Olympus Stylus 1 Review

November 29, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |


The Olympus Stylus 1 super-zoom is a successful marriage of the company's high-end XZ-2 compact and the flagship OM-D E-M1 compact system camera, whilst offering a fast 28-300mm lens in a small and relatively lightweight body complete with an EVF and tilting LCD screen that rather amazingly can be fitted into a coat pocket. Although it uses a much smaller sensor than it's principal rival, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10, the Stylus 1 only costs half as much, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 is cheaper but has an even smaller sensor than the Stylus 1.

The Stylus 1 ticks most of the boxes that any experienced photographer is looking for - “sensible” 12 megapixel count, a fast lens, raw file support, a reliable 35 multi-point AF system and a well implemented manual exposure mode complete with an optional live histogram. Add in the excellent electronic viewfinder from the OM-D E-M5, high-resolution tilting LCD screen, touchscreen controls, the innovative lens control ring, and an image processor that's fast enough to avoid any major freeze-ups even when shooting RAW+JPEG simultaneously, and you have a very capable yet portable super-zoom camera that you can take pretty much anywhere.

The Stylus 1 performs very well in the image quality department, owing to that fast and sharp lens, back illuminated 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, and the same TruPic VI image processor used in th PEN range, all of which combines to turn out JPEGs with very pleasing colours, excellent sharpness and good overall tonality. High ISO is also quite good for what is after all a compact camera, and with the f/2.8 lens and effective VCM image stabilisation on board, the Stylus 1 can certainly cope with most lighting environments. Video, on the other hand, is still a mixed bag. It's good to be able to use the full range of the optical zoom while filming and apply Art Filters to the footage in-camera, but in a product of this calibre you would expect user selectable frame rates and full manual control over video exposure.

So despite a few reservations about noise at high ISO speeds and the so-so video mode, the Olympus Stylus 1 is another intriguing addition to the ever-growing numbers of "premium" compact cameras that are aimed at the more discerning photographer. It occupies the middle ground in both price and approach between a "traditional" super-zoom like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 and the all-singing, all-dancing Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10. Highly Recommended!

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5