Olympus FE-5010 Point-and-Shoot Camera
At a Glance
The FE-5010 takes good pictures and is easy to use. If that's all you're looking for in a camera, you'll likely be satisfied.
The basic, compact Olympus FE-5010 point-and-shoot camera features a 12-megapixel resolution, 5X optical zoom (36mm to 180mm), and a 2.7-inch LCD. For less than $200, you get a relatively hefty 3968 by 2976 resolution plus a lens that can reach the 35mm film equivalent of 180mm--a decent amount of firepower for the price. The aesthetically inclined will also like the FE-5010's color options (black, navy blue, and plum).
Taking pictures with the FE-5010 is straightforward. You choose from four basic modes: Program Auto, iAuto, Scene, or Movie. You then set the zoom and click the shutter, and the FE-5010 takes over from there. Features such as dual image stabilization and automatic shadow adjustment provide crisp, well-exposed shots.
Program Auto does a good job of setting the aperture and exposure levels for you. In this mode you have options such as overriding the automatic white balance setting and changing it to one of the six presets. The mode also offers four flash modes, exposure compensation, spot metering, two macro modes, and ISO adjustments up to 1600. Having access to all those tweaks makes Program Auto the most versatile mode, and a good choice for snapshooters with basic photography knowledge.
If you select Scene mode, the camera gives you 14 presets to choose from, including Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Indoor, Sunset, Fireworks, and Cuisine. Once you select a preset, the camera is in control, and it does a good job getting the shot--provided that you picked an appropriate preset for the situation.
I wasn't a huge fan of iAuto mode, because it doesn't seem as smart as the person holding the camera. In this mode, the camera chooses from one of five scene modes: Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Sport, or Macro. With fewer available presets than Scene mode, iAuto mode didn't do as well in my tests. For example, in a brightly lit gym, the FE-5010 in iAuto mode bumped the ISO up to 1600 and turned on the flash. The images were terrible, in large part because the subjects were out of flash range. After I set the camera back to Program Auto mode with an ISO of 800 and the flash turned off, I got much better results.
In the PC World Test Center's jury evaluations, the FE-5010 's overall image-quality score was about average when compared with the scores of new cameras in the same price range. This camera landed in the middle of the pack for color accuracy and exposure quality, too. However, sharpness and distortion were weak points, with the FE-5010 scoring near the bottom of our test group of $200-range cameras. Overall, we rated its image quality as Good.
Because the FE-5010 is primarily an entry-level camera, it doesn't have much in the way of extended features. Olympus did include Perfect Fix, which allows the photographer to correct red-eye or to compensate for dim lighting while viewing the images in playback mode on the FE-5010. You can apply the corrections individually or in tandem. The retouched version of the picture saves as a separate image, so you have both versions. Both corrections work well.
While you're reviewing your images in playback mode, you can crop a portion of a frame, and the FE-5010 will save the cropped area as a separate shot. You can also resample pictures down to 640 by 480 or 320 by 240, smaller duplicates that are perfect for sharing on the Web or via e-mail.
Smile Shot, one of the 14 Scene presets, is built on top of the FE-5010's face-detection technology, but it takes an additional step: After the FE-5010 recognizes a face, if the subject begins to smile, the camera fires off three shots to increase the odds of capturing the expression at its peak. Image resolution is limited to 3 megapixels in this mode, and it doesn't always work, but the sequences that it does capture are fun.
When shooting at ISOs between 64 and 400, the FE-5010 produced clean, well-exposed images with a reasonable amount of detail. ISO 800 shows a fair amount of image noise and degradation of detail; at ISO 1600, overall quality begins to unravel.
Because the FE-5010 has 12 megapixels of resolution, you can make prints up to 13 by 19 inches, which I did using an Epson Stylus Photo R2400 on Red River Arctic Polar Luster stock. The shots at ISO 100 were clean and colorful, even at that size, but optimum output was at 8.5 by 11 inches or smaller. I thought the detail was crisper at those sizes.
The battery life is decent, but nothing exceptional. The FE-5010's rechargeable lithium ion battery fired off 217 shots on a single charge, which was low compared with the 300-plus shots that many point-and-shoot camera batteries can handle.
The FE-5010 takes good photos and is easy to use; considering the cost, however, I was left wanting more features. Compare the options on the FE-5010 with the extra goodies on the Olympus Stylus 7000, for example, and you'll notice that you don't get HDMI output, a clever panorama mode, higher-resolution 16:9 capture, beauty mode, a more attractive body design, a larger LCD, illuminated controls, or a more-powerful zoom. The price difference between the two models is $110. The FE-5010 is a decent camera at a low price, but in the Olympus lineup of compacts, I think the $300 Stylus 7000 is a better value--you get a whole lot more camera for $110 more.