The Olympus mju 850 SW is a truly waterproof, shockproof compact digital camera that doesn't sacrifice its looks or portability. It's not bad at taking pictures, either.

Olympus has been making all-weather cameras for a number of years, but until recently you needed to enclose your camera in a waterproof case to be sure that it would continue to function after a good soaking.

The Olympus mju 850 SW is a truly waterproof digital camera that doesn't sacrifice its looks or portability (although it's not the least heavy camera we've tested). And the Olympus mju 850 SW is shockproof too.

While we didn't don snorkelling gear to test whether the Olympus mju 850 SW fuilfilled Olympus' claims of being able to keep out the elements as far as 3m underwater, we relished putting it through some fairly gruelling everyday tests just to be sure.

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First, we doused the Olympus mju 850 SW in lager – a quick dunk first; but then a full immersion. Bad behaviour, yes, but if you're going to buy a so-called waterproof camera, that's exactly the sort of hijinks your friends are going to indulge in. We even took a photo or two with the beer still dripping from its shiny black case.

The poor Olympus mju 850 SW then spent the day of our photoshoot dunked in a waterfilled coffee jug and being forced to take underwater snaps. We didn't achieve photographic excellence, but we did get proof that the mju 850 lives up to its claims of indestructibility.

What you do notice when you pick up the Olympus mju 850 SW is its weight. At 152g and with relatively compact dimensions, you notice it's bulk, but there's something reassuring about the solidity of its construction.

Even so, we were all set to dismiss the Olympus mju 850 SW as a bit of a gimmick. There were a few things that faintly annoyed us, such as the fact it has a proprietary mini USB connection and you have to invest in Olympus' own media storage, xD Card. However, where it counted, we were impressed.

NEXT PAGE: taking pictures with the Olympus mju 850 SW, and our expert verdict > >

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