Olympus VG-170 review

New 14MP compact camera offers premium features at bargain price

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Olympus vg 170 review

Packing so many features into such a reasonably priced camera begs the question, what corners has Olympus cut?

The 14 megapixel Olympus VG-170's 5x optical zoom starts at a wider than average 26mm and has a bright maximum aperture of f/2.8. However, zoomed into 130mm, the maximum aperture is just f/6.5, which means that even in broad daylight and on landscape shots the camera often chooses to fire the flash and/or up the ISO.

The camera's lens displays mild barrel distortion at 26mm, but distortion across the rest of the zoom range isn't noticeable.

Viewing images at 100% shows that image quality is compromised even in daylight, with smeared detail regardless of ISO setting and a dappled, textured look to images.

Olympus vg 170 review

Sharpness is further reduced on images taken at the telephoto end of the Olympus VG-170's lens, but this is excusable considering the low price.

Exposure generally appears to be accurate, but the camera has a slight tendency to under-expose, and mild fringing is visible when photos are viewed at full size. Daylight shots also highlight the camera's limited dynamic range, with blown highlights and fuzzy shadow detail evident in photos taken in overcast conditions.

Noise levels are also high, with some visible noise in ISO 100 images when viewed full size, and a significant amount of noise in ISO 400 flash images.

As for the auto white balance, the camera has a slightly cold colour cast that, allied with the camera's low colour saturation levels, makes some scenes look quite dull.

The Olympus VG-170's Landscape mode features similarly down-key colours. However, several of the scene modes enliven images. Both the Pop Art and Pin Hole Magic Filters offer more saturated colours, with the Pin Hole setting adding a vignette for a retro look.

Olympus vg 170 review

Autofocus on the compact camera is average, generally locking onto subjects but sometimes hesitating and occasionally taking slightly out of focus portrait shots indoors.

More irritating, though, is how long the camera takes to write pictures to memory in some modes, such as Beauty and 3D.

On the other hand, the flash lives up to Olympus's hype, since it's evidently much more powerful than most compact camera flashes. On the negative side, the flash can be dazzling, and occasionally flash images are out of focus.

The Olympus VG-170's large LCD display puts in a good performance with its size and high resolution, although it can be hard to see in bright light.

The camera's 720p HD video capture is another bonus, although zooming while filming isn't possible and image and sound quality aren't great.

Being able to record 3D images is another positive and some images taken in this mode really jump out of the screen with 3D glasses, which Olympus includes with the camera.

Battery life also seems good, with around 400 shots possible from a single charge.

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Effective Camera Resolution14 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilySmart
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedEye-Fi Card, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationDigital
Optical Zoom5x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameOlympus
FeaturesSelf-timer, Continuous Shooting Mode, Face Detection, 3D Panorama
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMotion JPEG (AVI)
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)147 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE, RoHS
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.16 mm x 4.62 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4288 x 3216
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height62.5 mm
Width103.7 mm
Depth22.2 mm
Focal Length4.70 mm to 23.50 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelVG-170
Product NameSmart VG-170 Compact Camera
Product LineSmart
Exposure Control

Program AE

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberV106090BE000
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

Experience a compact and convenient point-and-shoot camera - but with a truly brilliant extra: Besides being absolutely easy to handle, the new VG-170 provides a flash nearly twice as powerful as on a regular compact camera. The Guide Number is approx. 8.8, in contrast to 4 to 5.6 with comparable cameras. Thanks to the long flash mode you can even light up faces and objects up to fully 15 meters away, as it automatically selects higher ISO sensitivity. 14 Megapixels and a 5x wide optical zoom (26-130mm*) enable effortless close-ups and wide-angle shots. In addition to the big 3" LCD, 720p HD Movie with sound and lots of automatic features and effects, be sure to get a high quality photo or movie every time. With its slim, stylish body and sturdy retro design, the VG-170 could be mistaken for a high-end camera - until you learn about the fantastic low-budget price!

Package Contents
  • Smart VG-170 Compact Camera
  • LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery
  • F-2AC AC Adapter
  • CB-USB7 USB Cable
  • CB-AVC5 Audio / Video Cable
  • 3D Glasses (Red / Cyan)
  • Hand Strap
  • World Wide Warranty Card
  • Instruction Manual
  • Software Media
Limited Warranty2 Year