Olympus's sizable 26x zoom SP-590 will no doubt generate a lot of buzz thanks to its zoom range, but it is certainly not the only ultrazoom option to come along from the manufacturer today. In addition to the SP-590, Olympus has presented two new models in a refocused Stylus line that slot into the small but growing compact ultrazoom niche.
The Olympus Stylus 9000 and Stylus 7000 feature 10x and 7x zoom lenses, respectively, but succeed in packing all of this optical power into pocket-sized packages.
The flagship Stylus 9000 features a wide-angle zoom that covers an equivalent 28-280mm, making it competitive with the likes of Panasonic's TZ5 and Canon's SX110 IS.
The slightly smaller, slightly more affordable Stylus 7000 has most of its big brother's telephoto reach (with coverage out to 260mm), but shows a more normal-perspective 37mm focal length at the wide end.
Both models share the bulk of their key specs – most notably, a 12 megapixel sensor that appears to derive from the SP-590. The Stylus 7000 gets a larger 3.0 inch LCD, but the 9000 comes with a 2.7 inch variant of Olympus's latest HyperCrystal III display technology, which claims to be "twice as bright as previous versions."
Dual Image Stabilization, using sensor-shifting mechanical stabilization combined with ISO boost, is a part of both recipes, as are Olympus's signature Intelligent Auto Mode, Shadow Adjustment Technology, In-Camera Panorama mode, and Perfect Fix in-camera editing options. The new Styluses also use Olympus's latest TruePic III image processor, which claims to provide faster performance and smoother images.
In addition to a scene-evaluating Intelligent Auto mode, the new Stylus cams also offer a special Olympus Recommended control: simply press the dedicated "OR" button, and the camera will automatically engage Shadow Adjustment, panorama mode, or other technologies as dictated by the scene.
On the output side, both cameras feature HDMI outs, allowing for quick and easy connections to an HDTV.
While we might have liked to see manual exposure controls on one or both Stylus models, Olympus is nonetheless making an interesting entrance to the broadly appealing compact ultrazoom space – one that should pique the interest of novices and seasoned shooters alike.
Pricing and availability
Both models, which should be available in stores next month, are priced similarly to initial launch MSRPs for other high-end offerings in this class. Suggested retail for the Stylus 9000 is around $350, with the Stylus 7000 expected to run about $300.
Olympus Stylus 7000/9000 Specifications
|Sensor||12.0 megapixel (effective), 1/2.33" CCD|
|Zoom||10x (28-280mm) zoom, f/3.2-5.9 (Stylus 9000); 7x (37-260mm) zoom, f/3.5-5.3
|LCD/Viewfinder||2.7", 230K-pixel HyperCrystal III LCD (Stylus 9000); 3.0", 230K-pixel HyperCrystal II LCD (Stylus 7000)
|Shutter Speed||4-1/1000 seconds (Stylus 9000); 4-1/2000 seconds (Stylus 7000)
|Shooting Modes||Intelligent Auto, Program, Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization, Beauty Mode, Scene, Movie|
|Scene Presets||Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach & Snow, Pre-Capture Movie, Smile Shot (Stylus 9000)
|White Balance Settings||Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3
|Metering Modes||Digital ESP, Spot, Face Detection AE|
|Focus Modes||iESP Auto, Spot AF, Face Detection AF|
|Drive Modes||Not Specified
|Flash Modes||Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in, Off
|Self Timer Settings
|Memory Formats||xD-Picture Card, MicroSD (with adapter)
||45MB (Stylus 9000), 16MB (Stylus 7000)
|File Formats||JPEG, AVI
|Max. Image Size||3968x2976|
|Max. Video Size
||640x480, 30 fps
|Zoom During Video||Not Specified
|Connections||Multi-Terminal (USB, A/V out), DC in, HD out (Stylus 7000)
|Additional Features||Dual Image Stabilization, TruePic III processor, Face Detection, Perfect Shot Preview, Shadow Adjustment Technology|