Olympus SH-1 Review

June 23, 2014 | Zoltan Arva-Toth |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.


The Olympus SH-1 has 7 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 125/22° to ISO 6400/39°. Noise reduction is extremely aggressive even at base ISO, and gets stronger as you move up the sensitivity ladder, which takes its toll on fine detail. On a more positive note, colour saturation is not affected too badly until you hit ISO 3200/36°.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The lens has an extremely versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


To counteract the effects of over-aggressive noise reduction, the Olympus SH-1 applies a high dose of sharpening to its images. Adding more in post does not seem to produce better results, as you can see in these 100% crops.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The Olympus SH-1 does not shoot raw. The available JPEG settings are Fine and Normal.

16M Fine (100% Crop)

16M Normal (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

For an ultra-zoom, it was very surprising to see almost no trace of chromatic aberrations in the images. Evidently there is some clever processing going on in the background to eliminate all kinds of purple fringing – and it’s highly successful. The examples show what you should expect in the worst case.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The Olympus SH-1 has a Super Macro mode, which enables it to focus as close as 3cm. Unfortunately, Super Macro is available as a separate Scene Mode rather than a shooting option. In our experience, the camera sometimes has a difficulty focusing on the subject in this mode – but when it does achieve a focus lock, it can produce remarkable results. The example below shows how close you can get to the subject; in this case, a Secure Digital memory card.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The camera has a pop-up flash that has to be raised manually. The available settings are auto, fill in, redeye-reduction and off. Note that the settings can only be adjusted when the flash is raised. These shots of a white ceiling were taken at a subject distance of 1.5m.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (600mm)

Forced Flash - Telephoto (600mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some flash portraits. As you can see the flash did not produce a noticeable red-eye effect.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Reduction Auto

Red-eye Reduction Auto (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Olympus SH-1 has a minimum shutter speed of 30 seconds in M mode, which is fairly good news for photographers interested in night photography. The following photo was captured in the Night Scene mode, at a shutter speed of 1 second, aperture of f/3.2, ISO 160. We have provided a 100% crop for you to see what the quality is like.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg


The camera has an HDR exposure blending mode, which takes advantage of its extremely fast sequential shooting capability to capture two exposures in rapid succession. These are then blended into a single image with improved highlight and shadow detail. Although Olympus calls it a 'Backlight HDR' mode, it can be applied to shooting any high-contrast scene, as the examples below demonstrate.



hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Picture Modes

The Olympus SH-1 has 7 so-called Picture Modes including Vivid, Natural, Muted, Fish Eye, Sparkle, Reflection and Fragmented.



picture_mode_vivid.jpg picture_mode_natural.jpg



picture_mode_muted.jpg picture_mode_fisheye.jpg



picture_mode_sparkle.jpg picture_mode_reflection.jpg



Art Filters

The camera offers 7 'art filters': Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale&Light Color, Dramatic Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole and Diorama.

Pop Art

Soft Focus

art_filter_popArt.jpg art_filter_softFocus.jpg

Pale&Light Color

Dramatic Tone

art_filter_paleLightColor.jpg art_filter_dramaticTone.jpg

Grainy Film

Pin Hole

art_filter_grainyFilm.jpg art_filter_pinhole.jpg




Slow-Motion Video

The Olympus SH-1 has two hi-speed movie recording modes, HS120fps and HS240fps. These embedded videos demonstrate what kind of results you can expect from each. Notice how steady the footage is (especially the one shot at 720/120p) as a result of the camera's effective image stabilisation system.

Olympus SH-1 720p Slow-Motion Video Recorded at 120fps from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Olympus SH-1 Slow-Motion Video Recorded at 240fps from photographyblog on Vimeo.

Time-Lapse Movie

The Olympus SH-1 can record time-lapse movies of up to 20 seconds in length. The maximum recording time is five hours. The recording can be interrupted by the user at any point.

Olympus SH-1 Time-Lapse Video from photographyblog on Vimeo.


The Olympus SH-1 has a dedicated Panorama mode on its shooting mode dial.  The Panorama mode has two options – Auto and Manual. In Auto mode, you simply pan the camera and itautomatically processes the images for you. In Manual Panorama mode, three frames are taken and combined by the camera. The user composes the shots using a guide frame and manually releases the shutter. The following panoramic image was captured in Auto Panorama mode.