Olympus caters to wide range of photographic needs

Olympus TOUGH TG-1 iHS combines incredible durability with a fast f2.0 lens.
Olympus TOUGH TG-1 iHS combines incredible durability with a fast f2.0 lens.
Olympus PT-053 underwater housing for TOUGH TG-1
Olympus PT-053 underwater housing for TOUGH TG-1
Olympus PEN E-PL3 (shown in black)
Olympus PEN E-PL3 (shown in black)

"Lifestyle cameras" are built to take it. Typically, you can submerge them, drop them, crush them, and even freeze them. They take it all in stride, but what about image quality?

The Olympus TG-1 iHS combines incredible durability, a fast lens, and filter/converter-lens compatibility to create a great compact camera that just happens to be unfazed by the harshest conditions.

How tough is it? The TG-1 is waterproof to 40 feet, shockproof to 6.6 feet, freeze-proof to 14°F, and crushproof to a weight of 220 pounds.

The camera's ultra-bright f2.0 lens lets you capture high-quality images at fast shutter speeds, even in low-light. A high-sensitivity, backlit 12-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor combined with a DSLR-quality image processor results in beautiful images, even in locations that would make  most seasoned photographers cringe.

The 4x zoom lens' protective lens coatings prevent scratches and cut down on reflective glare, plus you don't have to worry about water droplets obstructing your images, because the coatings shed them.

A three-inch, high-resolution OLED display provides excellent visibility even in direct sunlight. Furthermore, the camera features the same FAST AF system technology found in Olympus PEN series (see Olympus PEN E-PL3, below).

Super Sport Mode combines high-speed autofocus with extra fast shutter speeds up to 1/2000 to freeze the action, capturing five shots in a high-speed burst to ensure crisp shots in even the most extreme action sport settings.

The TG-1 is also capable of shooting 1080p Full HD videos (1920x1080 pixels) or 60 frames-per-second at the touch of button, allowing for slow-motion playback. Linear PCM recording, an audio technology pioneered by Olympus for professional voice recorders, records your videos with high-definition audio for optimal playback results.

Serious photographers can add a fisheye converter or teleconverter lens for use on land or underwater. Both are waterproof to 40 feet. If that's not deep enough for you, an optional Olympus PT-053 underwater housing will allow you to dive to depths of 135 feet (45m).

Location and landmark information can be displayed and recorded with every image, thanks to built-in GPS and electronic compass. You can even mark your spot on the map with the built-in manometer, which records elevation/water depth and warns if you approach a depth of 40 feet.

An LED illuminator on the front of the camera enhances focus and exposure for macro shooting and also works in conjunction with the flash to help illuminate your subject in low-light conditions.

The Olympus TOUGH TG-1 iHS lists for $399.99 and includes a USB cable, charger, and a Lithium-Ion battery. The optional fisheye converter lens sells for $119.99, and the optional teleconverter lens sells for $109.99. Both require a $19.99 adapter. The PT-053 Underwater Housing sells for $309.99. For more information, visit the Olympus on the Web.

Olympus PEN E-PL3 delivers maximum flexibility in a small package

The Olympus PEN E-PL3 is a powerful camera designed for shutterbugs who want a camera that delivers professional quality with point-and-shoot simplicity. To accomplish this, the camera features interchangeable lenses on a sleek, metal body packed with versatile controls.

The PEN E-PL3 is equipped with features and image quality normally found in a digital SLR. Its 3-inch, tilting high-resolution LCD screen helps you see high above the crowd to capture amazing stills or HD video of live performances, sports events and more. Never worry about missing a spontaneous moment, because the E-PL3 shoots at 5 frames per second.

The camera is available in kit form either with an M.Zuiko 14-42mm zoom lens (28mm-84mm equivalent), optimized for autofocus operation, or an M.Zuiko 17mm  wide-angle lens (34mm equivalent).

The Olympus PEN E-PL3 is available in black, white, red, or silver. Kits, which afford either of the aforementioned lens choices, have an MSRP of $599.99. For more information, visit Olympus on the Web.