The Olympus Stylus 300 is perhaps the best go-anywhere point-and-shoot digital camera, thanks to its all-metal, weatherproof exterior. Easy on the eyes and comfortable in the hand, the Stylus 300 can also withstand water splashes, driving rain, and windy snowstorms. And though it’s not waterproof, you can add the optional PT-016 underwater case for diving photos down to 130 feet underwater.
While not as Elph-in as some other compact digital cameras, the Stylus 300 is easily pocketable for on-the-go photo fun, from sightseeing to impromptu get-togethers. It’s also very quick to respond on start-up. Just slide open the clam-shell cover, and the Stylus 300 is ready to snap pics in about 3 seconds.
The Stylus 300 is made for automatic point-and-shoot possibilities, and the camera offers some basic scene modes (landscape, night, portrait, and self-portrait) and white balance settings (daylight, overcast, tungsten, and fluorescent). The menu system accessed through the 1.5-inch LCD continues the Olympus tradition of a well-mapped out software system.
We were quite happy with the exterior, providing a lot of area from the right side of the camera to the lens, which helped to eliminate fingers getting in the way of the lens. Additionally, the shutter button at the top of the camera was nicely sizeable for our chunky fingers. We were a bit disappointed, though, with the size and slipperiness of the function buttons on the back of the Stylus–the all-metal exterior was just too smooth and the buttons not rubbery enough.
With the 3.2-megapixel resolution, you’ll be able to capture enough image detail to print out decent 11 x 14 print enlargements. But the best thing about more pixels is the amount of stored pixel information, which enabled us to play around and crop images on our PC without losing much clarity or sharpness. At the highest quality setting, you’ll get 2048 x 1536 pixel images, but you can also step down to lower pixel ranges–from 1600 x 1200 to 640 x 480.
You can also record small QuickTime videos, though we found the movie mode to be fairly basic compared to some of the other new releases of 2003. Since there’s no built-in microphone, your movies will be silent, and you can’t utilize the zoom while filming. Choose between 320 x 240 for 16 seconds and 160 x 120 for 40 seconds.
If you’re looking for pure point-and-shoot pleasure, the Stylus 300 is the camera for you. It’s nicely automated and ready to snap pics in a flash. We were also quite happy with the battery life, though you might want to invest in an additional battery (model LI-10B) as well as a higher-capacity XD card for safety’s sake. –Agen G.N. Schmitz
- All-weather means never having to worry about rain, sleet, or snow
- Great automatic point-and-shoot features
- Fast start-up time
- No manual controls
- Movie mode doesn’t have sound, short video length