The Olympus Stylus 1020 is a semi-advanced ultracompact targeted to individuals who want a bit more out of their camera, but also don’t want to have to study a manual to just snap pictures.
It combines ease of use with features such as an impressive-for-an-ultracompact 7x zoom lens, 10.1 megapixel image sensor offering sensor shift image stabilization, and a high quality 2.7-inch LCD to give aspiring photographers a helping hand, or your Average Joe an easy way to capture a memory.
The Olympus Stylus 1020 is a 10.1 megapixel camera with sensor shift image stabilization technology. It accepts a proprietary rechargeable lithium ion battery rated for 260 shots, as well as xD-Picture Card and microSD memory (with included adapter). In addition to the removable memory, it includes 14MB of internal storage space just in case you need to take a picture or two without a memory card. The camera offers a 2.7-inch HyperCrystal LCD on the back, with 230,000 dot resolution and variable brightness control.
The lens is a 7x optical zoom with an aperture range of f/3.5 on the wide angle and /f5.3 on the telephoto. Digital zoom out to 5x is also available through a menu option if it is required. Shutter speeds range from 1/2 to 1/2000 seconds in normal shooting, and up to four seconds in night mode.
- Auto: For shooting pictures with automatic settings
- Program: Camera automatically chooses the best shutter speed and aperture value, and user selects ISO and white balance.
- Scene: User picks the best scene scenario depending on the situation
- Shooting Guide: Walkthrough guide to help the user take better pictures
- Movie Record: Mode for capturing movies
For a detailed listing of specifications and features, please refer to the specifications table found at the bottom of the review.
Styling and Build Quality
The Olympus Sylus 1020 has very sleek and elegant design. It is easy to hold and thin enough to slip in your pocket without any discomfort.
The color scheme is pretty cool, with a glossy black finish with chrome trim. The rear of the camera is somewhat toned down with a matte gold paint, which I wish they kept the gloss black instead.
The glossy finish feels as if it would hold up pretty well with use, but would not be immune from scratches at some point. As long as you treat the camera well the finish should hold up quite well, but sharing the same pocket as a set of keys could do some damage.
Ergonomics and Interface
The interface felt very snappy and easy to navigate right when I picked up the camera.
The button layout was easy to manipulate with my fairly large hands and fingers.
My only complaint would be that the feel of the buttons could be better outlined, so you don’t have to look at the buttons to figure out which one you are pressing.
The display was bright enough to be easily visible outside in the sun. Color and contrast was nice, and it was easy to review images on the screen after a photo shoot.
The LCD has a non-reflective glossy finish with did a decent job of blocking out glare, but if you had the sun behind you and were taking macro shots of the grass there was no way you were not going to see a big ball of light.
Timings and Shutter Lag
Pre-focus lag was 0.04 seconds – essentially real-time. Without pre-focus, the Stylus 1020 managed anywhere from 0.2 at best to 0.6 seconds at worst on its press-to-capture cycle. On the low end, this is a very good number, but the high end is a bit slow. Overall the Stylus performed well but did have some problems getting consistent focus timings (even in good light) from shot to shot.
At full resolution in single shot mode I found the camera to be a bit laggy for taking multiple shots in a row. It seemed to have some delay writing the data after the shot, and took two to three seconds before I could lock onto another target. If the focusing was locked on a certain item and it was in continuous shooting mode, the camera managed roughly 11 shots in 15 seconds at full resolution. At two megapixels it was able to get 13 shots in the same amount of time. If I set the camera to high speed, which put the camera into three megapixel mode, it was able to squeeze out 46 shots.
Lens and Zoom
The zoom lens is very fast and quiet. During normal operation it is barely above a whisper, and sounds like a smooth whirring motor. The motor had 11 zoom stops, which I found to be just right during shooting.
The zoom range was great, but I did wish for a bit more on the wide-angle end. Taking pictures of rooms or other situations where you want more stuff in the shot was difficult. The telephoto side on the other hand I found to be perfect. It worked quite well when I needed more detail of an object far away, or if I just wanted to fill more of the frame without having to crop.
Focusing speed was average for a Point and Shoot camera, if not slightly on the slow side. Depending on the surface you were shooting, it could hunt for a bit before it found an area to lock onto. Low light situations usually resulted in a failed focus lock and you attempting to get a better position to show greater contrast or just a spot that had more light in general. More often than not, I was unable to grab a focus lock in low light situations if the colors of the object were dark as well.
The built-in flash performed quite well in my testing with decent coverage and good metering. In most test shots the flash didn’t overexpose too much, and overall was pretty balanced.
A big gripe I have with the flash, though, deals with its placement near the shutter button. The way I hold the camera almost always had a bit of a finger over the flash, and I had to always remember to pull my finger back before shooting.
Flash performance in regards to recycle time was pretty good, taking less than a second before the next shot was able to be fired under normal conditions. In Olympus’s high speed flash mode, the camera was able to bang out seven to nine flashes depending on lighting conditions before you had to let the camera rest to recharge.
Full flash recycle time clocked in at 6.6 seconds, which is pretty good for a camera in this class.
