The camera’s overall performance is also somewhat lacklustre, although it does have its good points. It starts up fairly promptly in just over two seconds, and the shot-to-shot time at the highest quality setting is approximately 2.4 seconds, which while not lightning-fast is at least fairly respectable. The FE-340 has no continuous shooting mode, so that is as fast as it gets. The autofocus system is better than on some previous models, focusing quickly and accurately in most normal lighting conditions. It’s low light performance is a bit limited though, failing to focus in light bright enough to read by. With no AF assist lamp it doesn’t focus in the dark either, which limits its usefulness as a party camera.
Some previous FE-series cameras have had among the worst image quality I’ve seen from a compact camera, but here at least the FE-340 shows a marked improvement. The lens might be a bit slow at f/3.5 – 5.6 but it is nice and sharp right across the frame and produces relatively little barrel distortion at wide angle, although like many Olympus compact camera lenses it does show significant pincushion distortion at the telephoto end. Images show an excellent level of fine detail, and don’t look as over-processed as on some previous models. Exposure and colour reproduction are also very good, with highlight detail even in strongly saturated colours. Dynamic range is also better than average, with a good balance between shadow and highlight detail. The only small fly in the ointment is image noise at higher ISO settings, which has often been a problem for Olympus cameras. Image quality at the lower settings is very good, but noise is visible from 200 ISO and shots at 800 ISO are very noisy indeed. The maximum setting of 3200 ISO (available only at 3MP resolution) is simply terrible, and is only included as a marketing gimmick.
The Olympus FE-340 may be very cheap, but it lacks a number of features that would be considered standard on most other cameras, such as continuous shooting, colour adjustment and image stabilisation. The build quality is good, and the LCD monitor is outstanding, but the styling is awkward and ungainly and the handling could be better. Low-light performance is below average, but the camera is redeemed somewhat by good image quality. Still, there are much better and more capable cameras available for not much more money.