Extra Features: Draw (depends on what you need) Both digital cameras have face detection systems and extras like a smile shot mode. The Olympus Stylus 1050 SW’s face detection system can recognize up to 16 faces at a time. Pentax doubles that number to recognize 32 faces. In the end, though, the exposure is set to the single largest face so numbers aren’t everything. Both cameras performed quickly when recognizing faces, but Pentax had the edge when it came to proper exposure. Olympus tended to overexpose in the sunny outdoors. Pentax’s face detection mode was easier to find too because of its designated button. Olympus hides its mode in the recording menu.
Both digital cameras have a smile shot mode, where the camera only takes the picture if a smile is detected. Olympus groups its smile shot mode in the scene mode menu. On the Pentax W60, you can find it by pushing the button with the face icon on the back of the camera. This is the same button that accesses the face detection, but it also cycles through to the smile shot mode. The mode is pretty cool. You don’t have to push the shutter release button; it’s like a self-timer, but the trigger is a smile. It really works too – on both cameras. No frowns allowed; it only takes the picture when you smile. The only catch is that both cameras have some lag time, so you have to hold your smile for a moment – the Pentax has less of a lag than the Olympus 1050.
Pentax’s extras include a blink detection feature that supposedly informs you when a picture has been taken with blinked eyes. This didn’t seem to work in testing, but even the concept is a bit odd. Why do you need a warning when you can review the image instantly and look at the eyes yourself?
Another feature included on the Pentax is a panorama mode. The camera already has a nice and wide lens, but this mode lets you stitch three wide pictures together – and it does it in the camera, not on software later. The Olympus 1050 SW doesn’t have anything close to this; its Landscape scene mode is the nearest relative, but it still has to shoot in the narrow 38mm lens.
Olympus tacks on an extra “guide mode” that walks users through picture-taking in a simple, but text-heavy, manner. The guide mode is easily found on the mode dial. When selected, options like “brightening subject” and “shooting into backlight” appear. If I do want to shoot into the backlight, the camera shows me four options: 1) activate shadow adjustment, 2) set to fill-in flash, 3) set the metering to spot, and 4) increase the value of exposure compensation. Selecting one of these on the list automatically activates the features so you don’t’ have to go searching all over the camera for the metering or whatever. Beginners may like this; those who consider photography a hobby may never use this. The Olympus also adds perks like an alarm clock and LED illuminator – a flashlight for those extreme adventurers.
Weighing the extras against each other….
Olympus Stylus 1050 SW
Pentax Optio W60
Smile shot mode
Smile shot mode
Blink detection mode
…I think the Pentax W60’s perform better (with the exception of that useless blink detection). However, the alarm clock and flashlight on the Olympus 1050 SW could make your life a whole lot easier on a camping trip (just be sure to pack an extra battery).