Retromaina is heating up, thanks the Olympus Stylus 1. Olympus has reimagined its successful Stylus as a self-contained compact digital camera with a generously-sized electronic viewfinder, 3-inch touchscreen control, a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture 28-300mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens, and built-in Wi-Fi.
The Olympus Stylus 1 is the latest in a trend towards cameras that have a style that hearkens back to the pre-digital era. The secondary, and very welcome, trend that it represents is the addition of an eye-level viewing via an EVF, rather than an optical viewfinder. Until this year, the more common camera design was to build a camera with no eye-level viewfinder whatsoever, leading to consumer complaints about difficulty seeing images in the LCD in low light and forcing users to hold cameras at arm's length, a position that could promote camera shake. With the advent of high-quality cameras in smart phones (which have no optical zoom or any kind of viewfinder), the Stylus 1 offers a compelling reason to use a stand-alone camera instead of a smartphone.
Let's take a closer look at the Olympus Stylus-1
The STYLUS 1 includes an i.ZUIKO lens that incorporates the outstanding optical quality of the Olympus ZUIKO interchangeable lenses. At its heart is a large 1/1.7-inch BSI CMOS sensor and TruePic VI image processor along with additional features, including the built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) from the award-winning Olympus OM-D E-M5® and Wi-Fi for shooting and sharing anywhere. Whether you want the latest and greatest high-tech tool, or if you simply prefer something that is lightweight and easy to take when you are on the go, there is truly something for everyone.
Built-in 10.7x zoom lens
The camera features a 28-300mm (35mm equivalent) i.ZUIKO lens with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture across the zoom range. The lens incorporates a built-in VCM image stabilization mechanism that Olympus claims virtually eliminates camera shake and blur. Super Macro mode lets you get as close as 1/2 inch, while standard focus gets you to about 5 inches away at its widest setting, and about 3 feet at 300mm. When the lens is not in use, it retracts fully into the camera body (behind a removable automatic lens cap). They're calling it coat-pocket-sized.
The trade-off is the sensor, a 12.0 megapixel 1/1.7-inch backlit CMOS sensor paired with the same TruePicVI image processor that's used in the Olympus OM-D E-M5, which Olympus says will boost performance and limit noise. Olympus also says the Stylus 1 inherits the Fast Touch AF system from the Olympus Pen series, which we've found to be impressively fast with minimal lag time.
Finally: An Electronic Viewfinder
The Stylus 1 is the first Olympus enthusiast-level premium compact camera to have a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF), which as I said before, is welcome news. The 1.44 million dot resolution LCD EVF has a 1.15x viewfinder magnification rate (equivalent to 0.58x of 35mm film camera) and 100 percent field of view - just like a DSLR. The eye sensor automatically switches the live view display from the high-resolution 3.0-inch, 1.04 million dot resolution tilt-able LCD touchscreen monitor to the EVF as the camera approaches the user's eye. A variety of information is displayed in an easy-to-view layout on the EVF screen, including variables such as exposure and color.
A control ring is built around the lens and can be switched between digital and analog operation with the control lever located on the front of the camera. In digital mode, the ring turns smoothly for fine zooming or manual focusing, and in analog mode, users can adjust settings such as aperture, shutter speed and more. The front grip ensures a precise hold, while the sub-dial, positioned near the shutter button, provides further operational accuracy. The camera is also equipped with a hot shoe for accessories, built-in flash, a side zoom lever with variable speeds and two customizable function buttons for faster access to commonly used settings.
Wi-Fi Sharing and Control
Built-in Wi-Fi is easy to set up, according to Olympus. By quickly scanning the QR code displayed on the camera's LCD with an iOS or Android-based smart device, it syncs with the Wi-Fi network created by the camera. The free Olympus Image Share 2.1 Smartphone app synchronizes a user's Smartphone and the STYLUS 1 so the camera's "Live View" is effectively displayed on the phone, and the camera can be controlled by touching the Smartphone display. Users can wirelessly adjust various settings, such as the shutter speed, aperture value, ISO and exposure compensation, as well as operate the Live Bulb shooting mode from their Wi-Fi devices. They can also use their Smartphone to embed GPS information into their images.
Video, Filters, and More
The 1080p Full HD Movie capability with stereo sound and high-speed movie recording (120fps/240fps) captures movies for slow-motion playback of fast-action scenes. The STYLUS includes 11 Art Filters with bracketing option, five Art Effects and Photo Story, which shoots a group of still photos straight into attractive, prepared layouts. Users can also capture RAW image data for post-processing flexibility, create motion blur effects without overexposing thanks to a built-in ND filter (with 3 EV stops) and capture up to 7 frames per second in full resolution, a pretty impressive performance claim.
Along with the camera, Olympus is announcing several new accessories for the Stylus 1, including: The EP-11 eyecup cuts out peripheral light for improved visibility in bright conditions; a full-body jacket protects the camera against damage and comes with a tailored cover the CLA-13 converter adapter for the high-grade TCON-17x 1.7x teleconverter lens that extends the focal length of the camera to 510mm and retains the outstanding brightness of a constant 1:2.8 aperture.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The Olympus Stylus 1 is be aimed at photography enthusiasts who need a lightweight, relatively compact camera that can replace or occasionally enhance their bigger, heavier rigs. It is one of several cameras that are redefining the "Posh Point-and-Shoot" category and taking it in a welcome direction. It has a distinctive look but more importantly, is loaded with some great-looking features.