One of the busiest stands at the Photokina show is as that of Olympus. The bulk of the display was taken up with the E-System digital SLR range, including the recent E-3 professional DSLR and its may accessories, but also on show were several new models in the mju and FE compact camera ranges.
The most interesting of them is the mju 1050 SW, which features a new control system called TAP Control Mode, in which tapping certain areas of the camera body can activate certain functions. A sharp tap on the top of the camera body puts it into image playback mode, and then tapping the left and right sides scrolls backward and forward through the recorded images. A double-tap on the top can activate the flash mode or shadow adjustment mode. The idea is that it's easier to operate the camera while wearing gloves, although it also has conventional control buttons on the right of the monitor.
As well as this new control feature the mju 1050 SW is equipped with a 10.1MP sensor, 3x zoom lens and 2.7-inch LCD monitor. Like most of the other cameras in the mju range it is waterproof and drop-proof, in this case to depths of 3.0m and from heights of 1.5m respectively.
The mju 1050 SW will be available in a choice of Dolphin Grey, Pacific Blue, Midnight Black or Misty Rose, and will go on sale at the end of this month for an RRP of £259.99.
The other new launch in the mju series is the mju 1040, another sliding-front model. This too is a 10MP, 3x zoom ultra-compact, but lacks the super-tough credentials of its neighbour. It has a body that's just 16.5mm thick, but it loses the weatherproof capabilites that have characterised the mju range since its inception. This is reflected in the price; the mju 1040 is available this month at an RRP of £149.99.
As well as the two new mju cameras, there were also three new additions to the lower-priced FE series. The FE-20 is an 8MP 3x zoom ultra-compact with a 2.5-inch monitor, face detection and digital image stabilisation. It will be available very soon for an RRP of £119.99.
The FE-360 meanwhile is an 8MP 3x zoom ultra-compact with a 2.5-inch monitor, face detection and digital image stabilisation, but crucially it looks slightly different from the FE-20, and costs £10 more at £129.99. It too will be available this month.
Completely breaking the mould, the FE-370 is an 8MP ultra-compact camera with a 5x zoom lens and a 2.7-inch monitor, as well as face detection and digital image stabilisation. It will be available this month at an RRP of £179.99. All three FE models are available in a range of colours.