It’s a pity that the E1050TW has this crippling monitor visibility problem, because in most other respects there’s a lot to like about it. Indoors or in the evening the monitor is clear and sharp with a good refresh rate and a fairly wide angle of view. The camera body is sensibly designed and sits nicely in the hand, with a textured area on the strap lug that doubles as a thumb grip. The few external controls are sensibly positioned, although I did find myself mistaking the playback button for the power switch a few times. The rotary-bezel zoom control is smooth and responsive, with at least ten steps between wide angle and telephoto.
The camera has four main shooting modes; a fully automatic setting in which the camera does everything for you, and manual setting in which functions such as ISO setting and white balance can be manually adjusted, a scene mode with 13 scene programs, and a stabilisation mode, which appears to employ digital image stabilisation and a moderate increase in ISO to counteract camera shake. It does provide some stability, but it’s not as good as sensor-shift or optical IS system.
One of the E1050TW’s main selling points is its 1280 x 720 video mode. While it has HD resolution, it doesn’t quite have HD frame rate, being limited instead to 25fps, although it can shot at 30fps in VGA mode. Clips in 1280 x 720 mode are limited to 30 minutes, but in lower resolutions the only limit is the memory card capacity.
Other advanced features include face, smile and blink detection. Face detection works surprisingly well, picking up multiple faces in the frame including those not looking directly at the camera, although it did have some problems in low light conditions. Smile detection is also effective, firing the shutter at a normal smile rather than the face-aching grimace that many such systems require, although again it is less reliable in poor light. It also only works with the camera held in the horizontal position, not in the vertical position frequently used for portrait shots. The blink detection system doesn’t prevent the camera from taking a picture, but does flash up a warning if your subject blinked during the shot. Again the system works reliably, and is certainly potentially useful.