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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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.