Olympus Stylus 1 review

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OLYMPUS STYLUS 1 LENS

The lens is a true gem. It has a constant aperture of F/2.8 and in 35mm terms covers 28-300mm. The camera is still only 6cm in depth with the lens retracted.

Optically there’s not much to complain. I noticed some chromatic aberrations, but they are easily removed in post process. Sharpness is excellent in the center and seems to be quite good in the corners on wide angle and even better when zoomed in. Flare control is only average, but this is typical for lenses of large zoom range.

Left: lens flare sample shot

The lens has a built-in 3-stop ND filter which can be useful for bright daylight shooting or to get long exposures. The lens cap is also a nice detail: it opens like a flower and can be removed when you want to attach a lens adapter to use filters.

Below: samples at widest angle and maximum zoom.

LCD AND EVF

LCD has a now standard 3 inch diagonal and 1 million dots. It is tillable up to 90 degrees upward and 45 degrees downward. Touch capability is built-in what is great for focusing and image reviewing. Sadly, it does not support multi-touch nor is as sensitive like LCD displays found on Samsung and Canon cameras. Viewing angles are excellent, but I think comparable Canon and Panasonic LCD displays show better colors and sharpness. It is not a deal breaking difference but it is visible when you know what to look for.

Electronic viewfinder is one of the bigger positive surprises on this camera. This is definitely one of the best EVF’s ever used in compact cameras! I later realized this is the same unit as used in E-M5 (how did I miss that info when it was announced?).  It is big, bright and very detailed. The downside is that it does not show main menu system – surely a glitch that could be upgraded with next firmware. Quick menu is displayed as is the case with the image playback though. EVF has a proximity sensor – when you raise the camera to your eye it will engage automatically.

OLYMPUS STYLUS 1 SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY

Sensor has small dimensions – 1/1.7″ (7.44 x 5.58 mm), but it has a reasonably low 12 megapixels. Image quality is rather good for a sensor of this size; I noticed a bit dull colors from default settings and a lack of dynamic range compared to cameras with larger sensor but compared with similar sensors, Olympus is among the best. Fine details are well preserved in images what becomes evident when working with RAW files. Canon S120 has equally big (small) sensor and images from Olympus look way better (better lens is also contributing).

High ISO is reasonably good; you can get excellent shots up to ISO 800, but shooting above that can be a problem. You can shoot it up to ISO 12,800 though, but I would recommend it. Constant F/2.8 and image stabilization make low light shooting easier, but keep in mind this is a very small sensor; this camera gives its best in good light. If you shoot low light regularly, you might be better with a DSLR or mirrorless for the same price.

Sony RX100M2 costs the same as this Olympus, has bigger sensor in smaller body with better image quality but far less zoom and variable lens aperture. It also does not have EVF (the new Mark 3 has it; I’m still waiting for that one to arrive for review).

OLYMPUS STYLUS 1 MEMORY AND BATTERY

Olympus Stylus 1 uses Li-Ion battery capable of around 250 shots on average. This is relatively good result. External charger is delivered in the package. Camera is compatible with widely available SD memory cards.

MENUS AND RESPONSIVITY

Menu system is of identical design as is the one found on PEN and OMD cameras. Through quick menu you can adjust main setting like WB, ISO, drive mode etc. Main menu system also has a familiar look and hides a wide range of advanced options. If you never used Olympus camera before, it will take some time for you to get used to it.

Menus are fast but not instantaneous. There is a short but noticeable lag when you call quick menu (third of a second or so) and this is the case with OMD and PEN cameras also. The camera starts up and is ready to shoot approximately in one and a half or two seconds.

AUTOFOCUS

If you ask me to choose one thing that is special about this camera, auto focus would be it. This thing flies! Good light, low light, wide angle, maximum zoom, Stylus 1 does not care. It is fast as OM-D or DSLRS in good light and gets a bit slower in lower light but still there is not a single compact camera that is as good as this one, and I tried most of them.

