Cameras

Olympus Stylus 830 Digital Camera Review

Read an expert, independent digital camera review of the Olympus Stylus 830 digital camera.

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Testing/Performance

Color*(6.36)

*Have you ever known somebody who owned a camera that always seemed to make people look unattractive in photos? This was likely due to poor color accuracy, which can make skin tones very pale, or extra red. Poor color accuracy affects all other aspects of photos as well, such as sky blues, foliage greens, or sunset colors. We test camera color accuracy by photographing an industry standard GretagMacbeth ColorChecker test chart, and comparing the colors the camera reproduces with the known colors of the test chart. The ColorChecker contains 24 tiles of color from all around the color spectrum.

The image below represents the Olympus Stylus 830’s color accuracy. The outer squares show the colors the Stylus 830 reproduces, the inner squares show the ideal colors of the ColorChecker corrected for luminance, and the small inner rectangles show the ColorChecker colors at a perfectly even exposure. This test is conducted in bright, even studio lights, with the camera set to Tungsten white balance (there is no manual white balance option), resulting in the most accurate colors possible for the camera.

 

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Comparing the outer squares with the inner squares, you can see that not all of the color tiles blend together. Greens and yellows are especially undersaturated. This information is shown more quantitatively in the graph below. The known colors of the ColorChecker are shown as squares on the color spectrum, while the corresponding colors the Stylus 830 reproduces are represented by circles. The length of the lines connecting the circles and squares indicate the amount of color error.

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The graph confirms that several of the yellows and greens are drastically shifted. The blues are shifted too. This amount color error is unacceptable. It will have a visible effect on blue skies and green foliage, making them look unnatural and dulled. Tiles 1 and 2 (which represent skin tones) are significantly shifted towards red, bringing out the red in people’s faces, which is generally not an attractive effect. The combination of erroneous colors results in a poor color score for the Stylus 830.

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**Still Life Sequences

***Click to view the high-resolution image*

**

Resolution***(7.54)*

To test resolution, we photograph an industry standard resolution test chart at varied focal lengths and exposure settings. We run the photos through Imatest, which measures resolution in terms of line widths per picture height (lw/ph), which refer to the number of equally spaced, alternating black and white lines that can fit across the image frame before become blurred.

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Click on the chart above to view the full resolution image

The 8-megapixel Stylus 830 performed best at ISO 64, f/4.2, and a focal length of 12mm. The camera resolved 1810 lw/ph horizontally with 4.1 percent oversharpening, and 1614 lw/ph vertically with 3.4 percent undersharpening. These are impressive numbers, yet despite the small amount of sharpening applied the images still contain some white "ghosting" lines along edges of high contrast. Also, the photos are quite blurry along the bottom of the frame, showing that the camera can’t maintain sharpness across an entire photo. Overall, the Stylus 830 scores well in resolution, but its important to remember edges of photos may be blurry. This is especially important if you plan to make large prints, or crop and enlarge.

Related content

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Noise – Manual ISO*(4.75)*

Noise refers to the ugly grainy or splotchy pattern that shows up in digital photos, especially at high ISO speeds. High noise levels can obscure details in photos. We test noise levels by photographing our test chart under bright even studio lights, at every ISO speed a camera offers. We analyze the photos with Imatest, which measures noise levels in terms of the percentage of image detail it drowns out.

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The Stylus 830 keeps noise levels very low from ISO 64 to 200, but has increased noise at higher ISO speeds. Images taken at high ISO settings show evidence of some noise smoothing, which lowers noise levels but destroys image detail and affects sharpness. Despite this, it’s not as much noise smoothing as some competing cameras. The Stylus 830’s noise is composed almost entirely of broad splotches of color, especially blue. This noise is quite ugly, but not as distracting as some other cameras.

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Noise – Auto ISO*(2.03)

*We also photograph the same brightly lit chart with the camera set to Auto ISO. In our studio lights, the Stylus 830 chose ISO 200, yielding a moderate amount of noise. This camera can be trusted to keep noise levels relatively low when set to Auto ISO.

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White Balance*(5.57)*

A camera's color accuracy relies heavily upon white balance accuracy. All kinds of light sources have different color casts to them, from outdoor sunlight to indoor fluorescents. We test white balance accuracy by photographing the ColorChecker test chart under four different types of light: flash, fluorescent, outdoor shade, and tungsten. We test the auto setting as well as the appropriate presets found in the White Balance menu.

Auto (3.80)

Set to auto white balance, the Stylus 830 is inaccurate under flash, fluorescent, and tungsten lights, but mediocre under outdoor shade. This camera does not white balance well, which results in ugly color casts. The images below show the color casts.

