Olympus Bows 18x Optical Zoom Digital Camera

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Olympus introduced a slate of digital cameras earlier this month, including the first consumer point-and-shoot to offer an 18x optical zoom lens.

The company also launched two new Stylus models, including an ultra-durable one, and four models in its FE-series of entry-level cameras.

The 7-megapixel SP-550 UZ's 18x lens spans a 28mm to 504mm focal length (35mm equivalent) and offers two forms of image stabilization — a CCD-shifting mechanism and digital image stabilization which freezes images using a higher ISO and faster shutter speed.

The camera features a high-speed sequential shooting mode for snapping off images at up to 15 fps to 20 frames at 1.2-megapixel resolution while a "pre capture" feature records up to five frames worth of images before the shutter is fully depressed. A second high speed burst mode captures 3-megapixel images at 7 fps to 15 frames. Full resolution bursts can be captured at 1.2 fps up to seven images.

The SP-550 UZ also incorporates Olympus' Bright Capture technology for low-light shooting with light sensitivities as high as ISO 5000. At ISO 3200 and 5000 the camera captures 3-megapixel images.

The camera offers a 2.5-inch LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, 30 scene modes, VGA/30 fps movie capture, manual exposure control, built-in help guides and RAW image file recording. It also includes several in-camera editing options such as red-eye removal, cropping, brightness adjustment and the ability to add frames and titles to images.

The SP-550 ships in March for an estimated retail price of $499.

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