Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Olympus FE-350, FE-340, FE-330, FE-320, and FE-310

Olympus has just announced a new wave of digital cameras! This compares in size to the ten new cameras they announced in August 2007, headlined by the SP 560. This wave is headlined by the SP-570, but first let's take a look at the four five new FE-series models!


  • Oh boy, a five pack of new FE-series models! At first look, one can dismiss them as just another handful of shiny silvers. If advanced cameras and DSLRs is what you are only interested in, that's a reasonable thing to assume. But if you are reading this, you are probably interested in them at least just a little bit! So read on!
  • The FE-350 will appeal to fans of affordable wide-angle as it starts at 28mm, and also fans of 3" LCD. As you can see this drains the battery as it earns a 170 CIPA rating. On the plus side, all the LiIon-based Olys use the same old Li-42B battery, so you have some interoperability battery-wise.
  • The FE-340 and FE-330 attempt to cover the mid-range zoom market that continues to be popular. Typically we find AA-based cameras in this segment like the Canon A7xx series, the Panasonic LZ-series, and Kodak Z- 5x series, but Olympus has moved away from AA batteries even in its entry-level cameras (except Token - the FE-310).
  • The FE-320 is your textbook P&S, with the typical 3x optical zoom lens with a more reasonable battery life of 240 CIPA.
  • The FE-310 is your textbook AA-based P&S, but Olympus added a value-added twist: A 5x optical zoom lens, instead of a 3x optical zoom lens.

    Press Release Review Conclusion
  • OVERALL: As expected, a new wave of FE-series models to fill up the electronic superstore shelves.
  • PLUS: 5x zoom on the FE-310 was the only surprise
  • MINUS: Olympus continues to be stubborn on using xD memory cards exclusively
  • MINUS: There is feature confusion as the higher priced cameras don't necessarily have the features of the models that are below them. Things like smile shot, sensor size, TruPIC III, video mode, etc.

    Meet the Olympus FE-350

  • The main attraction of this shiny silver is that it starts at 28mm wide! It features a 4x optical zoom lens, going from 28 to 112mm equivalent. No real stabilization. Sorry, but adjusting ISO and shutter speed is just that, it's not a true image stabilization method :)
  • It uses an 8mp 1/2.5" sensor
  • It has a 3" LCD (234K)
  • xD-only memory card support (how sad!)
  • LiIon battery (LI42B) - 170 CIPA
  • Faces detection (so tempted to have an "accidental" typo in the first word!)
  • Scene modes galore! (17)
  • No TruePIC III engine, no smile shot mode.
  • Announced in Japan as well (February 7 release)
  • Pre-order: $250 (Amazon)

    Meet the Olympus FE-340

  • It uses an 8mp sensor. Not sure if it is 1/2.5" or 1/2.35" (I know, splitting hairs but we try to be as accurate as we can). The Olympus America press release says 1/2.35" so we'll go with that!
  • 5x optical zoom but pedestrian: 36-180mm equivalent, no stabilization
  • It has a 2.7" LCD (230K)
  • xD-only memory card support (how sad!)
  • LiIon battery (LI42B)
  • Faces detection (so tempted to have an "accidental" typo in the first word!)
  • Scene modes galore! (19) with Smile Shot!
  • Has the TruePIC III engine
  • Not announced in Japan
  • Pre-order: $200 (Amazon)

    Meet the Olympus FE-330
  • Announced in Japan, but we couldn't find it announced in other countries. We haven't checked every country obviously :)
  • It has an 8mp 1/2.35" sensor
  • 5x optical zoom, 36-180mm equivalent in 35mm-world terms
  • 2.7" LCD (154k dots) - notice the difference in LCD quality between this and the others!
  • xD-only memory card support (how sad!)
  • LiIon battery (LI42B), 185 CIPA
  • 23.3mm thick (thin)
  • Faces detection (so tempted to have an "accidental" typo in the first word!)
  • "Only" 11 scene modes.
  • Looks like it does not have Smile Shot! Perfect spot for a frowning face :-(
  • Available in Japan in mid-February