*Preset (7.34)

*Using the presets, the Stylus 830 fares a little better. Under tungsten light, white balance accuracy is still poor, but under white fluorescent light (set to Fluorescent "3") and outdoor shade (set to Cloudy) it is quite accurate. The lesson here is to use the Stylus 830’s white balance presets. They perform much better than the auto white balance setting.

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Low Light*(5.43)*

We saw how the Stylus 830 performs under bright studio lights; now let’s see how color accuracy and noise levels fare when the lights are dimmed. We test low light performance by photographing the ColorChecker chart at light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. 60 lux is about as bright as a room lit softly by two table lamps, 30 lux corresponds to a room lit solely by a 40 watt bulb, 15 lux is as bright as a room lit by a television screen, and 5 lux is quite dark and tests the limits of a camera’s sensor. All shots are taken at ISO 400.

The Stylus 830 cannot properly expose at 5 lux, showing its limits in low light. Color accuracy is very good in low light, surprisingly better than its accuracy in bright light. Noise levels are quite high, though, and show that you should keep the ISO speed as low as you can.

We also test low light performance for long exposures at ISO 400, but the Stylus 830 can only slow its shutter to 0.5 seconds at this ISO speed (it can go only as long as 4 seconds in Night Scene mode). This is not a good camera to use for long exposure experimentation. Overall, the Stylus 830 scores worse than average for low light due to its 5 lux limit, high noise levels, and limited long exposure ability.

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Dynamic Range* (6.44)*

Dynamic range is an important factor in image quality that describes how well a camera can discern detail in high contrast scenes. This is especially important for wedding photos (white dress and black tux) and outdoor landscapes or portraits in bright sunlight (bright highlights and dark shadows). Cameras with poor dynamic range will blow out highlights and leave shadows completely black, while cameras with good dynamic range will show detail in both. We test dynamic range by photographing a backlit Stouffer test chart at all ISO speeds. The Stouffer chart is made of a row of gray rectangles ranging from brightest white to darkest black. The more rectangles the camera can distinguish, the better its dynamic range.

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The Stylus 830 has very good dynamic range from ISO 64 to 200, but its performance falters at higher ISO speeds. Dynamic range is closely associated with noise levels, which obscure image detail, especially in dark areas of a photo. Overall, the Stylus 830 has impressive dynamic range, and scores well compared to other cameras we have tested this year.

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Speed/Timing – All speed tests are conducted using an Olympus 256MB xD-Picture Card, with the camera set to SHQ, unless otherwise noted.

*Startup to First Shot (8.4)

*The Stylus 830 turns on and fires its first shot in 1.6 seconds, which is quite speedy. This is great for those moments when you need to capture something unexpected.

Shot-to-Shot (9.1)

In its normal Burst mode, the Stylus 830 takes 3 shots, each 0.9 seconds apart. This isn't very quick; there are other point-and-shoots on the market that shoot 2 frames per second (fps) for longer durations. The Stylus 830 also has a HI Burst mode, which takes shots every 0.2 seconds for 25 shots. However, HI mode is only available at a reduced image resolution. 

Shutter-to-Shot (9.0)

The camera has no measurable lag when the shutter is held halfway down and prefocused, but a lag of 0.4 seconds when not prefocused.

Processing (5.2)

It takes 2.4 seconds to fully process one 3.2 MB SHQ shot taken at ISO 100.

Video Performance* (3.70)*

Bright Light – 3000 lux

We test video quality by capturing footage of our color charts, lit to 3000 lux. Under these bright tungsten lights, the Stylus 830 suffers from extreme color error when set to auto white balance. Luckily, white balance can be adjusted in Movie mode. Noise levels are very low at 3000 lux.

Low Light – 30 lux

With the lights dimmed, the Stylus 830 has better color accuracy, though it is still poor. Noise levels, however, stay quite low in low light despite the difficulty the camera has exposing.

Resolution

We also record footage of the resolution chart lit to 1700 lux. In Movie mode, the camera resolves 175 lw/ph horizontally with 11.7 percent undersharpening, and 409 lw/ph vertically with 0.4 percent oversharpening. These are very low numbers, even for video, and you can see the poor resolution in the crops below.

*Outdoor Motion *

We took the Stylus 830 out of the lab to record footage on the street to see how it handles motion of moving cars and pedestrians. The 830’s video shows many of the video quality problems we see in digital camera video these days: streaky highlights, flashing exposure, stuttery motion, soft focus, and dull colors. The bright side is that the camera exposes quite accurately. Yet these issues, coupled with the fact that the Stylus 830 can only take videos as long as 10 seconds at full resolution, means that you should look elsewhere for a camera to shoot videos.

