The best cameras of the Olympus Pre-PMA blitz: 20x megazoom and a new waterproof model

PMA 2008 doesn't officially begin until January 31, but the onslaught of new camera announcements has already begun. Olympus announced 10 new cameras in the U.S. today ranging from four new models in its FE line of compact cameras to the much-ballyhooed SP-570 (which Olympus describes as having the body of an ultrazoom and the soul of an SLR). Herewith are my two faves of the bunch:

PMA 2008 doesn't officially begin until January 31, but the onslaught of new camera announcements has already begun. Olympus announced 10 new cameras in the U.S. today ranging from four new models in its FE line of compact cameras to the much-ballyhooed SP-570 UZ (which Olympus describes as having the body of an ultrazoom and the soul of an SLR). Herewith are my two faves of the bunch:

The best cameras of Olympus Pre-PMA blitz: 20x megazoom and a new waterproof model
Olympus SP-570 UZ Well, where there's smoke, there's fire (sometimes). With this announcement, Olympus once again holds the title of the longest superzoom with a 20x zoom lens. It'll come as no surprise that this replacement for the SP-560 UZ has upped the resolution from 8 to 10 megapixels, but what I really love is that they went wider as well as longer with the lens (26-520mm!!!). Another nice touch is the zoom ring, which may feel weird if you're expecting it to act like the ring on a DSLR, but it should give you better control than the little zoom levers on most point-and-shoots. (Available in March for about $500.) Check out the hands-on previews at CNET's Crave and e-photographia.com. Olympus Stylus 1030 SW Of the two shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof, dustproof cameras announced today, the 1030 SW is the clear winner to me. While I like the sleeker lines and broader color options offered with the 850 SW, and I really think its 8 megapixels for this level point-and-shoot is plenty, the 10-megapixel 1030 SW
The best cameras of Olympus Pre-PMA blitz: 20x megazoom and a new waterproof model
won me over with its extra-wide 3.6x optical zoom lens (28-102mm) as well as its greater waterproof depth of 33 feet (vs. the 850 SW's 10 feet), which means you can really dive down if you're snorkelling with the camera. Like the 850 SW, the 1030 SW is freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, but it will withstand drops of up to 6.6 feet (vs. the 850's 5 feet). Throw in the crushproof body--which can withstand 220 pounds of pressure--with a reinforced 2.7-inch LCD screen and you've got one tough camera. Some won't like the lack of an optical viewfinder, but I'll trade that for the bigger LCD in a heartbeat (but that's just me). Lack of optical image stabilization is a drawback, but the biggest bummer is Olympus' insistence on using xD-Picture Cards, which just might be a deal breaker for me. As with all its compact cameras this year, though, the 1030 SW will come with an adapter so you can use MicroSD cards as well. Available in March for about $400.

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