Olympus Stylus 850 SW review

Started Dec 14, 2008 | User reviews
zoomzambio
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Olympus Stylus 850 SW review
Dec 14, 2008

I've had my camera about 6 months now and shot ~ 1000 photos (including ~ 50 underwater shots - all less than 5 feet deep) and overall I'm very happy with it.

Pros:
The most obvious - it's water proof, so all those pool / beach photos you didn't take in the past can now fill your hard drive like all the dry ones!
Sharp, clear pictures
Convenient in camera panorama mode - no need to stitch photos in computer software (although you can, if you want to) - subject to limitations (see cons below).
Fairly fast startup and reasonably fast (~2 sec) shot to shot times (no flash)
Very bright LCD screen - still washes out in super bright sunlight, but better than most in more forgiving (but still bright) conditions
Powerful flash (can also be a con if your subject is too close - blown out colors).
Battery life good for 200-300 shots, plenty for a day's worth of shooting.

Cons:
Photos tend to be overexposed with the default factory settings - gotta use exposure compensation for a lot of shots.
Menu structure somewhat cumbersome (might just be me - I'm spoiled by Canon)
Lens position in upper corner of camera results in fair number of shots with a finger in the upper left corner. The finger probably covers less than 1% of the entire image, so it's practically impossible to see in the camera LCD, but it's very noticeable when viewed on the computer. Thank God for cropping software!
Video quality is poor - almost a watercolor effect.
Video limited to 10 seconds. Firmware upgrade can extend this to card capacity - IF you have a "M+" or "H" xD card. Of course, the card that came with my camera is just a M "standard", so this firmware is useless to me unless I spend more cash for a proprietary card format - not going to happen!
Video sound is also more muffled than other cameras - I suspect it's due to the need to make the microphone waterproof.
In camera panorama stitching software sometimes dos a poor job and deletes 1-2 degrees of the view between shots; exposure setting between shots varies too, so the sky will often have different shades of blue with a very abrupt transition. Other times the in camera stitching software does a superb job - seems to be hit and miss. Difficult to evaluate in camera LCD, but flaws readily visible on computer.
Battery takes a good 4-5 hours to recharge - much longer than other cameras I have.

Despite these shortcomings, the camera delivers what I expected - clear, sharp all weather (and usually wet) snapshots. If this were my only point and shoot, I'd have mixed feelings, but as a dedicated wet / casual camera, it fits the bill perfectly.

Enjoy!

Problems:

Camera works fine, subject to limitations above.

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