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Components

Viewfinder*(0.0)

*Many manufacturers, including Olympus, are forgoing viewfinders on slim point-and-shoots in favor of LCD monitors. While viewfinders are useful in certain situations, such as when taking photos outdoors in bright sunlight (which makes it difficult to see the screen) for the most part, viewfinders on point-and-shoots are becoming a thing of the past.

LCD Screen*(7.5)*

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The 2.5-inch HyperCrystal LCD is used to compose shots and as a menu display. Its 230,000-pixel resolution provides a crisp, smooth view. The screen withstands extreme viewing angles, to the left, right, above, and below eyelevel. LCDs with low resolution, slow refresh rates, or limited viewing angles look pixelated, choppy, and solarize at extreme angles, factors which make it difficult to show images to a group of friends standing around the camera or check for focus while reviewing images.

Sometimes LCDs are difficult to see outdoors because the direct sunlight overpowers the screen’s brightness or its shiny surface reflects the surrounding scenery. To combat these issues, Olympus included an anti-glare coating and five brightness levels, accessed through the Setup menu.

While in Shooting mode, various amounts of shooting information can be displayed on the screen by pressing the DISP button. When shooting information is displayed, pressing the shutter button down halfway brings the aperture and shutter speed. The live histogram, which warns when part of a scene is underexposed or overexposed, helps the user select the proper exposure for a scene.

Olympus’s Perfect Shot Preview, also included in other Olympus models, displays the effects of various settings on an image. Perfect Shot Preview is accessed by turning the mode dial to Guide and selecting "Shoot w/ effects preview." Users may select from the following effects: zoom, exposure, color, metering, and movie smoothness. The various effects of different settings on the scene are displayed in a quadrant of thumbnails. Users can select the desired setting from this menu or from the Camera or Function menus. This is a somewhat useful feature, but it takes several steps to access, more than many might be willing to take to change a setting.

The Stylus 830’s LCD screen meets what is becoming a standard size and resolution for point-and-shoots. Some point-and-shoots, such as the Sony T100 and the Panasonic TZ3 have 3-inch monitors, but those are somewhat of a luxury; 2.5 inches is suitable for shooting and reviewing images.

Flash*(6.25)*

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The built-in flash has a reported range of .66 to 11.8 feet when the lens is zoomed out and 2 to 7.9 feet when it is zoomed in, when the camera is set to Auto ISO. The flash doesn’t reach very far, especially considering Olympus’s reported range is likely at an ISO setting somewhere in the middle of the range, which makes the camera more sensitive to light.

The flash is located to the top left of the lens. Its placement is dangerously close to where the middle finger of the right hand wraps around the camera. Its position, though not as poor as if it were placed the right side of the lens, still makes it vulnerable to being blocked. The flash illuminates unevenly. The center portion of the frame is brighter than the edges. If you're taking photos of people, they will be noticeably brighter than the background.

The Stylus 830 has basic flash settings: auto, red-eye reduction, fill-in, and off. The red-eye reduction setting fires off a pre-flash to shrink the subjects’ pupils, lessening the reflection off the retina, which causes eyes to appear red in photos. In contrast to the auto setting, the fill-in setting will fire the flash no matter the lighting condition, even in bright light. This feature can be used to "fill in" shadows on subjects’ faces in brightly lit scenes, producing a more flattering effect.

The Olympus Stylus 830’s flash options are nothing fancy. In this price range, the Canon PowerShot A720 IS perhaps sets the benchmark with a full array of flash options including slow synchro, and first and second curtain sync modes, as well as flash compensation. The Stylus A830’s will satisfy basic flash needs, but those who want to be experimental with their flash should consider the A720 IS.

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Zoom Lens(7.75)

The 5x optical zoom Olympus lens has a 35mm equivalent range of 36 to 180mm, the same as its predecessor, the Stylus 780. The lens is comprised of eight lenses in six groups, with four aspherical lenses. When the camera is powered off, the lens retracts into the body and is covered by two metals plates that snap closed. The lens protrudes about a quarter of an inch from the front face. When the camera is powered on, the lens extends about an inch from the camera body in three tiers.

The 5x zoom lens gives users a little more reach than the typical 3x point-and-shoot lens, which is great for capturing the action from your seat at a small concert venue, for instance. But the wide end of the lens isn’t, well, wide. If you’re taking pictures of a large group, such as a children’s baseball team, you may have to back up (hopefully not into other eager parents) to fit everyone in. The Panasonic TZ3 has a wider and longer 10x optical zoom lens, with a 35mm equivalent range of 28-280mm.

