The 14-megapixel Olympus VR-310 was announced worldwide in February 2011 and features 10x optical zoom. Olympus has categorised this camera in the ‘Smart’ line-up, which include compact point-and-shoot cameras featuring easy-to-use automatic functions such as smart filters and intelligent Auto mode.
Design and Build Quality
The Olympus VR-310 features a metal casing at the front and side along with a polycarbonate back panel. The device appears sturdy. The lens barrel has a three-segment construction. The camera features a plastic tripod mount. The 3-inch LCD occupies most of the back panel with small buttons placed on the right side. Unfortunately, the camera, when placed on its back, rests on the LCD, which makes it prone to scratches. In fact the review piece bore sufficient evidence for this fact. The battery chamber/card slot door appears flimsy.
The 14-megapixel Olympus VR-310 uses a 1/2.3-inch Type (6.16 x 4.62mm) CCD for imaging. It features a 24-240mm equivalent f/3.0-5.7 lens. The camera features sensor-shift image stabilisation, which controls image blur caused due to camera shake. In Normal mode, the lens focusses from 0.6m to infinity at the wide-angle end and from 1m to infinity at the telephoto end. In Macro mode, it focusses from 0.2m to infinity at the wide-angle end and from 0.9m to infinity at the telephoto end. In Super macro mode, it focusses as close as 1cm. Autofocus modes are Face/iESP, Spot, and AF Tracking. Still images are recorded in JPEG format at a maximum resolution of 4288 x 3216 pixels while movies are recorded in AVI (motion JPEG) format with a best quality of 1280×720 pixels. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 80 to 1600. White Balance options of the VR-310 are Auto, Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent, and Fluorescent.
Shooting modes of the camera are Program, iAuto, Scene, Magic, and Panorama. In iAuto mode, the camera automatically detects the scene and applies the optimal setting. Scene mode offers pre-set settings for Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach and Snow, and Pet. The Magic mode provides access to seven Magic Filters. These are Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish Eye, Drawing, Soft Focus, Punk, and Sparkle (Olympus does not explain what these filters are meant for). In Panorama mode, the focus, exposure, zoom position, and White Balance are locked at the first frame and a small overlapping window is shown to align your second frame. The flash modes are Auto, Redeye, Fill in, and Flash off.
The VR-310 has 33MB of internal memory and accepts an SD/SDHC card for external storage. It uses a 3-inch, 230,000-dot TFT colour LCD for display. The camera weighs approximately 158g with battery and memory card, and has dimensions of 100.6 x 58.2 x 28.5 mm (W x H x D).
The Olympus VR-310 is very user-friendly with a simple and straightforward interface. The buttons were very responsive, but we wish they were a little bigger. The zoom lever seemed to lack the smoothness that most other cameras offer. The LCD screen is quite bright and displays crisp images. Though the camera lacks a well-defined hand grip, the body itself offers enough grip to support the camera. We do miss a well-structured user manual since the PDF manual provided with the camera gives an impression that it was put together in a hurry.
The Olympus VR-310 performed fairly well in our tests. AF was reasonably fast and precise even under low light. Darkening of corners was observed at the wide-angle end at the widest aperture of f/3.0. Apart from slight barrel distortion at the wide-angle end, the lens did not produce any other distortion. Images were sharp at the centre, but the sharpness decreased towards the edges.
In the White Balance front, the Olympus VR-310 produced mixed results. Auto White Balance produced better results compared to the pre-set modes, but distinct casts were noticed in most cases. Native print size of the images was 10.72 x 14.293 inches at 300 ppi. At 21.04 percent of screen size, ISO 1600 was found to be very noisy and soft. At 25 percent screen size, even ISO 800 showed noise. When observed at 33.33 percent , noise was observed at ISO 400. Enlarged to 50 percent of screen size, the images showed noise even at ISO 200. Images were usable up to ISO 800.
Analysing the overall performance of the camera, it seems like Olympus has much to improve in White Balance and noise control since the competition has advanced a lot in these areas.
Value for Money
The Olympus VR-310 retails at an MRP of Rs.10,999. At this price, a camera capable of 10x optical zoom is a fair bargain.
+ Superior build quality
+ Good Distortion control
– White Balance could have been better
– Disturbing noise at high ISOs
– Confusing User Manual
Design and Build Quality 17/20
Key Features 16/20
Noise Control 2/5
Value for Money 7/10
Grand Total 75/100
The Olympus VR-310 offers a good zoom range and many automatic modes for the fun-loving casual photographers. Recommended!