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"Picky Details" for the Olympus Stylus 500 digital camera
(Timing, Power, and Storage Info)

 

Timing

When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time or delay before the shutter actually fires. This corresponds to the time required for the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is rarely reported on (and even more rarely reported accurately), and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I routinely measure both shutter delay and shot to shot cycle times for all cameras I test, using a test system I designed and built for the purpose. (Crystal-controlled, with a resolution of 0.001 second.) Here are the numbers I collected for the Olympus Stylus 500:

Olympus Stylus 500 Timings
Operation
Time
(secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
1.5
LCD turns on and lens extends forward. Pretty fast.
Shutdown
1.5 - 18
First time is time to retract lens, second time is worst-case buffer-clearing time. Fairly fast (buffer capacity of 8 shots is better than average, so longer clearing time is reasonable.)
Play to Record, first shot
0.2
Time until first shot is captured. Very fast.
Record to play
6.6 / 1.5
First time is that required to display a large/fine file immediately after capture, second time is that needed to display a large/fine file that has already been processed and stored on the memory card. First time is fairly slow, second is quite fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.87 / 0.75
First time is at full wide-angle, second is full telephoto. Just slightly on the fast side of "average." (Average range is 0.8-1.0 second, really too slow in my opinion, but that's where most cameras in this price range fall.)

Shutter lag, prefocus

0.097
Time to release shutter after first half-pressing and holding down the shutter button. Very fast.
Cycle Time, max/min resolution

2.04 /
1.76

First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode (640x480) images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 8 shots this fast, then slows to about 3.5 seconds per shot. Buffer clears in 17 seconds. In TV mode, continues at this pace indefinitely, and clears the buffer almost immediately. Not terribly fast, but not bad for a compact model 8-shot buffer capacity is much better than average.
Cycle Time, continuous mode, max/min resolution 0.62 / 0.60
(1.63 / 1.68 fps)
First number is for large/fine files, second number is time for "TV" mode images. Times are averages. In large/fine mode, shoots 5 shots this fast, then slows to 3.25 seconds per shot. Buffer clears in 16 seconds. In TV mode, continues at this pace indefinitely, and clears the buffer almost immediately. Reasonably fast, reasonable buffer depth, average clearing speed.

Average to slightly better than average speed. Very fast shutter response when prefocused. For the most part, the Olympus Stylus 500 is a tad faster than average, but is quite fast starting up, and has a lightning-quick shutter response if you first "prefocus" it by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before snapping the shot. On the whole, not blazingly fast, but not bad for a basic point & shoot camera.

 

Power

The Olympus Stylus 500 uses a custom rechargeable LiIon battery for power.

Operating Mode
Power
(@4.8 volts on the external power terminal)
Est. Minutes
Capture Mode
428 mA
115
Half-pressed shutter
406 mA
121
Memory Write (transient)
464 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
1229 mA
n/a
Image Playback
246 mA
200

Good battery life. With a worst-case run time of 115 minutes (just shy of two hours) in capture mode, the Stylus 500's battery life is better than average for a compact model. The camera goes into "sleep" mode after a few minutes of resting, so a couple of hours of run time translates into the better part of a day's worth of off-and-on photo snapping. The camera also powers up very quickly, so mind turning it off when you're not using it doesn't carry as big a risk of missing a key shot. I'd still recommend purchasing a second battery along with the camera, but the Stylus 500 does better in the runtime department than most compact digital cameras I test.

 

Storage Capacity

The Olympus Stylus 500 stores its photos on xD memory cards, and a 32 MB card is included with the camera. (I strongly recommend buying at least a 64 MB card, preferably a 128 MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.) The chart below shows how many images can be stored on the included 32 MB card at each size/quality setting.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
32 MB Memory Card
Fine Normal
2560 x 1920
Images
(Avg size)
8
3.6 MB
26
1.2 MB
Approx.
Compression
4:1 12:1
2048 x 1536
Images
(Avg size)
 - 40
785 KB
Approx.
Compression
 - 12:1
1600 x 1200 Images
(Avg size)
 - 48
658 KB
Approx.
Compression
 - 9:1
1280 x 960
Images
(Avg size)
 - 76
417 KB
Approx.
Compression
 - 9:1
1024 x 768 Images
(Avg size)
 - 117
272 KB
Approx.
Compression
 - 9:1
640 x 480
Images
(Avg size)
 - 181
176 KB
Approx.
Compression
 - 5:1

 

Download Speed

The Olympus Stylus 500 connects to a host computer via a USB interface. Downloading files to my Sony desktop running Windows XP (Pentium IV, 2.4 GHz), I clocked it at 443 KBytes/second, on the slow side by current standards. (Cameras with slow USB interfaces run as low as 300 KB/s, cameras with fast v1.1 interfaces run as high as 600 KB/s. Cameras with USB v2.0 interfaces run as fast as several megabytes/second.)

Stylus 500 Review
Stylus 500 Test Images
Stylus 500 Specifications
Stylus 500 "Picky Details"
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