The lens is controlled by the zoom toggle on the camera’s back. When engaged, a vertical bar appears on the right of the LCD screen to indicate to the user where they are in the zoom range. The lens makes a lot of mechanical noise as it zooms through the range. It’s an annoying sound, like a fly buzzing around your head. The lens stops at about 12 focal lengths zooming in and out.

The camera’s 5.6x digital zoom can be turned on and off in the Camera menu, but it should be avoided. Digital zoom simply magnifies images, with no regard for image quality. When digital zoom is activated, the top portion of the zoom bar turns red. Red, perhaps, to warn users not to go there. Don’t.

The maximum aperture when the lens is zoomed out is f/3.3 and f/5.0 when zoomed in. Competing cameras, such as the Panasonic LZ7, Canon A720 IS and A650 IS have wider apertures, which allows more light to hit the sensor. Wide apertures are useful when shooting in low light without a flash.

The Stylus 830 includes Olympus’s Dual Image Stabilization system, something its predecessor did not have. The system combines sensor-shift stabilization to combat camera shake, and high ISO settings that allow for faster shutter speeds to freeze moving subjects. Neither the Stylus 820 nor the 1200, the step down and step up models to the 830, have sensor-shift stabilization.  Sensor-shift stabilization and optical image stabilization systems literally shift a part of the camera or lens to counteract camera shake, which can cause blurry photos, especially in dim lighting when the camera selects slower shutter speeds; this is a highly desirable feature, especially for longer zoom lenses. The Stylus 830’s image stabilization is activated by pressing the designated button located next to the shutter button and then the ok/func button.

With the addition of sensor-shift image stabilization, the Stylus 830’s lens is a step up from its predecessor. Its lens is a little longer than the standard 3x lens found on most point-and-shoots. But if a long zoom is among your most desired features, consider the $299.95 Panasonic TZ3, which has a 10x optically stabilized zoom lens. 

Design / Layout

 

Model Design / Appearance*(6.75)*

The Olympus Stylus 830 has the same indistinguishable, utilitarian design as many cameras currently on store shelves. The plastic body is not an eye-catcher, but it is available in green, black, silver, blue, and orange, which dress it up a bit. Olympus markets the Stylus 830 as weatherproof, which basically means it won’t be damaged by a few rain droplets. Don’t be fooled by this feature; it is certainly not in the same class as the waterproof Olympus Stylus SW series or the Pentax W30.

Size / Portability* (7.0)*

The Stylus 830 is slimmer than many mid-range zoom models. It measures 3.9 x 2.2 x .94 inches and weighs 4.4 ounces without the battery and memory card. It can be easily stowed away in a back pocket or small purse or dangle from a wrist with the included wrist strap without discomfort.

Handling Ability*(5.0)*

Handling is an area where the Olympus Stylus 830 falls short. It’s light enough to hold with one hand, but there isn’t much to hang onto. The horizontal grip on the camera’s front and circle of divots on the camera’s back don’t improve handling all that much. While some of the Stylus 830’s competitors’ bodies aren’t as thin, they have bulging right handgrips, which make the camera easier to hold.

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Control Buttons / Dial Positioning / Size*(7.25)*

On the camera’s top are the power, shutter release, and image stabilizer buttons. The image stabilizer button is where the shutter release button is on most digital cameras. Its placement in between the image stabilizer and power buttons and its small size may cause some finger fumbling.

At the top of the camera’s back are the mode dial and zoom toggle. Many point-and-shoots’ zoom toggles surround the shutter button, which is a logical placement because it is in convenient reach of the index finger. The user has to bend their thumb at an odd angle to reach the zoom toggle, which is not very comfortable, especially if shooting for an extended period of time. To the right of the zoom toggle is the mode dial, another component that is on the top of many other digital cameras. The Stylus 830’s mode dial is too small and its placement makes it difficult to turn.

Beneath the zoom toggle and mode dial is the square four-way controller and flanking pairs of levers, labeled with icons that turn glow-stick green when pressed. This will be useful when shooting at night or in a dark bar, for instance. The four-way controller and surrounding buttons are well spaced and easily distinguishable.

Menu*(7.0)*

Menus are an area where Olympus has struggled in the past and the Stylus 830’s menus are no exception. It’s a good thing there’s a Function menu, accessed by pushing the ok/func button in the middle of the four-way controller. The Function menu is a truncated version of the Camera menu. It gives users easy access to commonly used functions such as white balance and ISO.

