Olympus FE-250 Review - Olympus FE-250 Review

Perhaps because of its simplicity the FE-250 handles and performs extremely well. The position of the mode dial means that it doubles as a thumb grip, and despite its slim profile the camera is very secure and comfortable to hold. The zoom control is a rotary bezel around the shutter button, and although the zoom action is stepped, it has at least nine increments between wide and telephoto. One thing I wasn’t so keen on though was the minimal pause at the end of the zoom range before moving into picture-ruining digital zoom territory. Another minor concern is the position of the flash, which is positioned to the right of the lens. Maybe it’s just my notoriously huge hands, but I found that I had to take care not to get my fingers in front of the flash.

In terms of physical performance the FE-250 mostly does very well. It starts up in a little over two seconds, which is better than average. The AF system may be the same as the FE-230, but for some reason it seems to operate slightly more quickly. In good light it will focus in under a second, and copes quite well with low light. Despite its lack of an AF assist lamp I found it would focus reliably in a darkened room, although it was a little slower than in good light. In single-shot mode the shot-to-shot cycle time is a bit slow at around four seconds. It does have a high-speed continuous shooting mode as well, capable of firing at approximately five frames a second, but only in 3-megapixel mode.

The biggest difference between this camera and the FE-230 is in picture quality, and the improvement is astonishing. Since the difference in sensor size could account for the apparent difference in focal length and f-number, I’ve been trying to determine if the lens is actually the same one as the FE-230. It certainly looks very similar, so I can only conclude that it is much better suited to the 1/1.8-inch sensor, because the dreadful pincushion distortion at the telephoto end is completely absent, and even the wide-angle barrel distortion is greatly reduced. That amazing 10000 ISO setting is a bit of a gimmick, and unsurprisingly pictures shot at that setting look terrible, but the fact it can take a picture at that sensitivity at all is impressive. At the other end of the ISO scale the image quality is very good indeed, and in fact noise doesn’t really become a problem until 1600 ISO, when the noise reduction system goes into overdrive and scrubs out a lot of fine detail. In all other respects the image quality was as good as any 8MP camera I’ve seen, and significantly better than most.


With the FE-250, Olympus has redeemed many of the black marks gathered by previous models in the series. For a very reasonable price it offers excellent build quality, decent performance and excellent picture quality, while maintaining the simplicity and ease-of-use for which it was designed.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.