Olympus Announces Smart Flagship VH-520

Olympus Europe has announced the crème de la crème of its Smart-series Stylus point & shoot digital cameras. The Stylus VH-520 appears to focus on low-light capabilities and Olympus goes as far as to call it "semi-pro tech". But since it has a TruePic V processor originally developed for the company's DSLRs, we won't protest.

There's a 14 Megapixel CMOS sensor, which is a bit on the small side at 1/2.3''. However manual ISO does go up to 6400 so it remains to be seen just how good this little sensor is. The optical zoom is 10x with a 35mm focal length equivalent of 26 - 260mm. Aperture is only 3.3 - 6.1 but makes up for it with lens-shift (mechanical) image stabilization There's also 1080p Full HD movie recording with stereo sound and 240fps or 120fps video capture (unfortunately at an unknown resolution) for playback in slow-motion. And finally the screen size is 7.6cm / 3.0'' with a resolution of 460k dots.

Considering the low price and the fact that this camera should (in theory at least) take far better pictures than most high-end smartphones out there, we're hard-pressed to find anything to complain about. According to Olympus the Stylus VH-520 will cost €149.99 and be available in Europe in late April - in brown, black, white, red, purple or blue. We're quite sure Netflix, Ferrari and Vodafone would all agree that none of the colors in the pictures below qualify as 'red' though.

The compact class has its low-light hero. Semi-pro tech gives VH-520 the edge in the dark.

03/21/2013 - Olympus Smart flagship shoots bright and blur-free, in 1080p Full HD. - If camera design were a sport, iHS would be doping. Fortunately there is nothing to stop Olympus taking a gorgeously slim compact like the VH-520 and packing it full of the low-light iHS technologies only normally found in much bigger cameras for three times the price. For sheer image quality, the VH-520 is streaks ahead of the field. Its biggest performance boosters? The 14-megapixel CMOS sensor and a TruePic V processor originally developed for DSLR. Closely followed by the 26mm-260mm* wide, 10x optical zoom lens (20x with Super Resolution Zoom) and lens-shift image stabilisation for taking out blur. When it's dark, ISO 6400 and HDR Backlight Adjustment are essential. For slo-mo movie playback, there's High Speed Movie recording, and Multi-motion Movie IS for shooting video on the go. If all that doesn't sound feasible in such a svelte camera body, that's because normally it wouldn't be. But even in lousy light, with the VH-520 great picture quality is. It costs just €149.99 from late April - in brown, black, white, red, purple or blue.

Point-and-shoot in the day or the dark

For a camera measuring just 25.4mm from lens to radiant 3" LCD, the VH-520 really has no right to components of this quality. Forget the gorgeous design, the sensibly laid-out controls (one-button movie recording) and Magic Filters for stills and Full HD movies. The real magic is in the 10x optical zoom, 26mm wide angle lens. By shaving down the lens set, Olympus were able to replace digital IS with mechanical. Combine that with the high-sensitivity, high-ISO capability of iHS, and you've got a camera that lets you shoot straight from the hip - bright and blur-free, in good or bad light.

Outstanding features:

  • 10x wide optical zoom lens (26-260mm*) with 20x Super Resolution Zoom for effortless close-ups and wide-angle shots
  • 14 Megapixel CMOS sensor for extremely high-quality full-size movies, stills and prints
  • iHS technologies for capturing exactly the shots you want with rich colour and low noise, irrespective of shooting conditions
  • 1080p Full HD Movie with stereo sound for capturing movies in the best image quality
  • Multi-motion Movie IS for recording Full HD movies with reduced blur while walking
  • Mechanical, lens-based Dual Image Stabilisation for reducing blur caused by shaking, even with long exposures
  • TruePic V image engine for excellent image quality
  • HDR Backlight Adjustment for ideal exposure when shooting against the light
  • High Speed Movie for recording video at high frame rates (240 or 120fps) and playing it back in dramatic slow motion
  • ISO up to 6400 for excellent imaging despite poor light
  • 3" colour LCD (460,000 dots) for easily framing, reviewing and sharing shots
  • Magic Filters for adding creative effects to stills or Full HD movies

* 35mm equivalent.

Product specifications are subject to change without notice. Please check the Olympus website at http://www.olympus-europa.com for the latest specifications.