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Olympus Stylus 810 review: Olympus Stylus 810

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.

Shooting speed
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot SD630
Fujifilm FinePix V10
Casio Exilim EX-Z60
Olympus Stylus 810
Pentax Optio W10
Nikon Coolpix P3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ3
Note: Measured in seconds

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Note: Measured in frames per second
Image quality was generally good, with lots of detail in both highlights and shadows, and we noticed fewer JPEG artifacts than we've seen in other recent compact cameras. Highlights tended to blow out, and we saw textbook examples of lateral chromatic aberrations: well-defined cyan and magenta ghost images, respectively, to the left and the right of high-contrast subjects.

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.

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