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Olympus Stylus SH-50 camera: Is it worth Rs 23k!

November 26, 2013 09:49 IST

Olympus Stylus SH-50 camera: Is it worth Rs 23k!

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Seek out a Nikon or even Sony instead...

The amount of improvements and advances made to DSLRs over the past year make it easy to ignore point-and-click shooters. Companies such as Canon and Nikon are bringing out more compact cameras for casual photographers but the focus is usually on the next EOS rather than the next Coolpix camera.

Olympus aims to introduce something slightly more advanced with the Stylus SH-50.

Rather than bring out a new point-and-click camera, Olympus has incorporated 5-axis image stabilisation for the Stylus SH-50. What exactly is it, and how does it improve the picture-taking experience? For that matter, how does the camera fare in other departments?


Image: Olympus Stylus SH-50
Photographs: olympus.co.uk

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Design

The Olympus Stylus SH-50 is a fairly small device and thus easy to handle or carry around in your pocket. It weighs about 270 grams, but despite being lightweight, it’s also sturdy. The frame is metallic and feels strong. A rubber grip has been provided on the front which allows for easier gripping. It’s a great addition and further enhances the physical appeal of the camera. We wish the viewfinder display were as tough, as it attracts its fair share of scratches.

The arrangement of buttons might throw some of you off though.

If you’re used to the usual display with buttons spread about and a D-Pad for choosing settings, then the Stylus SH-50 might surprise you. A circular D-Pad is present with an OK button in the middle, along with three buttons arranged vertically along the right edge of the backside. These include the Record button, Menu and Review from top to bottom.

The top of the camera has the usual dials, including the mode dial on the right edge, a zoom lever and the shutter button. It’s deceptively simple but works quite well. The 3-inch display is actually a touchscreen which allows you to access functions and settings easily. You can also use the D-Pad for cycling through options and selecting them.

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Photographs: olympus.co.uk
Tags: SH-50 , Menu

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Interface

The SH-50’s user interface is simple to get into. Along the right hand side of the screen will be several options which you can adjust using the touchscreen or D-Pad. These include different scene modes such as Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene and 14 more; White Balance, with options for Auto, Overcast, Sunlight, Tungsten and Fluorescent; ISO range; and more.

You have three different shooting modes with Program, Auto allowing the camera to take care of everything and Mode that lets you choose between different scene modes. Shutter priority is missing but interestingly enough, there isn’t any support for Wi-Fi on the device. It wouldn’t seem like a serious omission on any other device but the SH-50 is a sub-20K point-and-click camera.

Other features include the ability to activate a histogram when shooting and Panorama which lets you take a continuous shot along a 180 degree axis. You also have a choice between three autofocus modes including Face/iESP, Spot and AF Tracking.

It’s not the most feature-rich camera by a long shot, even by point-and-click standards.

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Photographs: olympus.co.uk

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Specs and image quality

The Olympus SH-50 boasts a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor with 24x optical zoom, 96x digital zoom, an aperture ran of f/3.0-6.9 (f/3.0 for wide and f/6.9 for telephoto) and a focal length of 4.5-108 mm. It also has an ISO range of 15 to 6400, with a shutter speed ranging from 1/4th of a second to 1/2000th of a second.

A TruePic VI image processor is also present and it also has the ability to shoot at 11 frames per second at 1920x1080 or 1920x1440. The video recording maxes out at 1280x720 with a maximum frame rate of 120 FPS. It supports SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, and also features a USB cable and HDMI port.

Image quality in daytime settings is average and nothing special at all. You won’t notice any saturation in images, but there is a problem with the details on zooming in. Some finer details tend to become blurry, perhaps due to the limitations in the image processor which keeps them from being captured properly. These same limitations also rear their ugly head when you tap the touchscreen for focus and experience some slowdown, especially in low-light scenarios.

Speaking of which, the still image quality in low-light settings tends to be less than extraordinary. Adjusting the ISO settings, you’ll be assured of decent quality at up to ISO 800. Beyond that, the details tend to become fuzzy and more noise becomes inherent with each increase. Overall, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to being the best camera for still images.

The 5-axis image stabilisation is quite good, even if you go with close-ups in video recording mode. Still images are still problematic due to the lacklustre quality but you may notice the camera adjusting its focus on the fly while video recording. Otherwise, video quality is good enough.

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Photographs: olympus.co.uk

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Verdict

The Olympus Stylus SH-50 introduces a great new feature but falters in its overall package. The absence of Wi-Fi and more detailed shooting features is of course a problem, but this would’ve been forgiven if image quality was better.

Sadly, this isn’t the case as still photos tend to be severely lacking in detail on closer inspection and shooting at higher ISO settings leads to severe image degradation. While the HD video recording isn’t half-bad, with the 5-axis image stabilisation working great, it’s not perfect and certainly not worth spending Rs 22,999 on.

Seek out a Nikon or even Sony solution such as the DSC WX300 instead.

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Photographs: olympus.co.uk
Tags: SH-50 , ISO , DSC , Sony

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