Olympus Stylus 1 review: First impressions of premium ‘bridge’ camera that crosses the E-M5 with the XZ-2


posted Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 1:00 AM EDT


Olympus married off two of its highly regarded cameras -- the premium compact XZ-2 and the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless  OM-D E-M5  -- to beget the new Olympus Stylus 1, a high-end bridge camera featuring an electronic viewfinder, hotshoe, advanced Wi-Fi capabilities and, most important, a new i.Zuiko 10.7x optical zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. And though the camera follows in the footsteps of the Sony RX10 in providing an all-in-one, long-zoom geared for enthusiasts, the Olympus Stylus 1 arrives on the market far more compact, lightweight and inexpensive.

Though neither camera can be tucked away in your pants pocket, the Stylus 1 is significantly smaller than the recently announced RX10. (Unlike the RX10, you can pretty easily fit the Stylus 1 into a coat or cargo pocket.) With lenses retracted, the Olympus Stylus 1 measures 4.6 (W) x 3.4 (H) x 2.2 (D) inches (116.2 x 87 x 56.5mm) compared to 5.1 x 3.5 x 4 inches (129 x 88 x 102mm) for the Sony. The Stylus 1 tips the scales at just 402g (CIPA-rated with battery and memory card), less than half the weight of the RX10 (813g). Moreover, the Stylus 1 costs about US$700 compared to US$1,300 for the Sony, and at least on paper seems worth its premium upgrades over the Olympus XZ-2, which at launch a year ago cost US$600.


The Stylus 1 is based around a 12-megapixel (12.8 total megapixels), 1/1.7-inch-type backlit CMOS sensor that we believe is the same one found in the Olympus XZ-2. That's a fair-sized imager for a premium compact camera, certainly a step above the 1/2.3-inch-type sensors we see on many bridge cameras. However, it's not as big as the 1-inch-type sensor that's found in the Sony RX10 (and the company's truly pocketable RX100 II). The Stylus 1's TruePic VI image processor, meanwhile, is borrowed from the OM-D E-M5, and we hope that translates to a similar speedy performance. As for the lens, the i.Zuiko 10.7x zoom lens spans a 28-300mm equivalent range, besting the XZ-2's 28-112mm range, and even the Sony RX10's 24-200mm reach, though the Stylus 1 doesn't start out as wide.

Find out more about this compelling bridge camera by reading our first impressions Olympus Stylus 1 review. IR publisher Dave Etchells shares his hands-on thoughts about this premium compact after having spent some time with a pre-production unit at the PhotoPlus East show just last week.