The image stabilizer helped considerably, at least for my shaky hands in low light/no flash situations. To give a quick example of this, at max telelphoto range, I took a 1/4 second shot of a document a few feet away from my couch. With the stabilizer enabled, I was able to capture a reasonably clear picture with only a few tries. Quickly disabling the stabilization and trying it under the same conditions I couldn’t even get a shot to turn out legible.
Image stabilization disabled
Image stabilization enabled
While it isn’t perfect, it did help quite a bit under certain conditions.
The battery life during my testing was easily in the realm of 260 shots that was advertised.
Over two days of shooting, with some heavy flash use, and more than 200 shots I have still not run into any low battery warnings.
I found image quality to be above average during my testing, with relatively low ISO noise until you hit 800 ISO. For normal shooting out and about the 1020 produced some great images, and even at higher ISOs if the image was resized smaller it could still be salvaged.
In general, shots from the 1020 showed some heavy saturation, as well as some softness (which appeared to be more of a processing issue rather than a lens problem). All in all though, an excellent snapshot camera.
Exposure, Processing, and Color
In ESP metering mode (Olympus’s multi-area setting), the camera had a tendency to underexpose slightly – not necessarily a bad thing. For most of my shooting I left the camera in spot metering mode instead, though. Having just two metering modes (spot and multi-area), Olympus picks two useful ones, avoiding center-weighted or average modes altogether in this application.
Default sharpness processing tended to lean more on a natural look; shooters used to more typical compacts may find the shots slightly soft, but there’s plenty to work with in post-processing.
On the subject of processing, users should note that there are no in-camera processing options available on the 1020: lacking either settings for sharpness, saturation, and the lack or color modes, the default image look is the only available option on the Olympus.
The auto white balance performed fairly well, handing incandescent light slightly better than average, but still a slightly pink cast.
The incandescent preset tended to further emphasize the 1020’s cool image tone, but otherwise presets were plentiful and accurate in balancing color.
The lens was slightly soft around the edges at wide-angle. Some chromatic aberration (taking the form of blue fringe) was also noted the wider you go, especially towards the edges of the frame.
Barrel distortion is non-existent, and there is really no vignetting. Some pincushioning shows up at the telephoto end, but it too is minor. Some minimal flare/ghosting was also there, but that is fairly typical and nothing to get worried over.
Sensitivity and Noise
Noise is handled well up to ISO 400, but even then it still starts to lose some sharpness along the edges. Some increasing color noise from ISO 400 and above is noted, getting appreciably worse at ISO 800 and ISO 1600. ISO 1600 is fairly typical for an ultracompact, working well for small shots but really nothing else.
ISO 80, 100% crop
ISO 100, 100% crop
ISO 200, 100% crop
ISO 400, 100% crop
ISO 800, 100% crop
ISO 1600, 100% crop
With decent performance up through ISO 400, leaving the camera in Auto ISO mode turned out to be just fine for most shooting situations, compared to some other cameras which look best locked down at a lower ISO.
Additional Sample Images
Overall I think the Olympus Stylus 1020 performed quite well, producing some great snapshots with little or no effort. The SteadyShot shake reduction feature on this camera worked very well, helping those shoot from the hip at any moment shots turn out clear and crisp. The only really odd aspect of this camera would be the lack of any onboard processing modes, leaving you with default settings and Photoshop after the fact.
Some inconsistencies hamstring the 1020 at times, with minor AF concerns and some image quality/lens issues topping the list of needed improvements. For casual shooters looking for a stylish pocket camera with an impressive zoom range, however, the 1020 delivers.
- Decent ISO performance through ISO 800
- Included Micro-SD to xD Picture Card adapter
- Good flash recycle times and high-speed flash mode
- Fantastic lens range for an ultracompact
- Sometimes confusing menu systems
- No built-in image processing modes
|Sensor||10.1 megapixel, 1/2.33″ CCD|
|Zoom||7x (37-260mm) zoom, f/3.5-5.3|
|LCD/Viewfinder||2.7″, 230K-pixel HyperCrystal II LCD with Backlight Boost|
|Shutter Speed||4-1/2000 seconds|
|Shooting Modes||Auto, Program, Sensor-Shift Stabilization, Scene, Movie|
|Scene Presets||Portrait, Landscape, Landscape-Portrait, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Beach & Snow, Pre-Capture Movie, Underwater Wide 1, Underwater Wide 2, Underwater Macro|
|White Balance Settings||Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Flash|
|Metering Modes||Digital ESP, Spot, Face Detection AE|
|Focus Modes||iESP Auto, Spot AF, Face Detection AF, Macro, Super Macro|
|Drive Modes||Normal, High Speed|
|Flash Modes||Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill, Forced Off|
|Self Timer Settings
||12 seconds, Off|
|Memory Formats||xD-Picture Card, microSD (with supplied adapter)|
|File Formats||JPEG, Motion JPEG|
|Max. Image Size||3648×2736|
|Max. Video Size
||640×480, 30 fps|
|Zoom During Video||Not Specified|
|Battery||Lithium-ion rechargeable, 925 mAh|
|Connections||USB 2.0, AV output|
|Additional Features||Dual Image Stabilization, TruePic III processor, Face Detection, Perfect Shot Preview, Shadow Adjustment Technology, In-Camera Panorama|