Olympus FE-180

Better than the abysmal FE-170 but by how much?


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Olympus FE-180

The Olympus FE-170 was a thorough disappointment, as I had explained in depth in my review. So when it was time to test its successor, the FE-180, I didn't have much expectations from it, especially considering that most of the technical specs were more or less the same. But thankfully, things were different enough this time around to make it a better camera. Read on.

The FE-180 is comparatively smaller than the FE-170 at 88x60.5x27.5mm and even lighter at 120g. The looks are quite plain and basic, as expected from an entry-level point and shoot camera.

 Olympus FE-180

The back of the camera has the basic function buttons like the scene modes, function and menu buttons along with a 2.5", 110,000 px LCD display. The power and the shutter release buttons are located on the top though.

The FE-180 has a camera resolution of 6 megapixels and the basic 3x optical zoom. It uses an xD Picture cards for storage and 2 AA batteries for power.

The menu interface of the camera is extremely user friendly with bright pictures and familiar icons representing all the functionalities of the camera. The options however are extremely limited with absolutely no user control over anything but the size of the image and shooting modes. Newbie users would probably appreciate the minimalistic features but if you have used a digital camera before, you may find the lack of options frustrating.

The guide mode is useful for achieving a particular type of shot without getting into technicalities. Some of the guides however just merely give you a tip on the right shooting mode to select and the flash level to use to achieve a particular shot, which is not very useful.

After thoroughly testing the FE-180, I can safely say that it is quite better than the FE-170. But considering how bad the FE-170 was, that does not necessarily make the FE-180 great. Far from it!

The FE-180 has a natural tendency to make everything look dull and cloudy, even on bright and sunny days. The landscape shot I took below was taken in bright sunlight, yet the image looks dull and murky as if it was raining at the time.

Even when shooting brightly colored flowers in macro mode, the camera made them lose all the vivid colors, which is surprising since most cameras these days are usually programed to saturate the colors of the image just to make them look livelier.

But its not only the colors, the images taken from the FE-180 lacked sharpness even on the focussed part of the images, and things got a bit worse towards the edges.

It's better to place the camera on a still surface or a tripod and shoot using the night mode when taking pictures in low-light situations. The higher exposure helps the sensor in getting the most of the available lighting, as can be seen in the picture below.

The white balance of the camera cannot be manually set, but it works adequately well by itself.

Though it is definitely better than the FE-170, it's still hard to recommend the FE-180 to anyone because of its lackluster performance. The Kodak C433 may be just 4 megapixels but it outperforms the Olympus FE-180 in just about all categories, and even costs much lesser too. I would seriously recommend you to check out other options before you shell out your hard earned Rs. 10,000 (street price) on this one.

Olympus FE-180

Dimensions 88x60.5x27.5mm
Storage Internal/xD Picture Card
Battery Type

2 x AA

LCD Type 2.5", 110,000 px
View Finder
Sensor CCD
Effective Pixels 6.0 Megapixels
ISO Sensitivity
Auto (ISO 64-1000)
Optical Zoom 3x
Digital Zoom
Shutter Speed 1/2sec - 1/2000 sec, up to 4 sec in Night Scene mode
Aperture F3.1/5.9
Format JPEG
Scene Modes
Candle, Indoor, Sunset, Auction, Cuisine, Document, Fireworks, Landscape, Anti shake, Sports mode, Behind glass, Portrait mode, Self-portrait, Night portrait, Panorama assist
White Balance N/A
Flash Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Off
Self Timer 12 secs
Video Resolution 640x480 @ 30fps

Video Format

QuickTime Motion JPEG
Sound Yes
Street Price Rs. 10,000/-

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