The Olympus Stylus 1050 SW features a shockproof, waterproof and freezeproof body designed to take whatever the elements can throw at it – or perhaps, whatever you might accidentally throw it at! Able to survive a drop from five feet, to capture photos at up to ten feet underwater, and even to be used in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit / -10 degrees Celsius, the photographer is likely to surrender long before the camera does. Inside this impressive exterior are the combination of a 1/2.33″-type ten megapixel image sensor and an Olympus-branded 3x optical zoom lens with a rather tight 38mm wide-angle. A 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution offers the Stylus 1040’s only option for framing and reviewing images, as there’s no optical viewfinder on this model. Sadly, the Olympus 1050 SW includes no form of mechanical image stabilization – only what the company calls “Digital Image Stabilization”, which simply increases the ISO sensitivity (and along with it, both the shutter speed and image noise levels) to try and freeze motion. ISO sensitivity ranges from a low of ISO 80 to a maximum of ISO 1,600 equivalent.
Perhaps the Olympus Stylus 1050SW’s most unusual feature is what Olympus has dubbed “Tap Control”. A 3D accelerometer in the camera’s body is used as an input method, allowing different patterns of taps on the camera’s body from different directions to control functions on the camera. For example, a double tap on the camera’s side can be used to turn on the camera’s flash or Shadow Adjustment function. It’s an unusual idea, and one that seems to make some sense if you consider that the camera can be used in conditions where taking your hands out of thick gloves might not be the best idea. The Olympus 1050SW employs a contrast-detection autofocus system operating off data streaming from the camera’s image sensor, and the Stylus 1050SW also includes face detection capability, able to detect up to sixteen faces in a scene simultaneously. Olympus’ Face Detection function is linked to both the autoexposure and autofocus systems, ensuring that your subjects’ faces are taken into account when determining both these variables. It also allows for tracking of a subject’s face as it moves around the frame,once detected. A “Smile Shot” function can automatically capture three photos when the camera detects that your subject is smiling.
A “Perfect Shot Preview” mode allows users to see what the effects of certain camera adjustments – for example, zoom, exposure compensation, white balance, or metering mode – will be before actually taking a photo. A generous 22 scene modes are offered in the Olympus 1050SW, plus a Program Auto mode, allowing users some degree of control over their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. In-camera image editing is possible, with the Olympus 1050 able to resize images, as well as correct for red-eye and exposure problems, adjust saturation, and add frames or text to images. An in-camera panorama mode is started with a press of the shutter button followed by panning the camera slowly across the scene. The Stylus 1050 then cleverly captures two more photos by itself at the correct moment, and combines the three images together in-camera to offer a single stitched scene automatically. For creation of larger panoramas up to ten images, the included software can be used on a computer.
For viewing images on a television, the Olympus Stylus 1050 has NTSC / PAL video output connectivity, while images can be transferred to a PC over a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection. A rechargeable LI-42B Lithium Ion battery with charger is included with the Stylus 1050SW, along with Olympus’ Master 2 software for viewing and modifying photos. Images are stored in 41.6MB of internal memory, as well as on xD-Picture Card memory cards. Interestingly, Olympus has also chosen to include an MASD-1 microSD to xD-Picture Card adapter in the Stylus 1050SW bundle, allowing the use of microSD cards in the camera as well.
The Olympus Stylus 1050SW will ship in the USA from October 2008 with pricing of about $300.