Among the coolest of Olympus' compact cameras are their rugged, waterproof, dustproof, Stylus models. This year, the company is updating both of their go-anywhere cameras, offering the all-metal chassis 10.1-megapixel Stylus 1030 SW and the slightly more stylish 8-megapixel Stylus 850 SW. Both models include face detection for autofocus and auto exposure, ISO-boost Digital Image Stabilization instead of the more-effective mechanical stabilization found in some of Olympus' other Stylus models, and a handful of in-camera editing functions, including red-eye removal, panorama stitching of up to three shots and more. Like all of their compact cameras this year, these two will come with adapters so you can use MicroSD cards with the cameras' xD Picture Card slots.
The more hard-core of the two tough cameras is the Stylus 1030 SW. It can bounce right back from a drop of 6.6 feet and withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure. You can take pictures with it down to 33 feet underwater and it's made to operate at temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (that's -10 degrees Celsius for you metric folk). Conveniently, the 1030 SW has a 3.6X optical 28-102mm f/3.5-5.0 zoom lens. While I always like a wide zoom on a compact camera, it's especially helpful when shooting underwater, so it makes even more sense to include it here. As you might expect, Olympus includes multiple underwater scene modes in the 1030 SW, as well as scene modes for use in snow and beach conditions. The 1030 SW also includes a 2.7-inch HyperCrystal II LCD screen. Olympus says that this new update to their old HyperCrystal LCDs can yield a higher contrast ratio and more accurate color reproduction. The Stylus 1030 SW will be available in March for about $400.
If you're wiling to trade a little bit of ruggedness for a splash of style, the Stylus 850 SW offers the ability to withstand a drop of up to 5 feet, can shoot submerged down to almost 10 feet in water, and can operate in cold down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the 850 SW's casing isn't all metal, it made it easier for Olympus to make it available in blue, pink, yellow, black, and silver colors. The camera also sports a 2.5-inch HyperCrystal LCD instead of the fancier newer-version LCD found on the 1030 SW, as well as a not-as-wide 3X optical 38-114mm f/3.5-5.0 zoom lens. The Stylus 850 SW will hit stores this month for about $300.