My favorite new toy is the Olympus Stylus 850SW under water camera. Once again, a beautiful product that is available in orange.
I tested out this camera thoroughly for a week before I decided to buy it on sale for 259.99 or get the option to buy in a set for 269.99 with the floating strap and case. I opted to not get the floaty strap at that time but got it at a later date. It works great and actually floats your camera when dropped in a pool, or more importantly the ocean.
The camera went through a direct comparison to a Leica lens in the Panasonic Lumix 10MP. You may be wondering why I compared these two cameras. One isn’t waterproof and the other doesn’t even have a Leica lens. Simply put, I wanted to compare if the fun you’d have with a waterproof and shockproof camera would out-weigh the importance of a great shot with a reliable camera.
Overall the shots were comparable, even when the other camera has 2 megapixels up on this one. The only noticeable times were shots of architecture, as the Panasonic Leica lens has a tiny bit wider angle of a lens, you could get more in your shot without having to back farther away. Great for landscapes too. Another part where it lost out was evening and night shots. The Olympus adds a fair amount of visual noise or dots in low light.
One thing that makes this camera a winner though is the fact you don’t have to worry about dropping it, bumping it or running through the sprinkler, having a water fight, going to the water slides, kayaking on a lake, being in the ocean…you get the idea. It has under water sound too which is pretty neat.
One thing they try to sucker you into is using an Olympus brand XD memory card with this camera. I recommend getting a MicroSD chip instead and using it with the adapter they give you for this camera. The XD card lets you use a Panoramic feature though, but after using it I find it very useless. The idea of a panoramic shot is great, however the normal landscape mode is SO good in this camera, you are better off taking a wide shot and cropping it later on the computer.
The panoramic feature just poorly sticks three images together and the size is comparable to one shot on landscape mode, and besides, you can’t even upload panoramic shots to facebook or other photo sharing sites.
Overall this camera is a fun camera that takes impressive shots for when you are outside having fun. If you want to sell your photos or blow people away or feel like a pro, get an SLR or intro SLRish camera, but as a personal digital camera that fits in your pocket, you can’t go wrong with the Olympus Stylus 850SW.