If there's one thing that you couldn't accuse the review sample of the 850SW that landed in CNET.com.au's offices of being, it's shy. Our review model came in just about the brightest pink we've ever seen on a tech product, and a slightly metallic pink, at that. For those who prefer non-carmine hues, it's also available in silver and black. Sorry, we'll type that again. It's available in "premium" silver or "piano" black, as well as our model, which is described as "cassis" pink.
The 850SW is a compact digital camera, measuring in at 93.6mm by 60.9mm by 21.3mm and weighing 136 grams. The front of the camera is relatively sedate (colours aside), but the rear of the unit is awash with buttons; a slender zoom control above a selection wheel, which itself sits above a five way selector that's ringed by four further selection buttons. All in, you've got a choice of no less than twelve buttons to hit, and all of them are on the rather small side. Given that the top of the 850SW only has a shooting and power button on it, we're not sure why Olympus' designers didn't at least stick the zoom controls on the top. It certainly would have made composing shots on the 850SW's 2.5-inch LCD much easier. You're limited to only the LCD display, which can be a problem in bright light.
The 850SW features an 8 megapixel sensor with a 3x optical zoom. The zoom is entirely enclosed within the lens, as the other big selling point of the 850SW is that it's waterproof (up to 3 metres) and shockproof (up to 1.5 metres). It's even snow proof for up (or is it down?) to -10°C, although the opportunities to properly test that in the Australian climate are going to be few and far between.
The 850SW features 24 different scene modes, and while the small controls mean we wouldn't want to have to select them in a hurry, it's nice to have the variety. They are labelled as Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Behind Glass, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select 1, Shoot & Select 2, Beach & Snow, Pre-capture movie, Under Water Snapshot, Under Water Wide 1, Under Water Wide 2, and Under Water Macro, which is quite exhaustive for a point and shoot compact.