Last Updated on April 8, 2023
The Olympus Stylus zoom cameras have been overshadowed by the Infinity/Epic in recent years, so a general review was needed. There is no doubt that one of the most successful lines in the world of film compact cameras are Olympus’ “Stylus” (or “mju” I and II in Asia), known for their excellent optics and reliability.
The reputation that the Olympus Stylus Epic (and the Infinity Stylus) has gained in recent years is due to their remarkable precision and reliability. However, shouldn’t that translate to their zoom models as well? That’s what we’ll explore in this post, looking at how good of an alternative to the Infinity/Epic they could be.
Therefore, it is also worth mentioning briefly how these cameras differ from the top models.
- As is evident, they have variable, not fixed, optics.
- Therefore, they have smaller apertures.
- They are a little less lightweight and also a bit more robust.
- Additionally, they tend to have the flash folded into the body, and not in view like the Stylus Epic.
Table of Contents
1. Olympus Stylus Zoom 80
There were three versions of the Zoom 80, the first being the Stylus Zoom 80 Wide DLX, which has the “Panorama” mode built-in, the second was the Stylus Epic Zoom 80, which is the slimmest and lightest of the three. And the last is the Stylus Epic Zoom 80 Deluxe, which is distinguished by having an automatic electronic viewfinder for the different focal lengths.
All versions have a focal length of 38-80mm and a maximum aperture of f/4. The settings are located on the top of the camera next to an LCD panel where all modes can be adjusted, including flash and horizontal mode. They also have the configuration for the RC-200 infrared remote control for remote shooting. All come with Olympus splash protection.
2. Olympus Stylus 105
There were two versions of the Olympus Stylus 105, the first one released in 1991 and the other one along with the “Epic” in 1995. The first version came in champagne and black finishes, while the second one was only available in champagne silver.
The focal length in all versions was 38-105mm with a maximum aperture of f/4.5 and a minimum of f/8.9. It has the settings menu on the top and a diopter in the viewfinder to adjust to the eye. Flash and landscape shooting modes are also present, as well as the self-timer mode.
3. Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 115
The Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 115 is the successor to the Infinity Zoom 115 DLX, and there was also an intermediate version called the Stylus Zoom 115. All of them offer practically the same features, a 38-115mm lens with an aperture of f/4.6-10.9 and the ability to be used with Olympus’ infrared remote control.
It has a considerable weight of 250g and a thickness of 3.5in, which is significantly greater than the previous models on the list. As we can see, despite incorporating a greater focal length, it maintains very acceptable ranges of luminosity for its focal lengths. Only the “Stylus” models in this version have splash protection and also come in a black finish.
4. Olympus Stylus 120
The Stylus 120 comes with a unique feature that is the “shake indicator“, and it’s all the more useful given the narrow f/5.6-12.6 apertures it comes with.
All of the camera’s settings are situated at the back of the camera, providing more space for better handling. Also, like the 105 and 115 models, the Stylus 120 comes with a splash protection, and a better and more ergonomic diopter for the viewfinder.
5. Olympus Stylus Zoom 140
At 255g, the Olympus Stylus Zoom 140 exudes a certain sophistication for a “family camera”, and it certainly lives up to that expectation. The 38-140mm lens gives a nostalgic feeling to those familiar with these cameras when fully extended.
Similar to the 120 model, the aperture remains between f/5.6 and f/12.6, making it most suitable for relaxed photography in bright daylight or with the flash (at reasonable distances, of course). It’s not recommended to use the flash at 140mm or you may be disappointed.
It comes with the aforementioned splash protection seen in the previous models and an electronic viewfinder that covers the entire lens range. In addition, it has an ergonomic diopter similar to the one seen in the 120.
6. Olympus Stylus 150
The Olympus Stylus 150 can also be found as Stylus 150 QD, where QD stands for “quartz date”, simply meaning that it’s possible to print the date in the photo, as essentially all cameras can. So it’s just a marketing feature.
It comes in a full champagne color, including the buttons, giving it a premium finish. Note that some models have alternating pieces with dark colors, giving them a more sporty look, but this is not the case here. Another simple design element.
The apertures handled by the Stylus 150 range between f/5.6 and f/13.3, so to use the maximum focal length of 150mm, it’s recommended to use it only during the day and preferably in sunny conditions.
7. Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 170
Just like the Stylus 150 model, the Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 170 can also be found with the “QD” denomination in its name, in addition to “DELUXE” or simply DLX. As mentioned before, the features will not be affected.
With a maximum focal length of 170mm, we can see that this camera is considerably more robust (280g) than the previous models, while still maintaining the same length dimensions as all the Stylus cameras.
However, it is strange that the aperture of this camera is relatively smaller than most, ranging from f/4.8 to f/12.6. Although, in practical terms, the effect on the result will be barely noticeable in most situations. But it’s a detail that’s there, and it’s fine.
Which Olympus Stylus zoom camera is best?
It will all depend on the type of photography you are looking for. If zoom is not the most important factor, then the Olympus Stylus Zoom 80 is probably the best option. It has the best aperture for its initial focal length (38mm), making it more comparable to an Infinity Stylus or a Stylus Epic in terms of features. Additionally, having a zoom of 80mm is ideal for portraits if that is what you are looking for.
But the truth is that all of them are very good options, as they all have the good optics of a Stylus. Therefore, if the economic factor is important to you, perhaps it would be better to go for the one with the best price you can find.
Is the Olympus Stylus a good camera?
The Olympus Stylus Zoom has an advantage over other zoom cameras, and that is the quality of its optics and its reliability. So yes, it’s a good camera.
What film does Olympus Stylus zoom use?
35mm film, whether in color (C-41), slide film (E-6), or black and white (for traditional or C-41 development).
What battery does an Olympus Stylus Zoom need?
It uses one CR123A 3V lithium battery.
As we saw across the range of available Olympus Stylus Zooms, the majority vary greatly only in focal length, with small variations in aperture and some design aspects.
The use of champagne finish remains consistent throughout the line, with some models offering a black version.
Returning to the initial question, are the Stylus Zooms a good alternative to the Olympus Stylus Epic? The general answer is yes, without a doubt. But of course, with some considerations. For example:
- Trying to stay at the initial focal length of 38mm.
- Make use of the flash for a good portion of photos (especially portraits).
- Use film with sensitivities above ISO 400 (and lower if you know exactly what you’re doing).
But as with everything related to photography, creativity and vision will always reign supreme.
“I am a fashion photographer and an analog photography enthusiast since the beginning of my career (15 years ago). I have had the opportunity and honor of showcasing my work in various galleries and publications around the world.“
Regular contributor for Dusty Grain.