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Olympus Stylus 1 Review

Read our review of the new Olympus Stylus 1, the serious compact camera with electronic viewfinder and bright 10.7x optical zoom lens.

|  Olympus Stylus 1 in Compact Cameras
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Olympus Stylus 1 (3)

The Olympus Stylus 1 is the latest serious compact camera from Olympus and features a bright f/2.8 10.7x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilisation, an electronic viewfinder, a 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and full manual controls. The Stylus 1 is priced at £549.99, and is available in classic black.

Olympus Stylus 1 Features

Olympus Stylus 1 (5)

If you view the Olympus Stylus 1 next to the Olympus OM-D E-M5, you can see where it draws it's retro SLR styling from, although if you put a 10.7x optical zoom lens on the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the camera and lens combination would be significantly larger, and currently there is no single lens with such a zoom range with as bright an aperture - the closest is the Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6, and if you wanted a constant f/2.8 aperture, you'd be looking at the Panasonic 12-35mm and 35-100mm, which gives you less reach and costs around 4 times as much just for the two lenses alone.

Olympus Stylus 1 Vs Olympus Om D E M5 (1)

Also shared with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the Stylus 1 features a 1.44million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), and a larger eye-piece, as well as eye-detection to switch automatically between the rear tilting touch-screen and EVF.

Olympus Stylus 1 Vs Olympus Om D E M5 (6)
Olympus Stylus 1 Vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 - The Stylus 1 features a familiar layout of buttons and controls, although without the weather sealing of the E-M5, the Stylus 1 has more stylish silver buttons.

Olympus Stylus 1 (8)

Key Features

  • 12 megapixel BSI 1/1.7inch CMOS sensor
  • i.Zuiko Digital 10.7x optical zoom lens
  • 28-300mm equivalent, f/2.8, ZERO coating
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3inch tilting touch screen, 1040k dots
  • Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), 1.44million dots
  • Dual-axis electronic level
  • Fn1, Fn2 function buttons
  • P,A,S,M shooting modes
  • Analogue / Digital Hybrid Control Ring
  • Wi-Fi and remote operation
  • 11 Art Filters and 5 different frame / art effects
  • 1080p Full HD Movie with stereo sound 
  • High-speed movie recording (120fps/240fps)
  • ISO 100- 12800
  • 7fps continuous shooting, 200 shots

Olympus Stylus 1 Handling

Olympus Stylus 1 (9)

HandlingThe camera comes with a removable lens cap / screw on lens cap that automatically closes when the camera is switched off, and automatically opens when the camera is switched on, protecting the lens when the camera is not in use, and also making sure that you don't lose the lens cap. There is also a 1.7x (TCON-17X) teleconvertor available, which takes the telephoto reach to 510mm equivalent, along with a conversion adapter (CLA-13) for the Stylus 1. The TCON-17X is compatible with the Stylus 1, XZ-1, and XZ-2.
Olympus Stylus 1 With Teleconvertor

There is a zoom control on the left hand side, as well as a control ring surrounding the lens, and another control wheel on top of the camera. The rear of the camera features a high resolution 3inch tilting touch screen, as well as the 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) with both providing a clear and detailed view. The EVF features dioptre correction, with built in eye-detection to automatically switch between the EVF and screen when held up to your eye, and there is a small button on the right hand side to manual switch if preferred. There is a built in flash, which is popped up using a button on the left. 

The top of the camera features the mode dial, flash hot-shoe, control wheel, shutter release with zoom control surrounding it, the on/off button and a dedicated video button. There are a total of two dedicated function buttons, with one on the back where your thumb rests, and another at the front with a switch. The function buttons can be customised, and the function of the switch can also be customised with the default setting being to switch on Manual focus. In addition the function of the video button can also be changed. The zoom speed can be set to low or normal when using the left zoom control. When pressed, the front function button goes through a number of options and you can then use the control ring surrounding the lens to change the options. 

