Olympus Stylus 800 Digital Full Review
Brad Soo - August 6th, 2005

The new Olympus Stylus 800 packs 8 megapixels of power, an array of manual controls and a large high-resolution LCD into a compact all-weather package. Those 3 are not the only new features - The Stylus 800 has a ton of improvements compared to the Olympus Stylus 500. I will cover those improvements later on in this review but right now, let's go to see what's in the box.

The Olympus Stylus 800 is also known as the Olympus mju Digital 800 outside of the US. In the box of the Stylus 800, you'll find these:

  • Olympus Stylus 800
  • Rechargeable Li-12B lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable and A/V cable
  • CD-ROM
  • User's manual
  • Quick start guide

The Olympus Stylus 800 uses xD Picture cards. With the 8 effective megapixel Olympus Stylus 800, getting a 512 MB (Or even a 1 GB) xD Picture card might not be a bad idea (You probably won't need a high-speed card).

The Stylus 800 uses the new Li-12B lithium-ion rechargeable battery. If possible, get a spare battery - You'll never know when you'll need it.

The Stylus 800's accessories include an AC adapter and remote control. You are unable to attach conversion lenses or external flashes.

Let's compare the Stylus 800's size and weight to other cameras of its class:

8 MP : 103.0 x 57.5 x 33.0 mm (182 g) - Olympus Stylus 800
7 MP : 85.6 x 57.0 x 26.5 mm (170 g) - Canon Digital Ixus 700
7 MP : 114.0 x 56.5 x 38.8 mm (230 g) - Canon PowerShot S70
6 MP : 98.5 x 60.0 x 35.3 mm (180 g) - HP Photosmart R717
8 MP : 95.0 x 68.0 x 19.5 mm (135 g) - Konica Minolta DiMAGE X1
7 MP : 88.0 x 60.0 x 36.5 mm (150 g) - Nikon Coolpix 7900
8 MP : 105.7 x 55.8 x 25.6 mm (185 g) - Panasonic Lumix LX1
7 MP : 104.0 x 51.5 x 27.9 mm (144 g) - Sony Cyber-shot P200

The Olympus Stylus 800 is one of the heaviest cameras and the largest 8 megapixel camera.

 

Camera Tour

---Picture to come---

Let's start the camera tour beginning from the front. The Olympus Stylus 800 has 8 effective megapixels on a 1/1.8 inch CCD paired with a 3x optical zoom lens which has an aperture value of F2.8 - F4.9 and focal length of 38 - 114 mm (35 mm equivalent). The Stylus 800 turns on faster than ever (About 1 second) and goes to telephoto from wide-angle in 2 seconds.

The Olympus Stylus 800 is all-weather, meaning you can still take pictures in heavy rain but the Stylus 800 can't accompany you to go swimming or diving. The Stylus 800 is able to withstand rain, snow, sand and some other conditions the average camera can't take. The Stylus 800's lens, LCD, microphone, speaker and battery/xD compartment are all-weather as well.

The built-in flash has a whooping maximum range of 6.5 m at wide-angle and 3.5 m at telephoto which is comparable to bigger cameras. There is no AF-assist beam on the Stylus 800. That little black circle next to the flash is a remote control receiver. Three speaker holes are located on the top right of the camera.

The large 2.5 inch HyperCrystal LCD has 215,000 pixels and is very sharp. The new "Bright Capture" feature brightens the LCD in low-light and increases CCD sensitivity so photos will be bright as well. The LCD brightens tremendously in low-light and is quite clear outdoors. There is no optical viewfinder on the Stylus 800.

On the left, you'll find 4 buttons:

  • Quick view
  • Guide
  • Display
  • Self-timer/Delete photo

The zoom controller zooms in/out in shooting and zooms/shows thumbnails in playback. The mode dial is filled with shooting options compared to just 4 on the Stylus 500. Those options are:

  • Playback
  • Shooting
  • Blur reduction
  • Scene modes
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Movie mode
  • Album

Next is the 5 way controller. Two buttons have quick access functions:

  • Up - Flash setting
  • Down - Macro

The power button and shutter button are both located at the top along with a tiny LED.

At the bottom of the Stylus 800 is the battery/xD-Picture Card compartment (Protected by a very sturdy door), tripod mount and all-weather speaker.

Camera Functions

The Stylus 800 focuses in about a second. Low-light shooting did not give the Stylus 800 a hard time surprisingly. The Stylus 800 can take VGA movies up to the card capacity at a rather slow 15 FPS. Movies are recorded in QuickTime format. Neither optical or digital zoom can be used while recording.

ISO speeds available on the Stylus 800 is ISO 64, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800 and ISO 1600. You have full control over aperture/shutter settings as well.

 

In playback, the Olympus Stylus 800 can playback stills and movies (With sound) as well as perform these functions: Calendar, album, direct printing (The Stylus 800 is PictBridge enabled), slideshow, sound memo, rotate and resize. You can also zoom up to 8x into still photos taken and take a look around using the 4 arrow buttons. Choose the amount of info shown about your photos. When it comes to histograms, the Stylus 800 does not show any histogram while shooting but it does in playback/quick review.

Camera Photo Tests

Contrary to belief, the Olympus Stylus 800 does not produce noisy, low quality photos (Due to 8 megapixel and a 1/1.8 inch CDD). Instead, it produces sharp photos with a mild amount of noise. There's some red-eye, barrel distortion and a little chromatic aberration (Color fringing) but those are nothing to be concerned about. Movies are as sharp as still photos.

Conclusion

The Olympus Stylus 800 is a great compact camera which has 8 megapixel, manual controls, a large sharp LCD and some great features. The placements of the buttons on the back on both sides of the camera make one hand shooting rather hard to do if you change settings frequently. Despite having some image quality issues, the photos produced by the Stylus 800 are superb!

Pros:

  • Compact with 8 megapixels
  • Extremely fast
  • Excellent set of features
  • Manual controls
  • Powerful flash
  • Large and sharp 2.5 inch LCD
  • Photos not as noisy as lots of people expected
  • Overall sharp photos
  • Sturdy compartment doors

Cons:

  • Hard one-hand shooting
  • Very few (And not very useful) accessories
  • No AF-assist beam
  • Longer shutter speeds would've been nice
  • Rather large body compared to competition
  • USB 2.0 High-speed not available

Recommended accessories:

  • Extra Li-12B battery
  • 512 MB xD-Picture card
  • Camera case

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