Point and Shoot Pity Party Part 4: The Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom

This is Part 4 of a recurring series on basic point and shoot consumer cameras, the details of which can be found here.

To most bargain hunters, the term "As Is" can often be a deterrent, but to the savvy film camera bargain hunter, is is not often a deal killer, due in large part to the excess challenges for the average seller to find a battery and film, and to process it to test its functionality.  As such, I really didn't blink when I saw these words on the price tag affixed to the Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom as I browsed through the downtown hospital thrift shop.  While its specs didn't wow me over, the price of this camera and the inclusion of the original box and manuals made it a pretty easy buy after a morning of jury duty.  It seemed a good candidate for this pity party! 

Front View (closed)

Front View (open)

Top View

Through the small viewfinder.  Note the centering focus marks and the close framing line near right top. 

Name: Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom
Format: 35mm
Type: Autofocus Point and Shoot 
Year: 1993
Features: Weatherproof, Self Timer and Remote, Red Eye Reduction, Slow-sync Flash Mode.
Lens: 35-70mm, f/4.5-6.9 (6 elements in 5 groups).
Battery: 1 CR-123 cell.
Manual: http://www.derrybryson.com/manuals/Olympus/35%20MM%20CAMERAS/Stylus%20Zoom%20instruction%20manual.pdf

Cost: $5.00 + Tax
Cost When New (and adjusted): $155.00 ($261.00)
Where I found it: Select Seconds Hospital Thrift Shop - Frederick, MD.
Why I got it: I'd finished up Jury Duty early, was thrilled to see this store was actually open, and thought I deserved a cheap treat

What film: Fresh Rollei Retro 80S. 

What I liked: 
  • 4 second maximum shutter speed! 
  • Very Compact
  • Flash can be forced off pretty easily.
What I didn't like: 
  • Viewfinder porthole is teeny tiny and doesn't seem to naturally line up with one's eye.
  • Procedure of turning camera on or off depending on sliding clamshell which seems a bit problematic. 
The Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom reads DX coding, and defaults to 100 if no code is found, such as is the case with cassettes of Retro 80S.  Thus, it was underexposing the film by a modest 1/3 of a stop.  As there is no EV compensation or manual ISO setting on this camera, it is something to keep in mind when shooting this camera. In this case, the camera gave off an excellent result regardless, even in rather poor light. 

Another shot taken in marginal light of a dim scene was exposed quite well.  There is definite loss of sharpness near the corners, but very good sharpness near the center. 

This Olympus is weatherproof, and is readily usable in wet conditions. 

Despite my poor attempt to brace the camera in dim light, the exposure of this camera at night is actually quite an unexpected surprise compared to other models with longer shutter speeds. 

A bit of a better attempt at bracing, and again a favorable result in exposure. 

Close focus works well (no need to enter a special "macro" mode) and gives off a decent bokeh to the out of focus elements in the backdrop. 

The camera's light weight and rather comfortable form factor make it pretty easy to hold still for longer exposures.  Again, very good exposure from this Olympus. 

On a cloudy January afternoon, the Olympus continued to serve up some very well exposed shots on a film that can often be problematic in low light. 

A pair of shots of the same scene.  I believe I left the flash on for the first one and then corrected it on the second one.  Either way, the exposure burned in the details on a very overcast late afternoon in Winter. 

A little chromatic aberration from the lens, but still a very sharp result. 

And then THIS happened.  This cheap little camera NAILED exposure to provide the perfect amount of dramatic lighting to this image of Carroll Creek, making this one of my favorite images ever shot in Frederick. 

A bit of motion blur in fading light, but a perfectly usable result. 

One of the more challenging shots for light, and on a film with higher than typical contrast.  I expected little as I clicked off the last shot on the roll, but was GREATLY pleased at how this camera pulled off this image.  


With a meager zoom and not-so-fast lens, I expected little in the way of results from the Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom, particularly given that I was shooting some particularly contrasty film in really sub-par lighting that the camera would technically be under-exposing due to the DX coding.  So I was quite shocked to be greeted with some of the best results from any point and shoot camera that I've shot to date.  I have some ideas for this one to come along for more shooting fun in better (and worse) weather to really see how it can shine.  This Olympus is an absolute GEM, even in it's "As Is" State! :)