Handson with Olympus 2012 camera lineup

first_imgIt has been suggested by many that smartphones are eating away at the point-and-shoot camera market. Every new smartphone comes with a camera that has a better sensor and higher quality optics than the preview generation. In fact, 12 megapixel cameras on smartphones won’t be rare by the end of the year. The notion that you can just pull out your phone and take a decent photo might be enough for some, but it is a mistake to assume that the point-and-shoot world isn’t evolving at the same rate as the smartphone world. Olympus proved that this week with the release of a whole new line of inexpensive, yet remarkable, point-and-shoot cameras, and we were given the opportunity to get a hands-on with them.TG-320One thing you won’t be doing anytime soon with your smartphone is sticking it underwater to take a shot (not without a special case anyway). The Olympus Tough TG-320 is rated for up to 10-feet underwater, plus this 10MP camera can handle a 5-foot drop and freezing temperatures and still take good photos. The TG-320 can capture 720p video at just a hair under 30 fps and the 3.2x optical zoom helps get the best shot from a reasonable distance. The TG-320 is being released as Olympus’ base model camera. For $179, it is a great starter. VG-160You’d be surprised to see what $99 worth of camera gets you these days. If you’re looking at the VG-160, $99 gets you a 14 megapixel point-and-shooter with a 5x optical zoom. The camera can take burst shots at 7 fps (just like a Sony NEX 5) and 720p video at 30 fps. The 3-inch LCD display gives you a pretty good shot of what you are looking at before you pull the trigger. For a 14MP camera with a 26-130mm equivalent lens on board, the camera is plenty thin. The software on board sports nearly 30 different scene modes to tool around with, and after you take that less than perfect shot you can apply any of a dozen filters to give it new life. For $99, this camera is an interesting option for anyone looking to save money on their camera.SZ-12A classic problem with many point-and-shooters is that they are decent up close, but no optical zoom to rely on for distance. Digital zoom doesn’t cut it (even in a pinch), so you need something with a decent zoom sometimes. That, unfortunately, usually doesn’t come cheap or small. The Olympus SZ-12 takes the 14MP camera we’ve seen in other parts of Olympus’ lineup and straps on 24x optical zoom. Alongside that the camera offers two forms of image stabilization for a steady shot and steady video. The SZ-12 has 7 fps sequential shooting, as well as a macro mode for a great up close shot. With a 3-inch LCD screen you’ll be able to see high quality images of every picture you take, but you can also share the images wirelessly with the optional Eye-Fi Card. At $199 the camera is available in silver, black, and red and is clearly more than just a little point-and-shoot. Final ThoughtsOlympus’ 2012 line refresh makes it clear that while you certainly could use your smartphone to grab a quick shot, there’s still reason to make room for a point-and-shoot in your travel bag. This refresh has thrown the gauntlet down, setting the expectation for higher quality from feature-packed, inexpensive cameras. While the true camera geek might go for a high-end Micro Four-Thirds or EVIL camera, this new line from Olympus seems likely to have people asking “you paid how much for that camera?”last_img read more

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