What's worse in a sub-£100 camera: slow performance or mediocre photo quality? With the £95 Olympus FE-3010, you don't have to decide, because you get both. All joking aside, for us, the key factor with a camera in this price range is performance, since such snappers generally don't deliver excellent photo quality.
The FE-3010 is one of the slowest cameras we've tested in its class. If your photo subjects tend to be moving or too impatient to wait a second after you press the shutter, you'll want to give it a miss. But, if what you need is a very small, lightweight, easy-to-operate, inexpensive camera for well-lit slow-moving or still targets and the results are bound for a favourite social-networking Web site or 4-by-6-inch or smaller prints, by all means consider this camera.
Sturdy and compact
The design, controls and interface on the FE-3010 are the best things about it. Its sturdy, ultra-compact build is slight enough to slip into even a small trouser pocket. It's available in black, silver and pink versions and both look classier than you'd expect given the price.
A power button and shutter release are all that's on top. To the right of the LCD on the back is a small zoom rocker; a 'display/info' button; 'shooting' mode and 'playback' buttons; a square, four-way directional pad with an 'OK/function' button at its centre; and 'menu' and 'delete/LCD-backlight-boost' buttons. The OK/function button brings up a shooting-mode-specific menu, but, even at its most expansive, there are only four adjustable settings. The general menu system has an attractive graphical interface, although its sub-menus constitute more generic-looking lists.
Olympus continues to cling to xD-Picture Cards for storage, but they only come in capacities of up to 2GB. If you've already invested in a microSD card for another device, a small adaptor is included, allowing the camera to use those cards as well. These cards also allow for larger storage capacities.
Odd feature choices
Unless you tell it to save your settings, the FE-3010's default shooting mode when powered on is 'program auto'. That's strange for such a basic camera. Program gives you control over exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, flash and timer. One of the better features on Olympus' point-and-shoot cameras is the real-time view of changes to exposure and white balance, and it's a feature that's included on this model.
You also get an 'intelligent auto' setting that determines the correct scene mode for what you're shooting, or, if you want to choose it yourself, there are 15 scene modes to pick from, including three underwater modes. That's a rather peculiar inclusion, considering the underwater case costs nearly the same as the camera.