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Here in Britain we're having a terrible summer. It snowed in April for the first time that I can remember, some areas of the country have seen nearly double the usual rainfall for this time of year, and I don’t think there have been two sunny days in a row. Now whether this is simply part of the normal climatic variation or part of trend, and whether any such trend is due to man-made climate change, is a debate that will no doubt continue to exercise experts, pundits and opinionated idiots until we’re all 70m under water, but it’s not a topic for these pages.
One thing is certain however; the summer of 2008 has shown beyond doubt that if you want to take photos outdoors in this country, a waterproof camera is a very sensible investment. It is perhaps surprising therefore that only two manufacturers produce consumer-oriented waterproof compacts; Pentax with its Optio W-series and Olympus with its mju (or Stylus in the US) range. Both appear to sell in sufficient quantities to justify regular updates, most particularly from Olympus. One of the latest mju cameras is this, the 850 SW.
First announced in January, the mju 850 SW is an updated version of the 790 SW launched at about this time last year. It has the same body design as the earlier model, and shares many of the same features, but improves on the formula with (inevitably) a more powerful 8.0-megapixel sensor, an increase over the 7.1 megapixels of the earlier model. Like the 790 the 850 SW is capable of surviving three metres underwater, falling from a height of 1.5m, and being subjected to freezing temperatures of minus ten centigrade (although see this article)