At first glance, the Olympus Stylus 1 looks like a miniaturised version of Olympus' flagship mirrorless camera, the OM-D EM-1.
But the resemblance is more than skin deep. The Stylus 1 handles superbly, with well-placed dials and buttons that work like the flagship model.
On top, a wheel dial, lens zoom lever and dedicated video-recording button sit at the right side. A lone Mode dial sits at the left.
In the front, a control ring and another lens zoom lever are sited to the left of the lens barrel.
You can use the control ring and the top wheel dial for speedy changes of aperture and shutter speeds in Manual mode, then turn to the desired shooting mode quickly with the Mode dial.
Overall, handling is superb and, I feel, the best of the three cameras here.
The built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) is sharp and provides 100 per cent frame coverage.
You will probably use the EVF more often than the tiltable touchscreen display.
As the display tilts down by no more than 50 degrees, and upwards by 80 degrees at most, this camera is not meant for selfies.
It comes with a clever lens cap whose four flaps open and close as the lens extends and retracts. So, you never have to worry about losing a lens cap, as in the case of the Sony RX10.
On the downside, the grip is small and there is no space for my fourth finger and pinky.
The camera is speedy for its class - starting up in 1.3sec and shutting down in 1.9sec.
Autofocusing (AF) is equally fast. It locks on to a focus almost instantaneously in bright sunlight.
In dim conditions, it takes about 1sec to get a sharp focus with the aid of AF assist light.
Using an SD memory card with a write speed rated at 25MB per second, I was able to shoot 17 RAW files in 3.3sec before the buffer space ran out.
With its smaller image sensor, the image quality of the Stylus 1 is not as crisp as that of the Sony RX10. However, images are vivid and good enough for up to 8R prints.
Image noise is also kept to a minimum until ISO 800.
At ISO 1,600, there is clear loss of details. I will recommend staying at ISO 1,600 or under.
The battery life of the Stylus 1 is quite good, yielding about 410 still images on a full charge.
Of the three cameras in the shoot-out, the Olympus Stylus 1 has the best balance of great pricing, compact build, superb handling and good photo quality.
Image sensor: 12 megapixels, 1/1.7-inch CMOS
Lens: 28mm-300mm f/2.8
Display: 3-inch tiltable touchscreen LCD screen with 1,040,000 dots; electronic viewfinder with 1,440,000 dots
Sensitivity: ISO 100 to ISO 12,800
Shooting speed: Up to 7 frames per second
Weight: 402g (with battery and memory card)
Value for money 4/5
Battery life 4/5
This article was first published on July 02, 2014.
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