Olympus Stylus 1s premium compact gets minor update over predecessor

Olympus has a follow-up to 2013’s Stylus 1 compact camera. The new Stylus 1s actually debut globally last year, but it’s only now being introduced into the U.S. market. With a list price of $700, it will be available in April.

So, what’s new in the Stylus 1s? There isn’t much. In fact, Olympus says there’s no need for current Stylus 1 owners to upgrade unless they want the new feature. The Stylus 1s is geared toward those who want a bridge camera that looks and performs like an advanced mirrorless or DSLR camera, but with a compact design and fixed lens.

The Stylus 1s shares the same form-factor and design of the original (it’s 2.2 inches thick, yet it can accommodate a long zoom), but it has an improved grip and a blue line around the lens that’s purely cosmetic. The other new features are mainly shooting options, including Small AF Target (for more accurate focusing), Focus Peaking (to help you determine focus while in live view), Interval Shooting, Time Lapse Movie, Easy Step Zoom (nine preset zoom positions), and Switchable Zoom Factor Display.

The 12-megapixel Stylus 1s uses a 1/1.7-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, which is larger than sensors used in most point-and-shoots. The image processor is an older TruePic VI. What’s impressive is the 10.7x i.Zuiko Digital lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range, so you can get a larger opening even at full telephoto (also retained is the lens cover that opens automatically when the lens zooms out). Like high-end lenses, the iZuiko Digital is coated to capture sharper images. Around the lens is a Hybrid Control Ring for making quick adjustments, focusing, or zooming, and there are additional zoom controls on the side of the lens.

Another advanced feature is a 1.44-million-dot electronic viewfinder – the same one used in the OM-D E-M5. The 3-inch LCD tilts for shooting down below or high above, and is rated at 1,040k dots. The Stylus 1s can shoot uncompressed RAW images, and there’s built-in Wi-Fi. There’s optical image stabilization, but it isn’t the 5-axis system found in some Olympus models. Movies are recorded at up to Full HD 1080 at 30p.

If you own the original Stylus 1, there’s good news: Olympus will have a firmware update that adds the new shooting options mentioned above, which essentially turns the Stylus 1 into a 1s, minus the grip.

In our review of the Stylus 1 we thought the asking price was a bit high, but it delivered good photo quality and we especially liked the lens, performance, EVF, and Wi-Fi. We didn’t think our indoor images looked sharp, nor did we care for the convoluted menu system. We aren’t sure if the Stylus 1s will improve on those lows, but you may be able to find the original Stylus 1 at a lower price.

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