Olympus Stylus 1 (10)

Menus – The rear touch screen tilts up and down, a control wheel surrounds the lens, and pressing the middle OK button will bring up options on the rear screen making it easy to change settings, and the options and menus are almost identical to the menus you find on the Olympus PEN and OM-D Micro Four Thirds cameras. A number of features including the Art filters and Story frame modes can be operated using the touch screen, although the main menus are controlled using the 4-way controller on the back. The menus have a large number of options and settings, and it can take a while to get used to them, although the built in pop-up explanation can help here.
Olympus Stylus 1 (1)

Battery lifeThe bottom is where you'll find the battery and memory card compartment, and the camera takes the same battery as other Olympus PEN cameras. Battery life is rated at 410 shots according to Olympus / CIPA testing standards.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  Olympus Stylus 1
Shutter Response <0.05s
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2s
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.25s
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.3s
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.4s
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.9s
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
7fps (34 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 0.6s
Continuous Shooting - RAW / RAW+JPEG 7fps (22 shots / 21 shots)

Focus and shutter response speeds are impressive. Switch on time is also impressive considering the amount of zoom on offer. Shot to shot time is also very good, and continuous shooting is quick at 7fps for 34 shots when shooting JPEG. It then takes 16 seconds before you can enter playback, when using a Class 10 card. Shooting raw images it's possible to take 22 shots before slowdown, and the camera takes 40 seconds to write these to card when using a Class 10 card, or 35 seconds when shooting JPEG and raw.

Olympus Stylus 1 (11)

Olympus Stylus 1 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Olympus Stylus 1 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - There is no red-eye in the portrait photo taken with flash, and exposure is reliable. Photos show good colour and detail in a variety of shooting situations. 

Olympus Stylus 1 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The camera has good dynamic range for a compact camera, and detail is good at both the wide-angle and telephoto ends, although images are slightly softer at the telephoto end. The camera has an impressive "Super Macro" mode that lets you focus close to the subject, as well as creating a nice background blur. The lens copes well with the sun in the frame, unless shooting directly into the sun. There is some barrel distortion at the wide end, although very little distortion at the telephoto end, and very little vignetting seen. Some purple fringing and chromatic aberration can be seen in areas of high contrast, although the majority of the time this is not an issue.

Olympus Stylus 1 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - There is low noise at ISO100, 200 and 400, although with a slight loss of detail at ISO400, and again at ISO800 where there is less fine detail. Although noise is well controlled with ISO1600 providing good results. Noise is stronger at ISO3200 with detail and colour lacking, although results are good for a compact camera. ISO6400 shows a further increase in noise, as well as a drop in colour, and this setting is likely best avoided, unless resizing or processing further. ISO12800 is best avoided altogether. The camera gives a range of noise filter options including Off, Low, Standard and High - we used the Standard setting for these photos.

Olympus Stylus 1 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten or fluorescent lighting, and the presets often produce a slight colour cast. There is the option to set white balance to "Keep Warm Colour" when shooting in tungsten lighting, and can be useful for capturing the mood of a scene. 

Olympus Stylus 1 Other sample images

Olympus Stylus 1 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a large number of Art Filters and Photo Story modes that can be altered and customised. The camera saves both the edited photo as well as the original raw files so you can go back to the original if you want. Unfortunately there is not an automatic panoramic mode, instead just a panoramic assist scene mode. There is no automatic HDR mode either, instead you need to use the exposure bracketing feature and create the image manually on your computer. 

Video - The camera records full HD video with stereo sound, and optical zoom is available. Wind noise reduction was off when recording the video below, and the camera is a little sluggish to focus when using the optical zoom during recording. The camera also features high speed video at 120fps and VGA resolution or 240fps and QVGA resolution. 

Value For Money

The Olympus Stylus 1 is available for £550 which makes it good value for money, with a bright f/2.8 10.7x optical zoom lens and built in EVF. The following cameras are some of the alternatives available:

Canon Powershot G16, 5x optical zoom, OVF, £499
Panasonic Lumix LF1, 7.1x optical zoom, EVF, £329
Nikon Coolpix P7800, 7.1x optical zoom, EVF, £450
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, 3.6x optical zoom, optional EVF, £575
Sony Cyber-shot RX10, 8.3x optical zoom, f/2.8, EVF, £1049

