Testing / Performance
*In order to test the accuracy of colors generated by the Stylus 500, we analyzed several images of our GretagMacbeth color chart using Imatest Imaging Software. The software highlights the degree in which each tone varies from the corresponding ideal. Below is a modified chart, portraying the Stylus 500’s color reproduction capabilities. For each color tile, the outer square represents the color produced by the Stylus 500, while the smaller, inner rectangle is the ideal tone. The inner squares are color corrected versions of the camera’s produced tones, appearing as they would after alteration in an external software application.
The chart below expresses the same information as above in a more direct manor. The squares are the Stylus 500’s produced colors, while the circles are the ideal. The line linking the two shapes expresses the degree of error; the longer the line is connecting the two, the less accurate that particular tone.
The Olympus Stylus 500 relies on its TruePic Turbo image processor for accurate color representation and tonal reproduction. Unfortunately, with an 84.48% color saturation value and 10.5 mean color error score, the processor led the Stylus 500 astray, earning just a 6.07 overall color score. This is significantly lower than the Stylus 410's 9.16 overall color score. This decline is a bit disconcerting considering the Stylus 500's higher price tag, glorified marketing campaign and additional specifications.
In addition to the lack of color accuracy, the Stylus 500's 84.48% mean saturation score is substantially lower than most point-and-shoots on the market, a majority of which opt to oversaturate colors rather than diffuse them. Over-saturated colors will often lead the image to appear more vibrant, while under-saturated tones will often come across as muddy and drab. Observing images produced by the Stylus 500, the colors instantly lack the 'striking' feel of many similarly-priced cameras on the market. While the produced images were sharp, the colors were not.
**Still Life Scene
**Below is a copy of our majestic still life scene captured with the Olympus Stylus 500.
Click on the above image to view a full resolution version (CAUTION: the linked file is very large!)](../viewer.php?picture=Stylus500-StillLifeLG.jpg)
Resolution / Sharpness*(4.26)
*To evaluate the efficiency of the Stylus 500’s CCD sensor, we recorded several exposures of an industry resolution chart and ran the results though Imatest Imaging Software. The software detects the actual pixels used in forming the recorded images. We contrast these scores with the camera’s maximum advertised resolution and report a percentage of pixel used. When cameras actively utilize 70% of their potential pixels, it is regarded as a "good" score. When this value reaches 80-85%, it is considered "very good" and when the rare camera exceeds 90%, it is deemed "excellent."
Click on the above image to view the full res. image](../viewer.php?picture=Stylus500-ResCH-LG.jpg)
What the Stylus 500 lacks in color production, it makes up for in sharpness. The camera packs an efficient 5-megapixel 1/2.5-inch CCD and TruePic Turbo image processor, helping provide ample resolution for making up to 11 x 14-inch prints. In practice, we found that the Olympus Stylus 500 recorded images (at its largest image size) with 4.26 active pixels, this is 87% of its advertised resolution and a very good score - also a vast improvement from the dismal 66% score attached to the Stylus 410.
**Noise – Auto ISO ***(5.86)
*As a straight-forward point-and-shoot camera, the Olympus Stylus 500 will be relied on by many automatically-oriented users to produce proper exposures with minimal noise. With a general ISO range of 64-400, users should have some shooting flexibility with indoor shooting available when ample lighting is provided. The Stylus 500 earned a 5.86 automatic ISO score. This is actually quite good for a point-and-shoot camera. When tested in our controlled lighting setup (over 400 Lux), the Stylus 500 avoided a common flaw of many compact digital cameras in underestimating the available light. Many cameras will inaccurately read the scene and adjust the ISO value to a much higher rating than is necessary. The result is increased noise and decreased image quality because of the pushed sensitivity ratings. The Stylus 500 fortunately did not fall into this trap, accurately reading the scene and producing images that parallel the camera’s performance in our manual ISO tests at ISO 80.
Noise – Manual ISO*(6.51)*
While noise is inevitable in digital photography, some cameras are better at suppressing the monochromatic speckles. The Stylus 500 offers ISO ratings of 64, 100, 200, and 400. We tested the produced noise at each sensitivity rating and plotted the results on the graph below. The available ISO settings are placed along the horizontal X-axis, while the noise produced by the Stylus 500 is plotted on the vertical Y-axis.
As the above chart indicates, the Olympus Stylus 500 performed admirably when manually setting the ISO values. The camera produced smooth images with little distortion using the 64, 100, and 200 ISO ratings. There is a significant jump when switched to the ISO 400 setting; however, for a point-and-shoot camera, a good deal of clarity is retained.
Low Light Performance*(5.5)*
We tested the Olympus Stylus 500’s low light recording capabilities by exposing a series of images at decreasing light values. The images were captured without the assistance of a flash, with the camera set to its highest ISO rating. The low light test indicates how sensitive the image sensor is to light. The sequence of charts will help to illustrate the camera’s low light and night recording potential and pinpoint the camera’s point of limitation.
To simulate the camera’s performance is common low light shooting conditions, the Stylus 500 was tested at 60, 30, 15 and 5 Lux; 60 Lux appears to the eye as a bedroom might after dark, while 30 Lux is roughly the illumination given off from a single 40 watt lightbulb and 5 and 15 Lux indicate the camera’s recording potential in near dark situations.
With a limited ISO range and lack of control over shutter speed, the Stylus 500 is not a very strong low light performer. The camera can handle 60 Lux, but that’s about it. When the available light dips down to 30 Lux, colors lose their distinction and begin to bleed into one another. Throughout the low light tests, noise levels were extremely high, even at 60 Lux. At 30 Lux and below, image clarity substantially waned and the photos become coated with a sandpaper-like texture, making objects difficult to define.I would not recommend using this camera much without a flash unless shooting outdoors or under heavy fluorescent lighting.
Speed / Timing
Startup to First Shot (7.87)
The compact Olympus Stylus takes an average 2.13 seconds to start up and capture its first shot. This is significantly faster than the Stylus 410, largely due to the electronic lens cover. The lens cap snaps away from the lens and zoom extends quickly, but it still takes 2.13 seconds to grab that first exposure.
Shot to Shot Time (8.39)
The camera automatically sets itself to a highly compressed picture size, so in that mode, it takes the camera 0.61 seconds between shots. It can do this for 11 pictures before it takes a 5 second rest. When I set the camera to its finest resolution, it took only slightly longer at 0.7 seconds between shots for 5 consecutive pictures.
*Shutter to Shot Time (8.52) *
There is a bit of shutter lag on the Stylus 500. The camera pauses for 0.24 seconds from the time the user pushes the shutter release button to the time the picture is captured.