See how the Olympus FE-190 fares against the Sony Cybershot DSC-W50 in this
battle of 6-megapixel, 3x digicams.
Major brands are now offering 6-megapixel, 3x zoom digital cameras in the $200 range, so we thought we'd size up two of the leading contenders: the just-introduced Olympus FE-190 (street: $180) and the hot-selling Sony Cybershot DSC-W50 (street: $230).
On the surface these cameras are virtually identical, with nearly the exact physical dimensions. Both have right offset 3x flush-folding 6.3-18.9mm zooms (35mm equiv: 38-144mm). Both have 2.5 inch LCDs next to multi-controllers and a mode dial on the back. The Sony does manage to incorporate a tiny optical viewfinder, unlike the Olympus.
Bucking the trend towards SD card homogeny, the Sony Cybershot DSC-W50 sticks with the Memory Stick Duo format that Sony favors for its compact digicams, while the Olympus FE-190 keeps with its company's standard media type for compacts, storing images in xD format.
Both cameras are marketed towards first-time and budget-buyers, with an emphasis on ease of use at an affordable price.
These cameras, especially the Olympus, truly are Point and Shooters in the truest definition of the term. The Olympus FE-190 is almost totally auto-everything -- auto white balance, auto ISO selection, and auto exposure! There are very few user-selectable options, outside of Scene modes and exposure compensation.
There is such a minimum of user-controllable functions with the Olympus FE-190 that we could not control the camera enough to produce a full lab report within our normal testing protocols.
So, instead, we went out exploring some of Manhattan's landmarks on a less-than-perfect afternoon, and set both the Olympus FE-190 and Sony CyberShot DSC-W50 to autopilot for our head-to-head battle of the econocams.
Let's cut right to the chase: The Sony outperforms the Olympus in most categories, but the Olympus does have a certain charm, and may find a niche in the crowded digicam marketplace.
We're going to compare several aspects of each camera and also present an image quality photo gallery of identical photographs shot with each camera, including several "actual pixels" comparisons, to help you come to an informed, budget-minded decision.