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Olympus' new Stylus cameras: waterproof, 12MP, and more (but not all at once)

Olympus announced four new Stylus cameras, including the waterproof Stylus 790SW, and the 12-megapixel Stylus 1200.

Olympus Stylus 790 SW
Olympus Stylus 790 SW

Olympus is updating its entire weatherproof, fashion-minded Stylus line of digital cameras with four new models: the Stylus 790 SW, 820, 830, and 1200. These different cameras run the gamut from super-durable to high-resolution, with a few stops in between.

The Olympus Stylus 790 SW replaces the 770 SW as the company's go-anywhere, super-sturdy snapshot camera. Like its older brother, the 790 SW can handle the horrors of water, extreme temperatures, and clumsy people. It can handle getting submerged in up to ten feet of water, frozen in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and dropped from heights up to five feet, making it the ideal camera for bungee cord ice fishing, the latest extreme sport to find popularity among Quebecois. While still one of the most rugged consumer cameras on the market, the 790 SW is actually a bit of a downgrade from its predecessor, which can handle dips in up to 33 feet of water, and is rated capable of handling up to 220 pounds of crushing force. Unless you're a semi-serious diver or plan on standing on your camera for long periods of time, this shouldn't prove much of a problem; ten feet is still an appreciable waterproof rating, and an optional underwater casing for the camera will let you swim as low as 130 feet. Its casing might be slightly less resilient, but the 790 SW presents several improvements over its predecessor. The new camera features an 8-megapixel resolution compared to the 770 SW's 7-megapixels, and uses Olympus' new TruePic III image processor. Olympus claims the new image processor offers better color reproduction and faster shooting than the 770 SW's TruePic Turbo processor. It also features Olympus' new Perfect Shot Preview, which lets you preview various image effects in multiple frames, before you shoot.

While they aren't waterproof, freezeproof, or shockproof, the Stylus 820, 830, and 1200 all include the same weather-resistant features seen on all previous Stylus cameras, so you can still take them out in the rain with little fear. The Stylus 1200 distinguishes itself as the first 12-megapixel member of the Stylus series, joining the FE-300 among Olympus' high-resolution point-and-shoot cameras. The Stylus 820 and 830 only offer 8 megapixels of resolution, but they both feature 36 to 180mm-equivalent 5x lenses. The Stylus 830 includes mechanical sensor-shift stabilization to help reduce shake, setting it slightly above the larger-screened (2.7 inches to the 830's 2.5) Stylus 820.

The Olympus Stylus 790SW and 820 will be available this September, while the Stylus 830 and 1200 ship in October. The 790SW ($299) will be available in orange, blue, lime, black and silver. The Stylus 820 ($249) will come in red, blue, black, and silver versions. The Stylus 830 ($329) will be available in orange, green, blue, black and silver models, and the Stylus 1200 ($349) will come in black and silver.