Given that extraordinary feature it’s kind of hard to say with what exactly the FE-250 is competing. As far as rivals go, probably the closest match would be something like the Pentax Optio M30 (£125), or the Nikon CoolPix S200 (£123) that I reviewed last week, although the Olympus has a better specification than either of those two cameras. Considering that it is available for around £150 it’s starting to look like a bit of a bargain.
It is sold as an entry-level camera, and apart from that massive maximum ISO the rest of its features are strictly point-and-shoot compact stuff, with its simple rotary mode dial home to just eight settings. These include full auto, portrait, night portrait and landscape program modes, a scene mode with ten scene programs, a shake-reduction mode that simply sets a higher ISO to produce faster shutter speeds, and a movie mode offering VGA at 30fps. Like the FE-230 it also has the useful guide mode, which helps beginners cope with unusual circumstances by automatically adjusting the camera.
Olympus has decided that it has a “one button, one function design principle”, and it is certainly embodied by the FE-250. The external controls are also minimal, which makes the camera extraordinarily easy to operate. The main menu is also virtually bare, with image size and quality options (only five choices), ISO setting and drive mode, which can be accessed directly from shooting mode anyway, sound recording and panorama stitching mode. There are the usual camera set-up options such as language, date and time and memory card formatting, but that’s about it. One uncommon but useful feature is pixel mapping, which can remove any dead pixels, but one thing notable by its absence is the ability to turn off digital zoom.