Sometimes you just don't want to agonise over whether you should choose the soup or the salad, the Coke or the Pepsi, the PC or the Mac. Olympus realises just how hard some choices can be, which is why it's made the FE series of digital cameras. They're simple and direct, and they require almost no choices besides when to press the shutter. The Olympus FE-240 is one such camera.
The attractive, compact FE-240 measures 20mm thick and weighs less than 120g. Its small metal body fits comfortably in most pockets. Despite its small size, the camera's various controls are easy to manipulate, with buttons large enough for big thumbs to use.
The FE-240's most notable feature is its lens. The camera's 38mm-to-190mm-equivalent lens offers a 5x magnification factor over the other FE-cameras' 3x lenses. Besides the increased zoom, the FE-240 sports fairly mundane features, such as a 7-megapixel sensor and a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen.
Like all Olympus FE-series cameras, the FE-240 is almost completely devoid of manual settings. Besides flash and macro shooting, preset scene modes and exposure compensation, users can't make any image adjustments.
White balance, ISO sensitivity and other factors are completely automated by the camera, giving a very literal sense to the phrase 'point-and-shoot'. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- automation can be beneficial as long as the images look good in the end.
The FE-240's performance ranged from mediocre to terrible. After a 2.6-second startup time, we could only fire off a shot every 5.1 seconds. That painful wait increased to 5.7 seconds with the onboard flash enabled. While 5 seconds is indeed far too long to wait between shots, it's not too surprising -- the previous-generation FE-200 had shot-to-shot times of more than 7 seconds.
The shutter wasn't nearly as responsive as it should have been, lagging 0.8 seconds on our high-contrast target and 1.9 seconds in low-contrast conditions. Like almost all Olympus FE-series cameras, the FE-240 doesn't have any burst mode.