Thursday, August 23, 2007

Digital Cameras: Olympus Rolls Out Stylus 820, 830 and 1200, a Trio of Pretty, Pocketable Minishooterso

stylii_family_front.jpgOlympus, trying to set a record for the number of cameras introduced in one day, also updated its Stylus line of point-and-shoot cameras with three colorful new models, the 820, 830 and 1200. All of them have what Olympus calls an "all weather" body, image stabilization, shadow adjustment goodness, and now they all have face detection to help you focus on what's really important.

The Stylus 820 is a bargain-priced $249.99, and it has a 2.7-inch viewscreen, a 5x optical zoom and 8-megapixel sensor on board. Spend 80 more bucks ($329.99) and you get an 8-megapixel Stylus 830 that now has dual image stabilization, combining both digital image stabilization (which we haven't been too impressed with on its own) with good old mechanical sensor-shift stabilization. Olympus says this trickery can smooth out camera shake and also somehow reaches out and stabilizes subjects who are moving around a lot. Got kids? Good luck with that. For that wizardry you sacrifice .2 inches on the LCD viewscreen, slightly smaller at 2.5 inches.

That Stylus 830 shares a cool feature with the Stylus 1200, called In-Camera Panorama, just like what was introduced on the Olympus SP-560 UZ. Instead of futzing with putting together all those groups of panoramic shots in an image editing application, this baby can take three pictures for you as you pan across a scene, and then stitches them all together for you right there inside the camera. Neat. That 12-megapixel Stylus 1200, the top of the Stylus group for $349.99, gives you a faster f/2.8 lens (the other two are f/3.5) but for that you have to give up a bit of zoomosity; it packs a 3x optical zoom instead of the 5x of the other two Styli.

All three of these pocket-sized point-and-shooters will be available next month. [Olympus]