When my beloved Canon 60D was having a halt about half a year ago due to heavy usage and abuse, I was really in need of a backup camera. A part of me really blamed myself for not getting a backup camera earlier, before my 60D seize to operate, perhaps another Canon DSLR such as the 7D or at least a 600D which at that time was on sale for a quite reasonable price. But then, another part of myself suggest that I should be looking for smaller size camera with DSLR like capability. Something pocketable like the Canon G16 or Olympus PEN or maybe a Sony NEX.
Due to my daily life on the road, my ventures requires me to always carry a camera with me. However, since I constantly travel on a motorbike, I prefer a compact camera to be my travel companion. A DSLR might be too bulky and heavy for a daily adventure. And so, I made up my mind. A mirrorless it is then. This is where I read the review about Olympus Stylus 1 from Robin Wong’s page. Shortly after reading the review, I firmly decided to get my hands on this camera.
At first, I keep on comparing side-by-side this camera with its closest rival, the Canon G16 which for me at that time was the best compact camera with the flexibility and capability of a DSLR that my budget can afford. After bestowing my eyes again and again on this camera, I found it that this camera is simply can’t be compared with any other compact digital camera out there within the given price. Come on guys, how can you give away a simply elegant and retro styling of this camera to yet another plain square compact camera.
Despite having a smaller sensor of 1/1.7″ back lit CMOS sensor, the physical look of this camera is just astonishing. It has a very nice retro styling with black finish (unfortunately it only comes in black color). Very distinctive and functional dials and buttons all over the place. Two rotating top dials where 1 of it is the MODE dial and the other 1 is the quick dial for Aperture, Speed and ISO. It can be also used as the quick dial for every customized menu. There is also the hybrid ring dial on the front where it can be used as the zoom/focus dial or as a quick selection dial if needed.
I love the Electronic View Finder (EVF) on this little beaut and the tilty-flipping screen is very very useful when taking a high or low angle photos. Although the screen doesn’t flip 180-degree to the top like those of the NEX and Samsung NX series for perfect selfie, the screen of this camera gives me enough feature that I ever need for a compact camera. Plus, it does have touch-screen capability for focusing and quick focus and snap. Although, there is another way where you can take a perfect selfie with this camera, which is via the Wifi connectivity to your smartphone. YES! This camera have Wifi connectivity feature where you can control and capture the photos directly from your smartphone using the Olympus IO.share application downloadable from the Google PlayStore and Apple App Store.
Another feature that really gets my attention to spend on this camera is its power zoom lens. The i.Zuiko lens equipped with this camera provides a 10.7x zoom ranging from 6-64.3mm (equivalent to 16-300mm on a 35mm format) with constant f2.8 across the range, which is beyond what I would expect to have on a compact camera. You can expect a pretty good bokeh out from this camera. Despite the length of the lens, Olympus manage to compact and stack it into the body of this camera nicely and neat, and with the provided screw-on lens cap, everything just fits perfectly.
IMAGE QUALITY AND NOISE PERFORMANCE
For those who have seen and follow my photography journey, you will know that I’m more to event photography and shooting mostly low-light portraiture. Provided only the ambiance and available lighting of the surrounding, I try to capture as much mesmerizing photos with minimal noise. This time I was really lucky because I get to test the performance of this camera on the most happening event of the year here in Borneo, the Rainforest World Music Festival 2014.
Check these photos out.
Actually there are more features in this camera such as the super-macro shot, video mode and other photo filters that I haven’t really tried on the field yet, but judging from the sample photos above, I’m very very happy with the low-light performance. Up til ISO 3200, the image is still sharp with little noise appearance and I believe it is usable even for a large print usage. Although during the stretch of the event, I limit myself from shooting with ISO above 3200. Please note that all the photos above are straight out of the camera (SOOC) with minor cropping for presentation and watermark addition.
So, if you are thinking to have a compact and ultimate traveling companion with great retro style looks, great power zoom range that eliminate the needs of having to carry and change multiple lenses, bright and constant f2.8 aperture across the 300mm zoom range, lightweight and comes with Wifi connectivity for flexible off-hand control and image transfer, please consider this camera to the top of your wishlist. Of course there are other competitors such as the SONY Cybershot RX100 and CANON G1X with bigger sensors and huge pixel counts with the same price range as this camera, but this camera is never a bad choice. Subjectively to what you need on a compact camera, this might be your perfect choice.
Should you have anything to add to the above, please leave a comment. I would love to hear more about this camera from you guys.