Pressing the menu button to the top left of the four-way controller brings up a screen of six icons, each representing a submenu: Reset, Image Quality, Setup, Silent mode, Scene, and Camera menu. Selecting one of the submenus leads to a list-style menu with numbered tabs on the left. A descriptive icon would be much more helpful to the user than a number.

When the camera is set to Playback mode and the menu button pushed a different set of submenus is displayed. Options are as follows: Slideshow, Edit, Print order, Perfect Fix, Playback menu, Setup, Add Favorite, Erase, and Silent mode.

Ease of Use*(7.0)

*The Auto mode, more than a dozen Scene modes, Shooting Guide, and camera settings explained with a touch of the "?" button make it easy to take a picture and learn a little something too. However, some of the buttons and controls are either poorly placed are hard to operate and the menus are a mess, which makes operating the Stylus 830 more of an annoyance than a challenge.

Modes

Auto Mode(7.0)

The Olympus Stylus 830 has a full Auto mode as well as a Program mode. The modes are accessible in the Function menu. The Auto mode limits selectable settings to image quality, exposure compensation, flash settings, self-timer, and macro focus. The camera automatically selects other settings.

The Program mode is mostly automated, but gives users access to white balance, ISO, drive, and metering in the Function menu.  Users may choose to manually select options or set them to auto. Additionally, Autofocus mode and the panorama feature can be set in the Camera menu.

**

**Movie Mode (7.0)

The Stylus 830 records AVI Motion JPEG with sound. There are three resolutions available: SHQ (640 x 480) at 30 frames per second (fps), HQ (320 x 140) at 15fps, and SQ (160 x 120) at 15fps. Movies shot at 15fps have a stuttery look; the 30fps setting is more desirable because it makes for smoother footage. Some cameras, such as the Canon PowerShot A720 IS and A650 IS offer multiple resolutions at 30fps, which gives the user more flexibility.

There are severe restrictions to how long Movies can be recorded. At the highest resolution, only 10 seconds can be recorded continuously to a 1GB memory card. When set to the lower resolutions, up to 29 minutes of continuous video can be recorded. To compare the Canon PowerShot A720 IS can record up to one hour or 4GB at its top resolution and the Panasonic TZ3 can record up to 2GB.

White balance and metering can be adjusted in Movie mode, but optical zoom is disabled. Digital zoom is available, but we suggest physically moving closer to the image instead of using digital zoom because it degrades image quality. The Sony T100, which sells for $70 more than the Stylus 830, also has a 5x optical zoom lens, but it’s fully functional in the Movie mode, which makes a huge difference in quality.

The Stylus 830’s Movie mode could use some work. If a Movie mode is high on your features priority list, it’s best to consider another camera, like the Sony T100.

Drive / Burst Mode(5.75)

There are high and normal speed Burst modes, accessed through either the Function or Camera menus. The normal Burst mode snaps a pretty slow 1fps for up to six images at full resolution. The high speed Burst mode snaps away at 3.9fps for up to 11 images, but at reduced resolution. After a series of images are taken, it takes about 3 seconds to write to the memory card.

Playback Mode(7.25)

In-camera editing features are on the rise in digital cameras, allowing users to improve their photos without the use of a computer. The Casio Exilim EX-V8, for instance, offers color correction, brightness adjustments, and dynamic range editing tools. The Stylus 830’s Playback mode, however, is primarily for viewing images, not editing them.

When the camera is set to Playback mode and the menu button pushed, icons representing the following submenus are displayed: Slideshow, Edit, Print order, Perfect Fix, Playback menu, Setup, Add Favorite, Erase, and Silent mode.

Images can be viewed individually or in groups of 4, 9, 16, or 25. The calendar display groups images by the date they were taken. Images can be magnified up to 10x to check details and for focus.  

Various amounts of image information can be displayed by pressing the disp. button. Images can be displayed without information; with shooting information and a histogram; with date, time, and file number; or with shooting information and the date and time information.

The slideshow feature is basic; the transitions can be changed and the department-store like background music can be turned on or off. That’s it. The slideshow’s duration can’t be changed and users are stuck with the cheesy background music.

The following color effects can be applied to images: black and white, sepia, saturation (high), saturation (low). Edited images are saved as a new file, rather than overwriting the original. Other cameras allow users to fine tune both saturation and contrast.

Olympus’s Perfect Fix feature brightens shadows in backlit images and/or corrects red eye. Users may choose to apply one or both effects to an image.

Movies can be played back with VCR-like control. Clips can be fast forwarded and rewound at various speeds and the volume can be turned up or down.

Overall, the Olympus’s Stylus 830’s Playback mode is suitable for reviewing images, but other cameras offer more editing options for both still images and movie clips.

