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Cameras

Swarovski-studded Olympus mju 1040: Lipstick on a pig

They say you can't polish a -- actually, never mind what they say. Swarovski certainly isn't listening with its latest crystal-studded violation of a gadget, the decidedly average Olympus mju 1040

Calum Best. Paris Hilton. Cristiano Ronaldo. Scientologists. Windows Vista. There are plenty of things we love to hate, and we grudgingly concede they do serve a purpose. If they didn't exist we'd have to invent them, or we might all savagely turn on each other -- and we grudgingly concede the same is true of Swarovski. Every time it unleashes a new crystalline monstrosity, we can vent the frustration of our empty, gadget-obsessed lives. Say hello, then, to the limited-edition Olympus mju 1040 compact camera. It's almost too easy, but we're in a bad mood -- delays on the Northern Line -- and a good snarkfest should cheer us up.

Almost disappointingly, to Olympus' credit the 1040's crystal stripe, comprising 98 crystallised -- sorry, CRYSTALLIZED™ -- Swarovski 'elements', is more subtle than some of the sequinned tackfests we've seen. But that won't stop us ripping it a new pinhole, because this kind of thing will always be all shades of wrong.

The 1040 is a pretty undistinguished point-and-shoot even before its diamante make-over. It has a non-protruding lens with a pretty average 38mm focal length, equivalent to a 35mm film camera, and a 3x optical zoom. It packs a 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor with 10.1-megapixel resolution. Face detection finds a creditable 16 faces in the frame, but there's no optical image stabilisation. At least the screen's a decent size, at 69mm (2.7 inches).

If you fancy the vanilla 1040 (it is pretty cheap), you can choose from four exciting colours. They are: starry silver -- zap! -- midnight black -- whoosh! -- magma red -- flame! -- and melon yellow -- er, what?

If that wasn't enough, Olympus has inexplicably gone back to the xD memory card, which is like giving the job of photographing your wedding to the drunken uncle who won't leave at the end of the disco. SD and SDHC -- the successful uncles, who've made something of themselves, aren't they lovely -- only tolerate xD hanging round because, well, he's family, right? The 1040 also supports microSD card, but involves the use of a bundled attachment. This is like, in this already paper-thin metaphor, asking your nephew to do the wedding video with a blindfold on.

The Olympus mju 1040 is available now for around £125. The limited-edition version meanwhile will cost you somewhere in the region of £175. We're not saying don't buy it, just, y'know, have a word with yourself if you're even considering it. We suspect these things are based more on publicity than on sales, but maybe, just maybe, if nobody buys it, Swarovski will get the message and keep its sequins to itself in future. Nobody wants you, Swarovski, is that clear? As crystal. -Rich Trenholm