Olympus: Four new FE-series digicams (UPDATED)
Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource (Wednesday, August 23, 2006 - 01:00 EDT)Olympus's line of digital cameras span the range from affordable entry-level units right the way up to single-lens reflex models aimed at professional use. The FE-series, launched with three models in late 2005, emphasises competitive pricing and ease of use in a compact body. A year later, and there's four new additions to the line.
First up is the Olympus FE-170, featuring an Olympus-branded 3x optical zoom with a 38 - 114mm equivalent focal length range and F3.1 - 5.9 maximum aperture. The Olympus FE-170 couples this with a 6.0 megapixel imager and 2.5" LCD display that has 150,000 pixels. Likely to help keep price and complexity down, this LCD is the sole method of framing images, as the FE-170 forgoes any form of optical viewfinder. As you might expect from an entry level $150 camera aimed at beginners, the FE-170 keeps things simple by retaining automatic control of most image parameters. Autofocus is via contrast detection, while ISO sensitivity ranges from 64 to 400 equivalent under automatic control. Exposures are determined with Olympus' Digital ESP multi-pattern metering, although the user can tweak the exposure with +/-2.0EVof exposure compensation, in 1/3EV steps.
Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 4 seconds. White balance is controlled automatically, and there's a four mode internal flash, plus thirteen scene modes. As well as still images, the camera can also capture movies (with no audio) at QVGA or lower resolution, at a rate of fifteen frames per second. The FE-170 also has a twelve second self-timer to let you get into your own pictures. The Olympus FE-170 stores images on xD-Picture cards, or 10MB of built-in memory. The camera also offers USB 2.0 Full Speed computer connectivity (rather slower than the USB 2.0 High Speed connections on many cameras these days), while power comes from two AA batteries, with alkaline disposables in the product bundle - so you'll want to budget for a set of rechargeable batteries if you don't already havesome.
Stepping up slightly in price to $180, there's the Olympus FE-180. With a slightly smaller and lighter body, most specifications are similar to the FE-170, but with the maximum ISO sensitivity boosted to 1000, a more capable 30fps VGA movie mode with sound, somewhat reduced flash range, a lower resolution LCD display (but of the same 2.5" size), and internal memory increased to 22MB. The Olympus FE-180 also replaces the FE-170's bundled alkaline batteries with NiMH rechargeables, plus a charger.
Next up is the $200 Olympus FE-190, which has a significantly slimmer and slightly lighter body, and uses a CCD with a slightly higher total resolution than the previous two models (although imager size and effective resolution are identical). The FE-190 retains the lower resolution LCD used in the FE-180, but includes a 30fps video mode with sound at a reduced QVGA resolution, and switches the AA batteries to a proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable.
Finally, the Olympus FE-200 tops out the current FE-series lineup with a pricetag of $250. It retains the same image sensor used in the FE-190, but couples it with a f3.3 - f4.8, 5x optical zoom lens with a useful 28mm wide angle. The Olympus FE-200 features the higher resolution LCD used in the FE-170, and offers ISO sensitivity to a maximum of 640. Flash range is reduced just slightly compared to the FE-180 and FE-190, and internal memory expanded just a touch to 24MB. Also of note is that the FE-200 uses a different LiIon battery from that used in the FE-190. The FE-200 fits all these into a body that is larger than all but the FE-170, and at 155 grams is the heaviest of the group.
All four cameras ship in the USA from September 2006.
QuickTime Motion JPEG with audio 320x240 and 160x120 Max. frame-rate: 30 frames per second
xD Picture Card, Built-in
Complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
USB 2.0 Full (LOW) Speed
Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor
OLYMPUS Master software
Battery / Charger
Proprietary LI-12B Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and charger
24.0MB built-in memory
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant
UPDATED 2006-08-23 18:39ET: Fixed three instances of "FE-120" that should have read "FE-170".
Original Source Press Release:
NEW OLYMPUS FE-SERIES DIGITAL CAMERAS DELIVER FEATURES AND FUNCTIONALITY AT AFFORDABLE PRICES
Four New 6.0-Megapixel Cameras Designed For Ease-of-Use with Built-In Help Guides, Large 2.5-Inch LCDs and Digital Image Stabilization
Center Valley, Pa, August 23, 2006 – Olympus today announced four new FE-Series point-and-shoot digital cameras that combine stylish design and approachable functionality to provide a fulfilling digital experience. Slim, compact styling and new features have been added to these latest FE cameras, including Digital Image Stabilization, a large 2.5-inch LCD, a 6.0-megapixel CCD image sensor, a 3x or 5x optical zoom and much more.
“The Olympus FE-Series cameras are designed for effortless picture taking and provide a variety of user-friendly features to easily navigate the cameras’ capabilities,” said Naoki Tai, product manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “Features ranging from the Help Guide to the large LCD screen will provide an enjoyable digital experience to first-time users. Beyond their affordable price, the cameras also offer incredible image quality without a large learning curve.”
