160 also includes face detection capability, 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-160 offers 720p Motion JPEG 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-160, although no information on battery life was available at press time. Images are stored in a 43MB of available internal memory, as well as on Secure Digital memory cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC types and SDXC types. 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-160 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. These include Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish-Eye, Soft Focus, Drawing, Sparkle, and Punk filters. A generous 14 scene modes are offered in the Olympus VG-160, 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. Scene modes include Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fire Works, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, and Pet. There's also an Intelligent Auto mode which can automatically select from a subset of available scene modes.

US market pricing for the Olympus VG-160 is set at around US$100, while in Europe pricing is about €80. Available body colors include silver, black, red or orange, and it should ship from mid-February 2012 in both markets.