Billed as the ?world?s first? 18x optical zoom digital camera, Olympus will next month launch its 7.1-million-pixel SP-550 UZ with features including Dual Image Stabilisation technology.

Olympus praises the camera?s zoom for its ability to ?capture candid street scenes from a discreet distance? and claims it delivers the 35mm viewing angle equivalent of a 28-504mm lens.

Features include a Super Macro mode, which is claimed to enable focusing down to 1cm and 23 scene modes. Settings also include shutter and aperture priority and manual exposure.

The 2.5in LCD screen boasts a resolution of 230,000 pixels.

The Dual Images Stabilisation mode includes a CCD-based mechanical image stabiliser to help compensate for camera shake.

The price was yet to be announced at the time of writing.

For details Olympus on 020 7253 2772.