If you’re thinking about buying your first compact digital camera but you’re not particularly camera savvy, you’ll be looking for one that’s not too expensive or complex – oh yes, and it’s also got to take good-looking images. The Olympus VG-130 is just such a camera.
The VG-130 is the conventional ‘cell phone’ size (96x57x19mm) that fits snugly into the palm of your hand. It has a sturdy metal casing that feels firm yet still weighs only 125g. A look at the price tag tells you it won’t cost more than £100 (we’ve seen it as low as £79.99 online) and it comes in classy black or silver for the boys, and red or pink for the girls.
Simple but flexible
The control system has been kept deliberately minimalistic – a small power button and larger shutter on the top, then a rocker zoom on the back above a video record button, playback, D-pad, menu and camera guide. To the left of these is the 3in LCD preview screen which has a comparatively low 230,400-pixel resolution. In the base is the combined battery and SD card holder, with the tripod mount annoyingly set at the far edge.
Although this is an entry-level camera, there’s still a range of menu-driven choices available to you. As well as the i-Auto mode that does everything for you, you can opt for Program (set your own flash, macro, white balance and ISO), Scene (14 in all, including ‘Cuisine’), Panorama or seven Magic Filters (ranging from Pop Art and Fisheye to Punk and Sparkle), so there’s plenty of room for creativity.
Larger zoom and HD movies
It’s a pity that so much has to be set through the menus, though, as even the D-pad can only delete images as a quick command. On the other hand, the 14-megapixel resolution ensures plenty of fine detail in larger photos and the 5x digital zoom on the 26-130mm equivalent lens is superior to the usual 3x found at this level. Action shots are less successful as there’s only a general DIS setting for anti-blur which is more effective in low light but Olympus have added a few extra goodies such as AF Tracking, Face Detection and Shadow Adjustment.
The other big plus, of course, is the inclusion of 1280×720 HD movie recording at 30fps, using the 4x digital zoom to a maximum file size of 2GB. We did find, however, that the AF in general is relatively slow to stabilise on still shots and especially wayward towards the end of the zoom range. But bearing in mind what you’re being offered for the money, this is an extremely good value compact.
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- 720p HD movie feature and low price.
- Slightly wayward autofocus.
You can do a lot worse when choosing your first compact digital camera than the Olympus VG-130 which packs a lot of features and creativity inside a solid body for a remarkably affordable price.