For anyone looking for a budget 14MP compact camera the Olympus VR-310 is a great choice. In addition to the impressive number of megapixels the 720p HD movie mode and 10x super wide opitical zoom make this camera an ideal choice for carrying around in your pocket if you need a camera and feel the urge to take some photographs.

Olympus VR-310 front

The VR-310 is an attractive looking camera that will easily fit into your pocket making it ideal as a camera to casually carry around so you don’t miss that important shot. Whilst it doesn’t have the same array of features as say the Panasonic Lumix TZ20 it is also considerably less expensive and you can expect a fair bit of change from £100.

One of the first things you notice when you hold the Olympus VR-310 is that the case is made from metal, none of this plastic rubbish you’ll find on some other cameras. The metal itself is an attractive shade of black as are most of the features with the exception being the silver control buttons. All in all, it makes for an attractive look.

Like a lot of digital cameras in this price range the Olympus VR-310 has an optical zoom mode rather than just a digital zoom. Optical zoom can make all the difference when focusing on shots that are further away and reduce the loss of clarity in the finished photograph. The 10x optical zoom isn’t the best available for a compact camera but then you’re not paying a high price either. The optical zoom is fairly quick and quiet but can sometimes be a little difficult to control.

The rear of the camera has a 3 inch lcd screen for viewing photos, controlling menu options, and framing shots. As a compact camera there’s no view finder so you’ll be looking at the lcd screen alot. It has a more than adequate 230,400 pixels so will be fine for all but the most discerning users. It does struggle however in bright light and you could end up with one hand shading the screen so you can actually see what shot you’re taking.

Olympus VR-310 back

The Olympus VR-310 is packed with a range of features to help make taking photographs easier. For example the Intelligent Auto-focus (i-Auto) automatically compares scenes the camera is pointing at with predefined on board settings to correctly focus the shot. You’ll also find dual image stabilization technology to reduce camera shake, especially useful when focusing on far away subjects. Another feature worth noting is the impressive array of inbuilt filters that can be applied to your photographs. These include Punk, Pop-Art, and Sparkle amongst others.

Like most Olympus digital cameras the VR-310 comes with a rechargeable battery which can also recharge from a usb connection to a computer. You will need and SD memory card however so bear in mind you’ll need to add that cost when considering your budget.

Overall the Olympus VR-310 is a very capable compact digital camera that will serve more than adequately as your primary camera if you’re just looking to take holiday snaps and family photos or as a great and easily portable backup camera if you’re used to something a bit larger and more feature rich.