DigitalCameraReview.com
First-ever tap interface debuts in Olympus Stylus 1050 SW
by David Rasnake -  8/24/2008

Olympus is inviting shooters to "tap into worry-free fun" with the Olympus Stylus 1050 SW, the latest model in Olympus's long-running series of rugged, outdoor ready compact cameras.

Olympus Stylus 1050 SW

The 10.1 megapixel, 3x zoom 1050 SW is designed to handle just about anything active shooters can throw at it (or throw it into), with a body that sealed against the elements and designed to absorb impacts. A 2.7-inch HyperCrystal II LCD display is also ruggedized, and provides five steps of brightness adjustment for shooting in a range of lighting conditions. Low-light illumination courtesy of a front-mounted LED expands the underwater shooting versatility of the 1050 SW, which can safely be used fully submerged at depths of up to 10 feet without a separate waterproof housing.

Olympus Stylus 1050 SW

What sets the seemingly indestructible 1050 SW – which can also handle five-foot drops onto hard ground and temperatures to 14 degrees Fahrenheit – apart from other rugged models, however, is its innovative tap interface: using an accelerometer, the camera can register taps not just on the screen area (as in more familiar touch screen cameras), but anywhere on the camera body. Taps on different camera surfaces control different functions, allowing users to cycle through flash options, adjust Shadow Adjustment Technology settings, or jump into playback mode simply by tapping the appropriate area.

Olympus was kind enough to provide us with a detailed overview of this first-of-its-kind Tap Control technology:

"The Stylus 1050 SW camera can be controlled with a simple tap thanks to the new camera's 3D accelerometer that detects the direction of the force on the camera's body. For example, to turn on the flash or Shadow Adjustment menu options, simply tap the camera's right or left side. In adverse climates, where the Stylus 1050 SW thrives, the new Tap Control ensures fast results – so you get the shot – even if you are adjusting settings while fighting frostbite with large gloves that would make traditional buttons nearly impossible to maneuver. You can even calibrate the sensitivity of Tap Control for your own specific touch."

Tap Control, which is described by Olympus as similar to motion-detecting video game control systems, can be calibrated to respond to different sensitivity levels according to environment, allowing the system to respond correctly to taps made when wearing gloves or when shooting underwater, for instance.

More conventional features include face detection technology that can recognize up to 16 faces at a time, as well as a Smile Shot feature that tracks a subject's faces, detects a smile, and fires the shutter accordingly. Aforementioned Shadow Adjustment Technology provides some leeway for shooting where lighting conditions are harsh or less than ideal, and Perfect Shot Preview and Perfect Fix in-camera editing provide tools for making images that are, well, perfect, either before or after the capture.

Processing is provided by Olympus's current-generation TruePic III imaging engine. Unfortunately, though, image stabilization technology is a little more behind the times, with the 1050 receiving only an ISO-boosting digital image stabilization system.

Olympus Stylus 1050 SW

Four trendy colors – blue, champagne, silver, and black – also amp things up a bit for the latest Olympus SW camera, but with so much carrying over functionally from previous models, the big news here is unquestionably the camera's Tap Control technology.

Look for this unique camera with its fascinating motion-sensitive interface to show up for sale in October, with a suggested price of around $300.

Olympus Stylus 1050 SW Specifications:

Sensor 10.1 megapixels, 1/2.33" CCD
Lens/Zoom 3x (38-114mm) zoom, f/3.5-5.0
LCD/Viewfinder 2.7", 230K-pixel HyperCrystal II LCD with five steps of backlight adjustment
Sensitivity ISO 80-1600
Shutter Speed 4-1/1000 seconds
Shooting Modes Auto, Program, Digital Image Stabilization, Guide, Scene, Movie
Scene Presets Portrait, Landscape, Landscape with Portrait, Night Scene, Night Scene with Portrait, Sports, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Museum, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Beach and Snow, Pre-Capturing Movie, Underwater Snapshot, Snow, Smile Shot
White Balance Settings Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3
Metering Modes Digital ESP, Spot, Face Detection AE
Focus Modes iESP Auto, Spot AF, Face Detection AF, Macro
Drive Modes Not Specified
Flash Modes Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill, Forced Off
Self Timer Settings
12 seconds, Off
Memory Formats xD-Picture Card, microSD (with included adapter)
Internal Memory
41.6 MB
File Formats JPEG, Motion JPEG
Max. Image Size 3648x2736
Max. Video Size
640x480, 30 fps
Zoom During Video Not Specified
Battery Lithium-ion rechargeable, 925 mAh
Connections USB 2.0, AV output
Additional Features Shockproof, Waterproof, Freezeproff, Dustproof, Crushproof, TruePic III processor, Digital Image Stabilization, Face Detection, Perfect Shot Preview, Shadow Adjustment Technology, In-Camera Panorama, Tap Control