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Olympus Stylus 1000 review

This camera is a bit of a disappointment. I’ve owned 2 other Olympus point-and-shoots (film), and they were fantastic. Olympus pretty much led the way for compact camera technology and adoption, and it’s a bit sad really to see them in the state they are today, playing the megapixel game with loser companies like CASIO and producing sub-par products.

The Stylus 1000 is their top-of-the-line digital P&S. 10 megapixel images, 3x digital zoom, and ISO sensitivity up to 6400 (ISO1600 for full-sized 10mp shots). The Stylus 750 might actually be a better buy, as it features mechanical Image Stabilization. The 1000 model pictured above relies solely on high ISO sensitivity to eliminate blur.

Does it work? Sure, if you like blur-free photos splotched with green and red color noise. Even worse, photos taken at ISO3200-6400 are limited to 2000 pixels across. That’s significantly less resolution, and suddenly you’re doing digital photography from the nineties. Dude.

The new Styluses/Stylii also feature in-camera photo editing, called Perfect Fix. The audacity! If I weren’t so good at deduction, I’d look at their shitty results and conclude the Olympus engineers were all heroin addicts. Perfect Fix is made up of 3 functions that can be applied to your photos. Sometimes only one or two are available. No reasons are given, other than the fact that never knowing when you won’t be allowed to Perfect Fix your photos keeps you trying harder.

1) D.I.S. – Digital Image Stabilization. This claims to reverse the blurring caused by camera shake at the moment of capture. It may also alleviate subject blurring. Wow. This is the holy grail of photo editing, folks. Time for some bad news: if details aren’t present because of blurring, there’s no way in hell software can reconstruct what should be there. And as expected, when you run this function, all the camera does is apply a sharpening effect. Wowwee. It’s like doing it yourself in Picasa/iPhoto/Photoshop, only worse. It increases noticeable noise and oversaturates colors.

2) Lighting Fix. This brightens dark areas of photographs. Sort of compresses shadow/highlight dynamic range, but not very well. Again, increases noise and can’t beat a simple levels adjustment in Photoshop.

3) Red-eye Fix. I haven’t been able to test this because the flash doesn’t seem to be strong enough to cause red-eye.

So the final word for tonight is that this camera is just barely a decent purchase, and only if you’re planning to take throwaway candid shots in good light. The sensor doesn’t seem up to the task of capturing 10mp pictures, and shots are plagued by noise and a lack of sharp detail. Auto White Balance performance is also unremarkable and cannot handle tungsten. You have to manually select a preset. It scores marks for being splash/rain-proof and having an attractive metal body. I would take it around with me for fun, but not for work, or on holiday.

In my opinion, there is still not a digital compact camera that can rival the Fujifilm ‘F’ series. I use an F30 and the results it delivers under all lighting conditions are solid, and most importantly, natural. It combines high ISO sensitivity with very good noise-suppression routines (good enough to rival Noise Ninja) that run automatically after each capture, without the added hassle and time wasting of Perfect Fix. Canon’s IXUS range comes in a close second for having mechanical Image Stabilization, which the Fuji cameras lack but rarely need.

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