**Custom Image Presets **(8.0)

The Stylus camera offers a robust selection of Scene modes, including the basics such a Portrait, Landscape, and Night scene. The 23 Scene modes are as follows: Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self-portrait, Available light portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Behind glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Beach & snow, Underwater wide 1, Underwater wide 2, and Underwater macro.  The underwater modes require underwater housing.

The Scene modes are accessed by turning the mode dial to the SCN position, pressing the menu button, selecting the scene submenu, and choosing the appropriate Scene mode. That’s four steps and that’s a lot compared to most cameras. Many cameras’ primary Scene modes, such as Portrait and Landscape, have a position on the mode dial.

 

Control Options

Manual Control Options

The Olympus Stylus 830 is primarily an automatic camera. For point-and-shooters not interested in manual controls, this is acceptable, but for those looking to grow and learn with a camera, there are similarly priced and featured cameras available, such and the Canon PowerShot A720 IS, that offer a host of manual controls.**

**

Focus

Autofocus (7.0)

The Stylus 830 has a CCD Contrast Detection autofocus system. There are three autofocus modes: face detect, iESP, and spot.

The face detection mode is somewhat slow to find faces. Once it does, a green box appears around the face. If the subject turns their face to the side, up, or down, the face detection loses track of it. The Sony T100 has superior face detection.

Though it performs adequately in bright light, the autofocus isn’t the quickest around and struggles to focus on low contrast subjects.

The 830 can focus from 27.6 inches to infinity normally. In Macro mode it can focus from 7.9 inches to infinity when the lens is zoomed out and 23.6 inches to infinity when it is zoomed in. In Super Macro mode the camera can focus from 1.2 to 27.6 inches. The Super Macro mode allows users to capture small objects, like jewelry, and though it makes a bug-like buzz while focus achieved, it’s effective.

Manual Focus (0.0)

The Stylus 830 cannot be manually focused.

**ISO **(7.5)

When the Stylus 830 is set to the Auto mode, the camera automatically chooses the appropriate ISO. The High Auto setting, available when the camera is in the Program shooting mode, sets the camera to higher sensitivities, thereby increasing shutter speed, to reduce the effects on images caused by the user’s shaky hands.

The manual ISO sensitivity range spans from 64 to 1600 ISO. ISO can be adjusted by the user when the camera is set to the Program mode. The ISO menu is accessible by the Function and Camera menus. ISO is not adjustable in Movie mode.

White Balance **(6.5)

**The White Balance menu is found in both the Function and Camera menus. It can be changed by the user in the Program shooting and Movie modes. The Olympus Stylus 830 has an Auto and six preset white balance settings. The presets are: Sunny, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent lamp 1 (for daylight fluorescent), Fluorescent lamp 2 (for neutral white fluorescent), and Fluorescent lamp 3 (for white fluorescent). The multiple fluorescent presets are a plus, but there is no custom white balance setting, which usually produces the most accurate white balance. Read about how accurate the Stylus 830’s white balance is in the Testing/Performance section of this review.

**Exposure **(8.0)

The Olympus Stylus 830 has several features that allow users to adjust exposure. Typical of many point-and-shoots, the Stylus 830’s exposure can be adjusted +/- 2 in 1/3 EV step increments. This feature can be used in the Auto, Program, and Movie modes.

Exposure compensation is accessed by pressing the top of the four-way controller. With most cameras, a horizontal bar appears on top of a live view to show the user where they are in the range and each step’s effect on a given scene’s brightness or darkness. The Stylus 830, however, displays a quadrant of thumbnails that show the exposure at each step. This is great for previewing the effects of different settings on images side by side.

The Auction Scene mode is actually a bracketing mode. It takes three photos in succession with the exposure compensation set to 0.0, 0.7, and +0.7. This saves users time when trying to get the proper exposure for a product photo, for instance.

The live histogram is a helpful inclusion that can be displayed on the LCD monitor while shooting. It warns users of over- and underexposed portions of a scene so they can make the appropriate adjustments.  Olympus’s Shadow Adjustment feature, part of Olympus's "Perfect Fix," lightens only areas of an image that are too dark, a common problem and useful fix for backlit scenes.

**Metering **(7.5)

There are three metering options: digital ESP, spot, and face detection AE (when face detection is activated). Digital ESP and spot metering are selectable in both the Function and Camera menus. Digital ESP meters from the entire frame and is recommended for photographing most scenes.

Spot metering reads from a small portion of the center of the frame and is ideal photographing a person standing in front of a window, for instance. If the camera based its meter reading on the entire scene, it would expose for the bright part of the image, leaving the subject dark. The spot meter tells the camera to base its reading only from a small portion of the scene and provides better overall exposure.

