Leading the most recent additions to Olympus’ FE series of consumer digital cameras, the FE-300 is ultra-slim and compact. Aimed at savvy amateurs, the Olympus FE-300 offers full automatic exposure control and a host of preset Scene modes, as well as a handful of user adjustable settings for tricky situations.
With its 12-megapixel Truepic III image sensor, the Olympus FE-300 captures large images with great detail, at resolutions as high as 4,000 x 3,000 pixels. In addition to its standard automatic exposure options, the Olympus FE-300 also features Digital Image Stabilization for better handling in low-lighting, Face Detection technology for both its AF and exposure systems, and a post-capture Perfect Fix menu for correcting common photo mistakes (such as Red-Eye and lighting).
The Olympus FE-300’s 3x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm camera, about standard for this class of digital camera, though Olympus included Digital zoom up to 4x and Fine Zoom up to 19x (though with limitations on resolution). Tiny and compact, the Olympus FE-300 fits easily into small pockets and purses, and is light weight to boot. Retailing at around $299 or less, the Olympus FE-300 is slightly on the high side for its class, but does offer a lot of megapixels and interesting exposure options in return.
Olympus FE-300 User Report
by Stephanie Boozer
Look and feel. Tiny and compact, though still with enough heft to take seriously, the Olympus FE-300 is clearly meant to go places. It should easily fit into small pockets and purses at just 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.87 inches (94 x 57 x 22 millimeters). With the battery and memory card, the Olympus FE-300 weighs 4.7 ounces (133 grams). The camera’s brushed metal front panel is attractive, with shiny silver highlights to add interest. A thin, raised bump on the front panel is the only finger grip, but I still found it easy to hold onto the camera one-handed, as the Mode dial on the rear panel made a good thumbrest.
Because the Mode dial clicks into place securely with each setting, I didn’t accidentally change camera modes while shooting. Though I could operate the Olympus FE-300 one-handed in most cases (larger hands may find it a little cramped), I found the square shape of the four-way rocker button on the rear panel a little awkward with one hand, and had to revert to a two-handed grip for better control. The same went for the rest of the rear panel controls, as they were a little difficult to actuate with just one hand. Still, I liked the Olympus FE-300’s control layout, mainly because of its simplicity.
Olympus omitted the real-image optical viewfinder on the FE-300, leaving more room for the bright 2.5-inch color LCD monitor. The LCD display was quite bright and easy to see even under harsh sunlight, thanks to its non-reflective surface and a backlight feature. Frame accuracy was pretty good, though not the best we’ve seen, at about 97% frame accuracy at full wide angle. I appreciated the temporary exposure display that appears with a half-press of the Shutter button, reporting the selected aperture and shutter speeds. Though I couldn’t manually change the Olympus FE-300’s exposure, I did at least have a good idea of what the outcome would be. Add to this the camera’s Perfect Shot Preview mode, which displays a series of thumbnails at different exposures whenever you change a setting like exposure compensation, and you get a very good idea of what your images will look like before capture. I liked seeing how positive or negative exposure compensation would affect my images, and found an excellent feature that novices could use.