For a budget compact the FE-5050 does have pretty good overall performance. It starts up and is ready to shoot in a little over two and a half seconds, which is a little slower than the FE-5020, and has a shot-to-shot time of approximately three seconds, which is a bit faster. As I mentioned, the FE-5050 has no continuous shooting mode.
The autofocus system seems to have benefited from the upgrade, and is fast and reliable in most lighting conditions. Its low-light performance also seems to have been improved, and it will focus reliably in dim lighting, although without an AF assist lamp it can’t focus in darkness. The exposure metering system is also better than on previous FE models, producing accurate exposures even in strong backlighting.
The new lens is also much better than on previous models. Centre sharpness is excellent, and corner sharpness is also very good, with much less chromatic aberration. The overall level of detail is excellent, especially considering the camera’s relatively low price, and the low compression helps to preserve it, with file sizes of around 6MB.
The FE-5050 has a tiny 1/2.3-in 14MP sensor, and as a result dynamic range is severely limited with little shadow detail in high contrast situations, and image noise is also a problem. Image quality at the minimum 64 ISO setting is very good, but noise begins to appear at 200 ISO, and 400 ISO shows some reduction in detail and colour saturation. 800 ISO is worse still, and as usual the maximum 1600 ISO is very poor.
The Olympus FE-5050 is a refreshing change for what was previously a rather disappointing line of cameras. It is very compact, well made, and the vastly improved interface is very easy to use. It’s a bit light on features, but overall performance is adequate and the results are above average for the price bracket.