Olympus Stylus 1: an upgrade from your smartphone camera?

Olympus Stylus 1 review: an upgrade from your smartphone camera?


The Olympus Stylus 1 combines many features of the pro OM-D series with a fixed constant F/2.8 aperture 10.7x zoom lens. Olympus Stylus 1 review





















The M. Zuiko Digital 28-300mm zoom lens indeed seems good on paper. However, to accommodate such a compact lens and body, the sensor had to be reduced to a 1/1.7″ CMOS sensor. You should consider that there are mobile phones out there with about the same (or larger) sensor size, like the Galaxy S4 zoom with a 16 MP 1/2.3″ and a 24-240mm zoom. This makes you wonder about what exactly the selling points are of the Stylus 1.

Olympus Stylus 1

Besides the vastly superior lens, I’m guessing the famed Olympus usability and certain features like the built-in ND filter, RAW files, an integrated 1.44-million dot electronic viewfinder and the TruePic VI processor.

Olympus Stylus 1 review

The processor does deliver fast (follow) focusing and high-speed sequential shooting in good light. In low light, I wouldn’t count on it focussing on anything except still standing subjects. Although it does a good job at just that.

Olympus Stylus 1 review

The 1.44-million dot electronic viewfinder is apparently trickle-down technology from the OMD E-M5 and offers a 100% field of view. It’s rare to see such a good viewer in a camera at this price range, and you won’t be disappointed by its performance. The tiltable touchscreen seems just as efficient and sensitive as those in the Olympus Pen range and is a fantastic creative tool for photographers. It allows you to set focus to any point of your image, and no other camera manufacturer even comes close to how great this works.

Olympus Stylus 1 review

Olympus Stylus 1 Technical tests

The RAW files are a bit disappointing. Due to the size and the capabilities of the sensor, there is not that much to work with. Especially compared to a micro-four-thirds sensor, keeping in mind that something like an Olympus E-PL5 with the kit lens is available for around the same price. The Olympus Stylus 1 also has the tendency to overblown highlights, and there is not much you can do about that in post processing. But besides that, final processed jpg’s do look pleasing to the eye and are fine for family snapshots or posting online. Olympus Stylus 1 reviewISO is usable up to 800. You’ll see noise creeping in from ISO 125 in RAW files, but 3rd party or out-of-camera jpeg noise reduction keeps this well under control. That’s what like most with Olympus: they never make a terrible camera. Olympus Stylus 1 review The built-in ND filter offers three stops of light reduction. An excellent idea of the design team to include this feature in the camera and quite useful for a beginner who wants to try out this photography technique, maybe in bulb mode with the remote app. Olympus Stylus 1 reviewThe remote app is the same as used with all recent Olympus cameras and is easy to install and use.The hybrid control ring is another great design feature, positioned around the lens; it changes the function according to the mode selected. This gives you a natural and intuitive way of changing either aperture, shutter speed and other relevant functions. Olympus Stylus 1 review


While beautifully designed and packed full of useful and intuitive functions, the Olympus Stylus 1 does suffer a bit from an identity crisis. I’m guessing it is aimed at budget-conscious beginning photographers who want to upgrade from their smartphone’s or budget camera. While this Stylus has been thoughtfully designed; I do feel that is lacking a bit in image quality due to the compact sensor. If I were in the market for a camera in this range, I would go for one of the cheaper micro-four-thirds cameras with the kit lens. You’ll soon bump into the limitations of the Olympus Stylus 1, something you won’t have with something like an Olympus E-PL6.

Some real world Olympus Stylus 1 Pictures:

wim arys

Wim Arys is a photographer from Belgium Europe with a passion for mirrorless cameras.

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6 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    A budget micro 4/3 camera with kit lens won’t give me a constant aperture 300mm equivalent reach or a decent viewfinder. Seeing this camera as no more than an upgrade on a smartphone is misconceived. For me and I suspect for a few other people, it is an ultraportable supplement to other cameras with larger sensors.

    • wim arys says:

      Hi Ken, thanks for your feedback. As you might have noticed I’m a big fan of Olympus cameras in general. I was however somewhat disappointed in the performance of the Stylus 1. There are cameras with even smaller sensors out there that offer better image quality than the Stylus 1. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom smartphone is a bit cheaper, does have a 24-240mm zoom lens and gives similar results. But then again it does not have all the digital camera features (like RAW support to name just one) the Stylus 1 does… There is no perfect all-round camera thats suits everyone, and I’m sure you’ll be able to capture beautiful images with this one.

  2. Sindre S says:

    The sensor is actually bigger on the Stylus 1 than mobile phones. Galaxy S4 Zoom is using a 1/2.3″ not a 2/3″ sensor. iPhone 5S is using 1/3″, iPhone 5 is using 1/3.2″

    “..the sensor had to be reduced to a 1/1.7″ CMOS sensor. When you consider the fact that there are mobile phones out there with about the same (or larger) sensor size, like the Galaxy S4 zoom with a 16 MP 1 2/3″ and a 24-240mm zoom, one might wonder what exactly the selling points are of the Stylus 1?”

    Look at some image sensor sizes here: http://images.gizmag.com/gallery_lrg/camera-sensor-size-12.jpg

    • wim arys says:

      Hi Sindre, thanks for your comment. I am indeed aware of sensor sizes. I chose the Galaxy zoom as a comparison because it has a similar size sensor and it also features a similar zoom lens. I could have mentioned the Nokia 808 that has a 1/1.2″ sensor, so there are actually smartphones out there with a larger sensor.

      • Sindre S says:

        Tha 808 was a concept phone showed off in 2012, and is sensor is indeed bigger, but it got no zoom and its physical size is quite big.

        The only phone sold today with bigger sensor is the Lumia 1020 with 1/1.5″, Stylus 1 has a 1/1.7″.

        My point however is that the S4 Zoom does not have a larger sensor, it got a 1/2.3″ not a 2/3″ like you said in the review. Hope you will fix that.

        No camera compares to the Stylus 1, regarding sensor size, aperture and zoom range 🙂

        • wim arys says:

          Got it, you where talking about the backslash typo that was in the wrong place, thanks for pointing that out Sindre. Enjoy your Stylus 1!

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