    Meet the Olympus FE-320
  • Announced in Japan first. See our previous post for the early announcement.
  • Uses an 8mp 1/2.35" sensor
  • Has a 3x optical zoom with a pedestrian 36-108mm, no stabilization
  • 2.7" LCD (230K)
  • xD-only memory card support (how sad!)
  • LiIon battery (LI42B), 240 CIPA
  • Faces detection (so tempted to have an "accidental" typo in the first word!)
  • Scene modes galore! (19) with Smile Shot!
  • Has the TruePIC III engine
  • Announced in Japan (release on February 7)
  • Has IrSimple
  • Pre-order: $180 (could not find a pre-order page for it)

    Meet the Olympus FE-310

  • Last and probably least in terms of features is the FE-310, but it is near and dear to the hearts of AA battery users as it is the only one among the new FE-series models that supports AA batteries. Go FE-310 go!
  • Uses an 8mp 1/2.5" sensor
  • 5x optical zoom, not the typical 3x found in the typical entry-level entry-level line-up models. Range is 37-185mm equivalent, no stabilization
  • 2.5" LCD (154k). Same as the FE-330 LCD, while some of the others use 230K dots instead.
  • face detection, xD-only memory card
  • Uses two AA batteries. If you do not plan on using this camera daily, consider getting the Sanyo Eneloops, or other similar AA batteries that retain their charge over time.
  • Not announced in Japan
  • Pre-order: $150 (Amazon)

    Coverage on the web
  • Olympus Press release at the Imaging Insider
  • dpreview
  • dcresource
  • imaging resource
  • digitalcamera.jp
  • e-photographia
  • Photography Bay

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    mrsfixit said...

    Oh whoopee...

    More teeny sensor "me too" clone cams.

    And they use the nearly dead xD memory cards.

    Do they come in pink? LOL

    If they do, I'm sure they'll sell by the boatload.

    You know what scares me? The fact that if my Canon A640 were to die, I'd have to go back to using my A80.

    And if that were to die, I don't know what I would do.

    There isn't a single compact cam worth buying anymore, and I don't want a DSLR.

    I have film SLR's collecting dust, and I won't go back to having to buy into a "system" and spend, spend, spend.

    Not to mention having to lug it all around...

    Seeing these announcements every day for more "bimbo cams" makes me really afraid that PMA will have nothing worthwhile to offer...

    Now I'm depressed. I have to go imbibe some more caffeine. LOL

    1001 noisy cameras said...

    The Stylus ones come in pink and in other exotic fruit flavors! Bursting with flavor and fashion!

    I think we will be lucky if we get one photography-enthusiast-friendly camera per manufacturer at PMA. Olympus did "their part" with the SP-570UZ, which I will be covering in detail later today. All the shiny silvers are slowing me down :)

    At least they added zooming and focusing via ring! But they have also gone to the new ant-hill 10mp 1/2.33" sensor!

    There's always eBay, KEH, and such for models like the A640 and A80 :)

    The "bimbo cams" are going to be the majority, especially since digital camera sales continue to be strong, even though the industry experts thought they would have slowed down by now.

    At least I don't charge $10,000 per blog post when I am proven wrong :)

    Caffeine is wonderful! Chocolate + caffeine + ice cream = brain food!

    mrsfixit said...

    Yes, eBay and Keh. Right you are.

    I paid $280 for my A640 new, and I can probably sell it on eBay for more than I paid.

    That's just not right...

    FWIW I'd be surprised to see even *one* decent, larger-sensored prosumer be introduced at PMA.

    More zoom, more bells and whistles, more colors....arrrgghh...not larger sensors.

    And BTW, you do know that caffeine is one of the major food groups, right?

    Just for your enlightenment... the major food groups are:

    Sugar, salt, fat, caffeine, and chocolate! LOL

    Got that? Now eat up! ROTFL

    1001 noisy cameras said...

    I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more cameras using the 6mp 1/1.8" speed-demon sensor from Sony.

    As far as sensors larger than 1/1.6", I hope we see something! I will be pleasantly surprised if they do! Will they though? I hope they do!

    Oh is that the five food group flat pyramid? :)