Design & Usability
Typical travel-zoom specs, with a nice design.
The SH-50 is a 24x travel-zoom, built around a 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. The design is vaguely consistent with the PEN series, making it the best-looking Olympus compact in recent memory. Even better, for some users: it's small enough to fit into a pants pocket.
If there's one truly exciting bit of news here, it's that the 5-axis stabilization from the E-M5 has trickled down to this camera. But that excitement is tempered by a limitation: the 5-axis stabilization only works with video. The SH-50 can capture 1080/60p clips, as well as 720p at 120fps. Yep, that's high-speed HD video (aka slow motion).
That's impressive, but the still photo specs look pretty average for the class. The rear LCD wasn't impressive, and we couldn't really get a feel for the overall image quality on the show floor. That monitor is equipped with a capacitive touch panel, however, which should please users who are into that sort of thing. The touch interface on the company's PEN and OM-D cameras is top-notch.
Built for pointing-and-shooting.
The SH-50 has a limited manual-exposure mode, but is otherwise built for auto-mode shooting. Physical controls are sparse and the menu system is not particularly nimble, so it'll serve best as a simple snapshooter.
A few effects and special shooting modes are available, including some magic filters and a new handheld night-scene multi-shot mode.
Nothing special, really.
It's great to see some of the features from the company's flagship cameras trickle down through Olympus' lineup, but 5-axis video stabilization will not make or break the SH-50. Frankly this just isn't a very interesting camera. Our favorite travel zooms from 2012 had much more intuitive interfaces than this thing, so it's hard to imagine that it'll find an audience outside of big-time Olympus fans.
Olympus had a big 2012, with the ultra-popular OM-D E-M5 and a few great PEN models, plus the excellent TG-1 waterproof compact. You know what none of those camera have much of? Zoom. Historically, Olympus really hasn't done zoomy compacts very well, but it's trying to turn that around. We spent some time with its latest travel zoom, the SH-50 iHS, at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. How does it fare? Well... it's a start.