Shutter Speed(0.0)

The Olympus Stylus 830 has a 1/2000 to 1/2 second shutter speed range. In the Night scene mode, the shutter speed lengthens to 4 seconds.

Aperture(0.0)

The maximum aperture at the wide end of the zoom range is f/3.3 and f/5.0 at the telephoto end. Many cameras have wider maximum apertures of f/2.8 at the wide end of the lens, which lets more light hit the sensor.

Image Parameters

Picture Quality / Size Options (7.5)

The Olympus 830 has 8 megapixels spread across a 1/2.35-inch CCD sensor. It records JPEG files with a high resolution of 3264 x 2448, good for prints up to 16.5 x 11.7 inches. Users can choose from a variety of image sizes, outlined below. Images can be sized appropriately for prints or the Web. The 16:9 option is for landscapes and viewing images on widescreen televisions. Users can’t choose the amount of compression applied to the file.

Picture Effects Mode*(6.5)

*A limited number of picture effects are available in the Playback mode. The Color Edit menu is a submenu of the Edit menu. Images can be converted to black & white or sepia and saturation can be bumped up or down, for more vibrant or muted images. Comparatively, the Stylus 830 doesn’t offer much in this area. Competing cameras, such as the Casio Exilim EX-V8, have more options that can be activated before or after shooting. There is also fine tuning for contrast, saturation, and sharpness, allowing users to bypass post-processing on a computer.

Connectivity / Extras

Connectivity

Software*(8.5)*

The Stylus 830 camera is equipped with Olympus Master 2 software for Windows or Macintosh operating systems that includes an online user registration and a free trial version of Olympus muvee threatrePack, a video editing software. The CD-Rom installation took about 10 minutes.

The tool icons are easy to view and easy to use. There are 12 different tools on the top tool bar; Transfer, Slideshow, Muvee Theatre, Email, Print, Edit, RAW, Panorama, Options, Update/Language, Quick Guide and Help.

The left side of the screen is a drop down menu that allows users to view or sort their pictures and videos by album, folder, or date of transfer through a timeline or calendar. When in the editing mode, the bottom tool bar is adjustable to accommodate users. There, camera images that have been saved to either an album or a folder, as well as selected images, can be viewed in small or large formats.

Olympus Master 2 software editing tools include: resize, crop, insert text, brightness and contrast, color balance, tone curve gamma, auto tone correction, hue and saturation, monochrome and sepia, sharpness and blur, distortion correction, and red-eye reduction. There are step-by-step instructions on editing in the Quick Guide menu for new users.

In the Panorama mode, another feature that’s simple to use, users simply drag and drop the photos to be stitched together into the black rectangular box. Then, click the "Stitch" button on the bottom right corner of the screen and watch your photos be instantly transformed into a panoramic image. The same drag and drop motion can be applied when creating an index print in the Print Menu. The Olympus Master 2 software is very straightforward and informative in assisting photographers at any level.

Jacks, ports, plugs (4.0)

There is a single jack on the camera’s left side for USB and AV out connections. It’s covered by a plastic cover that easily snaps in and out of the camera body.

Direct Print Options (6.0)

Images can be directly printed from the camera using a PictBridge-compatible printer. In the Playback mode, in the Print Order menu, users can choose how many prints to make of each image, from 1 to 10.

Battery (6.5)

The Olympus Stylus 830 accepts a rechargeable Olympus lithium ion battery (LI-42B or LI-40B). According to Olympus’s specifications, the battery takes five hours to fully charge.

Memory (2.0)

The Stylus 830 comes with 14.8MB internal memory and accepts 1 and 2GB xD-Picture Cards. This type of memory card is unique to Olympus and Fujifilm. An Olympus-specific xD –Picture card must be used with the panorama feature. SD memory cards are more widely available and used.

**Other Features (6.5)

**Pixel mapping – This feature checks over the image sensor to make sure its still functioning at its best. Located in the Setup menu, Olympus recommends running it once a year.

Overall Impressions

Value (5.0)

The Stylus 830 has a longer lens than most slim-bodied point-and-shoots, we’ll give it that. And it comes in a bunch of colors, if that’s your bag. But in this price range are compact cameras with longer zoom lenses and similarly built slim models with standard 3x zoom lenses that have superior image quality. For us, image quality reigns superior to the 5x zoom and weatherproof body.  There are better options available for the same price or for less than $100 more.

