The camera is well equipped with features, and in addition to the aperture- and shutter-priority modes (there's no completely manual mode), the Stylus 800 offers 19 scene modes accompanied by informative text and sample pictures, so it's easy to decide which one to choose. Other controls include exposure compensation, ESP and spot autofocus and metering, preset white-balance choices, and manual ISO sensitivity selection from 64 to 1,600. In some scene modes, the camera will push the ISO as high as 2,500, but not all ISOs are available at all quality settings, and the camera must decrease file size to reach ISO 800 and 1,600. Olympus has also upped its QuickTime movie resolution to 640x480, although the frame rate is still 15fps, so it's a minimal gain.
We have few complaints about the camera's speed relative to its class. It's ready to shoot within 2 seconds of powering on and takes about 1.7 seconds between shots; add a flash to the mix, though, and you may have to wait up to 5 seconds to get the next shot. At its maximum resolution, the Stylus 800 captured 3 images at a little more than 1.6 frames per second. Dropping the resolution slowed it to 1.3fps--but the camera kept shooting and shooting and shooting.
The 2.5-inch LCD, which uses a light-gathering method that Olympus dubs HyperCrystal, works quite well under almost all conditions and maintains brightness well in low light. There's no optical viewfinder, but we didn't miss it; however, the somewhat slow refresh rate in low light was a little distracting.
Autofocus performed better than expected in low light, given its lack of an AF illuminator. However, even using spot AF, we had some problems coaxing the camera into focusing on our subject and not the background.