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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Olympus Stylus 600


Olympus Stylus 600 Review

Review Date: Dec 6, 2005

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Olympus Stylus 600


Monday, Nov 7, 2005 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Stylus 600
  • 32MB xD-Picture Card
  • Li-Ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery Charger
  • Wrist Strap
  • USB and A/V Cables
  • Documentation: Quick Start Guide; Basic Manual (English, French, Spanish)
  • Software CD: Olympus Master 1.3.1; Advanced Manual (English, French, German, Russian, Spanish)

The Olympus Stylus 600 Digital is targeted to point-and-shoot photographers, providing an easy transition into the digital world to the many Stylus fans. With 6MP resolution and 3x optical zoom, it reads like its many 6MP competitors out there. Then your eyes fall on the "all-weather" label, and suddenly it is a camera apart from the rest.

It is important to note that "all-weather" does not mean "waterproof," and an optional PT-029 underwater housing is available for underwater photography. What the Olympus Stylus 600 has are rubber gaskets throughout the interior to ensure that water, moisture or dust does not get into the sensitive parts of the camera in normal use. Outwardly visible are rubber gaskets lining the battery and Terminals compartments.

The lens retracts inside the camera and a sliding stainless steel lens barrier protects it when the camera is powered down. Olympus claims that "the stainless steel lens barrier protects the lens with an impenetrable seal when closed." I did not subject the camera to long periods of use in strong rain, snow or dust, and cannot verify that claim, nor whether the camera can be safely used in extreme bad weather. I have, however, used the camera in fine rainfall and light snowfall, and can attest to the fact that it was none the worse.

The Olympus Stylus 600 does not have a viewfinder but has an extra large 2.5 in. LCD monitor which takes up almost all the space on the back of the camera. I love the large LCD, and Olympus' "Bright Capture Technology" makes it possible to see clearly on the LCD monitor even in very low levels of ambient light. I have not seen any LCD "gain up" this much on any other camera that claims to have this feature. For those of you who always complain you cannot see anything on your LCD monitors in low-light, try out this camera's LCD and you might never want to go back.

Improvement suggestion: the standard 115,000 pixels does not do the large LCD full justice, and a higher resolution would be ideal. Also, the refresh rate is quite good but a slghtly faster refresh rate would make for a smoother display.

Concerning low-light photography, you can select an ISO of 800 or 1600 in Program Auto mode, but only using SQ1 1600 x 1200 pixels or less resolution. The camera switches image resolution automatically and displays a warning on screen. Remember to switch back the image resolution when you switch back the ISO to a lower one.

Because the shutter speed only goes down to 1/2 sec. (4 sec. in Night Scene Mode only), expect the camera to use a high ISO in low-light when AUTO ISO is selected, or when using a Scene Mode. It's not bad at all as long as you are aware of the reduced MP resolution. If you are mostly printing 4x6 in. you should be OK.

How many shooting modes and scene modes does this camera has? It has 26 Shoting Modes: that's Program Auto plus 24 Scene Modes plus Movie (which is also accessed thru the SCENE button). For those who like marine photography, there are 3 underwater Scene Modes. The Bright Capture Technology of the LCD would make previewing images underwater easier. A built-in Help Guide can be displayed if you need more help selecting the right Scene Mode for the situation.

One of the Scene Mode is Blur Reduction, where the camera selects a high ISO so that a high enough shutter speed can be used to reduce the effects of camera shake. Another Scene Mode is Panorama, where a template is overlayed on screen to aid in overlapping pictures to be used for later stitching in software. Note that there are simply lines to indicate where you should overlap; the previous image itself is not displayed. Note also that the Panorama feature requires the use of an Olympus brand xD-Picture card.

Macro is at 20 cm (7.9 in.) and using Super Macro, you can get as close as 7 cm (2.8 in.). Macro settings (as well as exposure compensation settings) are retained even when the camera is turned off and then turned back on again.

Exposure Compensation is conveniently just a press away on the UP Arrow. Pleasantly -- a nod no doubt to advanced photographers -- is the possibility of displaying a live Histogram. I also find the Framing Guide very useful not only in keeping your horizontals level, but also in using the Rule of Thirds composition.

There is no AF-assist light, but in low-light conditions, the AF is quite fast and precise.

You can zoom during Movie recording (640 x 480 @ 15fps), but only because there is no sound recorded. Movie length is limited only by the capacity of the xD-Picture Card used.

The Olympus Stylus 600 is quite compact and is easily carried in a jeans pants pocket. Note that because of the extra large LCD, the controls are crowded and there is not too much space to hold the camera. Since this camera is supposed to be used in all-weather [read, "wet" weather] conditions, it would be safer if there were some kind of rubberized handgrip to prevent the camera from slipping from one's fingers.

The Terminal Cover (with rubber O-ring) is hinged and remains open effortlessly. Transferring images to your PC is simply a matter of connecting the USB cable and either using the Olympus Master software to index the images or simply drag-n-drop in Windows Explorer.

Olympus Master

The Olympus Master software is is very user-friendly and displays all info on one screen, including very complete EXIF info. You can do basic image editing, re: red-eye reduction, brightness, saturation, hue, sharpness.

As usual for Olympus, the Olympus Stylus 600 only has a printed Quick Start Guide and Basic Instruction Manual. The Advanced Manual is on CD in pdf format (therefore searchable).

The camera has about 7.9MB of internal memory data that will store 2 SHQ (2816 x 2112 pixels) images; a 128MB xD-Picture Card will store about 43 SHQ images. The 7.9MB internal memory will hold about 6 sec. worth of 640x480 movie and a 128MB card about 1 min. 53 sec. of movie. We recommend at least 512MB or even 1GB, if you can afford it.

The Olympus Stylus 600 Digital is well designed, fast in operations and the all-weather feature means that you can use it most anywhere. Improvement suggestion: image quality gives results that are good enough for most snapshooters, but more advanced photographers would prefer at least one quality level up. The LCD gain up feature is easily the best we've seen and its many Scene Modes make it point-and-shoot simple to use.

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