If the FE-4000’s build quality, handling and features haven’t already convinced you to avoid it like the plague, how about its overall performance? It starts up briskly enough in about two and a half seconds, but the shot to shot time is an almost unbelievable eight and a half seconds. Even switching to a smaller image size and normal quality makes no difference. Not surprisingly there is no continuous shooting option. I haven’t seen a camera this slow in maybe five years, but this isn’t really as much of a problem as it might first appear, because the ridiculously slow AF system and shutter lag of nearly two seconds means that you’ll inevitably have missed the shot you wanted anyway. Low light performance is almost non-existent, with the camera often failing to focus even in a room lit brightly enough to read a newspaper.
The FE-4000 has two compression modes, Fine and Normal, but in practice this choice makes little difference to the image quality, which is shockingly bad in both modes. Even in Fine mode shots show chronic over-sharpening, compression artefacts and very poor colour rendition. The lens quality is terrible, with poor contrast, severe chromatic aberration, corner blurring and so much haze that I thought there must be a finger mark on the lens. There wasn’t, it really is that bad. I know that deliberately flawed “toy camera” photography is enjoying a brief wave of popularity amongst the trendy art college types who’ve just discovered irony, but even they might baulk at the terrible image quality of the FE-4000.
Noise control is also very poor, with uneven colour and visible noise at sensitivities as low as 200 ISO, and the 1600 ISO maximum is of course virtually unusable, but to be honest, given the FE-4000’s many other flaws, this is really the least of its troubles.
The Olympus FE-4000 is a lousy camera even by budget compact standards. Build quality, handling, performance and image quality are all terrible, and it doesn’t even look particularly nice once it’s been handled for five minutes. There are many better cameras for about the same price, and almost none that are worse.