Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for stylus1_flash.jpg
  • 12-Megapixel BSI Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Tilting Touch LCD Screen
  • 10.7x Optical zoom lens: 28-300mm (35mm equivalent)
  • f/2.8 maximum aperture
  • Lens-Shift Image Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • 2 Customizable Fn buttons 
  • Pop-up flash unit
  • Zoom control on the lens
  • HDMI output
  • 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
  • Performance is better than most compacts of the market
  • Excellent overall image quality 
  • Outstanding low-light performance from sensor, lens and image stabilization
  • Easy to see and operate 3.0-inch Tilting Touch LCD screen
  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Great and fun extra features
  • HDMI output allows you to view your images and video on any HDTV
Cons
  • Camera avoids using the flash if possible, raising ISO levels
  • Higher noise than we'd like to see at ISO 1600 and above
  • Weak Pop-up flash
  • High price tag is not for most people
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.4 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 3/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.52 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 0.62 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  5fps 
  • Sequential flash burst = 1.85fps
  • 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 1 combines a fantastic feature set with excellent image quality and performance to create a compact camera that you will have to get your hands on. Although you may want to put it back down after seeing the $700 dollar price tag.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a high quality compact that take the place of a larger camera when you do not feel like, or are unable to carry your dSLR. 
Olympus has given new meaning and functionality to the compact digicam. With the introduction of the Stylus 1 camera, they have provided the control of a dSLR in a compact body that you will have no problems taking with you any time. The constant f/2.8 aperture lens and 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS imaging sensor provide incredibly high image quality in all lighting conditions. Versatility is also covered with the lens with a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 28mm-300mm (10.7x), that surpasses just about every other low-light lens on the market. This range would take multiple, very expensive lenses to match on a dSLR. As with most new compacts; all of the incredible, easy-to-use features are also included. A large high resolution LCD screen, fantastic EVF, Intelligent Auto, WiFi and image stabilization allow anyone to use this camera with ease. 

Built to be one of the best performing compacts available in low light situations, the Stylus 1 has to contribute its success to its sensor, lens and I.S. system. The 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS imaging sensor provides the best performance possible out of a sensor this size (1/1.7-inch). Olympus's 10.7x optical zoom lens with the constant f/2.8 aperture lens captures an amazing amount of light throughout the entire 28mm-300mm equivalent focal range, which makes it easy to shoot indoors or at night; in situations that most compact cameras normally could not handle. Helping to support this large zoom lens is a mechanical lens-shift image stabilization system. This helps not only to stabilize the camera while shooting handheld telephoto shots, but it offers several stops worth of correction, allowing you to shoot clearer handheld shots in low-light as well.

One of the most common and popular features to found on a digicams these days is a built-in WiFi system, and the Stylus 1 is no different. Its built-in WiFi allows you to connect to a smartphone or tablet anytime, as well as connecting to a wireless printer and uploading your images when connected to the internet. Via an Android or iOS powered smartphone or tablet, the Stylus 1 can be controlled and operated remotely with the WiFi connection. This fantastic feature adds a whole new way to shoot without ever having your hands on the camera, allowing you to shoot in situations that would not have been possible before.

Although it is a little larger than most compact cameras, the Stylus 1 is very compact and portable when you consider the features and quality that it delivers. It is easy to operate with one or two hands thanks to the small but comfortable grip on the right side. Multiple zoom controls allow you to hold and operate the camera like a point-n-shoot or dSLR with the control located on the side of the lens. Multiple camera controls, including the control dial and control ring, allow for easy and complete control in all shooting modes; including full manual. Two programmable Fn buttons give you plenty of personalization, so that the camera operates just the way you want. 

Offering two great options to compose and view your images, the Stylus 1 will suit your needs no matter what your shooting preferences are. Starting with the 1.44-million dot EVF, you are presented with one of the best electronic viewfinders available. Incredibly high resolution and all of the information that you could ask for gives you the easiest way to shoot with any eye-level camera. Diopter adjustment and a full 100% field of view make sure you see the entire image clearly. If you prefer to shoot via LCD, the 3.0-inch, 1040k dot tilting Touch LCD screen will take care of all of your needs. Another incredibly high res. option for composing and viewing your images, the LCD offers all of the information that you could possibly want. Its ability to tilt offers you some fantastic options for shooting in awkward or tough situations. Using the touch screen is easy and convenient, allowing you to adjust shooting settings as well as the touch to shoot option. 

