Inside the compact inch-thick body of the Olympus Stylus-9000, the company has selected both a 1/2.33″-type twelve megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 10x optical zoom lens which offers focal length equivalents across a useful range from a 28mm wide angle to a 280mm telephoto. A 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution offers the Stylus-9000’s only option for framing and reviewing images, as there’s no optical viewfinder on this model. The size is a little below the 3.0″ screen of the camera’s Stylus-7000 sibling, but where that model used Olympus’ previous generation of LCD technology, the Stylus-9000 does include a HyperCrystal III display that’s said to offer twice the brightness for better viewing under direct sunlight. Usefully given the telephoto strength on offer, the Olympus 9000 does offer true mechanical image stabilization, – one half of Olympus’ “Dual Image Stabilization” system for fighting blur. The other half is what Olympus refers to as “Digital Image Stabilization” – essentially a setting that causes the camera to raise ISO sensitivity (along with shutter speeds and image noise) in an attempt to freeze motion. ISO sensitivity ranges from a low of ISO 64 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.
The Olympus 9000 employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera’s image sensor, and interestingly the Stylus 9000’s face detection function is linked not only to the autoexposure and autofocus systems, but is also used to assist the camera’s Shadow Adjustment Technology function. We’ve seen Olympus Shadow Adjustment function on the company’s digital SLRs in the past, and here it helps ensuring that your subjects’ faces are captured with appropriate brightness without blowing out the background in backlit scenes. Olympus’ face detection function also allows for tracking of a subject’s face as it moves around the frame, once detected.
A total of 16 scene modes are offered in the Olympus Stylus-9000, allowing users some degree of control over their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. There’s also an Intelligent Auto mode which can automatically select the correct mode from a subset of these – either Portrait, Landscape, Night + Portrait, Macro or Sports. Another interesting feature is a Beauty Mode softens shadows, and smooths wrinkles and blemishes on your subject’s face. It’s also possible to retouch images in-camera after capture using the Beauty Fix mode, and choosing from options such as Clear Skin, Dramatic Eye, or Sparkle Eye. The Olympus 9000 also includes a Smile Shot function which automatically captures three images when your subject smiles.
For viewing images on a high definition television, the Olympus Stylus-9000 has HDMI output connectivity, although the necessary cable to use this feature isn’t included in the package. Images can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection. A rechargeable LI-50B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the Stylus-9000, although information on battery life wasn’t available at press time. Also included is Olympus’ Master 2 software for viewing and modifying photos. Images are stored in a useful 45MB of internal memory, as well as on xD-Picture Card memory cards. As with the company’s other cameras since August 2008, Olympus is also including an MASD-1 microSD to xD-Picture Card adapter in the Stylus-9000’s product bundle, allowing the use of microSD cards in the camera as well.
The Olympus Stylus-9000 will be on offer in the USA from February 2009 with pricing of about $350 – only a $50 premium over the Stylus-7000 for a more useful zoom range, roomier internal memory, and the promise of a more viewable – if slightly smaller – LCD display.