The Olympus FE-360 has a solid, albeit boxy build, packs an 8Mp CCD and comes with a rechargable lithium-ion battery - all pretty impressive for a model with a fairly modest price point.

But while the Olympus FE-360's 3x optical zoom (36-108mm equivalent) is tucked neatly away within the body when not in use and its slender proportions lend it a dash of style, this has also meant there's not actually much ‘real estate' to get a tight grip on, meaning soft images are a real possibility.

While the front of the Olympus FE-360 looks the business, at the back we find small, fiddly plastic controls that appear to be fashioned from the contents of a Christmas cracker; it's lightweight too at just 104g.

Switch on the Olympus FE-360 and the impression that this is a unit for novices is compounded by its cartoon-like, icon-led menu system displayed on a 2.5in, 150K resolution back screen. It's user-friendly all right, but perhaps tries too hard to please and to do everything for you.

The Olympus FE-360 infuriates with how long it takes to save images, taking three to four seconds to write a full resolution JPEG to xD or microSD card. Still, being able to shoot close ups a mere 5cm away from your subject ups the spec ante.

Picture quality is frustratingly average: the Olympus FE-360 displays the same inability to determine the correct colour balance that blights the cheaper models in Olympus' range, and image stabilisation is of the digital type. Light sensitivity also stops lower than others here at a modest ISO1000 to avoid high levels of image noise completely ruining shots.


More positively, the supplied battery lasts a respectable 240 captures per charge, plus there is a 20.5MB internal memory to fall back on. Though the Olympus FE-360 is not a bad camera by any means, its uninspiring images mean that there are better options to choose from.