Olympus 1050SW taps new camera market

A previous Olympus 1030SW, possibly in Decomposing Lettuce Green
A previous Olympus 1030SW, possibly in Decomposing Lettuce Green

Olympus hopes its new ultra-rugged mju 1050 SW camera will prove a hit this September, thanks to an innovative Tap control that can turn slaps into snaps.

As with previous SW compacts, the 1050 boasts shock resistance (to 1.5m), water- and freeze-proofing (to 3m and -10C respectively). But this 10MP compact adds this year's hottest component, an accelerometer, allowing you to change functions simply by hitting the camera.

Designed for use by divers or skiiers wearing gloves, a quick tap or two on the top, rear and sides of the camera adjusts settings such as flash mode, face detection and shadow adjustment (to boost details in highlights and shaded ares), or switches into playback mode. The tap system can be calibrated for different levels of tapping.

Ridiculous names

The 1050 SW comes with a decent-sized 2.7-inch display and a modest 3x zoom – although if telephoto is your thing, check out the stabilised 20x lens on the Olympus SP-565 UZ, also announced today.

The 1050 SW will go on sale during September for £260, in four colours: Dolphin Grey, Pacific Blue, Midnight Black or Misty Rose. Americans have to wait until October to get 1050 SWs that are identical expect for their hues (Blue, Champagne, Silver and Black) and their $300 price-tag.

At current exchange rates, this means that UK buyers are paying a premium of £97 for some marketing genius to invent colours. At least you can take out your frustrations on the camera itself without causing any damage (except perhaps to your knuckles).

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.