Unique Features of The New FE-Series Cameras
While the FE-Series digital cameras offer many of the same great features, each camera also has an impressive function of its own to lend an air of distinction, this includes:
FE-170: An entry-level camera, which enables new users to shoot clear, crisp images with ease. The FE-170’s optional water-resistance case provides worry-free fun at the beach and pool. Users can capture photos while swimming to 10 feet below the surface.
FE-180: Offers longer battery life than most other point and shoot cameras – up to 500 shots on a single charge – with the new bundled Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. Weddings, vacations/tours and other lengthy events are no challenge for this new digital camera.
FE-190: Its 0.7-inch slim design and durable metal body makes this one of the most compact members of the FE family. Perfect for active lifestyles, the FE-190 fits inside a shirt pocket or small handbag.
FE-200: The camera’s 5x wide optical zoom (28mm-140mm equivalent in 35mm photography) makes it easy to get everyone and everything into one shot. The FE-200 captures large family photographs, even when there’s no room to back up, as well as vast scenic panoramas. Its metal body provides durability and a sleek appearance that would fit-in at any cocktail party.
Features Shared By the New FE-Series Cameras
Easy Operation The new FE-series cameras feature an enhanced Help Guide that makes digital photography simple for users of all levels. A tutorial “shooting guide” educates users on tips for achieving specific effects, such as “shooting into backlight” and “adjusting coloration.” The shooting guide not only provides detailed descriptions for various photographic scenarios, but also actually sets the camera with the touch of a button, making the transition from learning to doing instantaneous.
The FE-Series cameras also feature a “One Touch” design with individual buttons for shooting, reviewing and deleting images, conveniently located on the top of the cameras with icons so that frequently used functions can be accessed easily. Shooting, playback, zoom and delete options are at your fingertips. Macro mode, flash mode and a self-timer are located on an arrow pad for quick use while setting up the perfect composition.
Digital Image Stabilization Mode The new FE cameras feature Digital Image Stabilization Mode for capturing crisp, clear pictures – free from the blur sometimes caused by camera shake or moving subjects – with high ISO sensitivity and fast shutter speed.
Large LCD Provides Clear Images The large 2.5-inch LCD screens make it easier to see clear images when composing shots, as well as when gathering friends and family around to view the results, all without having to lug a laptop around to present your portable photo gallery exhibit.
Pre-Set Shooting Modes Make It Easy to Capture Great Images The inclusion of 16 shooting modes, including QuickTime® Movie, accessed via a rotating dial and menu button on the back of the cameras makes it easy to capture great images in a variety of lighting situations, such as Sports, Fireworks, and Night Scene with Portrait. The FE-180, FE-190 and FE-200 models offer QuickTime® Movie mode, which enables users to create short movies of events that can be emailed to family and friends.
Simple Connection to PC Linking any FE-Series camera to a computer is easy with the USB Auto Connect feature, which connects the camera directly via USB 2.0 cable and requires no software.
OLYMPUS Master Software Back at the Windows® PC or Mac®, OLYMPUS Master software provides the ultimate in digital imaging management. An intuitive user interface makes downloading to your computer quick and simple. Images are searchable by date or keyword in the Calendar View. With one-click editing tools, such as red-eye reduction, images can be touched-up before printing or emailing. Online support, templates and other user services are just a mouse-click away.
Accessory Neoprene Carrying Case Olympus’ optional Neoprene Carrying Case offers the camera protection from the elements and other items in your backpack. The case is made of soft, flexible neoprene fabric with a modern, sporty design.
Availability The FE-170, 180, 190 and 200 will be available in September 2006.
The FE-170 includes: AA alkaline battery x2, USB cable, Video cable, Wrist strap, Quick Start guide, basic manual, CD-ROM (includes OLYMPUS Master software and advanced manual) and warranty.
The FE-180/190/200 include: Rechargeable battery (FE-180 – Ni-MH, FE-190/200- Lithium-Ion) and Charger, USB cable, Audio/Video cable, Wrist strap, Quick Start guide, Basic manual, CD-ROM (including OLYMPUS Master software and advanced manual) and warranty.
U.S. Pricing FE-170 Estimated Street Price: $149.99 (U.S.) FE-180 Estimated Street Price: $179.99 (U.S.) FE-190 Estimated Street Price: $199.99 (U.S.) FE-200 Estimated Street Price: $249.99 (U.S.)
ABOUT OLYMPUS IMAGING AMERICA INC. Olympus Imaging America Inc. is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering award-winning products for consumer and professional markets.
Olympus Imaging America Inc. works collaboratively with its customers and its parent company, Olympus Corporation, to develop breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality that enhances peoples’ lives every day. These include:
Digital and film cameras
Professional SLR Imaging Systems
Digital and Microcassette recorders
Personal Photo Printers
Olympus Imaging America Inc. is responsible for sales in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. For more information, visit: www.olympusamerica.com.