Olympus' Stylus 500 raises the bar for point-and-shoot digital cameras with its large LCD, water-resistant housing, speedy operation, and other enhancements. At around $350, this 5-megapixel camera could be one of the few gadgets you decide to carry with you all the time.
Olympus' Stylus 500 raises the bar for point-and-shoot digital cameras with its
large LCD, water-resistant housing, speedy operation, and other enhancements. At
around $350, this 5-megapixel camera could be one of the few gadgets you decide
to carry with you all the time.
The fact that the Stylus 500 is "water-resistant" (not water-proof) should make
lots of family photojournalists feel more secure about carrying the camera with
them to Summertime events. When closed, the unit is slim enough at 1.2 inches,
it's narrow enough to slip into most pockets. And to keep the kids' water hose
antics from damaging it, the lens cover, speaker, microphone, and controls all
have water barriers. That doesn't mean you can take
camera scuba diving without a specialized underwater housing, but it does mean
you can snap pix of Uncle Joe's cannonball without worrying about the splash.
The Stylus 500's 2.5" LCD follows the trend toward larger displays, but goes one
better than most with its HyperCrystal version. The view through the LCD is
nothing short of gorgeous at 215,000 pixels. Even in bright outdoor sunlight I
was able to see and compose my shots quickly and easily. I normally deduct
points off any digital camera that lacks an optical viewfinder, but after using
this bright LCD, I'd be hard pressed to find a reason to peer through a
viewfinder, even for taking action shots.
Basic and extended functions
The Stylus 500 has all the standard functionality we've come to expect in
digital cameras, including various scene selections, video clips with sound, and
a zoom lens. One advantage of the 5-megapixel resolution is the ability to use
the camera's digital zoom to extend the 3x optical zoom to a total of 12x and
still get usable images. Even so, if you regularly shoot sporting events, birds,
or other subjects that require long focal reach, consider cameras with both
longer optical zooms and high resolution. Olympus' C-770 has a 10x optical zoom
along with a 4x digital zoom along with 4 megapixel resolution.
The Stylus' controls are easy to get to and easy to understand. The main control
is a 5-way jog pad that switches function based on what you're doing. For still
shots, it's easy to change the flash mode, change from macro to normal focus,
set the self-timer, or select any of the 21 preset scene modes (portrait, night,
underwater, sport, etc.). In video mode you can select macro and exposure.
Your images are saved on xD-Picture Card (a 32MB card is included with the
camera), where you can use the unit's built-in editing functions to crop,
rotate, soft focus, and create a fisheye lens effect, and perform a variety of
other functions. The Stylus' Album function lets you select images and move them
to one of 12 different albums. I found this to be a great tool for showing
pictures to friends without having to skip over or apologize for the images that
didn't apply to them. Alternatively, I was able to connect the camera to the
video input of a TV for slide show viewing of the albums.
The Stylus 500 is a convenient pocketable camera. Its combination of high
resolution, large LCD, water-resistant housing, and flexible shooting options
make it a great choice for Summer, or any season photo taking.
Olympus Stylus 500 digital camera
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