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Olympus Stylus 1 Verdict

The Olympus Stylus 1, by using the styling of the Olympus OM-D series, which itself was styled on the old and classic Olympus OM SLR series, has not only brought about a stylish compact camera, but it's also brought about a genuinely useful and somewhat unique digital camera. The Stylus 1 offers a high quality electronic viewfinder, a bright f/2.8 10.7x optical zoom lens, and a larger than standard 12 megapixel sensor, bringing together an enjoyable camera to use, with impressive image quality for such a compact camera. It would be difficult to get a similar amount of zoom and image quality without spending more money, as well as ending up with a much larger camera, and the closest competitors are the Nikon Coolpix P7800 with 7.1x optical zoom, and it's only the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 with 8.3x optical zoom that matches the constant f/2.8 lens. 

The Olympus Stylus 1 is an excellent jacket pocket camera with an impressive feature set, as well as high image quality and full manual controls. It would make an excellent take everywhere camera, and really stands out as one of the best compact cameras of the year. While there are a few features we would have liked to see, such as built in HDR and panoramic creation, as well as improved video focus, we can easily put these to one side as the camera is so enjoyable to use, and delivers impressive image quality. 

  The Olympus Stylus 1 packs an impressive f/2.8 lens and a high quality EVF into a compact and stylish camera. 

Olympus Stylus 1 Pros

Constant f/2.8 aperture
10.7x optical zoom lens
3inch tilting touch screen
High quality electronic viewfinder
Classic camera styling
Compact pocketable body
Good noise performance
Very good image quality
2 year warranty
Wi-Fi built in

Olympus Stylus 1 Cons

Doesn't automatically stitch panoramics
Slow focus in videos
Lacks auto-HDR mode


Olympus Stylus 1 Specifications

Max Aperturef/2.8
35mm equivalent28mm - 300mm
Optical Zoom10.7x
Image Sensor
Pixels12Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)3968
Pixels (H)2976
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/1.7inch
Sensor Size (width)7.3mm
Sensor Size (height)5.5mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1.04 million dots
Touch ScreenYes
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • Touch AF
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
  • TTL
  • ESP Light Metering
ISO sensitivity100 - 12800
White balance
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting7fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS30p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeBLS-5 Li-Ion battery (included)
Battery Life (CIPA rating)410shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera Body, Automatic Lens cap, Eyecup(EP-14), BLS-5, BCS-5, USB cable, Shoulder strap, CD-ROM (OLYMPUS Viewer3), Instruction manual, Warranty card.

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Photographs taken using the Olympus Stylus 1

Fishing Off The StepsThe StrollersNo Joy At The Bus StopCake or DeathBreakthrough IIBreakthrough....She came out through the bathroom window....A peaceful place.....Three !Al Fresco Snacks - High Street, ExeterReflection In An AlleyInterior, St Stephen's Church, Exeter

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RJPhoto 9 16 1 United Kingdom
21 Nov 2013 11:22AM
Well that about sums it up; I'm putting my order in! I need a new compact that fits in the pocket and delivers good quality, and looks good. Thanks for the review - Olympus, here I come!
mikesavage 20 299 2 England
21 Nov 2013 4:52PM
Looks like the best bridge camera on the market, but at a price.
Dann 9 250 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2013 9:54PM
'Cons'! What 'Cons'!! (if you want to shoot video - buy a video camera!!)

(FCS!!! - and THAT's being 'polite')

As an E-P1 (now traded-in) and a current VERY happy E-PM2 owner... this is an awesome camera.
lolli 8
23 Nov 2013 11:05AM
To compare the stylus 1 with the xz-2, I downloaded the test pics from this site. Besides different colors (WB? But see later) the xz-2 pics are much crisper.
The Olympus software shows a difference in one of the settings of the stylus 1 and the xz-2: gain high – stylus 1 / gain low – xz-2. As far as I know this may cause the difference. But I'm not sure. What do you think?
lolli 8
24 Nov 2013 2:50PM
On my remark:
Meanwhile I also examined the pics form
Here the Olympus software shows “gain high” on all pics, but again the xz-2 pics are crisper (except for the red cloth) than those of the stylus 1 – even though the xz-2 was stopped down to f 5.6 (best is 4 – 4.5).
The advantage is rather small and may be over- compensated by the gain of zoom. I recently bought the xz-2 with vf-2, and the Stylus 1 will soon cost the same. F 1.8 and my “discovery” must be enough to keep me from feeling riled.
27 Nov 2013 1:25PM
Be a nice camera once they get around to stocking dealers, why is there such a delay, camera has been known about since August!
blanko70 11 1 United Kingdom
28 Nov 2013 12:07AM
Isn't this just a bridge camera? A nice one, but a bridge camera. Have I woken up in in 2007?

