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Olympus Stylus 1000 Digital Camera Review
by Ben Stafford -  11/28/2006

The Olympus Stylus 1000 features 10 megapixel capture resolution, a 3x optical zoom, and a 2.5 inch LCD.  As a member of the Stylus line, the camera is also “weatherproof”.  Rubber gaskets and O-rings provide water resistance and dust proofing.

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I recently review the Stylus 750, a slightly cheaper Stylus that was 7.1 megapixels with a 5x optical zoom and optical image stabilization.  This review may sound similar since the cameras are pretty similar in that they look similar and have similar shooting modes.  However, their hardware is just a bit different – different sensor, different lens, and different battery.


From left to right: Olympus Stylus 1000, Stylus 730, Stylus 750 (view large image)

In the Box 

You’ll find the camera, wrist strap, lithium-ion battery, battery charger, USB cable, AV cable, and Olympus Master software on CD-ROM.

Camera Design 

The Stylus 1000 design hasn’t really changed much since the last generation (Stylus 710, for example).  It has a nice silver finish and it’s pretty slim with kind of a tapered profile from the top, which a thicker part of the camera to hold.  The Stylus cameras all feel pretty sturdy, but they’re not too heavy.  The controls are straight-forward and laid out well.  Since the camera is water resistant, buttons are a little harder to press than non-weatherproof cameras, but that is to be expected. The Stylus 1000 is just a bit thicker than the Stylus 750 that I reviewed earlier.


Olympus Stylus 1000 on top left, Stylus 730 on right, Stylus 750 on bottom (view large image)

The front of the camera has the lens (that retracts into the body) with a built-in lens cover, the flash, and the microphone.

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The back of the camera has the 2.5 inch, 230K pixel LCD, a zoom rocker switch, a mode dial and a cluster of buttons.  In this cluster, you’ll find the 5 way control pad, menu button, Disp button, quick view/print button, and delete button.

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The top of the camera has the power switch and shutter release.

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On the right side of the camera, you can access the USB jack and  attach the wrist strap.

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The bottom of the camera has a tripod mount and a door that provides access to the battery and memory media.

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Camera Features 

All of the cameras in the Stylus line have Olympus’ Bright Capture Technology (BCT) that is kind of an “umbrella” term for several features.  First, with BCT, the LCD gains up automatically in low light so you can preview the image before you take it.  (An important feature since there is no optical viewfinder).  Then several scene modes are built-in for low light shooting: Available Light Portrait, Indoors, and Candle.  These modes increase the sensitivity of the sensor to enable low-light shooting or faster shutter speeds. They also utilize the digital image stabilization system which uses camera movement data to correct blur when image processing occurs.

The Stylus 1000 has a 10 megapixel imaging sensor.  In addition to capturing images at full resolution (3,648 x 2,736) in two compression levels (SHQ and HQ), you can also capture images at 2,560 x 1,920, 2,304 x 1,728, 2,048 x 1,536, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,280 x 960, 1,024 x 768,  640 x 480, and 1,920 x 1,080 (16:9).  At SHQ quality the file size, on average, is about 4 MB.

The lens on the Stylus 1000 provides a 3x optical zoom.  The focal length of 7.4-22.2mm has a 35mm equivalent range of 35-105mm.  The lens has an aperture range of f2.8-4.7.

The LCD is 2.5 inches diagonally and has 230K pixels of resolution.  Colors are good on the screen and the refresh rate is fast enough to provide smooth viewing.  The LCD has average visibility outside in the sunlight.  There is no optical viewfinder on this camera.

Movies are captured as Quicktime files.  You can capture movies at resolutions of 640x480 at 30fps, 320x240 at 30fps, and 160x120 at 15 frames per second.  The nice thing is that this camera can do 30 frames per second, but it comes at a price – you can only take 15 second movies at 640x480.

The camera has 28.5MB of internal memory, but you can expand it with xD-Picture Cards (up to 2GB).

The camera is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (LI-12B).  To charge the battery, you plug in the charger and insert the battery into the charger.  Charging time is around 5 hours.  Battery life was very good.

The Stylus 1000 is a truly point and shoot digital camera – there are no manual exposure modes.  There is a full automatic mode, program auto (which lets you set ISO, white balance, etc), and several scene modes.  The available scene modes are Portrait, Landscape, Landscape & Portrait, Night Scene, Night & Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Museum, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select1, Shoot & Select2, and Beach & Snow.

The camera also has a panorama mode that can stitch together up to 10 images.  The images are stitched together using the Olympus Master software after the images are transferred to your computer.  Another requirement is that you need to use Olympus-branded xD-Picture Cards.

In normal focus mode you can focus on subjects as close as 23.6 inches.  In macro mode at wide angle you can focus on subjects between 11.8 inches and infinity.  At telephoto, this range moves out to 19.7 inches.  In super macro mode, the focus range is between 3.9 inches and 23.6 inches.

