The FE-5020 does have a surprisingly fast start up time of approximately 1.6 seconds, but the shot-to-shot time of 3.4 seconds in single shot mode is quite slow, but that’s as fast as it’ll go, because as I mentioned the FE-5020 has no continuous shooting mode.
The autofocus system is fast enough in good light, but isn’t terribly accurate, often focusing on the background rather than the subject. In dim light is slows right down, taking several seconds to realize that it can’t actually focus at all. It has no AF assist lamp, so it’s pretty much useless for social snapshot photography. The flash is also somewhat underpowered, with a maximum range of barely two metres at 100 ISO.
The optical quality of the lens isn’t brilliant, but to be fair I’ve seen a lot worse. It produces a little barrel distortion at wide angle, but the telephoto end is relatively distortion-free. Overall sharpness isn’t too bad either, although there is a little chromatic aberration visible in the corners of the frame.
Overall image quality is a bit disappointing even for a budget camera, with consistent over-exposure resulting in burned-out highlights and pale washed-out colours. As with most 12MP compacts image noise is a problem even at quite low ISO settings, and visible colour distortion at at 400 ISO. At 800 and 1600 ISO images are so noisy as to be barely usable.
As a low-cost ultra-compact the Olympus FE-5020 does offer a greater zoom range and a wider wide-angle than anything else of comparable price, but its awkward handling, limited range of features, poor performance and lack of low-light ability, as well as its disappointing overall image quality limit its appeal.