I just can't see who'd buying it. If you want a super zoom, there's cameras offer 50x. Ok, it's 2.8, but with that size sensor... I'm guessing the guy who wants this camera knows why, but I think most photographers will be better served elsewhere.
18 Dec 2013 10:15AM
It takes all kinds to make a photographic world. My idea of photographic equipment is a compact camera that zooms from 28-300mm,carried habitually on a neck strap, a monopod and a litre of tea. Judging by the sample photos in Joshua Waller's review, I'd be more than happy with a Stylus 1. Hopefully,for Olympus's marketing of this product, I'm far from being the only nut on the tree.
Kawika 8 7
13 Jan 2014 8:09PM
The camera sounds very nice, but...40 seconds write time after a full burst? That is very, very poor indeed. Couple that with the lack of 60fps full HD video, and one has to wonder what they were thinking. Why create something this nice and then handicap it? To create mft envy?
Paul Morgan 21 19.6k 6 England
14 Jan 2014 1:02AM
Constant f2.8 aperture, decent enough image quality (as compacts go) and built in wifi, and you complain about write time and video.

Its not a pro spec DSLR Smile
Kawika 8 7
14 Jan 2014 4:18AM
My elderly (in digital camera years) FZ150 isn't a pro spec DSLR, either, and it has far faster write times and 60fps full HD video (along with several other options). It also has faster burst (again, several options). The same, of course, applies to the FZ200. And to other non-pro spec DSLR cameras. And they cost hundreds less. (As for the wi-fi, that doesn't help me take pictures, which is why I use a camera.)

I may end up buying this camera, but I'm not going to pretend that it is all that it could/should be, especially at this price. One would reasonably expect it to at least match cheaper competition in terms of photographic & video features. Tongue
kodachrome 10 773
16 Feb 2014 9:20AM
I just got one from my local dealer yesterday [15th Feb] as it was an Olympus open day, with their guys there to answer your questions and demonstrait the products. I got a £50 discount and a few goodies thrown in.
Its a great little camera with all the adjustments and facilities you will need especially from a compact bridge camera. Its very well made and about the same size as the new EM10. My wife will mostly use it as a holiday camera. So far we haven't had a chance to test it in good weather but from some of the indoor flash pictures, we are impressed with the IQ.
One small point, typical Olympus, some of the adjustments and tweaks are buried in sub files and you need to search for them which is rather a lot of button pressing and navigating to get to the desired adjustment. Once you know the sequences its easy. In its favour are superb Jpegs and lovely Olympus colours that require very little PP and I would venture to say that not much would be gained from shooting RAW. It really is a very good camera indeed, well done Olympus you are finally up there with possibly the best compact bridge camera on the market, a tad expensive though, but the price should drop eventually.
MikeBe 14 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2014 5:42PM
The photo IQ is not better than the Panasonic LF1 and the video performance is lower than the LF1.

The LF1 will fit in a small pocket or handbag but the Stylus 1 will really need a case. Therefore, this is only really of interest to those who don't video much and use a viewfinder more than the screen.

Seems Olympus have missed the spot with this one, probably to protect their other offerings, real shame. If Panasonic update their FZ200 to use a similar sensor and better EVF then Olympus will be pushed out.
Andybw 8
20 Jun 2014 8:14PM
The only negatives are things I won't be using. Gonna get mine tomorrow Grin
StrayCat 18 19.1k 3 Canada
3 Dec 2014 11:01PM
Excellent job Josh, once again. One question; will flashes with remote capability work off the built-in flash as they do on the XZ-2?

PM me please.


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