Olympus Stylus 1 Review
Olympus Stylus 1 Shooter's Reports
Olympus Stylus 1 Shooter's Report Part I
Dreamy Bokeh on a Budget
When a camera company unveils a new product it's generally accompanied with claims about all the special features embedded within, so I went to the Olympus website and read their claim that the Stylus 1 and its fixed i.Zuiko f/2.8 lens could: "...produce pro-quality stills with beautiful, defocused background..." That's quite a bold statement, but the sharp subject and gorgeous blurred background in the image below are proof that they're onto something rather good with this unique little camera. So let's take a closer look!
At a price point of US$700 we're no longer in traditional consumer camera territory, but have instead entered "enthusiast" land, that nether world between the consumer and the professional market. Enthusiasts often have particular styles or types of shooting they gravitate to... wildlife, portraiture, street shooting, etc... and as such are naturally interested in finding tools to support that particular style.
So when we at IR saw the Stylus 1 for the first time, most of us scratched our heads and asked "who is this camera for?"
Read more about my first impressions and hands-on experience with the Stylus 1.
Olympus Stylus 1 Shooter's Report Part II
Reader Requests, Special Features and More
Reader Requests. Thanks for your comments and suggestions for additional testing (and patience!).
Below we'll take a look at some of them in detail and see if we can further expand on the benefits of owning a Stylus 1 versus any potential drawbacks or shortcomings. So grab another coffee, dive right in and don't forget to keep your comments and suggestions coming at the bottom of the page when you're finished reading.
Thanks to our reader Duoxi for suggesting the simple and pertinent comparison in low light against the very capable and similarly priced Sony RX100 II. We already know without hesitation that the RX100 II with its much larger 1"-type sensor performs better as ISO rises, and that the Stylus 1 has a much longer zoom range and a larger available aperture across the farther end of that range. So this is a test to determine if the larger aperture on the Stylus 1 at longer focal lengths takes in enough light (thus allowing for a lower ISO at similar settings) to compensate for its weaker high-ISO performance.
I enlisted our senior lab technician, Luke Smith, to help me create test conditions in our lab comparable to the available light level in a typical restaurant at night. The floor lamp we used for this experiment wasn't as warm as typical indoor lighting, but better for being able to get an accurate read of the test images. We set both cameras to manual and adjusted the various settings of each to be as close as possible, given the inherent differences from camera to camera, with the basic settings consisting of a 100mm (eq.) focal length (the maximum for the RX100 II), a 1/30 second exposure time, and the maximum available aperture at that focal length (f/2.8 on the Stylus 1, f/4.9 on the RX100 II). We then allowed the ISO to fall where it needed to be in order to achieve good exposure as determined by the camera's exposure system. We also performed a custom gray-card white balance for each camera and set center focus on the "Chiquita" banana label.
Read on for reader requests, special features and more.
Olympus Stylus 1 Shooter's Report Part III
Ergonomics, lens comparison testing and conclusions
For this third and final chapter shooting with the Olympus Stylus 1 I'll write more about the handling and controls onboard the camera, and take a closer look at some of the additional features and functions. I'll also explore how the incredible i.Zuiko lens compares to a high-end Olympus Four Thirds lens (the beautiful and pricey 300mm eq. f/2.0 prime), and also to the lower-priced and smaller-sensored Panasonic FZ200.
Up close and personal. Let's start with a quick look at focus modes. There are five general focus modes, including Single AF, Continuous AF, Continuous AF with Subject Tracking, Super Macro and good ol' fashioned manual focus. Super Macro allows focus to be achieved at just 5cm (~2"), which is quite a tight range. For the Spanish doubloon image above I had the lens barrel right up against the bottom of the coin itself. You are not able to use zoom while in Super Macro mode, nor flash, but as you can see from this shot you're still afforded a very nice dose of bokeh (background blur) if it's desired. Clicking on the image will take you to a page where you can then click to see the full resolution image up close (and it's quite revealing in doubloon detail).
There are also no less than 4 face priority focus modes. You can choose from Face, Face and Eyes, and Face + either left or right eye, and somewhat to my surprise these worked quite well. As you might expect, this last mode is able to lock in more quickly the closer you get to your subject. Not too close of course, but as you begin to move in, the camera puts a large focus box over the subject's face and a smaller green box over the eye that you've chosen. Portrait shooter's will undoubtedly find this feature helpful since it's so easy to employ.
Read on for my thoughts on ergonomics, lens comparison testing and concluding remarks.
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.