Olympus Stylus Digital 1020 Review
The ergonomics of the "Stylus" models still have not changed over the last few models. It remains a very solid and sturdy feeling camera that can be easily used with one or two hands. The mode dial and zoom controls lay conveniently around the right thumb as the rest of the control buttons are low enough not to get in the way. All of the buttons are well marked and easy to read, even when not lit up. The menu system has not changed either, and once you know where things are located, they are a snap to navigate.
A great addition to the 1020 is the new 2.7" HyperCrystal II LCD screen. It has great color reproduction to give you a much more accurate look at your images. It has a very wide viewing angle, making it easy to share you images with friends and family. The screen is easy to see in all lighting conditions including direct sunlight. It gains up well to help you with framing your images in low light situations as well.
Performance from the 1020 is very good. The camera was able to capture its first image in just 1.6 seconds after pressing the power button. The shutter lag is almost instantaneous when the camera is pre-focused and a quick 4/10 of a second when allowing it to focus. When shooting in single shot mode, I was able to capture 5 images in 7 seconds without the flash and 5 images in 13.7 seconds with it. The camera also features two continuous shooting modes.
The first "burst" mode shoots in full 10-megapixel resolution and was able to record 10 images in 10.2 seconds. It also works with the flash capturing 10 images in 15.6 seconds. The other continuous mode is Hi-Speed continuous. This will only capture a 3-megapixel image but it will capture them very quickly. Without the flash it captured 13 images in 2.2 seconds. That's almost 6 fps. With the flash it captured 9 images in just 2.4 seconds, still about 3.75 fps. This is a little less than the 4.9 fps that Olympus claims can happen with the flash. Our tests were completed using an Olympus M+ 1GB xD memory card, Program shooting mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Results may vary depending on lighting conditions, battery power, memory card etc.
The quality from our outdoor image samples were excellent. The camera produced sharp, clear images with excellent exposures and the colors are rich and natural looking. The 7x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent of 37-260mm gives you a great deal of versatility when shooting. You have the ability on the wide end to take decent landscape and group portrait shots, while the big telephoto zoom will bring you very close to your distant objects and allows for great framing options no matter what you are doing. On the wide end of the zoom, you notice some barrel distortion and a little edge softness throughout the range. This most likely wont be noticeable, unless you plan to have large prints made (larger than 8x10). Chromatic aberrations have been very well controlled and are not noticeable at all in any of our samples.
Our indoor sample images were also pleasing. There is little difference between shooting with the flash when compared to without it in color and exposure. The face detection works very well no matter what shooting mode you are in. The built in flash has a range of up to 15.6ft. at ISO 800. In our samples it worked well from 8 feet and closer not going over ISO 200, either when being used as the main light source or just as a fill light. It also handled macro mode very well. The camera also has a super macro mode, which does not allow the use of a flash, but it will get you incredibly close to your object (0.79 inches from the lens!).
The movie quality was ok, although the camera seemed to have a little trouble adjusting for the changing lighting conditions. The video runs smoothly and the little bit of ambient noise in the sample was from the wind. You are given the ability to change the white balance, exposure mode, video quality and frame rate, which is nice depending on what you plan on doing with your videos. You are only limited by the amount of memory on your card (max. 2GB clip size), so if you plan on taking a lot of video, you will want to have several large memory cards available.
Supplying the power to the Stylus 1020 is a 3.7V 925mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. Olympus claims you can capture up to 260 shots with a fully charged pack. On a single charge I was able to capture more than 100 pictures, several videos and complete all of our tests with the battery icon still showing a full charge. This is an outstanding battery life so far. We still recommend a second battery that is very easy to keep charged with the included external battery charger. You should never miss a photo opt because of a dead battery.
Bottom Line - The Olympus Stylus 1020 is a full featured and stylish compact digicam. The 10-megapixel imaging sensor and 7x optical zoom combined with the in-camera features make this a very capable and fun to use camera. It has excellent performance and quality, and will definitely make a great camera for anyone looking to take some creative photographs. The only thing that upset us was that this model is not weather-resistant like it's predecessors. With a MSRP of US$350 it is a little pricey, but offer a good deal if you are looking for a camera with a little bit of extra power and some great features.
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