Olympus Stylus 7010 Performance, Timings, and Image Quality

by Howard Creech Reads (144)

PERFORMANCE
The Olympus Stylus 7010 comes in about average, in terms of overall performance. It isn’t the slowest camera in its class, but it’s not the fastest either. Experienced photographers shouldn’t have much trouble capturing the decisive moment with kids/pets/events, but rapidly unfolding action/sports may pose a challenge.

Shooting Performance
The 7010 starts up pretty quickly (just a bit over a second), but shutter lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused) is a bit slower than average at 0.03 seconds. AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus) is also a bit slower than average at 0.45 seconds. Continuous shooting is slower than most of the Stylus 7010’s competition at 1.7 fps – the 7010 dumps the buffer after only 2 exposures. Shot to shot times are noticeably slower than most of the 7010’s competition – averaging about 3.0 – 3.5 seconds between shots.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 0.02
Canon PowerShot SD970 IS 0.03
Olympus Stylus 7010 0.03
Nikon Coolpix S620 0.07

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 0.23
Nikon Coolpix S620 0.28
Olympus Stylus 7010 0.45
Canon PowerShot SD970 IS 0.47

Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Canon PowerShot SD970 IS 1.1 fps
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700 10 1.6 fps
Olympus Stylus 7010 2 1.7
Nikon Coolpix S620 3 1.7

* Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

The Stylus 7010’s iESP TTL Contrast Detection AF system utilizes a single (center) AF bracket that glows green when focus is locked and red when the camera is unable to lock focus. AF is pretty quick, very accurate, and features AF tracking and face detection for up to 16 subjects. The 7010’s AF system works nicely in decent (outdoor) lighting, but it often has difficulty locking focus in dimmer (indoor) lighting – focusing is also noticeably slower in poor light.

The 7010’s built-in multi mode flash provides a barely acceptable selection of artificial lighting options, including Off, On (fill flash), Auto (fires when needed), and Red-eye Reduction. Olympus claims the maximum flash range is about 9 feet at ISO 800. The flash needs between 4.0 and 5.0 seconds to re-cycle (with a fully charged battery) after a full-power discharge.

The Stylus 7010 is powered by an Olympus LI42B 3.7v – 740mAh lithium-ion battery. Olympus claims the battery is good for 300 exposures. It’s almost impossible for me to keep track of exposures because I do a lot of shoot, review, delete, and re-shoot so I can’t quibble with Olympus’ numbers – but I do believe they’re a bit optimistic. The battery in my test unit may have been new and lithium-ion rechargeables are supposed to need a few charge cycles to attain maximum output levels, but I never got anything close to 300 shots.

Unlike most of its competition, the Stylus 7010 provides not only the expected ESP evaluative light metering mode, but an unexpected (and welcome) Spot metering mode as well. The Olympus Stylus 7010 can use either xD-Picture Cards or microSD memory media.

Lens Performance
When the Stylus 7010 is powered up the zoom extends automatically and when the camera is powered down the zoom is fully retracted into the camera body and a built-in iris style lens cover closes to protect the front element. Very thin cameras sometimes utilize internal focus periscope style zooms that fold the light path (via mirrors/prisms) in order to save space, but periscope zooms produce images that are consistently softer than traditional optical zooms. The 7010 features a relatively sharp and super compact traditional f/3.0-5.9, 5-35mm optical zoom that goes all the way from 28mm (equivalent) moderate wide-angle to 196mm (equivalent) medium telephoto – that’s a lot of zoom for a camera that is only about an inch thick.

Olympus Stylus 7010

Zooming (10 steps) is fairly smooth and operation is very quiet. The 7010’s zoom is surprisingly good, but it does display noticeable corner softness and some minor vignetting (dark corners). Barrel distortion (at the wide-angle end of the zoom range) is minimal, which is impressive since barrel distortion is a common fault with tiny highly complex (especially prevalent with longer or wider) digicam zooms. Pincushion distortion is essentially invisible at the telephoto end of the zoom.

Olympus Stylus 7010

The 7010’s Dual Image Stabilization system provides both mechanical sensor shift IS and digital IS. With digital IS the camera boosts sensitivity/ISO and increases shutter speed to counter camera shake and to compensate for minor subject movement.

Video Quality
The Olympus Stylus 7010’s fairly standard 30 fps VGA (640×480) AVI Motion JPEG movie mode with monaural sound can’t compete with a dedicated video camera, but it is OK for generating e-mail video attachments for friends and family. Video duration is limited only by card capacity.

Image Quality
Unlike most of its competition, the 7010’s colors are pretty close to neutral which is actually a god thing, but contrast is a little flat and there’s no way to boost either color saturation or to adjust contrast. Olympus did include a selection (pop art, pin hole, sketch, and fish-eye) of “Magic Filters” just for fun, though.

Outdoors, in good light, the Stylus 7010 (like most of its competition) does a very nice job – image quality is dependably very good and exposures are consistently accurate although there is a very slight tendency toward overexposure and highlights are sometimes burned out.

The 7010’s Auto White Balance setting did a pretty good job outdoors, but it struggled to get hue right indoors and in dim/low lighting.

Olympus Stylus 7010
Auto White Balance, 3200K incandescent light

Indoor image quality is decent, but as sensitivity automatically rises to overcome lower levels of ambient lighting, noise rises exponentially and color accuracy suffers a bit.

Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 64
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 64, 100% crop
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 100
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 100, 100% crop
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 200
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 200, 100% crop
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 400
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 400, 100% crop
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 800
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 800, 100% crop
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 1600
Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 1600, 100% crop

Noise levels are quite reasonable up to ISO 200, but distortion levels rise as sensitivity rises. At ISO 400 and higher, noise is noticeably above average.

Olympus Stylus 7010
ISO 400

Additional Sample Images

Olympus Stylus 7010 Olympus Stylus 7010
Olympus Stylus 7010 Olympus Stylus 7010
Olympus Stylus 7010 Olympus Stylus 7010

CONCLUSIONS
The Olympus Stylus 7010 provides a similar balance of dependably good pictures requiring little user input and dead simple ease of use that distinguishes many of today’s more popular consumer digicams, but it’s smaller, lighter, thinner, has a longer zoom (that starts at the equivalent of 28mm), and it’s also cheaper than many of them.

Performance-wise, the Stylus 7010 ends up near the middle of the 12 megapixel ultra-compact digicams pack and like most of its contemporaries, it is probably not a good choice for those who like to shoot indoors or in low/dim light. The 7010 is true shirt pocket digital camera and it should appeal to casual photographers looking for a nifty little gadget to complement their iPhone and iPod, along with hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, and space weight conscious travelers looking for a P&S digicam that packs lots of photographic potential into a small super-thin package with a long lens.

Pros:

  • Long zoom
  • Super thin ultra-compact body

Cons:

  • No optical viewfinder
  • No manual control over exposure
  • Noisy images


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