Prepare to kick your pathetic, 3x optical zoomer to the curb kids. Olympus just announced what they are calling the world's first, wide 18x optical zoom on a compact digital camera. The SP-550 UZ features a smokin' 28-504mm (35mm camera equivalent) focal length with "Dual-Image stabilization" (high 6,400 ISO value combined with CCD-based mechanical image stabilizer) to protect against blurring. The 7.1 megapixel CCD is joined on the feature list by a 2.5-inch 230,000 pixel LCD, 15fps high-burst rate in 1.2 megapixel resolution, BrightCapture low light shooting technology, a super macro mode for taking shots as close as 1-cm, and xD-Picture Cards support with 4x AA batteries providing the juice. Available February 2007 for an estimated street price of $500.
Olympus SP-550 UZ: a compact monster with 18x optical zoom