OLYMPUS STYLUS 1 VIDEO RECORDING

Video recording is available in Full HD (1920×1080) at 30 frames per second. Stereo microphone is built-in, but there is no 3,5mm input for better external microphone. Olympus Stylus 1 can also record slow motion videos: 640×480 with 120fps and 320×240 with 240fps.

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6 thoughts on “Olympus Stylus 1 review

  1. Great straightforward review. I own the stylus 1 and it is a great camera. Your review is interesting and not overly long.
    I find the super control panel (scp) along with being able to customise function buttons 1 & 2 so very useful and rarely have to go into the menues. Image quality for a camera of this size is amazing also being able to emulate many dslr`s and isolating subjects with the fast lens if desired.
    Best, Geoff

  2. Excellent review and pictures. Thanks. I was wondering in the RAW sample photos when you use the expression “To taste”. What did you mean exactly. Did you change any of the internal settings like noise reduction or noise filter?

    Regards

    • “To taste” means I’m adjusting images in Adobe Camera Raw till I get the look I personally like, that can involve exposure, curves, noise, sharpness, colors, white balance, lens correction etc. I consider straight out of camera images as incomplete and unfinished; PC editing software is a second part of image creation, like dark room was before the advent od digital.

  3. Hello Ivan,

    I recently discover your cameras reviews on YouTube and I find them very professional, unbiased and extremely educational. I have highly recommended your blog to some family and friends.

    I have been looking for a smaller, lighter and more up-to-date camera than a standard DSLR and I fell in love with the Nikon Coolpix P600 ($425 1/2.3 sensor) until I saw your review on it. You are right, if the average image quality is not all that great then all the bells and whistles may become irrelevant.

    I did a new research with different criteria (image quality and sensor size in mind) and I fell in love again but this time with the Olympus Stylus 1 ($650 1/1.7 sensor) and you seem to agree this is a good camera.

    Unfortunately I believe the price of this Olympus camera is too high for a point and shoot. I would rather consider instead a DSLR Pentax K30 ($425) for which I already have a few lenses (but a K30 is not an up-to-date camera and carrying all that equipment around is not very convenient and/or practical if just taking a few photo in the park or small social gathering).

    I will really appreciate if you could give me some advice.

    What would be the next thing (already in the market or about to enter) closest to the Olympus Stylus 1 but within the $400-$450 range?

    My main feature’s list in order of preference would be:
    1-Image quality (sensor size?)
    2-Wi-Fi (as much control as possible with my android)
    3-Good zoom (at least 300mm if at all possible)
    4-Viewfinder (nice to have)

    Thanks in advance.

    • Tnx for your praise, i am happy when people find my work usefull :)

      It will be hard to find camera with all these features you mentioned up to $450.

      NEX-6 with the kit lens is now on sale on Amazon: $500 down from $900 what is a brutal deal and killer camera, but you don’t get telephoto without buying another lens that would cost $240 (55-210).
      http://camerahoarders.com/sony-nex-6-review/

      Olmypus XZ-2 is a great choice (on sale now also for only $300), but no telephoto and no viewfinder. Nikon P7700 is also excellent, but has everything except wifi and viewfinder.
      http://camerahoarders.com/nikon-p7700-vs-olympus-xz-2-review/

      Olympus E-PM2 also falls into the price range but telephoto would require another lens:
      http://camerahoarders.com/olympus-pen-e-pm2-review/

      Take a look at this litlle fellow:
      http://camerahoarders.com/nikon-coolpix-p340-review/
      It has everything except telephoto and viewfinder, but probably the best IQ from 1/2.7″ sensor I’ve seen and fits in any pocket.

      As you see, at the price range you mentioned you will have to give up on a feature or two from you list, you’ll just have to decide which one. Or pay the bigger price to get them all. Or find a killer sale somewhere :)

      Personally, I would go for that NEX-6 on sale and learn to live without 300mm zoom, it has image quality way above anything with small 1/2.7″ sensor, perfect viewfinder, wifi, excellent handling and a growing system of lenses.

  4. Pingback: Nikon Coolpix P600 review | Camerahoarders.com

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