The new VG-140 point and shoot from Olympus is the middle child in their ‘Smart V’ series. This camera is designed for a beginner or for someone who wants a basic shooter for those weekend trips to the beach. It packs in quite a decent feature set as well like 720p video recording, 5x optical zoom and plenty of scene modes to play around with. Let’s see if its performance matches up to its trendy looks.
Design and Build
Available in three colour trims, the VG-140 sports a full metal body making it quite sturdy and durable. The camera was still working fine after being dropped a few times (accidentally, of course!). The camera is fairly slim at just 9.3mm in depth and quite light as well at 125g, even with the battery. The design and aesthetic is trendy, which will definitely appeal to the fairer sex. There’s quite a bit of chrome bits all over as well, which makes it lean more towards looking a bit cheap, but that’s just my personal taste. In the front, we have the xenon flash, along with the AF assist light. The microphone is placed towards the bottom along the rim of the lens.
There’s a provision for the handstrap and microUSB port on the right, while the power and shutter release buttons are placed on the top. The VG-140 uses a Li-ion rechargeable battery (650mAh) that can be charged from the camera itself. This means you need not remove the battery to charge it, which is quite convenient. The compartment that separates the SD card from the battery is very flimsy and can be damaged when inserting the battery, if not careful.
Poor screen and button quality
All the controls are in the back, starting with a large 3-inch LCD display. There isn’t any optical viewfinder present here, since this is designed to be a basic, budget camera. Starting from the top, we have buttons for zoom, video recording, picture review, four-way navigation, menu and help. The quality of plastic used is quite poor and the fit and finish feels flimsy. The VG-140 comes with a carry pouch, charging cable, video-out cable and driver disk. Overall, the camera is compact and slim, but we aren’t completely sold on the fit and finish of the device.
The VG-140 is fitted with a 14MP sensor that uses their own lens. It has a 5x optical zoom with an equivalent focal length of 26-130mm. DIS mode let’s you shoot using high ISO settings with faster shutter speeds for reduced blur.
Decent zoom levels
The interface is pretty straightforward. To change the shooting modes, you hit left or right on the navigation pad and then scroll down to fine tune the settings. Scene mode lets you choose from a variety of settings like Sunset, Self Portrait, Indoor Sport, etc. Magic mode gives you access to various effects like Pin Hole, Fish Eye, Soft Focus, etc and a newly added Sparkle mode. Along with Panorama mode, we have Program mode that let’s you adjust the ISO setting. You can choose from ISO 80 all the way up to ISO 1600. The main menu is very easy to navigate through as well. In case you’re not sure what a particular menu does, simply hit the help button for an explanation. Video recording maxes out at 720p at 30fps.
The quality of the viewfinder is not great, as there’s some noticeable banding and colours appear muted and dull. Also, the viewing angles are too great.
Start up time is quick and in about two seconds you’re ready to shoot. Even though the camera doesn’t have a dedicated grip area for the thumb, it’s easy to use even with one hand. While the focusing is quick, there’s a very audible clicking sound from the lens as it tries to focus on the subject. It’s sounds as if an insect is trapped inside the camera, which can get quite annoying.
Noise and colour shifts are noticeable right from ISO 200 onwards
At ISO 80, the image is relatively free of noise and grain. From ISO 200 onwards, the picture quality takes a downward spiral and at the highest ISO level of 1600, the picture degrades quite a bit and now exhibits a yellow tinge.
Outdoors, the camera is able to capture decent levels of colour and detail, although none of that is apparent on the screen itself. It’s only when you view it on your monitor that you notice the difference. My main issue with this camera is at full zoom where it becomes almost impossible to capture a picture without blur.
It's incredibly difficult to get a clear shot at full zoom without the flash
The camera is not very forgiving in these circumstances, as even the slightest movement ruins the image. With the flash on, this is problem doesn’t arise, but that’s next to useless for a long distance shot.
Good macro performance
Indoor images, under ambient light aren’t very impressive. There isn’t much noise or distortion, but the colours aren’t very rich or vibrant. We also didn’t find much difference between Macro and Super Macro modes. While the VG-140 is able to record in 720p, you can’t zoom in while recording, which is a shame. We also noticed transition issues when moving from a dark area to a well-lit one. This only happens for a second or so, but it’s still noticeable. While the flash manages to illuminate objects up to five feet quite evenly, anything further does not fare too well. Overall, we’d say it’s about average at best. The 650mAh battery drained after about 220 shots over a period of two days, which is quite decent.
Priced at an MRP of Rs.7,500, the VG-140 turned out to be a very average performer, overall. The street price for this is closer to Rs.5,600, which is roughly the price all entry-level cameras are priced at. It’s got funky looks that would appeal to a younger generation, but in terms of performance, we’ve seen better ones. Very few cameras in the market, which fall within this price bracket, manage to boast about features like a 14MP sensor, 5x zoom and 3-inch screen, so it does hold its own in this department. The build quality of the camera itself is good and seems durable enough, but sadly everything else is just average and there’s not a single feature that stands out. The screen, while big, has bad viewing angles and isn’t of very good quality. We’d say, give this camera a skip!
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