If most ultra-compact cameras are too small for you, and all you really want is an inexpensive basic camera that’s just a little bigger, then the 8.0 megapixel Olympus FE-350W is a good choice. At just a hair over 1” (26.5mm) thick, it will still fit in your pocket, and with a good selection of features, a 28 - 112mm equivalent zoom lens, 3” LCD, and very good image quality, the Olympus FE-350W is my “Best in Class” pick for a compact camera for Interiors.
My Best In Class Pick
The modestly priced 8.0 megapixel Olympus FE-350 Wide sports a truly wide wide angle zoom lens starting at 28mm (35mm equivalent), an absolute minimum for shooting interiors because of its wide angle of view. Zooming to 112mm, the lens’ range is sufficient for general photography, too, and produces sharp images with low noise, and little distortion even at the widest lens setting.
Feature-wise, this little gem comes with 13 Scene Modes, ISOs from 80 to 640, 7 White Balance settings, including Auto; 2 AF modes, 2 Auto Exposure modes, a 3” LCD to make composing easier (there’s no optical finder), shutter speeds from 1/2 sec to 1/2000th, 4 Flash settings and +/- 2 EV exposure compensation. The last two features are almost essential for interior photography, since almost always a little flash is needed to supplement ambient light by “filling” dark areas, and exposure compensation to correct underexposure cause by excessively bright light from windows, lights, etc. that fools the metering system, something that plagues all in-camera metering systems not just point-n-shoots.
The camera’s primary drawback is lack of true image stabilization, which is almost essential with cameras that lack a viewfinder and are not intended or can’t be used with a tripod. Here’s why: With no viewfinder, to compose, the camera must be held away from the eye to view the LCD, a very unstable position. This prevents using your head, arms and body to braced the camera to prevent movement during exposure, which would blur the image with the slower shutter speed normally required to get proper exposures when shooting interiors. All this digital image stabilization does is increase the ISO, so faster shutter speeds can be used to reduce blurring caused by fast moving subjects or camera movement. This feature is best left turned off, since higher ISOs mean noisier, less sharp images. Something you do not want.
However, even with its caveats, overall, the Olympus FE-350W is a great little performer.
Comparison with Olympus FE-290
The major differences between these two cameras are the FE-290 is cheaper ($50 retail), has a 7.1 megapixel sensor instead of 8 (You’ll never notice the difference.), lacks the Face Detection AF mode, has Auto White Balance mode only, and has only 6.9 MB internal storage instead of the 350’s 20.5 MB.
Comparison with Nikon Coolpix P50
It’s big. It’s clunky. It won’t fit in your pocket. It’s definitely not “cool.” But…. It is inexpensive without being cheap, has a very good Nikon 28 - 102mm equivalent zoom lens, an optical viewfinder (Wow!), and unlike most (dare I say all) point-n-shoots in this price range has, amazingly, Aperture and Shutter Priority Exposure modes as well as full Manual, all very desirable features when shooting Interiors.
- +Super High Quality JPEG setting
- +3" LCD
- -No optical viewfinder
- -Digital Image Stabilization
- -Only 170 shots per charge average
Where to buy
See It »
Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices
|Product||Olympus FE-350||Olympus FE-290||Nikon Coolpix P50|
Close Effective Sensor Resolution The Effective Sensor Resolution tells you the total number of pixels that are recorded when you take a picture. The units are MP, which stands for megapixels or millions of pixels. For outstanding fine compression prints, 3MP is required for 5x7's, 7.1MP for 8x10's, and 10.9MP for 11x14's. The effective sensor resolution is only one of many important factors that will determine the quality of the photograph when displayed or printed at different sizes.
|8.0 megapixels||7.1 megapixels||8.1 megapixels|
Close Min Focal Length (35 mm equivalent) The 35 mm equivalent focal length is a measure that indicates the angle of view of a particular combination of a camera lens and the sensor size. The term originates from the time when the vast majority of photography was done with 35 mm film. On any 35 mm film camera, a 30 mm or less lens is considered a wide-angle lens.
|28 mm||28 mm||28 mm|
Close Max Focal Length (35 mm equivalent) The 35 mm equivalent focal length is a measure that indicates the angle of view of a particular combination of a camera lens and the sensor size. The term originates from the time when the vast majority of photography was done with 35 mm film. Larger max focal lengths make distant objects appear more magnified.
|112 mm||112 mm||102 mm|
|Image Stabilization Type||digital||digital||digital|
|Aperture Priority Mode Available||No||No||Yes|
|Shutter Priority Mode Available||No||No||Yes|
|Full Manual Exposure Mode Available||No||No||Yes|
|Exposure Compensation||+/- 2.0 EV||+/- 2.0 EV||+/- 2.0 EV|
Close Viewfinder Available A viewfinder is a window that you look through to compose the picture. Some cameras do not have a viewfinder and instead use the LCD display. The LCD display may be difficult to see in bright light and may make it more difficult to capture fast-moving subjects because of the time required to update the display.
Close LCD Screen Size The LCD Screen Size is the length of the miniature LCD monitor measured diagonally.
|3.0 in.||3.0 in.||2.4 in.|
The Olympus FE-290, a lean version of the FE-350 with an accompanying lessor cost, comes with the same excellent Olympus f2.7 - 5.4, 28 to 112mm (effective) 4x zoom lens, Shutter Speeds from 1/2 second to 1/2000th, ISOs from 64 to 640, +/- 2EV Exposure Compensation, and a feature set that include 13 Scene Modes, two resolution Movie modes with sound, Macro and Super Macro options, and a large 3” LCD.
With its low noise 7.1 megapixel sensor, sharp lens, and built-in flash, your picture taking will be easier than ever. There’s even an in-camera Help Guide.
Where to buy
See It »
Nikon Coolpix P50
While not an exceptional camera, it is a practical one with good build quality, an 8 megapixel sensor, a very good Nikon f2.8/5.6 28 to 102mm (effective) lens that produces sharp images with low distortion with only slight softness in the extreme corners. Features include Aperture and Shutter Priority with full Manual exposure modes, shutter speeds from 15 seconds to 1/2000th, +/- 2EV exposure compensation, and ISOs from 64 to 2000. Additionally, there are 15 scene modes, 7 White Balance options, including Manual set; and Nikon’s unique proprietary D-Lighting, which can save overly underexposed or excessively contrasty shots. Quite a neat feature. Plus, there’s an optical viewfinder.
The camera’s only major failing is images are overly noisy above ISO 200 with an accompanying loss of image detail and sharpness. If you really need sharp, detailed images best to shoot at ISO 100 or less.
While the Nikon Coolpix P50 won’t fit in your pocket, it is still small and light enough to comfortably carry anywhere. And at its very low price, a bargain without being cheap.
Where to buy
Nikon Coolpix P50
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