181 of 183 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2012
I've had the Olympus VR-340 for just over a month now, and used it quite heavily, as I was traveling overseas for 4 weeks of that time. Here are my thoughts, as a regular guy who likes to take good pictures, but is far from a camera buff.
The VR-340 is on the big end of point-and-shoot cameras, at least as far as I could tell. It doesn't look that different until you hold another camera up to it though, at which point you can really see the difference. It seems to me that its thickness is the biggest difference. Still fits in a pocket great though, so don't worry about that. It also fits perfectly into the Lowepro Apex 20 AW -Black, if you're looking for a case.
This is where the camera's extra size really pays off. I used a camera with 5x optical zoom for years, and that still seems to be the general standard. 10x is a HUGE difference. Well worth the extra money, even if you're just getting the camera for vacation. You'll be amazed how often you want to take a picture of something that's too far away for a camera with 5x zoom to pull it off without the picture getting grainy. I also really like the trigger zoom system on this camera (the zoom control is a little trigger surrounding the shutter button, so you just use the same finger as you use to take the picture itself). Once in a while, the trigger gets caught a bit on the edge of my pocket when I pull the camera out, but I don't think it's bad enough to break the trigger. My previous camera was an Olympus and had the same system, and I slid it in and out of my pocket for 4 years with no problems.
I'm pretty pleased with the picture quality. 16 megapixels is a ridiculous amount. I honestly can't imagine the average person could tell the difference between 16 and 8 or something on normal pictures. That said, if you can have more, why not? It at least opens up the option of blowing your photos up larger. My only real complaint about this camera is that I've had some problems taking pictures without some blurring. I've tried fooling with the shutter speed, flash, etc., and the problem occurs very rarely. But when it does, it's pretty annoying (hence 4 stars instead of 5). It's not like I'm jerking the camera all over the place when I take the photos either. When the problem occurs, it occurs even if I prop my elbows on a table to keep my hands steady. The only shaking would be from my heartbeat, which is fairly tough to control.... Maybe there's a way to fix the problem with the settings - I just haven't found it yet. With that caveat, I've been very pleased with the picture quality.
I'm a big fan of the features on the camera, though I really don't use them all. Very easy to adjust the ISO, white balance, flash, etc. if you want to, or just let the camera figure out the scene and make the necessary adjustments for you. I found the camera did a very good job generally of identifying the type of photo being taken and adjusting the settings accordingly. I tried the "Beauty" setting, where you can allegedly fix portrait photos in the camera itself, but didn't really find it very helpful. The "Scenes" are great though - the "Landscape" one enhances blues and greens, "Candlelight" enhances yellows & oranges, "Nighttime Landscape" keeps the shutter open a bit longer to gather more light, etc. Big fan of those. I also really like the continuous/sequential setting. If you hold down the shutter on these settings, you can take a TON of sequential photos. The camera takes another photo every 0.5-1 second, depending on your SD card and how many megapixels you want each picture to be. I rigged it up with a rubberband and a small rubber bumper (like you stick to the inside of cabinets to prevent them from banging when you close them), left it on a stand, and took sequential photos of myself and my girlfriend, too. Pretty easy to do.
The VR-340 says it records movies in 720p. That seems about right. It's not as good as a dedicated video camera, so you shouldn't buy this for its video-recording capabilities. That said, the movies it does record are quite good for a point-and-shoot camera. The image is a bit jerky if you move the camera around very much while you record, but it's pretty good if you can hold it still. You can also choose whether to record sound with the video or not. Basically, I think this is an excellent feature on the camera, and it's more than enough for a tourist who wants to record the occasional video on vacation, but takes mostly still photos.
I'm pleased with the VR-340. It does everything I need it to and more. The videos and photos it takes are generally excellent, with the caveats that I struggled on occasion to get the shutter speed fast enough to take a non-blurry photo and the videos get a bit jerky if you move the camera around too much or too quickly. I would definitely buy this camera again. Shop around a bit. I think you'll see that every other camera-maker charges significantly more for a camera with this array of features. I don't pretend to know enough about cameras and photography to critique the finer points of the photo quality or anything, but for a regular person looking for a solid camera you can stick in your pocket, this is great.
125 of 128 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2012
I am very pleased with this camera. Most point-and-shoot pictures come out great and operating it is intuitive. The different scene and filter settings are great.
