The 3X optical zoom lens can focus on objects between 3.9 and 23.6 inches in supermacro mode. If you don't need to get quite so close to your subject, standard macro can focus from 8.4 inches to infinity. The lens's aperture is fixed at f/2.8 at the wide-angle setting and f/4.7 when fully zoomed in. The Olympus Stylus 810 has no manual focus or exposure controls other than exposure compensation, but its 24 scene modes include various preset options such as Behind Glass, Documents, and Auction. The Shoot and Select scene modes are a variation on burst mode; you shoot a continuous sequence of pictures, which appear on the LCD. You can then keep or delete whatever shots you want from the batch.
Both multipoint/spot focus and exposure options are available on the Stylus 810. After you've set those, the camera automatically chooses a shutter speed between 1/2 second to 1/1,000 second in normal shooting modes and up to 4 seconds in night scene modes. This model has 28MB of built-in memory; it's good for a few shots, but you'll want an xD Picture-Card to take more than a handful of photos at a time. If you want to use the camera's panorama mode to stitch up to 10 frames into one shot, you'll need an Olympus-brand card; it won't work with any others.
The Stylus 810 has some interesting playback features, including in-camera albums and a calendar display that sorts images by date taken. With a Type H xD card, it can shoot 640x480, 30fps film clips with sound up to the capacity of the card; with others, you're limited to 15-second clips. Neither zoom nor focus can be adjusted while shooting.The Olympus Stylus 810 displayed its best performance figures in burst mode, although its speed comes at a price; continuous shooting works at only 2,048x1,536 (3 megapixels) and 1,024x768 (submegapixel) resolutions. In both resolutions, we were able to squeeze off 12 shots in about 2.6 seconds, for an impressive rate of 4.6fps. The lower-end Stylus 710 supports full-resolution burst shooting but at just 1.5fps.
Other shooting speeds were acceptable but not exactly stellar. The camera took 2.7 seconds to power up and shoot after pressing the button. After that, it took a sluggish 3 seconds from shot to shot, bumping up to 3.5 seconds with the onboard flash enabled. Shutter lag was an adequate 0.7 second when shooting a high-contrast subject, slowing to a less adequate 1.5 seconds with a low-contrast subject.
The camera's autoset higher ISO settings help extend the camera's tiny built-in flash range to 17 feet. Coverage was fairly even, although the red-eye-prevention feature did a poor job. Bright Capture made the LCD nicer to view indoors under dim lighting, but we noticed a bit of ghosting. Unfortunately, the display tends to wash out in bright sunlight.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Noise is the biggest problem with the Olympus Stylus 810. Quite visible by ISO 400, it added a distinct texture to most images at ISO 800 and above. Unless you're a fanatic about grain or don't try to print or view the images at too large a setting, you'll probably find this camera's high-ISO shots acceptable, especially compared to the alternative of dark, blurry pictures. The digital image-stabilization feature provided one to two stops of blur protection.