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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus Stylus 1050 SW


Olympus Stylus 1050 SW Review

Review Date: Nov 24, 2008

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Olympus Stylus 1050 SW


The Olympus Stylus 1050 SW is a digital camera targeted to point-and-shoot photographers and replaces the Stylus 790 SW. It has a 10.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.33-in. CCD image sensor, and a 3x internal optical zoom lens (38-114mm equiv.), with an aperture range of F3.5(W)–F5.0(T).

We find the overall image quality of the Olympus 1050 SW to be good, with low noise at ISO 80.

3x Optical Zoom Range
Wide-angle 38mm Tele 114mm
Wide-angle 6.7mm
[38mm, 35mm equivalent]
Telephoto 20.1mm
[114mm, 35mm equivalent]

The Olympus 1050 SW provides 3x optical zoom. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 38mm and then 114mm (35mm equivalent).

Besides Auto mode and easy-to-use Scene Modes, the Olympus 1050 SW also has Programmed AE (P) mode. A new cool In-camera Panorama mode allows you to capture and stitch a panorama picture from 3 pictures by just clicking and panning.

The camera provides exposure compensation (but no Auto Bracketing) and preset White Balance (but no Custom/Manual WB). Shadow Adjustment is useful when taking a portrait in backlight: it will automatically find a person's face and brighten it. This feature is however available only in Shooting Mode; it would be more useful if it could also be applied to a picture when reviewing in Playback. Shutter speed ranges from 1/2-1/1,000 sec. in all modes (4 sec. in Night scene mode).

Super Macro
Super Macro
Super Macro
9.1mm [51.8mm], P, ESP
1/4 sec., F4.0, +0.7 EV, WB Tungsten, ISO 400

The Olympus 1050 SW lens allows you to focus as close as 7cm (2.8 in.) at wide-angle in Super Macro mode. AF lock is fast and precise in good light; without an AF Illuminator, AF locks well on subjects with good contrast but subjects with low contrast might be difficult to get a focus lock in low-light. A LED Illuminator can function as a light source that throws extra illumination on a close-up subject to facilitate AF lock. iESP AF will focus on subjects that is not in the center of the frame. Face Detect AF is a bit inconsistent: though it will detect a face, it will at times focus somewhere else when you actually press the shutter release button to lock focus.

There are two metering modes: ESP (Multi-Pattern) and Spot.

White Balance Indoors
AWB WB = Tungsten
AWB WB = Tungsten

As the above pictures show, the auto white balance is not accurate indoors under artificial light [using two energy saving bulbs]. There is no Custom/Manual WB, so I select Tungsten. Outdoors, under natural light, the AWB works well.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 80
ISO 80
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800
ISO 400 ISO 800
ISO 1600 ISO 2500
ISO 1600 ISO 2500

We were not able to take our regular ISO test shots at low light level because the pictures at the low ISOs come out underexposed. So, the above pictures are taken in daylight.

You can set the ISO on the Olympus 1050 SW from 80 to 1600. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that images at ISO 80 and 100 are quite clean with low noise. Noise starts to be slightly visible at ISO 200 and is usable up to ISO 400, though with some detail lost. At ISO 800, there is very aggressive noise reduction; images should be usable in small-sized 4x6 in. prints and for Web display. Above ISO 800, the presence of [luminance] noise is readily visible; note the abscence of chroma noise [in the form of colored splotches, thankfully removed]. We have also thrown in a picture taken at ISO 2500, which is available in Candle and Available Light scene modes at 3M pixels only.

Chromatic Aberrations
CA (Purple Fringing)

CA is present in high contrast shots. In the high contrast shot above, the area delimited by the red square at top center, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows purple fringing.

Long Exposure
Long Shutter Speed
20.1mm [114mm], P, Spot, 4 sec., F5.0, ISO Auto [125]
WB Tungsten, Self-Timer, Tripod Used, Cropped and resized

The Olympus 1050 SW allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 4 sec. but only in Night scene mode. Generally, with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at long shutter speeds.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take a low-light indoors shot using the Night scene mode. You cannot select ISO and trial and error gives me a 4.0 sec. exposure at F5.0, ISO 125. The image has a "cloudy" look to it.

LED Illuminator
LED Illuminator
9.1mm [51.8mm], P, ESP, 1/2 sec., F4.0, ISO 80, LED Illuminator
WB Auto, Self-Timer, Tripod Used, Cropped and resized

If, instead, I turn on the LED Illuminator, the result is much better [though you would not really call this a long exposure shot].

Despite the availability of high ISOs, it is important for potential buyers to understand clearly that the Stylus 1050 SW is not a low-light camera. But if all you are looking for is a tough point-and-shoot digital camera that is not afraid of falls, bumps, dust and water -- and that is able to take decent shots in the bright outdoors -- then for its intended purpose of sunny beach, boating, and rough outdoors, the Olympus 1050 SW is a good choice and will allow you to take pictures in situations no other digicams dare to.

The pictures in the Olympus Stylus 1050 SW Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the original 3648×2736 pixels version.

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name.

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!


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