The camera has a self timer setting of 12 seconds.  There are two “sequential” shooting modes.  The fast one can capture 3.6 frames per second for up to 12 frames at SQ1 resolution.

The built-in flash can be set to auto, red-eye reduction, fill flash, and disabled.  At wide angle, according to the spec sheet, the Stylus 1000 has a range of 17.1 feet.  At telephoto, this decreases to 10.5 feet.

A built in “Guide” system is pretty handy.  It’s an entry on the mode dial, so it’s very easy to get to.  When you turn on the guide, you can choose from several options.  For example, entry #4 is “set particular lighting”.  By following the arrow, you get several other options, like “outdoor in sunny”, “outdoor in cloudy”, “incandescent lighting”, and so on.  This option essentially sets the white balance, but puts it in terms that a beginning shooter won’t be intimidated by.

Camera Performance and Image Quality 

Camera performance was good.   It’s not the fastest camera, but it is fast enough.  Start up time is around 2 seconds.  If you perform a partial press of the shutter button first, shutter lag is minimal (around 0.1 seconds) and about average among current compact point and shoot cameras.  If you aren’t able to do a partial press of the shutter, expect some shutter lag (about 0.6 – 0.8 seconds) since the camera has to focus and calculate exposure before capturing the image. Cycle time (time between shots) was average as well.

The layout of the controls is good.  All the important controls – shutter release and zoom control (which may be too small for some) are right where they need to be.  The mode dial is also easy to operate and it’s easy to use the control pad / button cluster on the bottom right of the back of the camera.  The buttons are slightly different than the Stylus 750 that I just reviewed – the ones on this camera are more flush and stylish with the camera.  I was good wtih the Stylus 750’s buttons since they were small, but still prominent enough to operate  The Stylus 1000’s buttons, however, are not prominent and still small.  You’ll definitely want to try out the camera before you buy to make sure it works in your hands.  The finish on the camera is pretty slippery, so you’ll definitely want to utilize the wrist strap.

Auto focus performance was also average.  With plenty of light, auto focus was achieved quickly.  When at full telephoto, patience was required while waiting for focus lock.   Also, the low light focusing capability of the camera would be greatly improved with a focus-assist lamp, which this camera does not have.

Overall, image quality was average to good although I found the image quality to be better with this camera than with the Stylus 750.  The colors produced in images were good, but a bit saturated for my taste, and the automatic white balance performed well.   Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) was pretty noticeable when looking at high contrast areas in the shot.

Macro performance was good.  While I couldn’t get super close and still get focus, the macro image results were good.

olympus stylus 1000 sample image
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The Stylus 1000 can shoot at auto ISO, or ISO values of 64/100/200/400/800/1600/3200/6400.  Between ISO 80 and ISO 200, results are very good.  ISO 400 is still good enough to make a print.  At ISO 800 and above, the noise (graininess) is very noticeable and you can see the "muddiness" caused by noise reduction.  This camera can shoot at up to ISO 6400, but only use sensitivity settings from ISO 1600 and up very sparingly.  Also, the camera will automatically change the capture resolution when shooting at ISO 3200 and 6400 (which you’ll see in the 100% crops below).

olympus stylus 1000 sample image

Sample Images

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Specifications 

Conclusion

Whenever someone is looking for weatherproof camera, an Olympus Stylus model always gets a mention.  Not only are they protected against the elements (with rubber gaskets), but they’re very stylish, sturdy and compact. 

Image quality on the Stylus 1000 was good, and in my opinion, slightly better than the Stylus 750.  The images were sharper and didn’t have the corner softness that I noticed with the Stylus 750’s images.  However, colors and exposure were generally good.  I highly recommend that you examine the sample images from our review and other reviews to form your own opinion.

The speed of the camera was pretty average.  Personally, I don’t really worry too much about start-up time, but it was around 2 seconds.  Shot to shot time without flash was about 2 seconds.  If you turn on the flash, you’ll have to wait a couple more seconds between shots for the flash to charge.  Shutter lag was quick enough to capture the moment, but only if you achieve a focus lock first.  Without a partial press first, shutter lag is around 0.6 to 0.8 seconds or so.

The controls on the camera are definitely something that you’ll want to try out in person before you buy.  I was ok with them, but you may have other concerns once you try them.  Because of the weatherproofing, the shutter button is quite stiff.  To me, this is an acceptable thing to “give up” in order to accommodate the weatherproofing, but you also need to keep in mind that the extra effort to press the button will cause camera shake.  Also, the control cluster on the bottom right of the back of the camera could be confusing, or uncomfortable to operate, but I was ok with it since the buttons were raised enough to provide easy pressing. 

If you’re looking for a weatherproof (water resistant and dustproof) camera for taking snapshots at the beach or on a camping trip, and you don’t need any manual exposure modes, an Olympus Stylus is always a good choice.  Even with a 10 megapixel “overkill” resolution with this camera – it still takes good pictures (and leaves plenty of room for cropping).

Pros

Cons

Related Article - Olympus Stylus 750 Digital Camera Review