Comparisons

A720IS.jpg
Canon PowerShot A720 IS – Though the PowerShot A720 IS is part of Canon’s budget line, the 8-megapixel A720 IS incorporates some nice components and features typically reserved for pricier cameras. A 6x optically stabilized zoom lens, face detection, and manual controls are among the highlights. Comparatively, the cameras have the same size LCD screen, but the 830’s has more resolution. The A720 IS has a slightly longer zoom lens – 6x versus the 830’s 5x zoom. The A720 IS has an extensive amount of flash options, while the Stylus 830 only offers basic flash controls. If portability is a priority, the Stylus 830 is the clear winner, as it can easily slide into a pocket and is weather-resistant. The A720 IS is bulky and heavy. The Stylus is offered in several colors while the PowerShot comes in silver. The A720 had an introductory price of $249.99.

A650IS.jpg
Canon PowerShot A650 IS – This model is a step up from the Canon PowerShot A720 IS in features and price. The 12-megapixel PowerShot A650 IS has a 6x optically stabilized zoom lens, 2.5-inch fold-out LCD screen, and face detection. The LCD screen has less resolution than the 830’s; 173,000 pixels versus 230,000 pixels. The A650 IS offers a range of flash options and host of manual and automatic shooting modes. Like the A720 IS, it has a bulky body, with a protruding right hand grip. The added resolution, LCD’s fold-out capabilities, and longer zoom lens contribute to its $399 price tag, $70 more than the Stylus 830.

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Panasonic LZ7 – The LZ7, introduced in January 2007, has some of the same features as the Olympus Stylus 830, but costs about $130 less. The 7.2-megapixel Panasonic camera has a 6x optically stabilized zoom lens. Similar to Olympus’s Dual Image Stabilization, Panasonic’s MEGA O.I.S. combines high ISO sensitivities with optical image stabilization. The LZ7 has a 2.5-inch LCD, but it has less resolution than the Stylus 830. The LZ7 lacks face detection and the weatherproof body of the Stylus 830.

TZ3.jpg
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 – This model offers a 10x optically stabilized zoom lens, 7.2-megapixel resolution, and a high sensitivity mode for $299.95. The lens reaches much further than the Stylus 830’s and at its widest, the lens is equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm format. The wide angle is useful for shooting expansive landscapes or large groups of people. In comparison, the Stylus 830’s lens’s wide end is equivalent to 36mm. The TZ3 has a 3-inch LCD monitor with 230,000-pixel resolution versus the Stylus 830’s 2.5-inch monitor. The TZ3 is almost twice as thick as the Stylus 830, so it won’t fit in most pockets. The TZ3 lacks face detection.

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Casio Exilim V8 - The 8.1-megapixel V8 was announced in August 2007 at the same $329 introductory price as the Stylus 830. The V8 has a 7x non-extending optical zoom lens, longer than the 830’s 5x zoom. According to Casio, it is the "world’s slimmest digital camera with a 7x optical zoom." Like the 830, the V8 has a 2.5-inch LCD, but it has slightly higher resolution; 230,400 pixels versus the 830’s 230,000 pixels. The V8 has other features in common with the Stylus 830, such as face detection and mechanical image stabilization. The YouTube Capture mode optimizes video clips for the Web.

Sony DSC-T100 – This is another of the few slim-bodied models with a 5x zoom lens. At $399, the Sony T100 costs $70 more than the Olympus Stylus 830, but there are justifiable reasons for the higher price. The 8.1-megapixel T100 has a stellar 3-inch LCD screen, the stabilized zoom lens is fully functional in the Movie mode, and it has a snappy Burst mode. These are areas where the T100 notably outperforms the Stylus 830. The T100 is a really sexy camera; its slim body and big LCD are sure to turn heads. The T100 has customizable slideshows, a wide ISO range, effective face detection, and HD viewing capabilities. All these factors combined make it a better option than the Stylus 830, if you have the money to spare.

Conclusion

Conclusion

If portability and a mid-range zoom lens are of equal concern to you, the 8-megapixel Stylus 830 may at first glance be very attractive. The Olympus Stylus 830 has a slim body like many other point-and-shoots, but its 5x zoom lens reaches beyond the standard 3x. There are similarly priced models with longer zoom lens, but they’re not as thin.

However, a look beyond the specs reveals the Stylus 830 struggles with image quality. The camera suffers from poor color and white balance accuracy. Additionally, there is noticeable blurriness at the bottom of the picture frame, and it has a flawed, limited Movie mode. We prefer good image quality over portability.

There are a few highlights, namely the Dual Image Stabilization System, good resolution and dynamic range, and a bunch of user-friendly features. But when it comes down to it, there are better options in the $300 to $400 price range.

Sample Photos

Sample Photos

Click to view the high resolution images

 

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Specs / Ratings

Specs Table

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