Olympus Stylus SH-1 keeps its 24x zoom steady by employing an advanced 5-axis system

Borrowing the design of its PEN E-P5 cousin (which itself was modeled after the PEN F from the 1960s), the new Stylus SH-1 from Olympus is the “world’s first compact with mechanical 5-axis stabilization,” the company says. Using the same image stabilization system as more advanced Olympus cameras (like the OM-D and PEN series) gives the slim SH-1 improved steadiness, especially when the lens is zoomed out all the way.

As for that lens, it is a long 24x optical zoom (25-600mm), with an aperture range of f/3.0-8.7 (wide) and f/6.9-20 (tele). Like the newly announced TG-3, the SH-1 has a 16-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor (1/2.3-inch) and the latest image processor, Olympus’ TruePic VII. ISO range is between 125-6,400, interval shooting of 99 shots, and, at full resolution, a burst mode of 11.5 frames per second (fps). Build wise, the camera has aluminum alloy controls and detailed craftsmanship throughout; the camera weighs 9.5 ounces. A 3-inch touchscreen is on the back, but it does not tilt and it’s only rated at 460k dots.

The highlight feature, of course, is that 5-axis IS. It works with both stills and video, and Olympus says it works great for shooting in low light. Olympus says that with a 24x zoom, any sort of shake will blur an image. So, having a 5-axis system is beneficial. When we reviewed the OM-D EM-1, the camera produced clear photos with minimal blur, which we attributed to the 5-axis system in that camera. Granted, it’s also a more sophisticated device than the SH-1, so it’ll be interesting to see how well it actually performs in a compact. The SH-1 also has hybrid image stabilization, which uses electronic IS to increase the steadiness when shooting video.

The SH-1 captures Full HD 1080 video at 60p. There’s an Advanced Movie Mode that records in high speed at 240 fps (120 fps in 720p). There’s a time-lapse mode (five hour video compressed down to 20 seconds), and you can take stills while shooting video.

With built-in Wi-Fi, you can pair the SH-1 with an iOS or Android smartphone for remote operation and wireless transfers/uploads. There’s no near-field communication (NFC), but Olympus uses a QR code system, which you scan with your smartphone, for quick and painless pairing. We’ve used Olympus’ Wi-Fi implementation many times, and it works well.

Available in May, the SH-1 will list for $400. Like the E-P5 it mimics, the SH-1 comes in black, white, or silver.

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