Olympus Stylus 1000 review: Olympus Stylus 1000

3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Decent image quality at low sensitivity; helpful low-light features.

The Bad Noisy at high sensitivity; distinct purple fringing; sluggish; burst and high-ISO modes only shoot at half-resolution or lower.

The Bottom Line This small 10-megapixel shooter can produce great shots if the scene is well lit, but watch out for noise at about ISO 200.

6.8 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Image quality 7.0

You can't have everything, especially among Olympus compact cameras. While they have plenty of similar cameras that serve specific purposes, there's no catch-all, high-end, great-at-everything camera. The Olympus Stylus 720SW offers waterproof shooting. The Stylus 730 features an intuitive design and a 3-inch LCD screen. The Stylus 750 includes an image-stabilized, 5X optical zoom lens. And none of these Stylus cameras share those useful features. The Olympus Stylus 1000 follows that trend: it features a 10-megapixel sensor, but it isn't waterproof, its LCD screen is only 2.5 inches, and its meager 3X, 35-to-105mm-equivalent lens lacks optical stabilization.

The Stylus 1000's sturdy metal body has a gentle wedge shape, making the camera extremely comfortable for one-handed use. However, the tapered left side makes it even more awkward for left-handed users than most point-and-shoots. The controls are mostly flat buttons that are responsive under the thumb, but extremely similar in feel. It's easy to accidentally hit the menu button instead of the direction pad when reviewing your photos. The power and the image-stabilization buttons sit on either side of the shutter release, but they're recessed enough that you probably won't accidentally press them while shooting.

Though light on the manual controls, the Stylus 1000 has some very nice features. Like all Stylii, its metal body has rubber gaskets and seals to keep water and gunk out. You can't shoot underwater, but you can splash it without fear or hesitation. For low-light and action shots, the Stylus includes digital image stabilization and can shoot at as much as ISO 6,400, but images greater than ISO 1,600 are cut down to five megapixels. The camera lacks an autofocus light, but it does automatically increase the gain of its 2.5-inch screen when shooting in low light, making it easier to frame your shot. Besides some basic controls, such as exposure compensation, ISO, and white balance, it has 24 scene modes that let casual shooters set the camera for the type of shot they want. The camera also includes a 30fps VGA movie mode for shooting video clips.

The Stylus 1000 performed sluggishly in our tests, especially in dim light. It took only 1.7 seconds from power-on to first shot, but after that we endured a 3.3-second wait between shots without flash. That pause increased to an even 4 seconds with the onboard flash enabled. Shutter lag measured a respectable 0.7 second in bright light, increasing to 1.3 seconds in dim conditions. Burst mode could shoot at only half-resolution or less, but proved quite fast at 3.8fps.

Noise is the Stylus 1000's greatest weakness. It started to manifest at ISO 200 and became quite noticeable at ISO 400. At ISO 800 and 1,600, images suffered from a distinct, greenish-purple grain, and details became horribly softened. At the 5-megapixel settings of ISO 3,200 and 6,400, even coarse details were completely destroyed by noise.

However, at low ISO settings, the Stylus's 10-megapixel images were large and quite crisp, with fine details showing up clearly. We noticed distinct purple fringing on the edges of white objects and some slight barrel distortion at the lens's widest angle, but otherwise the camera's images looked very good.

The Olympus Stylus 1000 offers high-resolution images and a water-resistant metal body. Unfortunately, noise issues and slow performance mean poor photos in low light. Unless splashability is a major factor in your purchase, you might want to look at other 10-megapixel cameras. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 offers a great lens and tons of manual controls, while the Canon PowerShot SD900 stuffs its 10-megapixel sensor into a frame even smaller and sleeker than the Stylus 1000's.

Shooting speed
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot SD900
2.3 
1.3 
0.5 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
2.2 
2.3 
0.7 
Olympus Stylus 1000
3.3 
1.7 
0.7 
Casio Exilim EX-Z1000
3.5 
1.8 
0.3 

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