* portrait - for portrait-style shots
* landscape - slightly emphasizes blues and greens
* night scene - for shooting illuminated night scenes at a slower shutter speed
* night portrait - for shooting subjects with illuminated backgrounds
* action - for fast-moving action shots without blurring
* indoor - for shooting indoors
* candle- for shooting in low-light settings (e.g., candlelight)
* self-portrait - for taking a picture of yourself while holding the camera
* sunset - slightly emphasizes the reds and yellows
* fireworks - shoots fireworks at night with a slower shutter speed
* cuisine - for still life photography
* documents - for text
* beach & snow - for snowing landscapes, mountains, and seascapes
* pet - for animals
I am still getting used to to using the portrait, night, and fireworks scenes. The portrait scene mode doesn't seem to do well indoors and the night and fireworks scenes have such a slow shutter speed that a slight movement gives the image tracers. The automatic setting takes great indoor pictures most of the time, but the pictures seem to come out better when I use the indoor scene option.
The VR 340 also has a burst feature under the program auto setting, which is great for taking several action shots and sorting out the best ones later. When it is set on high speed, the flash doesn't take. This makes taking indoor pictures using the burst a little challenging. You can, however, use a flash in the single burst mode. Burst mode works well outdoors.
Close-up pictures have amazingly crisp detail and the zoom is great. The VR 340 is compact, light-weight, and easy to carry around.
Fun stuff - this camera also has seven magic settings:
* pop art - exaggerates the colors
* pin-hole - gives a black fog-like circular border around the photo
* fish eye - makes the image close-up in the center then tapers out
* drawing - makes the image look like a coloring page
* soft focus - softens the hard details in a picture; gives pictures a sort of angelic effect
* punk - washes the image out with a pink and black contrast
* sparkle - anything that shines is exaggerated with a twinkling effect
Although many of these effects can be done with editing programs, it is kind of cool to see them beforehand. The effect is also instant; what you see on the screen before you take the shot is what you get afterward.
I have been disappointed with cameras before, but for it's size, weight, and price; this is a great camera if you want to take close-to-professional quality pictures just about anywhere and be creative, too.
Update: May 15, 2015 - I am still very happy with this camera. It continues to take reliable pictures and video.
84 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2012
I'm not sure why this camera does not have many, many more 5 star reviews. I have been trying for years to find a point and shoot camera that is in a nice price range that took good pictures. I have purchased many and have returned many. I tried again as this Olympus model seemed to have what I wanted. I liked the fact that it had some playful features like the fisheye, soft focus, pinhole, etc. I have had a lot of fun playing around with those. But, even without those features I would have bought this camera and paid more for it. It takes the most beautiful, clear, professional looking photos. I've posted a few here on this Amazon review. Truthfully, the photos showing here speak volumes on the quality of photos produced from this camera. There are plenty of things to learn with the camera regarding its settings and whatnot. But, it did not take me long to learn the basics. Some of the other settings like 'beauty fix' I have not tried yet but am sure will be just an additional great feature to this camera. Honestly, I am tempted to buy another one just in case it gets discontinued. It's so hard to find a camera that does this well in this price range. I've paid several hundred dollars more on cameras in the past and received photos without quality this high. I'm impressed and it's about time.
To add, the image stabilization is so good I can be moving around alot and the photo still comes out clear. I cannot say enough about this camera!
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
I grew up a photographer. I had a darkroom in Junior High School and up until 15 years ago I shot 35mm.
Since the digital revolution I have had 6 cameras - all pt n shoot w/ progressively more MPs. I mostly drop them or break the screen which renders them useless.
This camera has all the features that I could possibly want:
1- sturdy cover for the screen so it will not crack
2- a wide angle lens to capture the WHOLE scene - and w/16mp I can always crop later
3- a very adequate 10x zoom
4- good in low light situations
5- a battery that lasts forever and a meter on the screen
Now to be fair- I hate flash and do not use it - It is not natural - I don't know anyone who has a instant bright light that comes from his forehead- but I haven't traveled that much. So the complaints that I read here about the flash or blurry indoor photos go in one ear and out the other because for me and my art, life is rarely sharp and clear. If there is enough light to shoot @ 1/50th sec the shots are sharp. For the shots I take in dark bars or @ night - the blur is part of the scene!
In conclusion, I don't carry a dslr because of the bulk and $$, but this camera I can take out of my pocket and be ready to shoot before you can say Olympus.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
For outdoor shooting during the day this camera takes good pictures. In bright light the picture quality is very good, this isn't a DSLR camera and won't take pictures like one but for an affordable point and shoot it does a fine job. The camera falls a bit short for outdoor shooting of objects at a distance in low light conditions (i.e. in the dark) but if you're close enough for the flash to be effective it does fine. I haven't had any issues with indoor pictures like some of the previous reviewers have mentioned, the indoor pics have turned out just fine.