The Stylus 1 provides fantastic performance to match its great feature set. The camera is able to be turned on and capture its first image in less than 1.5 seconds, allowing you to be ready to shoot in no-time. With the camera focused, the shutter lag is almost instantaneous. When allowing the AF system to work, the camera averaged between 2/10 and 3/10 of a second to capture its images. The camera's single shot delay is also very impressive, around 6/10 of a second when using the flash and 5/10 of a second without, giving you a 2fps average in single shot mode. When switching to burst shooting, the camera was able to capture at a rate of 5fps or 1.85fps when using the flash, showing that the only thing holding back the flash shooting is its recharging. All of our tests were completed using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 8GB SD card, program mode, ISO Auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. 

Taking a look at our outdoor sample images, we see that the Stylus 1 provides excellent image quality for a compact camera; even in the higher price category that it falls into. All of our outdoor samples were taken in both iAuto and Program modes. This lets you see how easy the camera can be to use. Both images show excellent quality, with great exposure and focus. iAuto did provide a much brighter and vivid image, since the camera chooses the best scenes and color modes for your current shooting situations. If you are looking to edit your images you will want to use program or one of the other manual modes, including shooting in RAW for total control. 

Our indoor samples give us a better look at the image quality throughout the ISO range. Due to the excellent low-light performance of the camera, it chose to shoot at ISO 800 instead of using the flash in auto mode. When forcing the flash, we noticed it is not very powerful, as the ISO 100 and ISO 400 images were a bit on the dark side when shooting from just a few feet away. Looking through the entire ISO range shows the incredible amount of detail that the camera captures at the lower settings. At ISO 800 we start to notice that the finer details of the image start to disappear due to noise, but overall it still produces an excellent, printable image. 1600 shows more noise than we would like to see at this setting and you will not want to shoot at any setting higher than this. 

Thanks to the fast and accurate face detection software, shooting portrait shots with the Stylus 1 is a breeze. It is very quick to detect and follow any faces that appear inside the frame, assuring you that your subject's face will always be in focus and correctly exposed. If you choose to shoot in portrait mode or iAuto, you also get the benefit of the portrait, or other appropriate scene settings as well. High ISO settings add a little bit of noise to images, especially in iAuto mode since the camera prefers to shoot without using the flash whenever possible. 

To increase your creativity, the camera uses its scene and art modes to save you editing time and give you the ability to create images you could not on your own. To accomplish this, the camera applies settings to the original image to create the effect. Along with these modes, macro mode did very well for us on this unit. We were able to get very close and the camera did an excellent job of clearly capturing the fine details of smaller objects, including the individual crystals in the snow and ice of one of our samples. This can make the camera a useful and powerful tool when you are unable or do not want to carry a large camera and multiple lenses. 

The high still image quality of the Stylus 1 carries over to its video capture as well. With adequate lighting, the camera will capture clear and smooth video with stereo sound. Our sample shows the camera's ability to keep the subject in focus, even as it and the camera are in motion. To further increase your video creativity, the full range of the optical zoom is also available for use while recording. 

Powering the Stylus 1 is a 7.2V, 1150mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery that Olympus claims can provide up to 410 images on a single charge. Throughout our time testing the camera, we were able to capture over 200 images and several short videos on a single charge with no worries about the battery running low. This is an outstanding battery life compared to most other point-n-shoot cameras, but will come up quite a bit short if you are used to using a dSLR with an optical viewfinder. As always we recommend getting an extra battery, especially if you plan on traveling or taking on extended shooting sessions. 

Bottom Line - The Olympus Stylus 1 is a compact and incredibly powerful camera. Sporting a very sensitive 12-Megapixel imaging sensor, f/2.8 low-light zoom lens and lens-shift image stabilization allow you to shoot in just about any situation, mostly without the flash. The beautiful 3.0-inch Touch LCD and built-in WiFi offer total control and amazingly simple ease-of-use for anyone. Image quality and performance both impress as well. The only thing holding this camera back from most consumers is the MSRP of US $699.99, which is steep for a compact camera. Although it is a higher priced camera, it is an excellent unit for anyone in that market.


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