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Digital Camera Review, Olympus VR-350 16MP CCD Digital Compact Camera

Olympus VR-350, A 16MP CCD Sensor Super Zoom Digital Camera
A retro digital look back at the Olympus VR-350 superzoom digital camera, a vintage travel compact with a 16MP CCD sensor.

I am still looking through the annals of vintage digicams for a super compact (travel zoom?) digital camera that I can take along on my trips. As for image rendering, I am also looking at digital cameras with CCD sensors (vintage now as most cameras now are fitted with CMOS sensors), which are known to produce high-quality images with low noise, better color accuracy and uniformity, higher sensitivity, and with a look and feel that are different from CMOS sensors, with some saying that the images are very much film-like.

For this review and early images test, I opted for the Olympus VR-350, a compact superzoom with a 16MP CCD sensor fitted with an Olympus 1:3~5.7 4.2-42mm (24-240mm full frame equivalent) 10x optical zoom lens, and a 3-inch 460,000 dot LCD screen. The camera, launched in 2012, is designed to be easy to use and comes with a user interface that is well laid out and quite intuitive even for the first-time user.

On the physical side, the Olympus VR-350 is a solid and well-built camera that feels reasonably weighty and sits well in the hand. It has a simple and sleek design, with an anodized aluminum shell available in silver, black, or maroon. The front panel is complemented with a ridged protrusion finger grip. With the camera powered-off, off and the lens recessed, the camera is compact enough to fit even in your shirt pocket.

Camera Operation

The operation of the camera is straightforward, with buttons and controls that are well laid out and easy to reach. Shooting Modes include iAuto (Intelligent Auto), Program Auto, Beauty, Scene, Magic, and Panorama. While the mode listing starts you off in the Program mode, the most basic shooting mode is the iAuto mode, which analyses the subject and adjusts the camera's settings optimally to match that scene, which includes Sunset, Fireworks, Candlelight, Beach, and Sport.

Olympus VR-350, Front

In Program mode, you are free to set up your own variables with sub-set options for Flash, Macro, Self-Timer, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, ISO Sensitivity, Shots Sequence, and Image Resolution settings, with the option to continue to the Main Menu Setup pages.

The Beauty mode lets you shoot a front-facing portrait and be taken to an interface where you can lighten the skin tone, whiten teeth, and apply blush, eye shadow, and lipstick.

Scene Mode selections let you set the camera setting for Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night+Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cusine, Documents, Beach & Snow, and Pets.

Olympus VR-350, Back

The Magic Mode lets you add Art-Filter effects to the image with Pin Hole, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, Sparkle, Watercolor, Reflection, Miniature, and Pop Art with further settings for Flash, Macro Mides, Self-Timer, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and MP count.

Panorama Mode lets you capture images in a panoramic sequence which can be edited via the Olympus Viewer 3 tabletop software application.

Olympus VR-350, Top

Externally, the VR-350 has a microphone opening located just off the lower left lens mount frame on the front panel of the camera, and a speaker on the bottom plate of the camera, which is where the propriety USB 2.0 multi-connector port is located. The port is the connector for Data Transfer (Storage), MTP (Media Transfer Protocol), Easy and Custom Printing, and Charging.

Olympus VR-350, Bottom

The camera is powered by a powered by DC 3.7V 925mAh battery, which is good for up to 300 shots (average use), weighs 170 grams with battery and card, and will accept SD/SDHC/SDXC/Eye-Fi cards for storage. The camera can also be used with a dedicated USB-AC F-3AC adapter, which is sold separately.

I bought the camera at an auction for just below US$ 32 + shipping from the Big Bay.

Early Images In Red

A red hibiscus blooms in the garden.

Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 01
Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 02
Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 03
Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 04
Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 05
Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 06
Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 07
Olympus VR-350,  Early Images 08

A handy and very practical camera to use and carry around, small enough to fit into your shirt pocket or a handbag, and has a very convenient one-cable operation for data transfer, printing functions, and charging the battery.

Olympus VR-350, View from top

Due to its slim and minimalistic design, the camera may not at all be convenient for one-handed shooting, it needs to be held up and kept steady for image framing and capture preferably with both hands.

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