Like Olympus’s new rugged camera, the long-zoom bridge category is another area where camera makers can offer something smartphones can’t – so expect to see more of this type in the coming months. The new Stylus SP-100 is a new DSLR-like point-and-shoot that has a new 50x 24-1200mm optical zoom fixed lens paired with a new dot-sight framing-assist feature that lets you track distant moving subjects for stills and video, like the sight of a scope or gun. At $400, the camera will be available in March.
The SP-100 has a 16-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor and the latest TruePic VII image processor. Above the electronic viewfinder (920,000 dots) is the new dot-sight feature (dubbed Eagle’s Eye) that works with the EVF. The dot-sight “helps the user keep the subject in the frame by offering a wide-angle view of the scene on its semitransparent mirror. The dot-sight stows away for portability and pops up immediately to easily track any subject without the need to adjust the zoom, so the shooter never has to miss another image by having to retrace and compose. Olympus carefully designed the location of the EVF and the shape of the eyepiece for minimal contact between the photographer’s face and the camera body, giving even greater ease of shooting,” the company describes.
In addition to the image-stabilized lens with a 1-centimeter Super Macro function (even at full 50x zoom), the camera has a focus-limit button that focuses only within a set range when it’s on, and into the distance when it’s off. There are more advanced features like AF lock and manual focus, and PASM shooting modes. For the step-up user moving from a basic point-and-shoot, there are plenty of auto and creative modes. Operating the SP-100 will feel more like a small DSLR than a point-and-shoot, due to the form-factor and controls; compared to previous Olympus ultra-zooms, the SP-100 has an improved grip. The SP-100 records video up to 1080/60p, which even one-ups Olympus’s new high-end OM-D E-M1.
Despite the trend of Wi-Fi in cameras, there’s none here. Instead, the camera supports Toshiba’s FlashAir Wi-Fi SD cards. We had a chance to play with a preproduction sample during CES 2014, and some of the things we noticed were that there is auto switching between the EVF and LCD, and a performance that lagged. Compared to the Stylus 1 premium compact, the performance isn’t as strong in the camera. But then again, the SP-100 isn’t as expensive either.