Olympus SH-1 Review

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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Olympus Stylus SH-1
Resolution: 16.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
Lens: 24.00x zoom
(25-600mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 125-6400
Shutter: 30-1/2000
Max Aperture: 3.0
Dimensions: 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.7 in.
(109 x 63 x 42 mm)
Weight: 9.6 oz (271 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $400
Availability: 05/2014
Manufacturer: Olympus
Full specs: Olympus SH-1 specifications
24.00x zoom
1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Olympus Stylus SH-1
Front side of Olympus Stylus SH-1 digital camera Back side of Olympus Stylus SH-1 digital camera Top side of Olympus Stylus SH-1 digital camera Left side of Olympus Stylus SH-1 digital camera Right side of Olympus Stylus SH-1 digital camera

Olympus SH-1 Review -- First Impressions

Preview posted

If you're a fan of Olympus' retro-styled PEN-series mirrorless cameras, but favor travel zoom cameras for their compact dimensions while providing generous telephoto reach, Olympus has good news. The Olympus SH-1 digital camera sports PEN-like styling, complete with an aluminum alloy top deck and controls, but it's much more compact -- especially after you account for its 24x optical zoom lens.

At the heart of the Olympus SH-1 is a 1/2.3-inch type, backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor whose output is handled by a current-generation TruePic VII image processor. Together, these allow a sensitivity range of ISO 125 to 6,400 equivalents, and swift 11 frames per second burst shooting at full resolution for as many as 16 frames. If you are willing to drop the resolution to just three megapixels, you'll manage even faster: a full second's worth of shooting at 60 fps.

The Olympus SH-1's sensor sits behind a powerful 24x optical zoom lens with similar specifications to that in last year's Olympus SH-50. It provides 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from 25 to 600mm, and has a maximum aperture that starts at from f/3.0 at wide angle, but falls to an understandably-dim f/6.9 by the telephoto position. We say understandably because the lens is pretty compact when folded, with a body depth of just 1.7 inches.

Actual focal lengths are 4.5 to 108mm, and the lens can focus to just 1.2 inches (3cm) at wide angle. When shooting at telephoto, the closest focusing distance is 15.7 inches (40cm). To help combat blur from camera shake, Olympus has included mechnical, sensor shift-type image stabilization -- and in a first for a compact camera, it's a five-axis system that corrects for side-to-side roll, front-to-back pitch, vertical and horizontal translation, and roll around the central axis of the lens. And according to Olympus, it works not just for still imaging, but also for movies. There's also a four-mode, popup flash strobe to help illuminate nearby subjects.

On its rear deck, the Olympus SH-1 sports a 3.0-inch, 3:2-aspect LCD monitor with a resolution of 460,000 dots. It's overlaid with a touch-sensitive surface that allows it to be used as an input device, allowing for functions such as touching a specific subject to select it for autofocus.

The SH-1 features a built-in Wi-Fi radio, allowing for quick and simple sharing with your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. As we've seen in a number of past models, Olympus forgoes any additional hardware for quick Wi-Fi connection, simply displaying a QR barcode on the camera's LCD display with which to provide your smart device the information necessary to pair -- so long as it has a barcode-reading app installed.

Once established, the Wi-Fi connection allows both remote live view, and remote shutter / zoom control. You can also adjust white balance, ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, and aperture remotely, select the autofocus area, shooting and drive modes, and enable the self-timer. And although the camera itself lacks any location-aware features, it can piggyback on your phone to geotag images. (Although doing so will increase your phone's battery drain.)

The free Olympus Image Share app is used to control the camera from Android or iOS devices, and you can also transfer JPEG and MOV files using the app, but not AVI files. (That rules out sharing time-lapse or high-speed movies through your phone.)

The Olympus SH-1 includes a dual-axis electronic level gauge that should make it easy to ensure level horizons, and to prevent converging verticals in your images. As well as Program and scene exposure, fully manual exposure is possible, and a middle-ground is provided courtesy of a Live Guide mode that allows exposure adjustment using simple, on-screen sliders.

The SH-1 also includes Olympus' Art Filter and Photo Story functions. Art filters are pretty self-explanatory: they tweak the look of images in a number of creative ways. Choices include Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Dramatic Tone, Fish Eye, Sparkle, Reflection, and Fragmented. The Photo Story function, meanwhile, combines multiple shots in-camera to create one of several collage layouts. The Olympus SH-1 also supports interval shooting, with a time between shots of ten seconds to 60 minutes, and a 99-frame shot limit.

As well as still images, you can also shoot 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels; Full HD) movies at up to 60 frames per second, and these are saved with H.264 compression in a .MOV container. As well as standard movies, the SH-1 also supports high-speed and time-lapse movies. Time-lapse movies can be as long as twenty seconds, and allow you to compress up to five hours of real-world time into a single clip. High-speed movies have a reduced resolution of 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels; HD) or below, but at this resolution you can manage 120 frames per second. At even lower resolution, up to 240fps is possible.

Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types, or in a not-so-generous 37MB of built-in memory. Connectivity includes Type-D Micro HDMI for high-def video output, and a combined multi-connector that allows USB 2.0 High Speed data, DC power input, and standard-def audio/video output. Power comes from an LI-92B rechargeable lithium-ion battery said to be good for 380 shots on a charge.

Available from May 2014, the Olympus SH-1 ships in black, silver or white versions with a list price of US$400.

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