Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for SH-50_BLK_RIGHT.jpg
  • 16-Megapixel BSI CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Touch LCD Screen
  • 24x Optical zoom lens: 25-600mm (35mm equivalent)
  • TruePic VI
  • Three Axis Image Stabilization
  • 5 Axis Video Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Magic Shooting Modes
  • HDMI Output
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Image stabilization is more than enough to support the full 24x optical zoom
  • 24x optical zoom is incredibly versatile
  • Overall image quality is very good
  • 3.0-inch Touch LCD is easy to use and see
  • Excellent Video Quality and 5 axis stabilization
  • Outstanding performance
  • Very good battery life
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Camera can be hard to operate with 2 hands when flash is popped up
  • Some noise in all images / Normal with most 16-Megapixel image sensors
  • Flash is weak at low ISO levels
  • No external audio input
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.9 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 3/10 to 6/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 8/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.16 seconds
  • Sequential 1 burst =  2.86fps 
  • Sequential 2 burst = 9.44fps for 17 shots
  • High Speed Burst 1 = 20fps for 60 shots(1920x1440)
  • High Speed Burst 1 = 54.55fps for 60 shots(1920x1440)
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Olympus Stylus SH-50 is a powerful and versatile compact digicam, designed for the person looking for the best balance between still images and videos. Great features, quality and performance make this a must see camera for the price.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a compact camera that can handle just about any situation you can throw at it, with both still images and full 1080p HD video. 
Olympus's new Stylus SH-50 is a compact super-zoom camera, that boasts some appealing features in its pocket-sized frame. One of which is a new image stabilization system, which is a first for the Stylus lineup. This new system compensates for 3 different motions in still mode, 5 different in video, helping reduce blur in both modes. Combining this with the high quality 16-megapixel BSI CMOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI image processor, amazing 24x optical zoom lens and an easy-to-use 3.0-inch touch screen gives you a fantastic overall package of quality, versatility and style. On top of all all of these high quality features is Olympus's Enhanced Intelligent Auto shooting mode, which allows anyone to pick up the camera and capture great images. For the more creative photographers, the camera includes Scene and Magic shooting modes as well as full manual for total control. This camera is available in three stylish colors: Black, Silver and White.

Olympus's new Image Stabilization system was developed from the system that can be found on the E-M5. This allows the camera to compensate for movement in 5 directions while recording video and 3 directions with still images; the first of its kind in a compact camera. This allows for blur-free images while shooting on the go throughout the entire 24x optical zoom range. Smooth video can even be captured on the move, whether walking or riding on something, the camera can make the compensations. 

Olympus's iHS system is the combination of its High Sensitivity Backside Illuminated CMOS image sensor and powerful TruePic VI image processor. The two combine to provide an increase in image quality by helping to reduce noise. The powerful processor also helps the camera with increased burst shooting and scene selections in iAuto mode. Beauty Fix and the other editing features are also enhanced and enabled by the processor.

The SH-50 is easy to handle and a lot of fun to operate thanks to its simple, clean design. A comfortable rubber grip on the right side gives you total control with just one hand on the camera, which is good because it can be difficult to use two hands with the pop-up flash unit ready to go. The controls have been kept to a minimum, leaving just a few buttons to watch out for when using it. The simplicity of the camera is due to its 3.0-inch touch screen, which provides the opportunity to hide most of the controls. With 460,000 dots of resolution, the screen shows a good amount of detail while shooting and the adjustable brightness makes it easy to see in all lighting conditions. This is not the easiest touch screen that we have used, but changing shooting settings, touch shutter and viewing your stored images are all very easy to handle. 

Looking at our outdoor image samples, we were definitely not blown away. The exposures and colors that the camera produced were good, but we did see more noise in these images than we would like. In both the dark shadows and in the bright skies, noise can be seen throughout our samples. The skies themselves show some overexposure in some instances, as the camera struggles a little with dynamic range. There is also a noticeable blur on the right side of all of our images.

Composing our images was accomplished with the 24x (25-600mm) optical zoom lens. This incredibly versatile lens works great for both near and far images, allowing you to capture vast landscapes and group portraits to getting up close to a distant object. Super macro mode also allows you to shoot incredibly close to your subjects.

Our indoor samples show us much of the same that we saw in the outdoor images. Good exposure and color produce excellent looking images at first glance. It's when we look closer than we can see the blur on the right side of the images again. The rest of the image is very sharp, showing a great deal of detail. Noise within the image starts to show at ISO 400 and the smaller details fade at ISO 800. ISO 1600 is about the limit that you will want to go to, as everything over that has been taken over by the noise. Assisting with your low-light and indoor sample images is a small built-in flash unit, with a range of approx. 30ft. at ISO 3200. This range goes down considerably when the ISO goes down into a more acceptable range. It will work well in a smaller room as long as you stay as close as you can. It also works well as a fill on a bright day. 

Thanks to the camera's face detection software, shooting portraits is as easy as ever. No matter what mode the camera is in, as long as face detection is activated the camera will automatically pick up and follow all of the faces found within the frame. Once you half press the shutter release, the camera will set the focus and exposure for the detected faces. The camera did very well with the exposure and focus, giving us a sharp, detailed face. 

Harnessing the power of the TruePic VI processor, the SH-50 offers several "Magic" shooting modes. These modes are specially designed to produce fun and creative images that would normally take a special lens or know how on a computer afterwards. With all of these images, the camera starts with an original high quality picture then applies the effect to it immediately afterwards. This can take a couple seconds, so it can be hard to capture back-to-back images if you are in a hurry. This also allows for automatic smart panorama mode, which allows you to just press the shutter release and pan while the camera does the rest of the work for you.

With HDTV's just about everywhere, the SH-50's ability to record and play full 1080p HD videos is a huge selling point. Thanks to the HDMI output on the camera, your HD videos can be played back on any HDTV as long as you carry a HDMI cable. With that, this camera features some amazing video quality and the most advanced IS system to date (August 2013) for a compact camera. This IS system, taken from an Olympus video camera, allows the HS-50 to be used on the go with fantastic results. From handheld to walking to riding on something, the camera will be able to capture smooth and shake-free video. This is by far the best IS system we have seen for capturing video. It took almost a light run to throw off the IS, so any shooting while walking carefully comes out wonderfully. Capturing the audio for your home movies is a small, built-in stereo microphone. While this is a very sensitive mic, it picks up the sounds that are closest to the camera. This is fine if you stay close to your subject, but the farther they get the more noise you will hear and less of what you want. You will also want to stay away from anything that makes noise, including the wind, which may not seem like much while your recording but you will notice them while viewing your movies.

Powering the SH-50 is a 3.6V, 1270mAh rechargeable Li-Ion power plant. While concluding our tests, we were able to capture over 130 images and several videos on a single charge with plenty of power left to spare. This fits very well with Olympus's claims that the camera can capture up to 300 images on a single charge. This is a good battery life, especially when you take into account the power that the processor and IS system consume. Still 300 images can go very fast when out on a full day of shooting, so it is a good idea to keep a spare battery charged and on hand at all times. This is a little difficult at times since the battery is charged inside the camera via USB instead of an external charger.

Bottom Line - Olympus's Stylus SH-50 is a powerful compact digicams that sports one of the best IS systems on the market for a camera in this category. This is a great assist to the huge 24x optical zoom lens, making the full range manageable while handheld. On top of that, the iHS system provides good image and video quality and very good performance. With a MSRP of US $299.99, this is an excellent option if you are looking for a versatile compact camera that is also a great option for capturing video.

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