Olympus FE-120 Digital Camera Review

Finally got my cousin to let me have it...


Easy to use, cheap, but not a lot of features…


Long battery life, picture quality is good, and the price is right.


Auto focus is slow, picture quality could have been better, and overall performance is slow.

I think a month or two ago, a female cousin of mine was staying at our place for a week or two. She had lots of new electronic gadgets that I wanted to try out and write about and you will see some reviews very soon. This story is about her Olympus FE-120 digital camera. The lowest price for this camera right now is around 200 dollars; give or take a few bucks.


The FE-120 has a 1.8 inch LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen, but it does not have a viewfinder. I usually like to use the viewfinder to take shots that need precision and also when I want to save a little battery life by turning off the LCD. The LCD has 85,000 pixels resolution which is bright and clear; the brightness can also be easily adjusted via the setup menus. It would have been better to have one of those 2.5 inch LCDs for a better view of your subject.


This camera can use 2 double A (AA) batteries or proprietary lithium batteries. The two double A’s do not provide that many shots but is expected because of the LCD. On the other hand, the rechargeable battery pack provides about 240 to 250 shots before having to charge it again. My cousin likes to use double A batteries in this camera because does not want to wait when the battery charges. I guess you can say that she is a little impatient. I also want to point out that since there is no viewfinder you will not be able to turn off the LCD to save battery life.


This camera switches on and becomes ready in roughly 3 seconds; the flash recharge time is fairly good as it allows a shot every 2 or 3 seconds or so. The LCD updates are quick and smooth even in some low light conditions. The playback mode is a little slow, but zooming is quicker and smoother. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as five times the normal (5X). This camera has a continuous shooting mode that takes about 7 photos at roughly 1.3 frames per second without flash. The general shot to shot time was fairly good which allowed a shot every 2 seconds or so. The camera shutter response is slow as is expected with low-end digital cameras. Focusing is also a bit slow and slower in low-light. I found out that this is the case in most low-end Olympus digital cameras.


The Noise Reduction System (NR) of this camera is somewhat useful but not good enough; you will still notice a lot of noise even when this feature is turned on. The noise reduction system minimizes image noise in high ISO shots, low-light images, and long exposures. With Noise reduction on, the shoots take a bit longer than usual, and even then they are not clear enough. My cousin and I like to just use the flash in low light conditions and there are no manual ISO settings to fool around with anyways.


The FE-120 has a pretty good movie mode that records video clips at 320 x 240 pixels @ 30fps (max). One thing that would have been nice is if audio could be recorded with the video. The length of the video always depends solely on the memory card you use.

I did take some video clips of my family just to test it and it turned out fairly nice. The clips are not of the highest quality but they are decent enough, but the downside is that they have no audio. The ability to record audio would have made the video mode more desirable and appealing but it is not a problem as my cousin does not use it anyways. But of course, if you wanted high-quality videos with audio, you would just get a camcorder.


The ISO and White balancing settings are automatic so it is not much you can do manually to customize your shot. The automatic ISO sensitivity ranges are Auto with is equivalent to (50 – 320). This camera itself decides which setting to use automatically depending on the shooting conditions. This camera has automatic white balancing (WB) settings also so you do not have too much control over your shot. My cousin and I really do not mind the auto settings but are glad that we do not have to mess around with the settings.


This camera takes about two to three seconds to startup. The shutter fires quickly and it takes about a second or two at most (maybe more in bad lighting). Autofocus (AF) is also pretty quick and accurate most of the time in good light conditions. The AF system gets the picture in focus (in good lighting) in less than a second or two. The AF system sometimes lags to get the pictures in focus, and in low light situations, it takes a little longer than usual.


I have used this Olympus FE-120 digital camera for a little more than a week, and it had given me a wide range of quality pictures. I roamed around our yard and took pictures of flowers and my family. These pictures are good enough for everyday use. You can pretty much take it everywhere you go, and it will fit perfectly in your pockets.

I like to take a lot of pictures, especially of my family and the beautiful Mother Nature. I like to visit places and capture all their beauty. My mom has a beautiful flower garden and I usually go to her place and take close-ups of the pretty flowers and other wonderful plants. I usually take my Olympus C-8080 to take close-ups but I tried it with this new camera also but I think I will stick to my C-8080 for now. I use the built-in flash, even during the day, to light up all parts of the object I am capturing which this camera allows me to do that without any problems.


My cousin does have a carrying case that she purchased when she purchased the camera. Because she keeps this camera in the case when it is not in use, it does not any scratches on it anywhere. So if you want to protect your investment, I suggest you purchase a good case for this camera. For great quality pictures, you should not touch the camera lens with your fingers (you do not want fingerprints on the lens do you?). Keep the LCD clean at all times and when storing, cover the LCD with a piece of cloth to prevent scratches. Or wrap the camera in something to protect it.

I also suggest that you buy a lens cleaning kit so you can get the dust and fingerprints off easily when they do get on the lens.


The image quality this FE-120 provides is good but could have been better. I would say that my Nikon Coolpix S1 has way better picture quality than this camera. The color is accurate but can look washed out once in a while. I usually use the highest (6 MP) resolutions for my pictures because I sometimes want to crop and edit pictures; this gives me that flexibility and quality to do so. I am still pretty new to digital photography and digital cameras, so I do not know everything in detail about this camera but I can tell you this, every picture I have taken with this camera turned out quite nicely, but the pictures that came out of my S1 are way better.


Unfortunately, I did find some things that I do not like about this camera; first is that this camera lacks the ability to record sound with video clips. It would have made the video mode much more desirable even with the low resolution. I sometimes like to play around with the ISO and white balancing settings, but this camera does not have manual settings for these features. The autofocus is slower than most digital cameras I have used in the same class; this just creates more lag in taking simultaneous pictures. These are some minor problems but you may consider them major.


This is definitely not the perfect camera and I would not recommend this as a holiday present for someone as it will only give them frustration as it did me. That being said, I still recommend this for people who want a 6 megapixel camera at a low price. I have tried many other low-end digital cameras and this would be one of the low-quality ones. This camera will last you a long time as it is Olympus but may not always give you the best possible picture.


Resolution6.18 Megapixels
Optical Zoom3x
Digital Zoom4x
Camera TypeStandard point and shoot
Image Resolution640 x 480
2816 x 2112
1600 x 1200
Video Resolution320 x 240 (qvga)
Video Speed30 frames per second
Video FormatQuicktime
Motion JPEG
ISO SpeedAuto
Aperture Rangesf2.8 / f4.9 (w/t)
Shutter Speed4- 1/2000 seconds
White BalanceAuto
Compatible MemoryBuilt-in (14MB)
xD Picture Card
Accessories2 x AA Batteries
USB Cable
Video Cable
Hand Strap
32MB memory card
LCD Panel Size1.8 inches
LCD Panel Resolution85,000 pixels
 Dimensions4.2 (W) x 1.4  (D) x 2.2 (H) inches
 Weight0.31 pounds