We just got back from a week at Disney World and I bought this camera to take with us. I also own a Canon PowerShot that costs more than twice as much as the Olympus. The bright light photos taken with the Olympus are crisp and vivid, it greatly exceeded my expectations in that aspect. I also really enjoy the HD video feature, keep in mind you can't zoom when shooting video with this camera and it also takes video in 720 resolution. When shooting video the audio quality is acceptable for most applications. If you want to be able to zoom or are looking for 1080 keep shopping for something else. It only fell short in one area: shooting at night in low light conditions without the flash. If you have a tripod it the pictures would turn out fine, but even the slightest shake will result in some blurring. That's where the Canon really does a much better job.
Overall I give it 4 stars, the camera offers many options and is hard to beat for the price.
49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2012
I bought this camera because I wanted to be able to "beautify" photos, especially portraits, in the camera, not after I'd downloaded to my computer. The process is easy to use and does a good job smoothing wrinkles, whitening teeth and even enhancing eyes and smiles.
Wrinkles are a fact of life as we get older. When we look at ourselves or others we overlook the flaws and imperfections. But the camera lens sees and shows all. I don't feel like I'm "cheating" by "improving" the original photo. Instead, I'm changing the image to the way I perceive the subject.
The 10X optical zoom is amazing on a camera this size, and the preset functions are easy to use.
I see the price has dropped FIFTY DOLLARS since I bought it. :-(
I made a before and after picture to post here, but apparently photos aren't allowed.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
I am involved in real estate and use this camera to take many indoor photos of houses (kitchens, baths, special features, etc.). The flash works well and my photos are very clear. There are several image sizes to choose from including 1280 x 960 which provides a very clear image and yet the photos are still easy to send via email. Many of the smaller point and shoot cameras lack this image size and require you to use either 640 x 480 (too blurry) or a larger size which results in large files which are difficult to send via email. The camera is very fast and starts instantly when you press the on button. Similarly, taking a photo is also very fast with no lag once you hit the shoot button. The images are fairly wide angle and not narrow and boxy. Most of the negative reviews of this camera seem to be from people who didn't read the instructions and/or didn't take the time to find which settings work best for their needs. After I played around with the settings and tried various combinations, I had no problems with blurry indoor photos which some have complained about. This is an inexpensive small camera and the performance is quite good for the price. I would recommend this camera to anyone who wants good photos but doesn't want to spend a lot of money. My only complaint is that it didn't come with a memory card and I had to provide my own.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2013
Am super happy with this camera, I have several camera's ranging from very expensive with several lenses, tripods, filters etc to small SLR's this little guy takes the best photos, took photos of fireworks on the 4th, best I ever got, take lots of nature photos, great birds, a bumble bee in a flower, did I mention I really love it, never having had a digital camera before took me a while to get accustomed but now, its with me all the time.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I was recently at a gathering where I wanted to hand off my camera for someone to take my picture. They had difficulty with it, and so started the search for a simple camera that I would also enjoy.
This Olympus has really fit the bill. One of the FIRST things I noticed with many point and shoots is that the optical zoom is often limited to 5x for entry level cameras. This Olympus has a 10x optical zoom that really just blew me away once I first got my hands on it. Standing at the edge of our porch, I took a picture of the same tree from wide open, to 5x, to 10x. Great zoom for such a compact camera. And the display on the back of the VR-340 is nice and clear, giving you a good representation of the picture you've taken.
I did try the camera at an evening baseball game. In lower light, some of the action was blurred. I'm still running on automatic, so maybe with some tweaking, I can get better results.
At the end of the day, I'm happy with the performance and feature set for the money I paid(less than a hundred). Of note, you do need to bring your own SD card to the party. That's fine by me, because I was assured of a Class 10 card since I bought it. Additionally, they say that the best camera is the one that's with you. While I love my DSLR, this compact point and shoot is easily pocketable and does a great job of capturing those moments. Not perfect, but very, very good.
43 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2012
This camera has never taken a sharp indoor photo. The flash goes off, but the pictures are always blurred. In daylight, the camera works fine. Sent the unit back to manufacturer. They claimed unit was set to macro and sent it back to us. Camera is confirmed to not be on macro setting, and indoor pictures are still very poor. Unless you are only going to take pictures in bright sunlight, buy a different camera.