With the megapixel wars fading, Olympus is betting that sophisticated image stabilization will be the capability people will most appreciate in their next camera. Its new 16MP, 24x zoom Stylus SH-2 (available for $400 in April), offers something unheard of in a pocketsize camera: 5-axis image stabilization.
This technology corrects not just for inadvertently tilting the lens up and down or side to side, but also for jolts that move the whole camera, as well as twisting so that the image is no longer level. Olympus borrowed the technology from its top-end mirrorless camera, the OM-D EM-1 (see our review).
Basic image-stabilization for tilting is in many pocket cameras and now in smartphones like the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6. A 5-axis stabilizer, though, should result in even-steadier images at high zoom and also smooth video that's smooth despite bumps and jitters. In fact, Olympus claims that the technology allows you to shoot a steady-looking video with the Stylus SH-2 while you are walking. (We've tried and succeeded doing that with the 5-axis stabilizer in the new, $1,100 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.)
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The 24x zoom lens (25mm wide-angle to 600mm telephoto in full-frame equivalent) is not groundbreaking in a world of 60x and greater zooms. But fitting it into a pocketsize camera 1.7 inches thick is novel. That puts it in competition with Panasonic's upcoming pocket zoom, the $400, 30x Panasonic DMC-ZS50.
Other key features of the Stylus SH-2 include time-lapse video and slow motion video by shooting at 120 fps or 240 fps and playing back at a normal 30 or 60fps frame rate. The camera chassis features an aluminum-alloy top panel; bodies are offered in all black or black with gray accents.
The 3-inch LCD appears to have a resolution of 480 x 320 (Olympus won't specify). It is a touchscreen, but using the antiquated resistive technology reminiscent of old Palm Pilots instead of the capacitive tech on all our smartphones and pretty much all camera touchscreens today.
Poor LCD notwithstanding, the Stylus SH-2 offers a lot of promise by fitting a 24x zoom and cutting-edge image stabilization into your pocket.