Although it lacks gor-blimey features and manual controls, the Olympus FE-120 offers budget-minded snapshot photographers decent image quality and a street price that qualifies as a genuine bargain for a 6-megapixel camera.
The Olympus FE-120 is otherwise stuffed with me-too features, including a modest 3x optical zoom, a 46mm (1.8-inch) LCD that tends to wash out in bright sunlight, and 14MB of internal memory augmented by a 32MB xD-Picture Card. Easy to operate because it doesn't give you much to adjust, the FE-120 provides 19 shooting modes, macro capabilities that zoom down to within 20mm of your subject, and a robust continuous-shooting mode that can capture 20 full-resolution images at a 1.1fps clip. Autofocus performance is poor, however, and motion-picture resolution is limited to 320x240 pixels. Even so, priced only £20 to £50 more than its 4-and 5-megapixel stablemates, the Olympus FE-100 and FE-110, this top-end version is easily the most desirable of the bunch.
The solid, silver-textured Olympus FE-120 weighs 139g and is compact enough to carry in a large pocket. While its balance isn't quite right for one-handed shooting, those with small hands can probably find a grip that will allow thumbing the back-mounted zoom-rocker switch while keeping an index finger poised over the top shutter-release button. Everyone else will be more comfortable holding the camera with two hands while composing an image on the coarse 85,000-pixel LCD.
The only controls on the top surface are a recessed power button and a shutter release. You adjust all settings with a minimalist array of keys on the back panel. These include the zoom rocker, a delete key, a four-way cursor pad with a central OK/Menu button, a pair of buttons that switch between recording and viewing modes, and a knurled mode dial for choosing programmed exposure, full auto, or one of the scene modes. Each of the arrow keys controls other functions, including a 12-second self-timer (left), auto/red-eye/fill/off flash options (right), macro mode (up), and exposure compensation of ±2EV in 1/2EV increments (down).
You can adjust all the other settings -- and there aren't too many of them -- from the menu system. Options include resolution, a continuous-shooting mode, memory formatting and a few camera settings, such as date/time and LCD brightness. White balance is the primary image adjustment -- there's no provision for changing ISO (which the camera sets automatically between ISO 50 and ISO 320), metering or autofocus mode.