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The Olympus X-915 was introduced earlier in the year as an exclusive model for UK retailer Jessops. Although that means you be able to find it in its high-street stores and online site, if you're a traveller to the UK you'll also likely come across it at VAT free stores (non EU residents) in Heathrow and Gatwick. Headline features include 5x optical zoom, 12-megapixel resolution CCD with a sensor shift anti-shake system, an additional digital image stabilisation option, and a 2.7in Hypercrystal (230k dot) LCD screen.
Olympus has also conceded the fact that the xD Picture Card isn't as popular as the rival SD format, though the company hasn't capitulated totally, as the X-915 takes either xD or Micro SD cards. That's fine if you use Micro SD already, and have a bunch for a mobile phone perhaps, but I would have preferred to have seen the switch to dual xD/SD, like models from rival manufacturer Fuji. When it comes to buying SD or SDHC cards there's no shortage of choice.
In terms of specification and looks even, the £129 X-915 appears similar if not identical to the $159 Olympus FE-5010 marketed in the USA. That particular model isn't sold in the UK, though the earlier £125 FE-5000 and newer £105 FE-3010 models share features of the X-915. If you're not familiar with the FE range, they're the company's entry-level or accessible models as Olympus calls them, but the FE-5000 and therefore X-915/FE-5010 sits right at the top.
That's just as well as lower down the range the models aren't particularly inspiring, neither ergonomically or otherwise. The X-915 meanwhile looks pretty good, always a plus, and is reasonably well made. The front and rear halves are plastic, while a chrome chassis is made from aluminium. This helps keep the weight down to a manageable 137g complete with its slender battery, but the high-gloss front top panel is a real fingerprint magnet, and easily scratched if our sample is anything to go by.
As the 2.7in screen dominates the rear there isn't much to see of the body, this means your right thumb tends either to rest on the cluster of controls or you end up holding it like you have two sets of pincers for hands, with your finger on the shutter and thumb underneath the body. Neither option is ideal. The direction pad is quite large leaving the rest to feel slightly on the small side, but each are quite responsive. That's handy if you have large digits, but more importantly, the main controls work as you might expect, that's to say intuitively. With the exception of the shooting mode that is. All it needs is repeated pushing to cycle through the options, but it's not immediately obvious.
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