Olympus Stylus 1 Review
Olympus Stylus 1 Review - Image Quality
Colour and White Balance
When looking at the JPEG images produced by the Stylus 1, the colour rendition was the first thing that really stood out. In standard colour mode, colours are bright and well saturated, with excellent reproduction of subtle gradations of tone. Shooting in bright early daylight on a winter morning the camera captured the quality of the light perfectly. Shooting indoors under artificial light also produced good results, with the white balance system coping well with mixed lighting.
One of the reasons for buying an advanced compact with a larger and less crowded sensor is the improved dynamic range that it provides, and the Stylus 1 certainly delivers good results in this area. The excellent multi-zone evaluative Digital ESP metering system strikes a near-perfect balance between highlight and shadow detail even in JPEG mode, and shooting in raw mode provides even more, allowing a useful two stops of latitude either way. There were some occasions where the camera under-exposed by about half a stop, but in every case this improved colour saturation and shadow detail.
The Stylus 1 has exactly the same 12-megapixel resolution as most of its rivals, so not surprisingly the level of detail it records is nearly identical. Using default settings the sharpening is just a little too hard, but this can be adjusted for each shooting mode separately, and turning it down slightly produced nicer results. The level of detail recorded, particularly in the centre of the frame, is extremely impressive.
Like several of its competitors the Stylus 1 has a sensitivity range of 100 - 12,800 ISO in 1/3EV steps. On the whole I was impressed by the results. There is some image noise visible from about 800 ISO, but it is very well controlled, with consistent exposure and colour reproduction being maintained up to 3200 ISO, although some fine detail is lost.
At 6400 the contrast starts to disappear and image quality suffers accordingly, and the results at 12,800 ISO mean that setting should only be used for extreme situations, but in this respect it is comparable to the Canon G16, so we have no cause to complain.
There had to be an Achilles' Heel, and unfortunately for the Stylus 1 it's the lens that lets the side down. While the sharpness and resolution in the centre of the frame is excellent, and there is little optical distortion at any focal length, the lens does suffer from visible chromatic aberration, particularly in wide-angle, wide-aperture shots. Stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 did mostly eliminate the problem, but one of the selling points of this camera is the wide maximum aperture, so it seems a shame not to use it.