Olympus Reinvents the Compact Camera With the Tough TG-850 and SP-100 Bridge Camera

Olympus Tough TG-850

The compact camera has virtually lost the fight against the smartphone overlord. So when a company decides to introduce a new point-and-shoot these days, it is either doomed already before its launch, or it needs to reinvent the idea of the compact camera. And this is what Olympus has done with its two new point-and-shoots, the Tough TG-850 and the SP-100 bridge camera. While the former is the first water and shockproof camera to sport a tilting display, the latter incorporates a new framing aid not unlike a laser sight on a sniper rifle.

Olympus Tough TG-850

The Olympus Tough TG-850 is the first water and shockproof point-and-shoot to sport a tilting display, and we’re not really sure how much sense that makes. But Olympus has done it, and it’s honestly the only way to go now that compact cameras need to set themselves even further apart from both smartphones and mirrorless cameras. The TG-850’s display is 3 inches in size, flips up 180° (great for the selfie crowd!) and resolves 460k dots.

The sensor is a 1/2.3″-type, 16 megapixel BSI CMOS that supports ISO speeds ranging from 125 to 6400. Signal processing is performed by a TruePic VII image processor. The lens of the TG-850 is a 5x zoom with an equivalent focal length range of 21-105mm, offering an extremely wide angle for a compact camera. Speed-wise, it’s nothing to write home about, with an initial aperture size of f3.5-5.7.

Olympus Tough TG-850

The Tough TG-850 is waterproof up to 33 ft, crushproof up to 220 lbs, shockproof up to 7 ft, and freeze-proof up to 14° F. It will be available in March 2014 at a retail price of US-$ 249.99.

Olympus SP-100

Olympus SP-100

Since the advent of the mirrorless camera, the bridge camera has been forced into a niche existence. Just as they did with the Tough TG-850, Olympus decided to reinvent the bridge camera concept so as to make it attractive again to customers. The SP-100 sports an extremely long 50x zoom lens with an equivalent focal lenght range of 24-1200mm–something that’s simply not possible in a package this size with any mirrorless system.

However, what sets it apart from all other current production digital cameras is its clever framing aid, which takes clues from a sniper rifle’s laser sight. The aid labelled ‘dot-sight’ appears when the built-in flash is popped up, and helps framing tight crops when the lens is zoomed in at an object far away–a bird flying in the sky, for example. Instead of trying to find the object on the rear screen, the user can point at it using the dot-sight, and can be sure that it will be included in the frame.

Olympus SP-100

Apart from that, the SP-100’s specs are pretty standard: a 16 mp 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS sensor, ISO 125-6400, TruePic VII image processor, 3″ 460k dot rear display, and an EVF of unspecified resolution. The Olympus SP-100 will be available in March 2014 at a retail price of US-$ 399.99

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