How do you capitalise on a hugely successful flagship camera? Make a point-and-shoot hybrid that looks just like it, of course.
That is the premise behind the Stylus 1, the latest compact from Olympus that borrows one or two (OK, make that more than three) design cues from the wildly successful OM-D interchangeable lens camera (ILC) range. Rather than sporting a standard zoom lens, however, the Stylus 1 makes do with a 10.7x optical zoom lens with a fixed f/2.8 aperture. That's 28-300mm equivalent in the 35mm system.
So the Stylus 1 is sort of like a superzoom camera trapped in a sleek body? Almost. There is an electronic viewfinder as well as a tilting 3-inch touchscreen at the back. The sensor is not the Micro Four Thirds size that graces the internals of the OM-D range, but a 1/1.7-inch 12-megapixel backlit CMOS unit. For comparison purposes, that's the same size as other premium compact cameras, like the Canon PowerShot S120 and Fujifilm XQ1. It's not as big as the 1-inch model on the Sony RX10, though.
A built-in three-stop ND filter looks promising for more advanced photographers, while beginners are catered to with the trademark Olympus art filters. There are 11 in total, along with five art effects that can also be applied to movies as well as stills.
No camera released in 2013 would be complete without Wi-Fi connectivity — fortunately, the Stylus 1 comes with that as well. In a nice touch, the camera comes with an exploding lens cap that automatically opens when the lens is extended.
All in all, the Stylus 1 looks like a promising model, but we're not quite sure what sort of camera it's trying to be. Users who want a superzoom camera will undoubtedly be swayed by other models on the market with 30x or 50x zoom units; those who want pure image quality will look to buying their first ILC, which comes with the added bonus of being able to change lenses. Pricing for this model will determine just where it sits in both the Olympus range and the camera market more broadly, which we will find out closer to the on-sale date.
Just in time for Christmas, the Stylus 1 will reach Australia in December.