Compact cameras with fast lenses and large sensors are plentiful these days, but few of them zoom much beyond the 100mm mark. On top of that, when they are zoomed in, the lenses can get significantly slower.
That's not the case with the new Olympus Stylus 1. The camera takes the TruePic VI image processor and 12-megapixel 1/1.7-inch BSI CMOS sensor of Olympus' Stylus XZ-2 iHS and mates them with a 10.7x f2.8 28-300mm lens.
Now, compared to the 50x zoom lenses on cameras like the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, or even the 24x f2.8 lens on Panasonic's Lumix FZ200, that 10.7x might not seem like much. Likewise, compared to the 1-inch BSI CMOS sensor on Sony's RX10, the Stylus 1's sensor is tiny.
However, the Olympus has a larger sensor than those super long megazooms and has a maximum aperture of f2.8 through the entire zoom range -- something only the FZ200 can claim. It's also considerably smaller than those models.
The Sony RX10 has an f2.8 24-200mm lens. That's not as long as the Olympus and, because of the larger sensor, the RX10 is much larger, and at $1299 the Sony is $600 more than the Stylus 1. Basically, the Stylus 1 seems to be a nice compromise in terms of sensor size, zoom range and lens quality, and overall size and price.
And, if you want more telephoto reach, Olympus has the CLA-13 converter adapter and TCON-17x 1.7x teleconverter lens. Combined they extend the focal length of the camera to 510mm while retaining the brightness of the constant f2.8 aperture.
To go along with that lens, you get a tilting 3-inch 1M-dot-resolution touch-screen LCD, a built-in electronic viewfinder (the same EVF found on the Olympus OM-D E-M5), and a hot shoe for adding an external flash. The camera also has built-in Wi-Fi that can be used with Olympus' iOS and Android apps for transferring shots to your smartphone or tablet directly and remote control of the camera.
The Stylus 1 has plenty of shooting options, too, including manual and full manual modes and two custom spots. There's raw image capture, a built-in ND filter, and full-HD movie recording with stereo sound (.MOV) and high-speed movie recording (120fps/240fps) for slow-motion movies.
The look, feel, and controls also seem great. Around the lens barrel is a digital/analog control ring. A lever on the front lets you quickly switch modes: digital mode for fine zooming or manual focusing, or analog mode to adjust settings such as aperture, shutter speed, and more. There's also a variable speed zoom lever on the lens barrel and a button for the pop-up flash. There's a thumb dial on top for easy changes as well as two programmable function buttons, one on back and one on front.
If all of this has you salivating, be sure to check out the slideshow above so you can take a closer look. Otherwise, start saving your $699.99 for when it hits stores in December.