Olympus FE-5020 Review

August 24, 2009 | Gavin Stoker |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Since there's not a great deal of this slender, slippery surfaced camera to get a completely firm grip on, there were occasional instances of camera shake visible in our test shots, even when shooting in a seemingly sufficient amount of daylight.

And, as we've found with Olympus cameras in the past, white balance can disappointingly vary between shots - and this is more noticeable than on competitors. Flesh tones too can look a little cool and pallid, while overall the images could do with more visual punch.

This can be provided of course by dipping into the set of Magic Filters - but again results vary. Whilst Pop Art delivers much needed saturation, as you'd expect colours are a bit retina searing. Our attempts at Pin Hole returned images that looked like they had been doused in Victorian soot, whilst Fish Eye too needs to be used in moderation. The worry is that these are effects users will play with for five minutes, coo briefly at, and then forget they ever existed. Still at least Olympus is offering something a little different, even if it's not 100% successful.

As expected from a pocket snapshot, purple fringing is readily evidenced between areas of high contrast, and highlights are often blown. There is a reasonable level of detail captured however.

In terms of light sensitivity, image noise begins to slowly creep into shot from ISO 400 upwards. And, although ISO 800 would be usable if pushed, at ISO 1600, images appear as if being viewed through a smear of grease, detail significantly degraded.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Olympus FE-5020. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can't change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

As expected from a pocket snapshot, purple fringing is readily evidenced between areas of high contrast, and highlights are often blown, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Olympus FE-5020 offers a Super Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Olympus FE-5020 are Auto, Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, and Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (120mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (120mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-Eye Reduction options caused any red-eye.


On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Olympus FE-5020's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds in the Night scene mode, which is disappointing news if you're seriously interested in night photography, as it doesn't allow you to capture enough light in most situations. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 4 seconds at ISO 250. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)